Heslington parkrun in York launched in January 2018. Rob Hunt, Co-Event Director at Heslington, gives us the low-down
A few regulars at York parkrun, including two Run Directors (RDs), were keen to set up another course as York parkrun attendance numbers merited more than one parkrun in the city.
As a regular parkrunner myself, and an employee at the University of York, I was keen to see if a suitable course could be found on campus. It could and somehow I found myself as Co-Event Director! But with a great group of eight RDs, including an experienced RD from York.
After seven months of parkrunning, we love it every bit as much as the first run, mainly for the fantastic sense of community, an interesting course and great support from our “landlords”, York Sport Village (YSV) and the University of York.
Our course is easy to follow, scenic and flat. One lap of the smoothest tarmac ever on the YSV cycle track, followed by a slightly bumpy out and back 3k along a block-paved private drive, Lakeside Way, with views over the lake, and then a final lap of the cycle track.
We don’t have any particular landmarks, but we do have a very large resident gaggle of geese and a family of swans that can make for an interesting view on the course if they decide to waddle, very slowly, across it!
It has everything for tourists – it’s a great course with plenty of variety and a very friendly welcome. Parking, toilets and changing facilities available. We then go for coffee at the cafe at YSV, or Starbucks at the University Piazza Building. YSV also very handy for a post-run swim!
Our event is quite unique in the sense that we’re one of only a handful of parkruns hosted entirely on University campuses (but we are open to all!) and we regularly act as an alternative course for our “big brother”, York parkrun, when the horse races are on – hence our attendances can fluctuate significantly.
We are particularly pleased to have attracted a number of students to volunteering roles. Paul Williams, a postgraduate Computer Sciences student, was relatively new to parkrun but now is one of our regular timekeepers and won a Vitality Volunteer of the Month award in May.
Heslington parkrun has helped the University progress towards its wellbeing and engagement objectives including improving local community engagement and increasing footfall on campus – most regular parkrunners having no other connection to the University.
We are also in talks with a couple of local surgeries about them becoming “parkrun practices”. The future looks even brighter for Heslington!
parkrun has always been committed to understanding and removing the barriers to taking part in regular physical activity and volunteering. One such area is the menstrual cycle, with recent research revealing that more than 50% of women and girls in the UK have stopped exercising at some point because of this. Dr Georgie Bruinvels, who…
Lara Adams is Event Director at Forest of Dean junior parkrun, which takes place in Coleford, Gloucestershire. Lara tells us more… I became involved with junior parkrun through friends from the athletics club where I am a member. I was invited to join the core team as apparently I appear organised… I think I…