If there was ever any doubt over the continued popularity of running events and volunteering, Peterborough Parkrun has blown those reservations out of the water during its first year at Ferry Meadows.
Last Saturday saw a record turnout of 378 runners and 44 volunteers to celebrate the first anniversary of the booming free 5k time trial event, which takes place every Saturday at 9am in the country park.
A core team of volunteers led primarily by Eye Community Runners’ Gordon Pearson, 42, helped to set up the Peterborough branch of the national parkrun scheme last August, after a growing call from regional runners for a local event led to months of research and organisation by the core team.
The last year has seen a huge rise in participants, which range from complete beginners who are initially only able to walk the three lap course, to joggers wishing to test themselves out in a friendly, uncompetitive environment, right through to course record holders and local running elite Stamford’s Aaron Scott and Philippa Taylor, whose respective times of 15:23 and 17:58 would challenge for first place in most national 5k races.
Saturday’s anniversary event was a celebration of all that parkrun represents, championing all of those who step up to marshall, time keep, scan barcodes or help set up the course early in the morning amongst many other roles, as well as thanking those runners who have returned for more, week in, week out, helping to nearly double the first week’s attendance and guarantee the atmosphere is always lively and welcoming.
Organisers ensured the 55th Peterborough Parkrun would not be one to forget, as runners and volunteers enjoyed a carnival-like ambience, complete with live local band Diverse, a barbecue, and tables piled high with cakes and other homemade treats.
The centre piece of the impressive display was a gleaming collection of trophies, ready to be awarded to helpers and runners alike for various achievements, including Fenland Runners’ Joice Bandoquillo Showell and Bushfield Joggers’ Phil Barnes, who won their respective points competitions, representing how many events they took part in or volunteered at.
Other volunteers to receive trophies included David and Hilary Ainslie, who collected an award on behalf of all those who help at the event, in recognition of the fact that they have volunteered a total of 56 times between them during the last year.
The parkrun ethos is to encourage anyone of any ability to cover the 5k distance on foot, regardless of speed or time, and as a result there is often well over half an hour between the first and last finishers. However, the last to finish is always followed closely by a friendly volunteer tail runner to ensure they complete the course accurately and have company the whole way through.
Many runners who start off near the back of the field have made huge inroads into their parkrun times, as a result of perseverance and support from the event’s burgeoning community.
First to finish on Saturday was Nene Valley Harriers’ Andrew Jakeman in 16:24, with club mate Rob Prady second in 17:16 and Peterborough AC’s Steve Hall third in 17:41.
Veteran Linda Lascelles from Maiden Newton Runners was first lady in 19:16, and as a result the 50-year-old achieved the highest age grading percentage of 87.02.
To get involved visit the Parkrun website: www.parkrun.org.uk/peterborough/