It’s not every day that a recently formed volunteer group gets a visit from the umbrella organization’s head office for a check in, but that’s what happened last week with the Guysborough Nature Trail Parkrun organizers.

Parkrun’s North America Territory Manager Euan Bowman, who is based in Vancouver, stopped by Tuesday afternoon, July 18 to get an on-the-ground view of the trail and what Guysborough has to offer.

Parkrun is a free, community event where you can walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate along a five-kilometre course, every Saturday. Started in the United Kingdom in 2004, the volunteer-led organization now holds events in more than 20 countries.

The Guysborough-based group – led by Jimmy Ryves, Al Marsden, Adam Rodgers and Michael Wilson – began in September of last year and has been building up steam and participant numbers ever since.

Speaking to the social benefits of Parkrun, Bowman said, “For the local community it is a weekly check in with your friends. Parkrun appeals to those who wouldn’t necessarily find themselves at a walking or running event. It’s that very first step and we like to say, ‘If you don’t want to run, it’s ok you can walk. If you don’t want to walk, you can volunteer. And, if you don’t want to volunteer you can just show up and take it in, see if it’s for you or not.’ You don’t even have to tell anybody that you’re here and then come along next week.”

Ryves said, less than a year into bringing the event to Guysborough, they’ve had approximately 40 people take part in Parkrun, with peak attendance per event hitting 20 individuals.

While there is a core group from the Guysborough area that attend on a regular basis, typically seven to nine people per Saturday; the Guysborough Nature Trail group sees tourists and participants from other parts of Nova Scotia also come out for the weekly event.

Bowman said of the health and mental health impacts of the weekly meetup, “It’s an opportunity to see people because I think a lot of people struggle to find the tools to get out and to interact. You might think there’s health and wellness in terms of the physical side of things, but it’s the mental aspect as well. We’ve actually found that volunteering gives you as much if not more mental boost as running or walking.”

He added, “We try and reduce barriers to participation so it’s free. It’s a financial leveler. It’s every week so you don’t always have to check to see when it is, and the course is the same as well – you don’t have to figure out where it is. The timing is a fun element – so we try to separate ourselves from the race feeling of it. The timing is just a fun thing, and it’s just a catch up with your friends. You can push yourself if you want.”

This summer, Bowman is touring Parkrun groups across his coverage area and said, “Both countries [Canada and the United States] are just primed to take off in popularity because it really strikes a chord with people, what we’re doing.”

For more information, follow the Guysborough Nature Trail Parkrun group on Facebook or visit https://www.parkrun.ca.

By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 26, 2023 at 05:23

This item reprinted with permission from   Guysborough Journal   Guysborough, Nova Scotia
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