When last did you go to a park? Not an amusement park where you pay huge wads of cash to go on machines that defy gravity and cause nausea; or water parks where you get to swim in pools where kids urinate, fair-skinned people sunburn, and large hairy folks wear swimsuits three sizes too small. I mean an actual park, where you can picnic, go for a walk with the dogs and play games such as “Frisbee” or “irritate the sleeping drunkard under the tree.”
A global phenomenon has turned sleepy parks into a bundle of energy on Saturday mornings. Parkrun arranges free, weekly, 5km timed runs in open parks around the world. These events have a number of aims. Firstly, they provide an excellent opportunity for people to get out of the house and engage in exercise in a safe environment. If you avoid exercise for fear of dropping a dumbbell on your foot or worse, that of the local gym steroid junkie, the park is the place to be.
They also bring people to parks that are often ignored. In an age where new buildings go up faster than Hollywood couples get divorced, it is easy to forget that every major city in South Africa, and in fact, most major cities in the world, have parks that are there for citizens to enjoy. Parks really are for everyone, not just people who have more month left than paycheque and can’t afford to pay to go to the movies.
There are currently ten Parkrun venues in South Africa. The bulk are in the Johannesburg area but East London, Durban, Cape Town and Nelspruit host weekly events. All that is required to take part is to register online – there are no entry fees and the event is open to all.
Bruce Fordyce and Zola Budd-Pieterse have been known to take part, with Fordyce playing an integral role in helping the status of the event grow. While you may not have a Comrades medal to your name or be an Olympic-level athlete, you can still enjoy the scenery, even though it may go by substantially slower than the aforementioned running icons.
And now that you’re out of the house and in some of South Africa’s beautiful parks:
Contact Dial-A-Picnic for an array of outdoor eating options. Impress a date, cater a corporate lunch or simply do something different this Sunday. They also offer themed picnics. I doubt there is a “Star Wars” theme but I live in hope.
The young-at-heart can enjoy zip lines, Tarzan swings, nets and other obstacle at Acrobranch centres nationwide. There are a variety of obstacle courses with varying degrees of difficulty. If you faceplant on the first obstacle of the easiest course, you might want to consider croquette instead.