A 5K scheduled for every weekend at Thomas Lake Park

Free event open to everyone

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A free timed 5K run is scheduled for 9 a.m. every Saturday at Thomas Lake Park in Eagan.

Nate Damro just wants to get people running.

He loves to run so much he organized the Eagan parkrun, a year round 5k timed fun run starting at 9 a.m. every Saturday at Thomas Lake Park in Eagan.

It’s free and everyone is invited.

The first one was April 22 and weather has been the biggest factors in attendance. They’ve topped out at about 50 runners, but Damro says there’s room for many more.

“It’s meant to have this grassroots, community feel,” Damro said. “It can be competitive for people who want to go out and push themselves or just jog or walk. People can use it as training for another event. We want to portray ourselves as open to all people.”

He said it’s not meant to compete with other races. In fact, he hopes it inspires more people to register for a paid race.

“Those paid 5K or 10k, those are fabulous events,” Damro said. “We’re not looking to shut them down, quite the contrary. I hope in years to come, the people who organized those paid races see an increase in participation.”

The route is two loops around Thomas Lake Park. They don’t close the course, so runners are asked to give way to other users.

There’s no time limit.

“We want to get people in the community out moving around,” Damro said. “Get them walking and running outside. I hope within a few months we regularly have 100 people. The biggest ones in the world bring out 1400 runners.”

While this is a worldwide organization with more than 11,000 parkruns throughout the world, this is the first parkrun in Minnesota and the ninth parkrun to be organized in the Unites State, Damro said.

Damro discovered the idea of a parkrun while he lived in England in 2014.

When he moved back to Eagan in 2015 he brought with him the idea to put one together in Eagan.

They’re not common in the Unites States, so he said it took a bit of digging. Everything still runs through the United Kingdom he said.

He had to find a route, get approval from the city, raise funds and find volunteers.

The money raised went toward parkrun, which gave them the timing equipment, website and scanner.

“Most people are pleasantly surprised,” Damro said. “It’s miles ahead of what people expect from an untimed fun run.”

It took about 18 months from idea to reality and it will go on as long as there’s interest.

“This is a year round thing,” Damro said. “We’ll see how it goes. There’s one just outside of Detroit and they do it year-round. They have it in Russia and Poland where they have plenty of snow. We may cancel some races if the course isn’t safe. But, if it is, we’ll be out there running.”

Damro also hopes this is just the beginning for parkruns in Minnesota.

“I hope other communities see this and get tired of driving to Eagan and start one in their own community,” Damro said. “I hope there’s 20 in the Twin Cities one day. There’s nothing stopping them, but some initiative and help for a parks department.”

Following the event, race organizers invite runners for some post parkrun coffee at Cupcake and Mason Jar at 1565 Cliff Road.

“We stop there to process the results and email the participants,” Damro said. “We chat about the run. We’ve met several different people we wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s been great.”

For more information, visit www.parkrun.us/eagan/.

For runners who want a time, organizers ask that they register online, so they print out a barcode to scan.

There’s no need to RSVP. Runners only need to register once.

They’re always looking for volunteers, as well. Damro said they’ve received some great help from students at Eagan High School, but it may dissipate during the summer a bit.