Dozens of amateur runners from across East Dunbartonshire gathered recently to mark the first anniversary of Drumchapel Parkrun – following a successful year with a party to celebrate the achievements of volunteers and runners alike.
The five kilometre Saturday morning run has become a weekly fixture for many runners on what is a hilly course through Garscadden Woods into parts of Bearsden.
Regular Parkrun participant Mary Senior said: “So many of us enjoy our Saturday morning run at Drumchapel Parkrun that is seemed appropriate to mark in some way. The run has a great sense of community about it and is a good way to keep fit.
“The course is quite undulating and hilly which makes it very interesting, but I don’t want to put anyone off, it is a lovely route and because it is through the woods, it is a great place to see the changing of the seasons. In May there are bluebells and we very often see deer.
“The event is wholly dependant on volunteers which is why there is so much of a community spirit to it. It’s always run over a 5k course although we do have a junior run for those aged four to 14 over two kilometres.”
Brian Keenan, who is joint events director with fellow organiser Simon Denny, said it was amazing how the event had taken off over the last year.
Brian, a community development worker, said: “We regularly get 30 to 40 runners taking part on a Saturday morning and were delighted that our first birthday celebrations on June 3 attracted 66 participants and a dog who either ran, jogged or walked the 5k course around the woods.
“They were cheered on by 20 or so volunteer marshals,time-keepers and barcode scanners. Some participants even wore woodland themed fancy dress, so we had a deer, a toadstool, Robin Hood and Little Red Riding Hood partying in the woods. There was even a tail runner dressed as a pylon.”
The party continued in St Mark’s Church’s Orchard café in Drumchapel after the regular Saturday morning run had finished. Runners were rewarded with breakfast rolls and specially made birthday cake.
Brian (45) added: “We call it a run rather than a race because we don’t want people to be under too much pressure when they come along.
“We find that it does not just attract people from across East Dunbartonshire but from throughout Glasgow. There are no hard and fast rules as to where runners come from. Some runners are from local clubs such as Clydesdale and Garscube Harriers. We even have runners from other countries like Australia and the United States.”
As one of the event directors, Brian does not compete in the weekly races but he has done so in the past.
He said: “Because Parkrun is international we get runners from across the globe. I’ve taken part in runs in other parts of Glasgow, England, Ireland and even Australia. The great thing about the runs is that people can walk, run or jog them. It just depends on how people feel on the day.”
Fellow events director Simon, commenting on the first birthday celebrations, said: “It was great to see so many local people, young and old enjoying the run. We also had visitors from Australia join us on Saturday so it was a fabulous way of marking the occasion.”
At the turn of this year the phenomenon that is Parkrun globally had around three million Saturday morning athletes registered with two million of these running in over 1000 parks worldwide.
And Brian said that it was the volunteers that are so crucial to the smooth running of these event.
He said: “Our volunteers are so important to us and without them we could not hold our weekly Saturday morning runs. There are several different volunteer roles at each Parkrun event. Every event has a ‘volunteer’ page, with the same basic information about how to get involved as a volunteer, as well as crediting those who have made the effort in the most recent week. The Parkrun website credits those who volunteer each week as the heart of Parkrun, and they are integral to its not for profit status.”
The site also provides a useful range of responses to commonly asked questions about volunteering with information on each of the different roles. It is suggested that runners volunteer at least three times over the course of a year to help their local Parkrun function keep going.
All Parkrun’s are free to enter and in Scotland take place every Saturday morning at 9.30am. The local one starts at the Drummore Road entrance.
If you would like to find out more about the group go to www.parkrun.co.uk/drumchapel.