Walvis Bay parkrun turns one

Eileen van der Schyff

One year ago, on 3 February 2018 the second parkrun in Namibia was founded in Walvis Bay, hosted by South African Parkrun CEO and running legend, Bruce Fordyce. This Saturday, 2 February marks the Walvis Bay parkrun’s first birthday.

Saturday will see a special birthday celebration, and everyone is invited to take part and receive a special commemorative “medal”. All first-time participants must register once off and bring along their printed barcode, which is scanned afterwards. This Saturday there will be a laptop set up to assist any participants who have not yet registered.

Bruce Fordyce opened the parkrun in Walvis Bay with 338 runners and walkers taking part. This opening was a huge success and surpassed all expectations. The first parkrun in Namibia was founded in Swakopmund on 8 April 2017. Currently there are 1640 members registered in the Walvis Bay parkrun with roughly 150 runners and walkers who takes part every Saturday. The number of people that participate every Saturday varies according to the weather and other activities in town. “We do have some very loyal parkrunners and saw twenty-five die-hard runners and walkers arrive during terrible east weather on 7 July last year”, Event Director, Michelle Wilson told the Namib Times.

Michelle Wilson, together with a group of volunteers decided to do something to bring the community together that will also be beneficial in improving the health of the community. The level of fitness in so many people improved considerably according to Michelle Wilson. “Some participants started by slowly walking when parkrun just started and now, they already run the whole five kilometers” Since the parkrun started the number of people walking and running along the lagoon walkway increased considerably. Michelle went on by saying: “It makes me happy to see people coming together on a Saturday morning to be active. Some people come to spend quality time with their families while others are more serious, wanting to improve their weekly times.” Michelle Wilson has also been chosen as the parkrun Regional Ambassador for Namibia. She went on by saying: “I am now working on starting more parkruns throughout Namibia, with Windhoek hopefully being next”.

The parkrun takes place every Saturday at 08:00 in the park in front of Flamingo Villas Boutique Hotel. Runners and walkers then follow a 5km out and back route along the lagoon walkway. It is a beautiful scene and an easy, flat route. Flamingo Villas Boutique Hotel has partnered with parkrun and they offer all parkrunners coffee and hot chocolate at N$15.00 each and 15% discount on breakfast. It is the perfect partnership, and runners and walkers can walk across the road and enjoy a breakfast and coffee with their families, with some beautiful views of the lagoon.
The parkrun is run completely by volunteers who give up their time to make parkrun possible. “We are very thankful for all our volunteers. There are about 40 active volunteers who are on the roster, with each person volunteering every 4-5 weeks”, according to Michelle. Anyone else, who would like to get involved can contact Michelle Wilson at walvisbayhelpers@parkrun.com or 081 360 7007.

In conclusion Michelle said that they would like to thank the community for taking part and contributing towards a very successful parkrun, and they hope for more people to start taking part. They believe they will have an even more successful 2nd year!
If anyone would like more information on the parkrun, they can visit the website https://www.parkrun.co.za/walvisbay/ or contact Michelle Wilson.

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