By Garry Brindley
Every Saturday morning at 9.30, just as the fog is lifting and the sun is coming out a bunch of folk collect down near the pavilion in the Mineralwell Park for Stonehaven parkrun.
Parkrun is an international organisation which hosts events in towns and cities in many countries including 68 locations in Scotland. Stonehaven has been lucky enough to have its own event since 2016 and in all weathers, you will find people tacking three laps of the Mineralwell.
Parkrun is free and open to everyone. Despite the name, you can run, jog, dance, skip or walk around the course. No one ever finishes last at parkrun as there is always a tail walker who follows the last person and clears up the course.
To get a time recorded you need a barcode which you can obtain online, once you have registered and got your barcode, you are ready to go. Bring your barcode along with you on the day (printed out or on your phone) and then when you finish your barcode is read and you receive a time via text or by looking online.
Everyone has different reasons for taking part in parkrun – fitness, couch to 5K, getting out of bed on Saturday morning, aiming for a particular time – but there are no prizes for finishing first and the first and last finishers both get the same round of applause. You can get t-shirts once you get to a milestone number, e.g. 50 or 100 parkruns, or you can set your own target milestone.
Once you have a barcode you can take part in any event worldwide, Stonehaven has had parkrun tourists from USA, Australia and New Zealand (as well as a few from Aberdeen).
This year is parkrun’s 20th anniversary and in that time it has grown from 12 runners in a park in London to having 300,000 participants every week. In Stonehaven alone we have welcomed over 3,500 folk and in total have had almost 16,000 times recorded. Not bad for our wee toon.
To take part you should go to https://www.parkrun.org.uk/stonehaven/ where you can find more details about the Stonehaven event and also details of how to get a barcode.
Parkrun can’t take place without volunteers, each week 8 volunteers are required to record times, set up the course and act as a tail walker. This has in the past provided opportunities for participants in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme to gain their community volunteer hours – perhaps something to think about if you’re currently taking part in the scheme.
This coming week we are happy to announce that the whole volunteer team has been provided by JogScotland Stonehaven. JogScotland are a friendly bunch who meet on Monday and Wednesday evenings 6pm in the upper car park of the Community centre. Their runs are usually around 3 miles and we have a fairly mixed bunch who also enjoy a bit of socialising from time to time!
The Stonehaven group are also celebrating their 20th birthday this year – more details can be found at https://jogscotland.org.uk/sessions/?id=2501 .
So perhaps this weekend is the time to dust off those trainers and come down to the Mineralwell. If you haven’t been there before, aim to get there for 9.20 when there is a briefing for any first timers. You are guaranteed a warm welcome at parkrun and hope to see you some time in the future.