President and founder of Parkrun SA Bruce Fordyce was in Cape Town at the weekend to give talks at sports clubs and to promote his book, Winged Messenger: Running your first Comrades Marathon.
The Johannesburg runner is best known for winning the South African Comrades Marathon a record nine times, of which eight wins were consecutive.
Mr Fordyce has been working with the Norval Foundation, in Steenberg Road, Tokai, to create a new parkrun route.
The Hong Kong-born 66-year-old founded the first parkrun in South Africa in 2011 and now there are 206.
Prior to him running the Zandvlei parkrun on Saturday July 29, he spoke to some of the runners, joggers, walkers and volunteers who are among four million people in 22 countries on five continents who, every Saturday at 8am, set off on a free 5km timed parkrun route.
After the run, he told the Bulletin he had walked the route in Steenberg Estate. “It would be one of the gems of the parkrun world and will make a massive difference to the community there,” said Mr Fordyce.
Norval Foundation spokesperson Lesley Sykes said they had made contact with their neighbours, Westlake Conservation Centre, to start the process and they appeared to be keen to combine their efforts in environmental education activities.
The City-managed centre, located at the base of Ou Kaapseweg, supports the preservation of the city’s unique and biodiverse natural heritage through education training and conservation initiatives.
Ms Sykes said the parkrun would start and end at Norval and run through the Westlake conservation area.
“It would be a lovely community initiative aimed at bringing families together and giving people an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful spaces we have to offer across both properties,” said Ms Sykes. “We have a long-term view of creating a GPS-based podcast that will guide runners and walkers through each property.”
Norval Foundation hosts 500 underprivileged children from the greater Cape Town area every month, exposing them to art and its history.
“We’ve invited the Westlake Conservation Centre to also utilise these children’s groups and come here and teach them about wetland conservation and indigenous flora and fauna. They seem very keen to collaborate,” said Ms Sykes.
She added that the foundation would also fund all infrastructure to create a parkrun.
Carolynne Franklin, in whose ward the route would be, said it was an exciting suggestion and one she would fully endorse.
“There is a gap between the Zandvlei and the Constantia parkruns that will be filled by this new route. The connections and community collaboration between all potential participants is to be encouraged. It is definitely time for us to emerge from our respective suburbs and build bridges through exercise,” said Ms Franklin.
Heather Poulos, marketing manager at Steenberg Vineyards, welcomed the idea, saying: “Celebrating a healthy and active lifestyle, parkrun will help showcase the beauty and diversity of the area surrounding Steenberg while bringing new people into the area.
“This will have a ripple effect on local businesses and employment, creating demand for local offerings and experiences, including those on offer at Steenberg farm. We look forward to hosting runners at Steenberg for an after-run brunch or wine tasting to celebrate their achievement.”
Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews said the City was always prepared to have discussions with any event organiser on their proposals.
“We believe that drawing visitors to nature reserves is important and allows participants to learn passively with visitor information displayed in prominent spots.”