Popular weekly event in Little Stoke Park celebrates first anniversary.
Sunday used to be my one day of the week to have a lie-in, until just over a year ago, when I took on the role of Event Director of the brand new Little Stoke junior parkrun. As an enthusiastic runner and big fan of parkrun (the more established, free, weekly timed 5km run for all ages), I was very excited to be involved in the Bristol debut of the newer junior events for four- to fourteen-year-olds, which was ostensibly about getting children interested in running, but turned out to be so much more.
The process is simple enough: having signed up for free on the parkrun website and printed their personal barcode, runners turn up at Little Stoke Park shortly before 9am on Sunday, listen to the run briefing, take part in a short, fun warm-up routine, run a lap and a bit of the park, then have their barcode and finish token scanned so that the results can be processed and published later. Colourful wristbands are awarded for completing 11, 21 and 50 events, representing the distances of half-marathon, marathon and ultra marathon.
A run, not a race
It’s what happens around all this that makes it magical. A buzz builds as families start to arrive, just as the volunteer team is making the finishing touches to the course. Friendships are renewed and new ones made; some have even come along just for this social side and don’t actually plan to run at all!
Runners have loads of fun either flying round as fast as they can to beat their best time, or just sauntering, picking daisies or playing as they go. Parents are amazed and proud week after week at how far their children can run, or how fast they complete the course, or how they go back to cheer on their friends as they approach the finish line. Some parents run with their children, and are often surprised to find themselves enjoying running, so much so they might even take it up themselves. This is the magic of parkrun – a run, not a race, which is accessible (in all senses of the word) to all, regardless of ability.
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