A few weeks ago, we joined the Aviemore parkrun to learn about the event from volunteer, Pete Wright, as part of our #MySpeysideWay campaign this November. Read on to find out more
It is 8:55 on a Saturday morning, a small group of volunteers in high-visibility jackets meet close to Speyside Way at Dalfaber Industrial estate. “How’s your week been?” and “nice to see you, not been here for ages” and other greetings float across the path as the multi-colour jacketed helpers wander to the Speyside Way. Chat turns to questions like “how many will we have today?” and “has anyone got any cake?!.” Rolls are discussed and all understood, parkrun volunteering really is easy and so much fun, as a one off or a regular. You could be timing the runners as they cross the finish line, handing out tokens or helping point them in the right direction on the course.
With the volunteers in place and the course ready, now for the business end of the morning. It is hard to believe that the founder of parkrun, back in 2004 in a damp park in London, would have expected that half a million people across the world would turn up each week for a free, 5km run, walk, or jog every Saturday under the banner of parkrun. Well, they do and around 60-100 turn up each week on the Speyside Way in Aviemore. There are 768 parkruns all over the world, all 5km, all open to everyone and all free. Register once at www.parkrun.com and you can go to any of them and meet like minded people all over the planet.
After a quick briefing its 9:30, the group of parkrunners from near and far, get the “3, 2, 1 GO!” and set off on the amazing surface of the Speyside Way, through woodland and onto open moor where, depending on the time of year, participants can be in bright sunshine, snow, wind, rain or a mixture of all of them! After 2.5km the parkrunners are greeted by our halfway marshal and his encouraging music and sent back “home”, back across the moor with the view of the Cairngorm mountains opening up and encouraging them on the end.
All parkrunners are greeted with cheers and applause, from the other the parkrunners and volunteers, as they cross the finish line. Everyone is cheered to the finish, and no one is ever last, we have a parkrun volunteer (the tail walker) who has that privilege. It does not matter if you finish in 15 minutes or 75 minutes, its about taking part, enjoying nature, and challenging yourself.
At the finish line parkrun stories are shared and the chat continues in the café afterwards with a well-earned breakfast, cake, coffee or all three! Plans for next week are discussed, results processed, and the course is packed away in a box, leaving no trace, ready for next week.
Parkrun really is a wonderful way to start the weekend, fresh air, activity, volunteering, meeting friends, family, and new people. The time spent on the Speyside Way gives everyone an opportunity to receive the benefits of nature and share it with family, friends and strangers who end up being friends.
Parkrun…. it is not all about the running, in fact, that is the least of it. Find out more at www.parkrun.com/aviemore, or see it for yourself every Saturday, 9:30am on the Speyside Way at the end of the Dalfaber Industrial Estate.