Keeping fit and active while travelling can be tough. There might not be a gym close by, or you might not have access to it. Maybe you don’t know the neighborhood and don’t feel comfortable going for a run or jog in unfamiliar streets.
Staying active won’t only be good for your physical wellbeing, but also keep you mentally sharp.
To overcome the difficulties of exercise in an unknown location, join a Parkrun. Every Saturday morning between 7am and 8am, more than 170 Parkrun events take place across South Africa. The concept is simple: it’s a timed event where participants can walk or run a 5km race at their own pace.
With an average of 290 participants per event, you won’t have to worry about being on your own in a scary and new neighbourhood – all you need to do is join in the festive atmosphere and keep your legs moving.
How does Parkrun work?
Entrepreneur and life-long runner Paul Sinton-Hewitt founded the concept in 2004 in a park in London. Now, almost 15 years later, the event sees a quarter of a million runners take part in 1 500 events across 20 countries every Saturday.
Set up as 5km time trials, the idea is that participants can effectively measure their progress over time. Before attending a race, it is recommended that you register on the Parkrun website so that your runs can be tracked. From here, you simply print out your unique barcode that will be scanned as you cross the finish line.
A bonus is that you can join any run throughout the country, no questions asked. This means whether you find yourself in Joburg or Durban, your time will be tracked!
Parkrun in Gauteng
Gauteng has 50 scheduled events every Saturday morning across the Ekurhuleni, greater Joburg, Sedibeng, Soweto, Tshwane and West Rand regions. With so many events taking place in the province, you have no excuse for not participating.
For a fun experience, visit the Modderfontein Reserve Parkrun, where the route will take you through a nature reserve. With fresh air in your lungs, running through the beautiful scenery will make you feel inspired.
Parkrun in the Western Cape
With 40 weekly events taking place across the Western Cape in the greater Cape Town area, along the Garden Route, in the Karoo, Overberg, West Coast and winelands, you’ll be spoilt for choice for a picturesque setting.
Although there are many events taking place in and around Cape Town, we recommend the Durbanville event (about 30 minutes from Cape Town). The run starts and finishes at the Meerendal Wine Estate. The route twists through the vineyards and offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
Parkrun in KwaZulu-Natal
There are 25 weekly events in KwaZulu-Natal, in both the coastal and inland regions of the province. If you’re based in the city, you’re in luck as you can choose from a number of coastal routes.
The Amanzimtoti event comprises a beautiful route along the beach on the promenade. There aren’t many better ways to start the day than with some exercise and a fresh ocean breeze, and with the route close to a number of restaurants, that’s breakfast sorted as well!
Parkrun in the Eastern Cape
Parkruns in the Eastern Cape are a little more scattered across the province, with 18 weekly events in total. Find your closest venue using the handy online map.
As we regularly fly to Port Elizabeth via OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, we are inclined to name the Port Elizabeth event at Hobie Beach our favourite in the province. Running along the beach (and even on the beach at certain points), you’ll be awarded with great views of the ocean and seafront.
Parkrun in the Free State
With only 15 Parkruns in the province, you need to do a bit of research to find your closest event. If you’re based in Bloemfontein, however, you have a choice of three events in and around the city.
To combine a bit of sightseeing with your exercise, try the Naval Hill Parkrun, taking place in the Franklin Nature Reserv., Keep your eyes peeled for giraffe, zebra and wildebeest. The event also starts and finishes at a lookout point with beautiful views of Bloemfontein.
Other Parkruns in South Africa
Weekly events are also held in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and North West. There are even events in our neighbouring countries Namibia and eSwatini! So, even when you’re travelling, don’t forget to check if there’s a Parkrun event nearby.