Posts Tagged ‘parkrun’

Celebrations mark 200th junior parkrun in Little Stoke Park

Posted on Thursday 15th November 2018 at 10:31 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of participants gathered at the start of the 200th junior parkrun event.

Anyone walking their dog or taking an early morning stroll through Little Stoke Park shortly after 9am on Sunday 7th October may have been surprised to see scores of children dressed as cartoon characters running enthusiastically around the perimeter of the park. It’s not exactly the usual time of day to host a birthday party, but this wasn’t a child’s party, rather, it was a special celebration to mark Little Stoke Junior Parkrun’s 200th event.

Although the venue’s main weekly 5km parkrun event folded in 2016 after the parish council withdrew permission for free use of the park (amid widespread criticism from the running community both locally and nationally), a 2km junior parkrun continues to be staged at 9am every Sunday, attracting an average of 60 youngsters in the 4 to 14 year-old age range.

Photo of a cake produced to mark the 200th junior parkrun event.

Children taking part in the milestone event were given the option of completing it in fancy dress and were treated to a specially prepared 200th birthday cake baked by one of the volunteer organisers.

Junior parkrun is open to all and taking part is very straightforward: 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.

There are those who come to achieve a new personal best or a new milestone (and have a free wristband awarded for running the equivalent of a half, full or ultra-marathon). Then there are those who love coming for social reasons – new friendships are formed and kids run together, play in the park and spend more time with one another outside of the Sunday run.

One participant, Ruby, aged 11, said: “I like going to junior parkrun because it’s fun and it keeps you fit and healthy.” So far, she has taken part in 45 junior and 11 standard parkruns and volunteered on eight occasions.

More: Parkrun is inclusive – no matter what your background or abilities »

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Parkrun charging row: Government paper critical of parish council

Posted on Sunday 4th June 2017 at 9:20 pm by SH (Editor)

A BBC reporter interviews a runner in Little Stoke Park on the morning of the cancelled parkrun on 16th April 2016.

Stoke Gifford Parish Council, which hit the national headlines last year when it withdrew permission for a not-for-profit group to use Little Stoke Park for a free weekly running event, has been singled out for criticism by the government in a recently published consultation document titled ‘Running Free’.

The parish council caused outrage in April 2016 when it voted to insist on a financial contribution from the local volunteer group which had staged a weekly 5km ‘parkrun’ in Little Stoke Park since November 2012, claiming that, as an organised group, it should contribute financially towards the maintenance of the park.

Parkrun is a free-to-enter timed 5km run that takes place at 445 locations across the UK at 9am every Saturday. The events are delivered entirely by local volunteers, with support from parkrun UK, a national not-for-profit organisation funded by sponsorship, grants and donations.

Local representatives said parkrun’s founding principles ruled out any compulsory charge being made on participants and forbade them from handling money, the latter effectively ruling out the raising of funds through any other means (such as asking for voluntary donations or applying for a grant).

There is also a 2km junior version of parkrun, for children aged between 4 and 14, the local stage of which continues to take place in Little Stoke Park on Sunday mornings as it was exempted from the parish council’s ruling.

In the consultation paper published on 12th April, the government says the decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to impose a charge on parkrun for the use of Little Stoke Park is “entirely contrary to the objectives of this government both for health and for voluntary community action”.

The paper’s introductory section adds: “The government considers it important that action be taken to prevent other local authorities following Stoke Gifford Parish Council’s example.”

More: "Parkrun and junior parkrun share the park with other park users" »

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Parkrun vote sparks national media frenzy

Posted on Tuesday 3rd May 2016 at 9:21 pm by SH (Editor)

A BBC reporter interviews a runner in Little Stoke Park on the morning of the cancelled parkrun on 16th April 2016.

A decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to insist on a financial contribution from the organisers of a popular free weekly run held in Little Stoke Park sparked a media frenzy last month, with the story featuring for several days in national newspapers and on TV news bulletins.

One of hundreds of similar events that take place around the country at 9am every Saturday morning, Little Stoke parkrun is a free-to-enter timed 5k run that is open to everyone and designed to be safe and easy to take part in.

In common with parkruns all around the country, the event is delivered entirely by local volunteers, with support from parkrun UK, a national not-for-profit organisation funded by sponsorship and grants.

The parish council originally decided to levy a charge of £1 per runner “to maintain park facilities in the future”, but this was never implemented and the demand later morphed into a requirement to make an (unspecified) financial contribution. It also suggested that parkrun could apply for a grant from a suitable body (such as South Gloucestershire Council) in order to provide a source for this contribution.

Local parkrun representatives said the organisation’s founding principles ruled out any compulsory charge being made on participants and forbade them from handling money, effectively ruling out a grant application.

Following a six month delay to allow a solution to be found, the parish council met on 12th April to make a decision on “the future of parkrun at Little Stoke Park”.

The prospect of the council becoming the first in the country to charge parkrun for use of a park attracted attention from the regional media and generated interest from around the country, fuelled by an online petition that had attracted 9,000 signatures by the time the meeting began.

After councillors decided, by six votes to four, to withdraw permission for the run after 28th May, should parkrun not apply for a grant, it quickly became a national story, attracting condemnation from sporting celebrities including Paula Radcliffe and Kelly Holmes.

The Little Stoke parkrun on the following Saturday was cancelled by the organisers, who feared a mass protest, however, around 25 runners ignored the plea and were greeted by a BBC TV crew which broadcast interviews with them on their Breakfast Show.

More: Reactions on Twitter; media coverage »

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Thousands sign petition to keep local parkrun

Posted on Friday 12th February 2016 at 9:03 pm by SH (Editor)

Little Stoke Parkrun trial event on 22nd August 2012.

More than 7,000 people have signed an online petition to persuade Stoke Gifford Parish Council to allow the hugely popular Little Stoke parkrun to continue at Little Stoke Park after its future was threatened by a council decision to levy a charge of £1 per runner.

One of hundreds of similar events that take place around the country at 9am every Saturday morning, Little Stoke parkrun is a free-to-enter timed 5k run that is open to everyone and designed to be safe and easy to take part in.

Hundreds of participants

The Little Stoke event began in November 2012, with support from South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), and has seen its number of participants grow from fewer than a hundred per week during its first six months to an average of 235 per week in 2015, with some runs attracting in excess of 300.

It is delivered entirely by local volunteers who contribute thousands of hours of their time over the course of a year.

A founding principle of the global parkrun organisation is that events should be inclusive and have no barriers to participation, which local organisers say rules out any compulsory charge being made on participants and any handling of money by parkrun volunteers.

A parish council meeting last October voted to delay the imposition of a charge for six months, to allow time for other revenue raising avenues to be explored, but on 22nd January local parkrun organisers reported in an email to participants that they had been informed that the council had indicated it now planned to make a decision on “whether or not to withdraw permission” for the local adult parkrun at a meeting of Full Council on 9th February.

An online petition was started, which attracted 5,000 signatures in the first 48-hours, and runners were encouraged to write letters to the local media (the Bradley Stoke Journal has so far received 27 emails on the matter, read one here).

Organisers added: “We remain hopeful that the parish council will accept our argument that Little Stoke parkrun imposes little cost and brings substantial benefits to the community, and is deserving of their continued support.”

More: South Gloucestershire Council called in to help with talks »

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