Friday, 28 April 2017

9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day 2017

Last year I participated in the 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day and yesterday I had the pleasure of doing it again. This is a concept created by my friends Staci and Francis. When they first held the event in 2015, there were only 9 parkruns in Johannesburg. There are now many more. Each year they choose 9 parkruns and on Freedom Day (27 April), a public holiday in South Africa, we run each one, driving from venue to venue.

Last year I only ran 8 of the 9 as I drove through in the morning from Parys and started with the second one. This year I drove through the afternoon before, slept over and was in Benoni for the first one at 6am.

This event also gave me a wonderful opportunity to hang out with friends throughout the day. I travelled with Sarah for the first five, then with Tania for the next four and then Allison gave me a lift to my uncle's house. I had the pleasure of running with Allison, Sarah, Tania and Cindy (she came to the first two and then did some in Pretoria) and seeing other running (and orienteering) friends throughout the day.

There were a bunch of parkrunners in for all 9 and many others there to enjoy only a couple, plus parkrunners joining us at their home parkrun. We had a good crowd at each venue.

This was the line up for this year's 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day (Facebook page):

The schedule is tight! A new concept was introduced this year: leapfrog. You do only every second one, which allows for more time for participating and travel between events.

We were running consistently between 28-32 minutes, heading back to our car, drinking something, driving and getting to each venue with about 15 minutes before each start. Tight.

#1 Ebotse parkrun - 31:25

Ebotse parkrun is in Benoni and it was our first parkrun of the day. We got there in the dark and started to run as the sun was coming up. This one was filled with as much talking as running as I caught up with Sarah, Tania, Cindy and Allison along the way. It is a pretty route and a very pleasant parkrun.

#2 Springs parkrun - 29:10

More catching up and chatting for us girls at Springs parkrun. It was colder here than in Benoni and we were quite chilled until later in the run. This is a lovely park with a snaking route through large trees. It is a fast and flat route and very pleasant.

Tania and me with Sarah and Cindy just behind.

Tania and me.
Sarah, Cindy and me. 
We also had a nice hello here with orienteer Ian Bratt.

Orienteers at Freedom Runs - Tania, Sarah, Cindy, me and Ian.
#3 Boksburg parkrun - 28:16

The day had started to warm up by the time we got to the Boksburg stadium for the Boksburg parkrun. Another good route and a good time, despite Tania and I talking the hind leg off a donkey. Not too much climb here and some sweet sections. Good use of the area.

#4  Victoria Lake parkrun - 28:28

My first visit to this side of of the lake in many, many years - like since I was a child. Victoria Lake parkrun in Germiston is a two-lap route and is very pleasant, flat and fast. I ran this one with Tania and again we chatted from start to finish. Nice and warm now but fortunately with a cool breeze too.

#5 Rietvlei parkrun - 29:55 (28:20 last year, but it was only #3 for me then)

Sarah, Tania and I started out together at Rietvlei parkrun in Alberton. I ran here last year and I've been here for orienteering - it is a super venue. What was different this year is that they changed the direction of the route and this way is much better, especially as you have a mostly downhill finish. After halfway our trio started splitting up. Tania blazed up the hills - I took a little walkie to catch my breath and stretch out my legs.

This was Sarah's last parkrun as she has four days of orienteering over this long weekend. With a nice 25km in the bag, I transferred my kit to Tania's car, we all said bye and Tania and I headed off to Albert's Farm.

#6  Alberts Farm parkrun - 30:26 (31:26 last year and #5 then)

I actually had a good run at the Alberts Farm parkun, which is on the southern slope of Northcliff hill. I also know this venue very well from orienteering.

My time was a minute faster than last year - very surprising. Of course I had a walkie up a few hill sections plus even on the flat at the bottom of the park. My legs were needing the stretching but overall not feeling too bad. Definitely no chatting from me at this point. Allison and Tania are really good on the hills, which they ran. Another one in the bag.

Almost at the finish...
#7 - Golden Harvest parkrun - 31:58 (33:49 last year, also my 7th)

This is such a great venue for parkrunning and orienteering and I've been here many times over the year. Golden Harvest parkrun is one of the best parkrun routes - it really is a beautiful park and the route has so much diversity in scenery and terain. Again a better time than last year, which is great. And I had a few walkies too.

#8 - Midstream parkrun - 30:37

Held in the huge Midstream estate, this is a relatively new parkrun. The inaugural event held a few weeks ago has 1,200-odd participants! This is the most dull parkrun route that I've run. I can totally see the need for start and finish locations with sufficient parking space, which this has, but the actual route itself is uninspiring. There are so many pedestrian paths in the estate but I can definitely see the limitation of route options around parking requirements and the course being able to support so many runners. When you're a parkrun with over 1,000 participants, this is a big issue.

Tania, Allison and I ran this one together. Not much chatting. The route is mostly flat with a very slight uphill for the last two kilometres.

This one was very tight for time with parkrunners leaving Golden Harvest to get here and to run and then head to Bryanston.

#9 Bryanston parkrun - 29:10  (30:27 last year, also the last parkrun)

The group of parkrunners who did all 9 Freedom Runs
And finally, the 9th parkrun - Bryanston parkrun. Tania and I ran most of the way together and it felt good to hit the final one.

This is an out-and-back along the Braamfontein Spruit and is a pleasant run. I have no idea how the route supports >1,000 parkrunners each Saturday! I'll stick to enjoying it on Freedom Day when the numbers are low and the route is enjoyable.

9th parkrun done.
Orienteering friends Richard and Alison joining me and Tania at Bryanson (Jess there too but we only saw her afterwards).
After the run, we said goodbyes and Allison gave me a lift back to my uncle's house. After a hot shower and a cup of tea I headed back to Parys. After waking up at 04h40, 45km of running, 200km of driving between parkruns and then 140km back to Parys, it was little wonder that my eyes didn't stay open for very long once my head hit the pillow.

Girlfriends, it was awesome to hang and run with you for the whole day. My warm thanks to Staci and Francis for organising and to all of the Event Directors and volunteers for hosting these Freedom Day parkruns. See you all again next year.


Louis said...

Nice account of your day, Lisa. Hopefully I can join next year if my sciatica is sorted out

Staci said...

Thanks for coming through from Parys to take part. I can't believe that other than a quick hello and a final hug goodbye, we didn't talk at all. Oh yes, you run way faster than me, that's why :-). See you in a few weeks for Forest Run.