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parkrun Scotland 2018: the year in review

As the tenth anniversary of parkrun in Scotland, 2018 was always going to be a big year.

But there was more to the last 12 months for parkrun Scotland than just a birthday party!

For a start, the country welcomed a host of new parkruns. Bressay in Shetland was first off the blocks in January, followed by Fort William, Thurso and Kirkwall in April, Lochore Meadows in May, Girvan Prom in July and Lanark Moor and Loch Leven in August. Finally Hay Lodge (Peebles) was launched in November.

In celebration of the first decade of parkrun in Scotland – and to encourage parkrunners to look beyond their home event – the 7th of April saw the launch of the ‘10 for 10 Challenge’.

The rules were simple: run, jog, walk or volunteer at 10 different parkruns (5k or 2k) before the 1st of December, parkrun Scotland’s tenth birthday.

Runners whose parkruns were in the north or far west (Inverness, Elgin, Alness, Aviemore, Fort William, Ganavan Sands, Thurso) got a bit of a break, and were allowed to repeat each parkrun once. Runners on the islands (Bressay or Kirkwall) could do all 10 at home, too, if they preferred.

parkrunners who completed the challenge were awarded virtual medals: gold for 10 in 10 consecutive weeks, silver for 10 in 15 weeks, and bronze for 10 between 7th April and 1st December.

The initiative was a huge success, and as running on a Saturday and volunteering on the Sunday counted as two, some parkrunners even completed their 10 activities in just five weeks.

By the deadline on the first of December, hundreds of runners had taken part and posted their stories and images on a dedicated ‘10 for 10 Challenge’ Facebook page.

The second half of 2018 was just as busy. On 9 June, nearly 150,000 people got involved as runners, walkers or volunteers as parkrun and the NHS joined forces to honour 70 years of our health service.

The special day, named ‘parkrun for the NHS’ had two goals: to recognise the contribution of the NHS to the life and health of the nation, and to encourage more people to get active or volunteer.

NHS staff of all types – from doctors to domestic staff – joined in the celebrations too, with many coming in uniform or fancy dress. Some even adorned themselves with signs announcing their pride in their health service, or, more poignantly, why they were thankful for it.

The NHS and parkrun UK teamed up later in the year for another initiative, this time encouraging GP practices to develop closer links with their local parkrun.

Recognising the links between activity and both mental and physical health, practitioners at certified ‘parkrun practices’ can now recommend taking part in parkruns to patients and carers – particularly those who are the least active and have long-term health conditions.

After such a big year, what’s in store for 2019? runABC Scotland online understands that at least one new Scottish parkrun will make an appearance in the opening months of the year. There are new participation challenges in the planning stages too – so keep an eye on the parkrun pages and runABC Scotland online for news.

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