Joggers eagerly await return of much-loved parkrun events in Nottinghamshire
Before the pandemic, parkrun had become something of a modern phenomenon. Fiona Evans looks forward to its long-awaited return.
It will be an emotional day when people finally line up to take part in their first parkrun in more than a year.The feeling may well be bordering on euphoric and with good reason.When the pandemic stopped these weekly 5k events in their tracks, the impact resonated beyond the loss of regular organised activity.For thousands of people, the Saturday morning parkrun had become a weekend staple; not only a run, jog or walk but an opportunity to check in with a wider community.It wasn’t just the satisfaction of completing 5k that was missed but the volunteers’ encouragement, the smiles along the way, the camaraderie, the post-run coffee and chat, the warm welcome to newcomers.For the uninitiated, parkruns are free, weekly, inclusive, community events in areas of public space. Volunteer led, they are open to anyone of any age, ability, or background, whether you walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate.Paused since March 2020 across the UK, thousands are eagerly awaiting the return of the Saturday events.Regular parkrunner and volunteer Elaine Woodbridge 54, is among those who have felt the absence.Based in Sutton-in-Ashfield, the mum-of-three’s regular event is Brierley Forest parkrun but she has run and volunteered at Mansfield, Sherwood Pines, Bestwood Village and Shipley Country Park.Elsewhere in the county, pre-pandemic, events were also held at Forest Rec, Nottingham; Clumber Park and Rother Valley.Elaine ventured to her first event around three years ago and credits parkrun with helping to change her life.“It doesn’t matter whether you walk or run or how fast you are; it’s about the camaraderie and the community spirit and everybody is there to cheer you on,” she said.“Everybody is friendly. It becomes a way of life. I have made some really good friends through parkrun who I didn’t know before we started and who are all ages.“Volunteering makes you feel like you are giving something back to something that’s helping you.”Elaine, who works at mass vaccination centres in Nottinghamshire, also found parkrun has helped with her anxiety.“It’s made me healthier, fitter and it’s given me lifelong friends and an opportunity to give something back to the area I live in,” she said.“I ran when parkrun was cancelled but it’s very different. It’s really helped me and I can’t wait for it to come back.”Last month (April), parkrun global chief operating officer, Tom Williams, wrote to all landowners of its 5k parkrun events in England, with a request to return on Saturday, June 5.At time of writing, 19 per cent (around 109 events) had agreed and 38 per cent were in progress but parkrun was awaiting a response from 43 per cent of landowners (around 243 events).In an online update on April 30, Tom Williams wrote: “It is critical that by Friday, May 21 (two weeks before our planned return) we achieve permission for the large majority of our events to return.”He warned that “the future of all parkrun events is at stake, and so we must do everything we can to ensure the organisation survives and that our events return.”