Canada’s newest parkrun: Avery Beach parkrun, Huntsville
parkrun is going from strength to strength, particularly in Ontario. The founder of Avery Beach parkrun tells us about her running journey, and how a recent state of emergency has meant a couple of false starts!
I’ve been an on again, off again runner for most of my life. Sometimes more serious (but still not all that serious), and sometimes happy with a jog here and there. I come from a family of runners – all of them quicker than me! They’re a pretty inspiring bunch. After having not run much for a few years (I’d hurt myself a bit from only running and never stretching or doing anything for strength or core, then had a baby, and then was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma), I started running just a little, and it was to participate in a ‘try a tri’.
That was in 2016 and I haven’t looked back. I imagine that I will run in some capacity until I can’t anymore. I enjoy distances up to a half marathon, and sprint triathlons. I am not super speedy, but enjoy it all. My husband is a high school physical education teacher, and so is quite active at work and with team sports, and now our 6-year-old son is trying and loving all sorts of sports. He’s done a few kids runs, the Terry Fox Run (our hero), and has entered into his first kids’ tri, this summer. I teach Grade 3 French Immersion, and with my family, I will be taking a half-year self-funded leave in the winter of 2020. I am already looking at how we can incorporate faraway parkruns into our travels! #parkruntourist
A parkrun for Huntsville
About a year ago, I felt like I was hearing the word ‘parkrun’ often, in many places, and from many people. My cousins in the UK and Australia had posted about parkrun on Facebook, one was starting in my hometown of North Bay (my sister and Dad do that one regularly), and I heard a podcast about parkrun, on ‘The Shakeout Podcast’. I wondered if we could have a parkrun here, and slowly started to investigate. Now, despite having only done two parkruns (North Bay and Whitby – both were incredibly welcoming and fun events), and volunteered once, I am hooked. I read, watch, and listen to everything I can about parkrun. Weekly podcasts, documentaries, articles, etc.!
I think that parkrun can bring so much to a community and can’t wait to see what it can bring to our small town. We are so lucky in that we have many clubs and events for sport here, particularly for a smaller town. There are running and triathlon clubs, and I think that this will complement those, but will also offer a place to enjoy running (and walking) in a fun, encouraging and low-pressure setting, for others who are maybe newer to running, or who want to run.
When I realized that parkrun was really going to happen in Huntsville, I realized that I should have (or rather needed) a second Event Director. Kati Strickland had been very encouraging and had offered help on social media, and so I approached her. She said yes right away, and I am so grateful that she did. Together, we bring different strengths to make a great parkrun team. We had a hilarious time visiting North Bay parkrun recently, to learn the timing and uploading ropes. We think that we might have been giddy from the excitement of our soon to launch event!
A state of emergency
Our parkrun course runs along Hunter’s Bay, in Huntsville, Ontario. Our town has a population of just under 20 000 (until summer hits that is) and is in a part of Ontario known as ‘Cottage Country’, with many lakes and forests (and cottages!). The course has a lovely view of the water and passes over a floating boardwalk. The water aspect is quite lovely (and cool in the summer), however, it is also causing us a bit of difficulty right now due to recent flooding.
We had a state of emergency and had to delay our launch, at first because there was water covering parts of the trail, and now because of obstacles and debris. Thankfully the water has receded (for the most part), however, a lot of debris (big, old waterlogged logs) has floated up and will require machinery to cut and move. We are hopeful that our town will be quick at tidying. They have been very supportive of having a parkrun in our community. We cannot wait until we finally get to welcome parkrunners to our first event!
Since writing this, the Town of Huntsville has done a splendid job of hiring a contractor to deal with some of the larger debris, and this weekend a small group of parkrun supporters got out to rake the trail and move some of the smaller debris still left. We will be ready to finally launch Avery Beach parkrun, Huntsville, this coming Saturday, May 18th, at 9am! What better way to start a long weekend?!
By Leigh Fettes, co-Event Director Avery Beach parkrun