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News - 6th February 2019

parkrun profile: Eastney juniors

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Portsmouth is located on England’s south coast, and it is there you can find Eastney junior parkrun every Sunday morning.

 

Eastney junior parkrun Co-Event Director Daniel Del Piccolo tells us more…

 

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I took my children to their first ever junior parkrun event at Eastney juniors a few years back and we had an absolute blast. Not only because it was outdoors, near a park and sports courts where we could play before and afterwards, but also because the volunteer teams there and other runners were just so welcoming.

 

It was so easy just to blend in from the word go and it soon became a regular weekly activity for us as a family. I got asked to join the core RD team after a few months which opened my eyes to just how much work goes into organising each event, and how special the team was.

 

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A couple of years on and I am now Co-Event Director at our event, along with Pete Birch. We have such a fantastic team of Run Directors and regular volunteers who continue to keep things going.

 

Whether it is ten children on a rainy school holiday Sunday, or sixty children during term, we are always all there, along with our keen runners, first timers and visitors!

 

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The course is a double out-and-backer where we keep to the left hand side, minding other park users. We leave from the warm-up routine line and head out along the path to the turn around point marshal, high fiving as we go past.

 

We then head back down the path on the left and run all the way around the magic roundabout, giving our marshal a wave as you go by, and then you head back the same way to the turn around point marshal again, and come all the way back, ensuring that kids finish on the right hand side funnel, and parents finish on the left.

 

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We are also probably (possibly!) the only run to have  a Magic Roundabout???

 

The kids go around here where we normally have our volunteer, Magic Malcolm who marshals there most weeks.

 

Our core team will meet every so often in one of the cafes nearby, but our café in the park is often not always open. We have one across the road which is a bit smaller.

 

Most of the time though the juniors are off with parents to get to various other activities and outings and so if we do meet, it is most likely to discuss parkrun related volunteering things with the core team.

 

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If you are in Portsmouth, on a Sunday morning and you have your barcode with you it is definitely the right way to start the day.

 

People visiting our great city are likely to be visiting the beaches, or the famous HMS Warrior and HMS Victory ships in the Historic Dockyard.

 

There’s no better way to warm up for the day with a trip to our parkrun first. It means you are up, and ready to attack the day!

 

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We have a very special family that join us most weeks at Eastney junior parkrun. The amount of time they’ve put into our junior parkrun and the sheer joy they bring is unmatched.

 

First there is grandad ‘Magic Malc’ (as we call him). He travels from some distance each Sunday morning to come and see and spend some quality time with his grandchildren Izzy and Joe. Malc looks after our Magic Roundabout, hence his nick name. He is known for bringing treats for the kids and sometimes even engaging in the odd game of rounders with the children before parkrun starts.

 

Izzy and Joe are two amazing young runners. Izzy is a very talented young runner who has finished 1st on many occasions. She has also volunteered numerous times at the event and really helped us out over the years.

 

Her brother Joe absolutely loves cars, bouncy balls and plastic ducks and you’ll often find him around the start area showing them off. Joe suffers from a rare chromosome disorder, but that doesn’t stop him having fun and taking part in junior parkrun.

 

Izzy and Joe’s father Mark is our most mischievous parkrunner. You will often find Mark playing all sorts of tricks on the Run Director on duty. No RD is safe from Marks pranks! He will pop a cone on your head during your briefing before you know it. Mark has run and helped us at junior parkrun on more occasions than I can count. He is also responsible for helping us make a lot of the equipment that we use to help store away our boxes and bags.

 

As a family I know they participate in other parkrun events over the weekend too. They are a lovely family and we are extremely lucky to have them at our parkrun.

 

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It’s easy to run a junior parkrun each week and worry about volunteering and runner numbers so much that we sometimes don’t stop for long enough to think about the impact our event is having on the community, but I honestly believe that the good it does is incredible.

 

Sure, there are lots and lots of other families we’d love to join us each week and we can always polish our ways and get things better, but junior parkrun is a great thing. I will always remember a couple of things that stick in my mind that show this impact.

 

The first is seeing my children’s school newsletter which arrives every Friday each week. It makes me proud for our runners that I often see their wrist band achievements mentioned in those newsletters. It makes me know that their junior parkrun achievements are something they really cherish.

 

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The second thing is a parent that once approached me after a run, who let me know that running the 2k course with his child had really helped himself get back into running and be able to start moving again. I hadn’t stopped to think that parents simply joining in with their families could have a way for them to be able to kick start their own running journeys.

 

It is little things like this that make it all worthwhile and show the impact parkrun is having globally. These aside, the smiles each week, the joy in the kids faces as they receive their wrist bands and the way a lot of them show us how to volunteer with such passion and enthusiasm. Absolutely parkrun has a positive impact on our community.

 

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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