To say that the weather seems to be against the new Ury Riverside parkrun is an understatement.
The ‘soft launch’ with their run ambassador was called off due to flooding; the first official event on 2 November was a distinctly soggy and grey affair; the second installment of the race had to be cancelled due to ice; and the third edition called off due to yet more flooding.
But nothing Scotland’s weather will ever throw at the team behind the country’s 54th parkrun will ever dampen – or freeze – their spirits.
Paul Douglas was the run director at the inaugural event, which attracted nearly 200 participants from 35 different clubs, as well as runners from as far away as Australia and Italy. runABC Scotland online’s Christine caught up with him after the run.
Douglas said: "It was touch and go today because of heavy rain overnight. The Stonehaven parkrun had to cancel at late notice because of it, but we got lucky with just a few large puddles to negotiate.” For Douglas, there definitely was a silver lining in all those grey clouds around Inverurie.
“This morning’s turnout in such dreich weather certainly took me by surprise. But the best bit for me was having 20 new runners – more than 10 percent of the field – doing their first ever parkrun. We all hope that that will be a great incentive for others to take part.”
Douglas, a keen parkrunner himself, was one of the driving forces behind the new event. He explained: “While I’ve loved going to the other parkruns in the area like Ellon and Aberdeen, as well as parkruns in other parts of the country and abroad, I’d long felt that Inverurie had an appetite for a parkrun. It’s clear from how many runners turned out today that it does.”
Douglas and the rest of the volunteers spent seven months planning, fundraising and gathering local support for the event. He added: “We’re all very thankful that the Ury Riverside Park group, the charity who look after the park, have allowed us to use these paths on the understanding we respect other park users. We’ve also received generous financial support from the Garioch Sports Centre, Peterkins Solicitors and We are Inverurie."
"We’d particularly like to thank Aberdeenshire Council, who provided the bulk of our funding, Robertsons Construction, who donated the AED, and the Inverurie Garden Centre, where we’ll be having our post-run coffees.”
Event director Laura Copeland was also delighted with the initial turnout. A Macmillan colorectal clinical nurse specialist, Copeland is now looking forward to seeing the event grow and benefit the wider community – not just those who choose to run.
She told runABC Scotland online: "For me parkrun is about improving health and well-being, inspiring people to take exercise, meeting neighbours and volunteering. In terms of the wider community, we’re fortunate enough to already have had young individuals expressing an interest in completing their Duke of Edinburgh with us and we look forward to supporting them through this element of their award. Hopefully, we’ve started something which will engage and give back to the local community."
There’s no doubt the local community is already embracing its new run. The Ury Riverside parkrun Facebook page went live the Monday after the first event, and had gathered over 1100 followers within the first 24 hours.
Copeland added: “We’ve also been working really hard to remind runners to update their parkrun profiles to make the new Ury Riverside their home event so that they can receive updates, in addition to using our Facebook page.”
Word is certainly spreading among Inverurie’s GPs, who have just applied to make Ury Riverside a ‘parkrun practice’, allowing them to prescribe it to patients as part of their treatment.
runABC Scotland online’s Christine, for whom Ury Riverside will now be her home event, said: “Living just a few miles outside Inverurie, I knew we had a huge running community, but even I was taken aback by how many showed up for the first event.”
“To know how hard Laura, Paul and all the other volunteers have worked to make their dream a reality – and then to see so many of my own friends, clubmates, colleagues, and members of other local clubs come out to support them on a truly miserable morning – was very moving.
“The inaugural Ury Riverside parkrun was testament both to the power of local people, and the power of parkrun. Fingers crossed the weather will finally be on our side this Saturday!”
Image: the very soggy inaugural event (Ury Riverside parkrun Facebook)