By Greg Price
A new initiative for increased use of the Taber Trout Pond area is being considered, with the Taber Recreation Board fully on board if it were to go through.
James Ebrey made a presentation to the Taber Recreation Board at its September meeting, highlighting the Parkrun Program which he would like to see put in place in Taber.
“It started in the UK and the philosophy of the guy that started it was that everyone is entitled to a timed five-kilometre run. There are hundreds in the UK. It’s basically a five-K run, you have a bar code you are responsible for and you just need the course. People show up and run and challenge themselves,” said Ebrey of the Parkrun Program that encourages people of all ability levels to participate as to promote physical fitness and friendships. “There are 16 in Canada and the closest one to here is in Calgary. I thought it would be ideal to start one here with a big fitness and running community here. There are big running communities in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat too, and this would offer something centralized that is enticing that would get them into town.”
Ebrey added he was serving as a delegation to gauge the interest in such an endeavour, as funding would be minimal in the overall scope, with the event run by volunteers.
“It would be two laps of the Trout Pond with a little bit of a start at the beginning, just outside of the parking lot,” said Ebrey of the fully paved, 2.3 kilometre loop with plenty of beautiful landscape. “The initial start-up fee they ask for is $5,000, that is to purchase laptops and scanners (to track times). After that, they do not ask for anything. There is no charge to participants. They just need to print their bar code and carry their bar code.”
The Park Run Program would run once a week, every week weather and course safety permitting.
“Generally, it’s Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. when they run them. There’s always people walking behind the last runners to ensure everything is going safely,” said Ebrey. “It’s a weekly thing. It’s not like it needs to be blocked off. It’s a public place where other people will still be able to use the path as well. You’re not expecting hundreds of people to start it off in its initial stages. It’s more for fun and staying fit than a competitive thing. People can run on a weekly basis, it’s free and they can check on their times. I’m really excited about it and I really enjoyed it when I did it in the UK.”
Ebrey would like to see the initiative implemented before the heavy winter sets in for 2018. To do that, Ebrey would likely have to solicit funds from either Town of Taber or M.D. of Taber councils, given consideration under the Community Grant program would not be until late 2019.
“You just need for the equipment to arrive. You need the scanners and the laptops, otherwise there’s no point in it being a timed run. It’s put on a website, there’s a Facebook page, everyone’s times are put on the website. If you do a Park Run somewhere else, you can compare times,” said Ebrey.
The Taber Recreation Board accepted James Ebrey’s presentation as information regarding the Parkrun Program and supported unanimously him utilizing the trail system around the Trout Pond for the Program.
For more information on the Parkrun Program, log onto http://www.parkrun.ca.