Ian Goulding is the Joint-Event Director at Riverside parkrun, located in Chester le Street, County Durham.
Ian tells us about his parkrun journey, and why he loves his home parkrun…
What may seem an obvious progression for me started with a bi-annual medical where I was told off for not doing more exercise to help me lose weight.
I watched my son do Durham parkrun as a spectator, turned up the following week Saturday 26 May 2012 inspired by the dog walkers and pram pushers and got round in over 25 minutes.
After a few months I realised Riverside parkrun existed and on Saturday 11 August 2012 went for the first time.
From that point Riverside parkrun became my home run and friendships and community grew with me joining the core team then lead by Kirstin Farquhar and Natalie Scott.
Over 150 Riverside parkruns later and over 160 volunteering duties later it’s safe to say the friendships and community building continues.
The venue is great, the course is nice and flat, has swans and ducks, views of Lumley Castle and a long riverside path and the local council have been very supportive throughout.
The council has even supported the creation of Riverside junior parkrun which is coming soon.
Best of all of course, are the people who help organise the event, volunteer at it, support it and participate. As the now Joint Event Director, the support and love for parkrun from our participants and volunteers is overwhelming.
The Riverside parkrun route is three flat full laps through a park, passing an ornamental park, flower meadows, along a riverside path and café, mainly on paths and in the summer across a short section of grass.
Runners chasing a fast time should definitely come to Riverside parkrun, and Couch to 5k groups also use Riverside parkrun for graduation. It really is for everyone.
It’s fantastically supportive and volunteered by a lovely bunch of kind hearted parkrun fans.
The most famous landmark on our course has to be ‘Bill’s bend’ – as you join the riverside path, this point is marshalled by Bill, a stalwart volunteer who has volunteered at over 90% of all Riverside parkrun events (280 times).
Bill originally attended to support his boys running , but now he has been more than anyone else and has never completed the course… yet! We have a sign made to mark Bill’s point, and everyone in our parkrun family always thanks Bill on the way around.
Another local legend is Phil Horne, a very regular parkrunner in the 70-74 age category who has completed more than 300 parkruns, over 270 of them at Riverside parkrun. Phil is always encouraging of every runner and attends with other members of the family.
Stalwart is often an overused description. For these two inspirational individuals I think it is a great descriptor.
As well as our hi-vis heroes, we have a large bevvy of friendly swans in the River Wear along the route, and the course offers lovely views of Lumley Castle and Emirates cricket ground, home of Durham County Cricket Club.
After parkrun we use a number of local cafés in Chester le Street, with Coffeebank and Natural Nutrients cafes giving parkrunners special Saturday morning discounts, as well as The Tea Barn at Pity Me, and Costa Coffee in Chester le Street.
We seek to engage with the wider community and encourage volunteer take-overs, led by running clubs, churches and other bodies.
These events bring new people into parkrun and provide a rest for some of the regulars as the take-over team provide volunteers for that week.
Riverside parkrun is the destination for local couch 2 5k groups, seeing the graduating people return the following week to continue their healthy journeys is great, the active support for all participants has created a real community feel.
The participants regularly thank the volunteers online after the parkrun as well as in person. Over 4,400 people have liked Riverside parkrun’s Facebook page and posts of our photos regularly reach 10,000 people.
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