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Running group celebrates milestone with footwear donation to charity

In this Following Up, we check in on the Guelph Parkrun, which recently held its 100th run along the Eramosa River Trail

Eramosa River Trail parkrun in Guelph celebrated its 100th run last Saturday and helped a local charity in the process.

For the 100th run volunteers asked runners if they could donate gently used running shoes. The goal was to collect 100 pairs to be donated to Chalmers. “We ended up with 100 pairs of shoes,” said volunteer Brad Morley.

For the run on Saturday 165 participants came out, 31 of them for the first time.

What credits the success of parkrun in Guelph? Morley said it's the volunteers.

“We regularly get comments from visitors about just how supportive and encouraging the volunteers were and what a lovely setting it takes place in because we are along the river the whole way,” Morley said.

“Over the course of our 100 parkruns we’ve had over 100 different volunteers,” he said. It has had 148 volunteers since 2019.

Volunteers play a variety of roles like run director. They also keep time, set up and tear down the event.

There is a volunteer position called park walker and their role is to encourage the walkers to enjoy the experience.

“We don’t need to do any convincing to get runners and joggers out. But most parkruns have a challenge of getting walkers to come out,” said Morley.

Art Kilgour and other volunteers are proud they are able to host parkruns since it is good for people’s physical and mental health, Morley said.

“Guelph is a running town, an active town,” said Morley.

The parkrun started June 2019 in Guelph but has long been around in London, England since 2004 with the Bushy parkrun.

“Of course then the pandemic hit a year later and parkrun worldwide was cancelled for a good proportion of the pandemic. As soon as we were able to start up again with parkrun headquarters permission we did and low and behold we had our 100th,” said Morley.

Runners, joggers, walkers, strollers, and dogs meet at the Eramosa River Trail at 9 a.m. every Saturday.

All fitness levels and ages are able to participate but children 12 and under have to be accompanied by an adult.

Morley and Kilgour, parkrun volunteer, happened to be visiting England in 2018 on separate trips and heard about parkrun while they were there. Morley and Kilgour participated in parkruns while visiting. They thought this was something they could bring to Guelph.

“It has grown and we are consistently the most popular parkrun in the country,” said Morley. He said there are about 42 parkruns in Canada.

The average number of run finishers per week is 68 with an average time of 32 minutes. In total, 1,278 finishers have finished the 5k run. The course record is 16 minutes and 11 seconds ran by Jacob Smith.