Hockley Woods parkrun takes place every Saturday morning in Hockley, in Essex, England.
Event Director Karl Cadman tells us more…
It was September 2013, when Mark Aldous from Rochford District Council approached me with the idea of a local parkrun in the area.
Being Race Director of several races at the time, I had a bit of head start on the thought process behind the planning, and also the contacts and willing supporters for such an event.
Further meetings and ideas were brainstormed among willing volunteers and the event took shape, eventually launching on Saturday 7 February 2015.
Just to the south of the village lies a 250 acre area of ancient woodland. There are a number of different woods here which are collectively known as Hockley Woods.
The woods have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by English Nature owing to the variety of rare plants and trees that grow in its undisturbed soil. Timber from the wood was apparently used in the construction of Southend Pier.
Hockley Woods parkrun is a two lap, clockwise, scenic, undulating course within the confines of Hockley Woods, on a mixture of trail and woodland paths. Our most famous landmark is probably our final hill accent to the finish!
The course, which starts in Hockley Woods every Saturday at 9:00am, has attracted parkrunners from all around the UK and abroad, and with the ever changing environment is a must do on the parkrun list.
Not that it is an easy course, with the undulating trails in the Woods a real challenge to the runners, but having said that Team GB athlete Adam Hickey flew round the two lap course in 15:35, setting our course record in week 6.
We were three years old in February, and during our growth we have seen so many novice walkers, joggers and runners blossom into regular supporters of parkrun.
We have a number of regular volunteers and first time Duke of Edinburgh students who grow with the event to really make this a community event. every single week.
Our Woods are ever changing, depending upon the season you visit us, and the slight uphill start makes our event a challenge, but also gives great satisfaction on completion, along with the cheers from our volunteers.
One interesting fact about our event is that it is held in the largest remaining area of wild wood, which covered Essex after the Ice Age 10,000 years ago.
Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in the Village Cafe in Hockley (only a four minute walk away) and process the results. We can definitely recommend the breakfasts that are on offer!
Most weeks there are at least 200 parkrunners taking on the course. Since our first event way back in February 2015, more than 5,000 different girls, boys, men and women have completed our event over 33,000 times!
Our event has grown into such a great community event, with walkers, runners and volunteers who regularly attend week in, week out to ensure the event takes place.
It really is testament to parkrun that this event, along with nearby events at Southend, Basildon, Chelmsford, and Maldon steadily grow in number week on week.
We also hold food-donation stations every year, to aid the local community, and always have too many cake donations on our birthday and special events!
We are also in talks with a couple of local surgeries about them becoming “parkrun practices”, and have already teamed up with Audley Mills Surgery, in Rayleigh, and with the help of a local parkrunner who is also a Practice Nurse at two doctors surgeries in Hawkwell and Rochford.
This article first appeared in the Journal of Holistic Healthcare and the British Holistic Medical Association (BHMA) has kindly allowed it to be reproduced here. My name is Dr Simon Tobin and I’ve been an NHS GP and trainer in Southport for 25 years. I am also one of parkrun’s volunteer Health and Wellbeing Ambassadors. My…
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