Bob Norris, the man who brought parkrun to our local shores officially became the 10th person in SA to reach 500 runs this past Saturday at the Kei Mouth parkrun, joining the list of those worldwide to achieve this feat.
He is a celebrated running coach, director, administrator and columnist. He is known as Mr Road Running in the Border region and nationally and was the Olympic team manager when Josiah Tungwane became the first black South African to win an Olympic gold medal.
He served as the chair of Border Road Running Association and Athletics SA Road Running Commission, local director of Born 2 Run Athletic Club and keeps the community informed through his running columns.
Whether he is actively running, organising events or setting up clubs, Norris’s passion for running is evident and it is his hard work that for more than 10 years, has enabled locals to enjoy relaxed 5km community runs for free every Saturday.
In 2012, Norris launched the first ever East London parkrun at Nahoon Point on August 11 and since then parkrun has achieved huge milestones including two locals, Tia-Mari Taljaard and John Lee being the third and fourth in SA to reach 500 runs and Sunrise-on-Sea parkrun achieving 500 groups runs.
As Norris crossed the finish line, he was joined by all who have benefitted from the countless hours he has dedicated to developing local running.
Reflecting on what his achievement means to him, he said: “I think it means I have had 500 opportunities to meet new people who love the outdoors and testing themselves.”
Fellow running stalwart Danie Bessinger said that the success of the parkrun movement locally will always be synonymous with Norris.
He added; “Bob was convinced by parkrun SA CEO Bruce Fordyce to bring the programme to East London in 2012. Parkrun has grown to be part of so many lives in our area.
“It takes commitment and vasbyt to achieve 500 journeys, something that is not missing in Bob’s makeup. It is our wish that we will all be around for his 1,000th parkrun.”
Born 2 Run AC runner Karen Davies said Norris had left an indelible mark on local running.
“A huge congrats to Bob on this epic milestone and thank you for your commitment to Parkrun and bringing it here to East London.”
Alex Kambule from Real Gijima’s said: “Bob’s contribution to running can’t be measured as it goes far beyond just loving the sport, he still lives it. We need people like him.”