Bury St Edmunds junior parkrun in west Suffolk, East Anglia is one of over 200 junior parkruns across the UK.
Event Directors Steve Neumann and Hannah Jewers tell us more…
Back in March 2016, due to our frequent running at the Bury St Edmunds 5k parkrun event, we became aware of the possibility of getting involved with a new junior event.
We answered the plea for volunteers to help set up the event and, before we knew it, found ourselves as co-event directors.
It was with much excitement that, 6 months later, on Sunday 23 October 2016, we held our first event with a fantastic 101 runners!
64 events later and we have an average of 76 runners per week who thoroughly enjoy themselves. Seeing the sea of smiling faces – adults as well as children – running around our course on a Sunday morning makes the early mornings worthwhile.
Our 2 1/3 lap course is run fully on grass, which does sometimes get a bit muddy! We start at the bottom of the field and run around the edge in an anticlockwise direction.
There is a bit of a hill just after the start, but once you get to the top, you meet our lovely High-5 marshal who is ready to cheer you on with giant foam hands.
The course continues around the top of the field and then behind a hedge. This is where you can pick up speed a little as you go down the hill back to the starting point.
The second lap is exactly the same as the first, and then it’s onto the final stretch. This time, at the top of the hill, you break off to the left to enter our finishing funnel to the cheers of our timers and spectating parents.
Our event features a long hedgeline for around 300m of the field length where the route takes you through the ‘tunnel’.
This can create some fantastic photos of our runners as they exert themselves down the hill back towards the start line to complete each lap.
The children love to high five the High-5 marshal at the top of the hill, equipped with big foam hands on the way round the course!
Our event is extremely friendly with a local community feel. Newcomers and tourists are always made to feel very welcome by the volunteer team and participants who offer plenty of encouragement and smiles.
Our event is located with good proximity to the town which has a small but bustling old-feel market layout and a beautiful cathedral and grounds to explore.
You can also see the Bury St Edmunds town landscape from the field including landmarks such as the beautiful St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Greene King Brewery and the smoke billowing from the British Sugar plant.
We have built up an amazing team of volunteers including our super Duke of Edinburgh Award student, William Terry. Having recently completed his silver award with us, he found that he enjoyed himself so much, he continued to volunteer!
He is now back with us to complete his gold award and as soon as he turns 18 this month, he is going to become one of our Run Directors!
We were absolutely thrilled last year to hear that we had been nominated for two awards locally.
The first, the People’s Choice Community Project award from Suffolk Sport was voted for by the public and our event was the winner in the category.
We were so proud that people took the chance to vote for our event and spent a lovely morning with a team from Suffolk Sport who came to make a video about us to be shown at the awards ceremony.
The second, Volunteer of the Year Award from West Suffolk Sports saw us make a shortlist of three, but unfortunately due to some extremely tough competition, we were unsuccessful.
As a team, we are so proud of what we have achieved with our event over the last 14 months and we hope that it will continue to encourage our youngsters (and their parents) to get out in the fresh air and enjoy their exercise.
Each Sunday we have between 60 and 100 children running with us and many of them are running with their parents. So, not only are we having a positive impact on the lives of the children, but we are encouraging their parents to don their trainers too!
There are several young runners that have gone on to join local running clubs and also have progressed at cross-country and other sports at school too.
One of young runners – Zachary Grove, 8 – has completed a fantastic 61 out of our 64 events to date! He was the first to reach each of the half marathon, marathon and ultra-marathon wristband milestones at our event. He often joins with his younger sister Olivia, who is now close to her 50th run and is supported by his father Robert and mother Lisa who regularly run too.
We also have a lovely gentleman who volunteers whenever he can – David Swales suffered a stroke after a run in April 2016 and, because of this, suffers with cognitive problems and loss of sight in one eye.
He now relies on other people to get him to the 5k event on a Saturday morning so finds it difficult to volunteer. Wanting to give something back to our wonderful organisation, as soon as he heard of our event, which is within walking distance of his home, he offered to volunteer with us.
He is now one of our most active volunteers and was the recent winner of the Suffolk Sport Elena Balatcha Award for triumph over adversity.
After parkrun, we head to The Coffee House, located just 300m from our event at Lawson Place, Moreton Hall, is our closest place for a coffee, and junior parkrunners get a 10% discount by showing their barcode.
Many parents have told us that junior parkrun is a highlight of their week, encouraging them as a family to come together and do something active.
If you’ve been inspired to bring parkrun to your own community, we’d love to hear from you using this form.
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