Louisa Parsons is Run Director at Raphael parkrun in Romford, Essex. She tells us more about her home parkrun…
I started parkrun when I was pregnant with my second daughter to keep my fitness up. Since then I have completed almost 100 parkruns and volunteered over 25 times, including being Run Director.
I love being a part of Raphael parkrun as it brings so many different people together on a Saturday morning and the community spirit is fantastic.
Our park is so beautiful and peaceful, it is an honour to be able to run in it each week. Raphael parkrun is so friendly that you always go home with a smile on your face and it sets you up for your day!
The course is a three-lapper (two big and one small) which has you running next to a lake, an open air theatre, football fields, tennis courts and a children’s playground.
It’s great as it is all on tarmac, but can be challenging due to some sneaky inclines (and one quite big one)!
The park is probably known best for the lake and fountain which we get to walk, jog and run next to.
People come to feed the birds seeds and porridge (not bread!) and in the spring see all the newly hatched ducklings and goslings which are very cute!
We are a parkrun in a glorious park, run all on tarmac with a great bunch of friendly volunteers and runners.
Raphael parkrun is fab in all seasons, from the vivid colours brought out on a sunny day to the crisp freshness of the falling leaves in autumn.
It’s great course to run whatever the weather and we always encourage people of all fitness levels. Afterwards we usually head to Costa Coffee in Gidea Park which is about a 10 minute walk away.
There are also good links to public transport and it’s easy to get to central London if you fancy a day out after!
One thing unusual about our event is the fact you’ll always be dry getting your barcode scanned, because we scan them in the bandstand, which is also a great place to leave jumpers and bags, and have a chat if its raining.
One of our regular marshals, Awtar, has marshalled over 100 times and even has his own hi-vis. He is a permanent fixture at the main gate and always shouts encouragement to help everyone to those PBs!
Since starting our numbers have grown considerably, from about 100 to now nearly 300. Our core team has grown too and we regularly attend the Friends of Raphael & Lodge Farm parks meetings to discuss happenings in the park.
We have also seen more people coming regularly who may not be as quick but they are coming to increase fitness, both physical and mentally.
We have also just had a local GP surgery become a parkrun practice and they are encouraging patients with hypertension to become involved.
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