Seaton parkrun in Devon, in the south west of England offers, some of the most dramatic backdrops you will find at any parkrun anywhere in the world.
Carol Austin, the Seaton parkrun Co-Event Director, tells us the story behind the event, and what awaits those taking on the course…
After moving from Birmingham five years ago where I had been very involved in Cannon Hill parkrun for three years I found our nearest events were a good 45-minute drive away and I was amazed at how few people in Seaton knew about parkrun.
In 2013 the south-west was a bit of a parkrun desert. I missed the run but even more I missed the camaraderie of parkrun – Saturdays were just not the same!
I wanted to start an event to give many more people the opportunity to experience and enjoy parkrun as much as I had in Birmingham.
My partner and I then met with Tony Smith who had also recently moved to the area and had some parkrun experience from visits to his mother in Reading and David and Susi Sadler who had also recently moved here and were missing their Yorkshire parkrun.
After settling on the Esplanade as a possible course we approached parkrun HQ and started to sound out possible volunteers. We have been fortunate to have put together a brilliant core team and the local community in Seaton has really taken parkrun to its heart.
With a strong volunteer network, we attract more and more new participants of every shape, size and speed plus our beautiful location means we welcome many parkrun tourists every week, which is great for the town.
Our course is a flat, two lappet mostly on the Esplanade with the sea splashing away to your side but we have either a start or a finish on the pebble beach! During the winter we finish on the pebbles but in the summer, because of the beach huts we reverse the route and start with the pebbles.
Our infamous pebbles are our most talked about feature, but our route also goes past the “waves” – two pieces of metal artwork shaped like waves with the very apt words “The waves shape the shore” –our beach start can be different every week as the beach changes shape.
The scenery is stunning with Beer Head cliffs to one end and Haven Cliff at the other. As you walk, jog or run you will see you will see Jurassic, Triassic and Cretacious rocks – the only place in the country where this is possible.
In summertime, you will run or walk alongside colourful beach huts on one side and the English Channel on the other. Our friendly and encouraging volunteers will make you very welcome.
We have a string of flags representing every country from which a parkrunner has visited us. We love to add more!
Two core team members, David and Susi Sadler who relocated to Seaton from Yorkshire where they were keen parkrunners, have donated an Incred-i-bell so parkrunners can celebrate a PB, a good run or just being up and out by ringing the bell.
After parkrun, we head to the very appropriately named Pebbles café, which is just across the road from the finish. The core team always go there to process the results over a good coffee. Breakfasts from full English to teacakes and tasty cakes are available or why not go straight to ice cream as we are by the sea!
If you’re in there when you get your parkrun PB you can be sure of a round of applause. We held a volunteers Christmas party in Pebbles last year with 40 high vizzers enjoying great food, a drink or two and a chance for the Event Directors to thank our dedicated team.
We also have two cafes on the route – Spot On and Hideaway – both of which have been known to provide a free cuppa to our nearby marshals.
One of our enterprising volunteers has mounted our parkrun ‘keep left’ arrows on a long pole so it can be seen above even the tallest runners and another has provided a concrete base with the right sized hole in for the parkrun flag so it can withstand the strongest of winds.
Another of our regulars is Maxine, who was one of the first Seaton parkrunners to reach 50 parkruns, all at Seaton. She hadn’t run since her teens (she is now W60-64) and since parkrun has joined the local running club. She constantly tells us that “parkrun has changed my life – thank you”.
Our event has had an immense impact on the local community in so many different ways. For many recent newcomers to the area like me, the parkrun community has become our friendship group. Volunteers and parkurnners have made friends and now meet, run, have coffee regularly outside of parkrun.
The ‘official’ post parkrun café is always packed on Saturdays with the results processors, volunteers and parkrunners enjoying their coffee and breakfast but, so too, are many other cafes along the route and near the start and finish.
We also know parkrun tourists have stayed at B&Bs, hotels and rented cottages to attend. The buzz on a Saturday morning has been welcomed by the Town and District Councils. Finally, the three local GP practices have all signed up to be parkrun practices and we are starting to attract some walkers. Long may it continue!
Lots of locals now come and watch including 82-year-old Ernest (below) who rolls up every week, come rain or shine, to cheer on the parkrunners then pops over to the cafe for his full English!
Durham parkrun can be found every Saturday morning in Durham City, in the north east of England. Clare Clish from Durham parkrun takes us inside her home event… My friend Andrew Hopkins kept nagging me to go along to parkrun and so eventually I caved in and went along to see what it…
Spring is just around the corner so to celebrate the clocks going forward, why not join our friends at Millbrook Beds in your pyjamas for the next parkrun in pyjamas on Saturday 30 March. There were some amazing photos and pyjamas at the parkrun in pyjamas last year! Millbrook Beds have five award-winning hand-made mattresses to be won…