Inaugural parkruns in the UK have become so popular that they are now soft-launched, aiming for local participants and as few tourists as possible, to give the event team time to bed in, not swamp them with huge numbers on that first, nervy, event. In many other countries, though, numbers are not yet a problem, so the launch of Duffins Trail, roughly equidistant to three other parkruns from my Friday night location, was too tempting to resist. Why not be one of the first to enjoy it?
The website tells you that the course covers a small portion of the Trans-Canada trail. It’s pretty scenic, even on a cool October morning. The surface is paved, with a few twists (including, till the tree is removed, a couple of tight turns on a path round a fallen tree. The path is pretty well trodden out, so it has been there a while.) It is a double out and back, with one 180 turn at the top, and another at the bottom left, near the finish. It came out a smidge short on most watches, so the latter turn might be extended for future runs.
There were 22 of us for this first run, but that still included 3 long distance tourists, two Brits and an Aussie. A handful from the local Whitby parkrun had also come over. I had driven over from Kingston, a long (225km or so) straight drive in the early morning. I am dog-sitting, so was dependent on the largesse of my hosts, but they are perfectly happy for me to borrow a car in return for taking the dogs for walks, feeding and checking up on them and the cats. Still, if you can stay local to the event, all to the good. Had I been staying in the area, I’d have snapped up the offer of attending a Thanksgiving dinner, made at the coffee stop afterwards.
That coffee stop is a lovely one, incidentally. The race director helps run The Waypoint, a local community centre. It is not-for-profit and provides the coffee and tea for free. Or a glass of water, if you like. It is well worth a look, all renovated locally, and likely to be a warm and snug spot in winter.
I had a decent if not stellar run. Matthew stayed with me for a while, before running off into the distance, but we could follow the course easily enough on our own, other than him ignoring the turnaround point at the top till I called him back. Some people didn’t understand the final turnaround, not running the full distance down the trail (thinking they just had to take a wide line around a three-way intersection) but otherwise there were no problems.
Parking is free on the Old Kingston Road, the main hughstreet in Ajax, or there is a car park nearby. Duffins Trail itself has a very small carpark, closed in winter, for early arrivers. There are no other facilities there, so build in a few extra minutes to visit somewhere en route if you’re driving. Otherwise, enjoy a lovely community parkrun, supported by the local town, with some shelter from sun or rain.