News - 21st January 2019

parkrun profile: Stewart


Ruth McMaster Lees is Event Director at Stewart parkrun, in Middlesbrough in the north east of England. Ruth tells us more about her home event…


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I was supporting a group of friends who were training for the Middlesbrough 10k and came across parkrun by accident, so started to volunteer, progressing to the role of Co-Event Director.


I love the community feel of parkrun and the friendships I have made because of it. It’s always worth getting up to go to Stewart Park on a Saturday morning.  


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Our course is extremely scenic, with open parkland to the north and woodland to the south, including a number of ponds around the route.


The course itself is two laps run partly on tarmac paths, partly woodland paths (and, if weather dictates the need for route B, grass aka mud!). 


There are a few inclines en-route but enough of the course is flat so that parkrunners can get their breath back!


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The course is beautiful throughout every season; it is held within a park that holds a Green Flag Award. En-route you will pass geese, ducks, rabbits, hens and even llamas as well as other wild life.


There are fantastic play facilities for the children, a visitors’ centre, a wonderful café and plenty to interest the history buffs out there.


Transport links are excellent and the people are just brilliant. How could you stay away???


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The Captain Cook birthplace museum is our most famous landmark.


The explorer, Captain James Cook was born in a cottage within the site of Stewart Park, and the museum is dedicated to his achievements. Because of this, the park has featured on the Channel 4 programme “Time Team”.


The park was also opened by Councillor Thomas Dormand Stewart on 23 May 1928 with the intention of making it “a public possession, open and accessible to the people for all time” so it is truly a Middlesbrough community event!


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After parkrun we head to Henry’s Café, which is situated in a courtyard at the finish of our course. In the summer months, parkrunners can sit outside in the sunshine and in the colder months the café itself is cosy and welcoming.


At the back of the café is a beautiful walled garden with lavender and herbs – a lovely place on a summer’s day. In the café there is a wide range of food and drink and fantastic staff who are willing to prepare cake for parkrunners celebrating milestones.


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Our parkrun is a real family friendly event, welcoming babies in buggies through to our oldest runner, Alex, who has completed over 350 parkruns in his 80s.


In August, Jacob Smethurst, son of my Co-Event Director Sam Smethurst ran his 50th parkrun at the age of 5 and was featured in the parkrun blog.


Visitors always comment on the warm and friendly nature of the event. Stewart parkrun provides a constant, non judgemental event every Saturday morning and a number of people have commented on how it helps their physical and mental health.


If you’re interested in finding out more about bringing parkrun to your own community, click here.


You can read more parkrun profiles here.

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