The Shawnigan Lake Parkrun will start and finish at the Shawnigan Hills Athletic Park every Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Popular Parkrun comes to Cowichan

Shawnigan Hills joins global phenomenon starting on Sept. 28

The Parkrun phenomenon is coming to the Cowichan Valley.

A free, weekly, timed 5km run for anyone who wants to participate, Parkrun is a worldwide initiative that started in the UK in 2004, spreading to Zimbabwe in 2007, Denmark in 2009, South Africa and Australia in 2011, the U.S. in 2012 and Canada in 2016. As of October 2018, more than five million participants were registered around the world.

Mark Swannell, a teacher and cross-country running coach at Shawnigan Lake School, is launching a new edition of Parkrun at Shawnigan Hills Athletic Park, starting on Saturday, Sept. 28. The Shawnigan run will be the second on Vancouver Island — after Clover Point in Victoria — and the 35th in Canada.

The run at Shawnigan Hills will take place every Saturday at 9 a.m. Most of the multi-surface route — track, trail and pavement — will go through Shawnigan Lake School. Runners and walkers of all abilities are welcome, along with dogs and strollers.

Registration is available on the Shawnigan Hills Parkrun website at Registered athletes can print off a personal barcode that will let them see their time and position at the end of every run.

Runners who have completed 50, 100, 250 or 500 runs are rewarded with a free T-shirt.

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