John Bates tells why he enjoys parkrun:       ** Updated**22/9/13parkrun

At the Hairpin with "Hairpin Andy" and his foam hand

"I started doing parkrun because it had been recommended by various friends. I had never really enjoyed running, but wanted to do more excercise and being local, and on grass and tracks rather than tarmac seemed a good idea. Once I attended I was impresed by the Ethos, organisation and support of the events team and fellow parkrunners"

First of all what is parkrun? perhaps best to use their own words "parkrun is weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in.

These events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and we encourage people of every ability to take part; from those taking their first steps in running to Olympians; from juniors to those with more experience; we welcome you all."

I first went along in November 2012 to the local parkrun in Marple Bridge, where I was made welcome by the team who explained how it works and the course. Once under way I was suitably encouraged round the course by the various marshals and other runners, the further I fell behind, the more support I got! Despite playing football once a week I soon discovered a constant pace is a very different proposition and on getting shin splints towards the end of the first lap I finished at that point. It was on my fourth attempt I managed the whole 5km course in a sedate time of 43.06. I have since got this down to a PB (personal best) of 31.09.

I have really enjoyed the taking part, and also volunteering to do some of the many roles that keep it going. There is a super community feel to both the local Marple Bridge parkrun and the wider parkrun family. Many parkrunners do parkrun tourism, attending other nearby events, as well as ones further afield and abroad. All that is required is to arrive at the start in time, and if you wish to get a time to have registered once with parkrun and to bring your bar code. Every one is very friendly, and I was surpised how many people I have met I already knew, including some patients who travel over from Glossop. As this is the closest parkrun to Glossop a number of people come over regularly including members from Glossodale Harriers. After every event times are published on the website, and you can opt for e-mail and text notification. On the first anniversary, various awards and prizes where given out, and after the run a variety of tasty cakes had been provided by many kind people. As part of the fun community other special days have included a Santa Run on the last Saturday before Christmas and the local guides, brownies and leaders attempting 100km together to celebrate 100 years of guiding in Marple. Next week a pair of regular runners are celebrating their silver wedding anniversary by running in their wedding attire from 1988. There is a lively Facebook page which includes the run reports, some very cleverly written.

parkrun first started at Bushy Park in London in 2004 with just 13 runners, and was started as a free weekly community event, due to demand a further event started in Wimbledon in 2007, followed quickly by a third, events have since increased rapidly across the country and worldwide with around 2-3 being added a week. There are currently 302 locations in 8 countries, there is even one at Camp Bastion.

Performing one of the volunteer roles "Tail Runner" with Miranda

Chatting at the finish line

We had a great turn out to help Maria and Simon celebrate their silver wedding, and to sample the bucks fizz and cake afterwards.

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