The Susquehanna River Walk is a fitness treasure that runs along the Susquehanna River through several area municipalities. It is a great place for people who enjoy walking for fitness or just the idea of enjoying our environment at a leisurely pace. One activity that helps to highlight this is the program parkrun.
According to Lycoming College professor Jeff Newman, who brought the concept to this area, parkrun (always lowercase) is an international organization that facilitates over 2,200 free, weekly, timed 5-kilometer run/walk community fitness events on Saturday mornings around the world.
parkrun began in 2004 with 13 runners in Bushy Park, London, and has since grown into a global phenomenon with millions of participants in 20 countries. There are currently 61 weekly parkrun events in the USA, including the Susquehanna Riverwalk parkrun, beginning Saturdays at 9 a.m. by the dam near Wegmans in downtown Williamsport.
Newman told Webb Weekly the concept of parkrun is simple yet powerful. Every Saturday morning, individuals of all ages and abilities come together to run, jog, or walk a 5-kilometer course. parkrun events are organized and managed by dedicated volunteers, who ensure the smooth running of each event. Participants register online, print their unique barcode or have it available on their phone, and bring it along to any parkrun event they wish to attend anywhere in the world. Many individuals travel specifically to visit different parkrun events, and others make it a point to attend parkrun events when traveling for other reasons.
“At the Susquehanna Riverwalk parkrun, we have hosted guests from Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Poland, and a number of states in the US, and many have stayed overnight in the area,” said Newman.
The Susquehanna Riverwalk parkrun had its first event on October 2, 2021, and celebrated its milestone 75th event on June 10, 2023.
One hundred eighty-four different participants have completed 601 parkruns, including 69 new Personal Bests. A total of 92 individuals have volunteered 314 times. Given the problems of high healthcare costs, obesity, and mental health in the community, the local team is trying to spread the word in order to grow this public health seed that had been planted several years earlier in South Africa.