The town of Billericay in Essex may be most known for its starring role in the TV series Gavin and Stacey, but it’s also home to parkrun!
David Hayday, Event Director of Billericay parkrun tells us more…
I discovered parkrun in 2013 at Chelmsford Central parkrun and it was love at first jog – the simplicity, the inclusiveness, the volunteering, the outdoors and the feeling of community, all drew me in instantly.
Love Chelmsford as I did though, the more smitten I became, the more I wanted to share the joy a little closer to home in Billericay.
Once the permissions were in place, it all happened very quickly – fast forward two years and over a hundred events later and Billericay parkrun is well established and much loved.
Our parkrun is at Lake Meadows, Billericay’s town park. Even though we are right in the centre of town and just over the road from the railway station, the park has a great mix of tarmac and grass underfoot, as well as a large lake and lots of beautiful wildlife.
We’re a multi-lap event, so you’ll have fantastic support all the way round from our brilliant marshals and welcoming community that’s always up for a laugh.
The most famous landmark on our course is probably Merlin the wizard, who was sculpted out of a dead oak tree a few years ago. He watches over our finishing curve along with his pet dragons and loves being in visiting parkrunners’ selfies.
Like most parkruns, we get our fair share of tourists from far and wide and many of them seem to comment on the same thing – that we have a fantastic community. So if you want to go somewhere new and still feel instantly at home, come and pay us a visit.
If that’s not enough to persuade you, if you complete both Billericay parkrun and Barry Island parkrun in South Wales, you’ll have the bragging rights to a ‘Gavin and Stacey Double’. Tidy!
In November 2018, we celebrated the connection between our two events in style by encouraging locals and those further afield to join us in Barry Island for a truly amazing and record-breaking parkrun ‘twinning’ event.
I still vividly recall the fantastic party atmosphere, the various guests and dignitaries, and the brilliant friendly reaction of both communities.
Since then, a sign sits proudly at each event directing runners to the ‘other’ event and an increasing number have now got the crucial selfie evidence to prove they are ‘Gavin & Stacey’ parkrunners!
As with most parkruns, it’s the people who make Billericay parkrun unique. We have loads of families and children taking part, so it’s always lively and full of fun too. One young lady captured the hearts of many at Billericay almost from day one.
Sophie was just 5 years old when she first volunteered at parkrun, but with Dad Craig and Mum Nicola, she soon became a very regular hi-vis hero marshalling with beaming smile, tons of enthusiasm and dispensing Foam Finger high fives by the barrow load – each one thought to include energy-boosting properties.
It was the least we could do to recognise her brilliant contribution by immortalising ‘her’ corner in our event signage!
We’ve also been proud of our record in encouraging and supporting Visually Impaired runners to take part in parkrun. In 2018, our VI runners ran a total of 100 times at Billericay parkrun guided by local people – many of whom we have supported to achieve accredited training.
Anyhow, it’s amazing how many parkruns start with the letter B (not least our good friends at Barry Island), but whether you normally parkrun at Basildon, Brentwood, Barnsley, Bournemouth, Bushy, or Bathurst in Australia, you’ll always be very welcome at Billericay – just remember to ‘doff your cap’ to Merlin when you arrive!
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