This year GFR launched our first Grand Prix, a race calendar listing regular events that are popular with GFR members. The Grand Prix is a way of making sure that all members feel included and welcome to join in; to encourage members to enter the same races because it’s a great feeling to run as a group; and it’s an important way to raise the profile of GFR on the running scene – the more visible we are as an LGBT+ running club helps us to stand up and fight against homophobia and discrimination in sport.
The Grand Prix included many of the major Glasgow and Scottish based events, such as the Glasgow Men and Women’s 10k, and Edinburgh running festival. It has also included all the races organised by other FrontRunners groups around the UK which is helping us to build a UK FrontRunner community.
But we also wanted to support the local, grassroots, community events that have brought thousands of people into running. To do this we included a tour of Glasgow’s parkruns.
Parkrun is a free, timed, 5k run, held in over 500 parks around the UK every Saturday morning. In Glasgow there are now 5 different events with an average weekly attendance of close to 1000 runners. Many of our members regularly take part or volunteer at parkrun every week.
Our first event on the tour was Victoria parkrun on the 5th of May to coincide with the graduation of our 2016 Couch to 5k group. Victoria is by far the flattest of Glasgow parkruns – it pays not to turn people off running too soon! And consists of 3 laps that take in a large duck pond, Fossil Grove, flower garden and tree lined avenue. It was a very happy and enjoyable day with 20 Glasgow FrontRunners turning up to support and run with our 14 C25K graduates.
Next up was a trip to Tollcross parkrun in Glasgow’s East End on the 02/04/16. Tollcross is a notoriously hilly course but which is more than made up for by the friendly events team and volunteers. Our twenty FrontRunners made up almost a 5th of the field with Kenny MacBeth second across the line.
The 7th of May saw 13 runners visit Glasgow’s largest and original parkrun in Pollok Park. This event frequently attracts over 500 runners. Whilst this is a busy event, the first hills quickly spread the field out so that you are never running over anyone’s toes. Post-run coffee and cake in the Burrell collection just next to the course was a great bonus!
Our 4th parkrun trip was to Sprinburn Park in Glasgow’s north. Where 13 runners took to the 2 lap course. We celebrated our achievements with a trip to a local cafe for bacon rolls, scrambled eggs and lots of tea and coffee.
The Grand Prix also recognised the importance of volunteering to help make ALL race events happen. Whilst it’s fun to run, there’s a lot that goes into setting up events and a large number of volunteers needed to give up their free time to stage them. Victoria parkrun needs 21 volunteers, plus a run director each week – without the volunteers, there would be no parkrun. So having enjoyed each of Glasgow’s parkruns as runners, GFR decided to give back with a parkun takeover at Victoria on the 10th of June. All 21 volunteer roles were filled by club members, supporting our very own Nicky Imrie who was that week’s run director. We marshalled, timed, tail ran, and scanned 253 runners. Afterwards we went to Whiteinch Library to process the results, post them online and sort the finish tokens so they were ready for the following week. A lot of dedication and hard work goes into making these events work & GFR members were proud to support parkrun. There was also coffee and cake!
Parkrun is a wonderful movement that has brought running into the heart of local communities and encouraged tens of thousands of people around the world into regular activity. We have loved visiting the different parkruns and have been made to feel welcome wherever we have turned up. And the movement continues to grow, next we will have to visit the latest addition to Glasgow’s parkrun family with the hilly, trail course in Drumchapel.