Jamaica Pond Parkrun is More Than Just a Run in the Park

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The Jamaica Pond Parkrun will celebrate its one-year anniversary this Saturday -- with what else -- a run around Jamaica Pond.

Jamaica Pond Parkrun is a free, weekly, 5K timed run. Everyone is welcome to take part as a runner, walker, volunteer or spectator.

Obviously, Jamaica Pond had quite a history before the Jamaica Pond Parkrun ever came to it. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted made the glacier-carved land into one of the jewels of the Emerald Necklace, a string of heartbreakingly beautiful green spaces in Boston. Many decades later, Bill Rodgers, the four-time Boston Marathon champion, used endless laps of the path to train his legs to compete on the world stage, well before GPS could turn every route into a precisely measured one.

So it was a tall order for our founders Laura Cornelissen and Rose Penfold, as well as core volunteers Ben Birch, Ann Carbone and Dan Forward, to make their own mark on Jamaica Pond. March 30 marks the first anniversary of JPparkrun, and with the heroic support of people like our very own social-media manager Wali Sabuhi, expert timekeeper Allison Amico, and James Smith, the amazing man who drills holes in the ground when it’s frozen so we can fly our flags, they’ve succeeded in that endeavor. What started as “test runs” in December 2017 has grown into a community-wellness experience that draws people from all over the world, at all times of the year.

Flight attendants have changed their routes to stop off at JPparkrun. A couple from the other side of the earth celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary with us. Two days before the Boston Marathon when the Boston Athletic Association hosts a 5K at 8 am, a car full of people arrived at the pond, still wearing their 5K medals, then jump right into our start area, ready for their second half of a uniquely Bostonian running experience.

None of this would have happened, of course, without the people who join us week after week through blizzards, heat waves, breathtaking spring and fall days, and temporary course diversions to participate and volunteer. Like Jarlath Meenan, a junior parkrunner who achieved his 50 shirt while at Jamaica Pond (and recently made us brownies). Like Bob Steeves, a masters runner who’s run nearly every single week with us and is nearly to 50 himself (he’ll be the first ever to do so with all runs at JP), and Pippa and Tom Ford, who make a long drive to get to the pond.

In our first year, we’ve set an attendance record of 191 runners. We’ve introduced pacers to help our participants reach new personal bests. We’ve gained the support of local running clubs, like the Forest Hills Runners (just check our leaderboards!) and the Dashing Whippets. And we’ve met an incredible number of new friends by walking and running the course and meeting at City Feed & Supply afterward. It’s safe to say we’ve made history at Jamaica Pond. Won’t you join us in year two to become a part of our story?

Jamaica Pond parkrun will be celebrating their first birthday on March 30, 2019 at 8:30 am at Pinebank Promontory. First Timer Brief at 8.50am. Run starts at 9am. For more info please check out parkrun.us/jamaicapond.