UWF to become first University in North America to host parkrun, series of free 5Ks
The University of West Florida will host the first parkrun on a college campus in North America beginning Saturday, Feb. 9, adding another valuable University-community partnership to a growing list while also showcasing the beauty of UWF’s campus. A volunteer-based nonprofit, parkrun offers free, weekly, timed 5K routes at 7:30 a.m. every Saturday, year-round.
There are currently 1,400 parkruns worldwide, with three established in the state of Florida. The other two Florida-based parkrun events are in Clermont and Gainesville. The nonprofit has developed a far-reach since its start in England in 2004. After visiting two parkrun events in Ireland, Pensacola resident Robin Foley introduced the idea of parkrun to Caleb Carmichael, head coach of the UWF men’s and women’s cross country teams, and Howard Reddy, vice president for university advancement.
“I was looking for a suitable course and UWF was looking for additional ways to attract visitors to campus, so linking up was a marriage made in heaven,” Foley said.
Foley has worked with UWF in recent months to clear the trail. The idea of parkrun was a welcoming one for Carmichael—he envisioned a competition-grade cross-country course that could serve UWF, nearby schools and the community.
“I wanted people to be able to come to a home meet here, train for UWF’s cross-country teams or run on a trail on campus,” Carmichael said.
Runners and walkers of all experience levels are invited to participate in the Rec Plex North parkrun. The meeting location will be at the entrance of UWF’s Baars-Firestone Wildlife Sanctuary, located at the backside of the Rec Plex North, behind Lot Z.