Kent running boom sees 7 parkruns in 7 months!
17 December 2013
Running is booming in Kent and a recent surge in the number of parkruns with seven new events set up in the last seven months, means that there are more opportunities than ever to run in Kent, whatever your ability.
In 2010, Kent’s first parkrun was set up in Whitstable by Event Director Jacky MacDonald and her team of volunteers. The free weekly timed 5K run taking place every Saturday at 9am along the promenade soon became a popular event with well over 100 runners regularly taking part. Many of these runners were local but an ever increasing number travelled across Kent to join Whitstable’s merry band of parkrunners. The demand for more parkruns in Kent was clear!
It took two more years before the next parkrun started in Kent, but thanks to the support of many local Councils, the Run Kent Project, Kent County Council and the ever-growing teams of volunteers, parkrun, and running, is booming in Kent.
All the events take place in the beautiful Kent countryside – like coastal promenades in Margate, nature reserves in Pegwell Bay, country parks like Shorne Woods in Gravesend and Haysden in Tonbridge, river banks in Maidstone, Great Lines Heritage Park in Gillingham and Victoria Park in Ashford.
Each of the 5K routes may differ in scenery and location, but they all welcome walkers, beginner joggers, all the way to elite runners, and they’re all about fun, friendly, sociable running which means everyone from the old to the young can have a go!
Lucy Tomlinson, Run Kent Activator, said: “Seven parkruns in seven months is an incredible achievement. Huge thanks must go to all the teams of volunteers who make these events happen every Saturday. Their commitment is truly inspirational!”
A whopping 6,000 people have taken part in parkruns in Kent and the highest recorded weekly attendance across the eight events was 943 on 9 November.
With the help of the Run Kent Project and the many voluteers, Jacky MacDonald, Kent’s very own parkrun ambassador and Event Director for Whitstable parkrun, has played a key role in the expansion of parkrun in Kent. Jacky offers her full support to any new event, from discussing the initial idea with the local council or landowner, to accurately measuring the route, submitting final details of the new event to parkrun HQ and then training each core team of volunteers so they are fully prepared for their first run!
Jacky (pictured, left) said: “I think parkrun’s success comes down to its community spirit. It’s a free event organised and managed by the community. It’s a way for families to get together and the making of friendships. It is a fully inclusive event meaning that there are no bars to anybody taking part either running, jogging or walking, nor age restraints (although under 11's must be accompanied by an adult at all times). Time is not of the essence and therefore there is a relaxed, laid back feel about parkrun which is encouraging to everyone – from the most hardened athlete and the most reserved!”
Thanks to programmes like parkrun and the Run Kent Project, in partnership with Run England, running is booming in Kent. The great thing is, anyone can be part of Kent's running community, whatever your age, fitness level, aspiration or background.
The Run Kent Project currently supports over 90 qualified Run England group leaders who offer beginner-friendly running sessions throughout Kent, and there are more than 100 official Run England groups registered. With the recent wave of new parkruns, there really is something for everyone when it comes to running in Kent, and 2014 promises to be even better!
For more information about running in Kent, please visit: www.kentsport.org/run.
For more information about parkrun & to register for an event, please visit www.parkrun.org.uk.
Wherever you are in the UK, you can find your nearest Run England group at www.runengland.org/groups.