©2011 Edward C. Lunnon
Tuesday 17 January 2012: 5 years 4 months on … Advantage ED
Two months ago Loynes Jenkerson was unknown to me.
Then I received a phone call from him – to thank me for our radio programme and what it meant to him personally.
I invited him to join me for coffee at Bluewaters café and, as they say, the rest is history.
We discovered that we had a mutual interest in road running – me having run my first official Knysna half-marathon with Lindsay Brown in 2000 and my last one in the year before I became ill. Loynes is still an active runner and the organiser of many races. In our discussion we decided that this July 2012 would see a number of us walking that half-marathon again!
The next thing I knew, Loynes called me again, and asked me for my permission to organise a race in Port Elizabeth to highlight my illness. I agreed to the ED Lunnon Run/Walk in the Parks on two conditions: one was that I would not be expected to help organise the programme and, secondly, that there would be some or other event that would be arranged for people with special needs.
So within the short period of just over one month, and that over the holiday period, the event was organised and put together by Loynes, Colleen Muller and his team of helpers.
There was to be an official 10km run/walk, a 5km fun run/walk and a 1km “walk” around the Grey Schools for people with special needs – people with wheelchairs, crutches, walking sticks, blind people, … you name it!
Permission was sought and granted by Grey Junior School to use their facilities in Mill Park as the starting and finishing point, with parking facilities at the High School. The races would take place in Mill Park and Newton Park – hence the name “Walk/Run in the Parks”.
Loynes is one of those people who does first and then asks – he does not see the wood for the trees – and just gets on with it. “It’s better to ask for forgiveness later than to ask for permission in the first place!” (my paraphrasing!)
Yvonne Anderson was brought on board to organise the handicapped race.
Within days, the framework and the sponsors were there, within weeks the print material and advertising and before the end of December, the first registrations were coming in!
Well-known sports personalities like Steven Hunt, Rory Duncan and Kevin Paul came onboard. People from all walks of life offered to help.
And so came 14 January 2012.
I was slightly nervous when I approached the schools. Firstly, I had volunteered to walk five kilometres and secondly, I was hoping that Loynes would not be disappointed when he saw a few hundred people arrive for the events.
But what I saw in front of me was a sea of humanity – some one thousand people, from as far afield as Union High School in Graaff-Reinet, were already lining up at the start in College Drive.
I became even more nervous. Was there the capacity to handle so many entrants?
“Oh thee of little faith!”
The weather was perfect. The excitement palpable. Late registrations and more late registrations. Last minute hiccoughs.
But, at 06h30, I pulled the trigger to start the 2012 ED Lunnon 10km Run in the Parks, then at 6h45 the same for the 5km run/walk (and then getting myself into the pack to participate, too) and getting back before 07h45 to start the special 1km race.
At 8h30 the prize-giving took place on Junior Grey’s Osborne Field and by 09h30 the clearing up process was in place. Putting away all the equipment for the 2013 races and what will hopefully be the beginning of many more.
Truly, a run in the park may just be a walk in the park for some, but at the end of it all, it takes small ideas from people like Loynes to start big things – in this case, a new movement to raise awareness of people with disabilities, whether they be neurological like CBD, or as a result of motor car accidents.
I hope to see you all in Knysna in July and in the Parks again in January of Twenty Thirteen!
(PS I will post results and pics as soon as I receive them.)