Locke Park 20 - 9th March 2014
Taken from the Park Run Update by Tom Williams
On Sunday I was fortunate enough to find myself on the start line of the inaugural Redcar 20 mile race, consisting of 20 laps (yes, you read that right) of Locke Park, three of which make up the regular Saturday morning Redcar parkrun. I vividly remember being on the same start line back in April 2012 for the first ever Redcar parkrun event and to see how far it’s come plus the level to which it has engaged with the community was simply breathtaking. Sunday’s race was one of the best road racing experiences I’ve had, from the dedicated participants to the boisterous supporters through to the amazing volunteer team it really was a community event and throughout those groups were a whole load of parkrunners. In the post-race email communications the organiser (Graham Hall - also Redcar parkrun Event Director) specifically credited the parkrun itself for playing such a large part in the success of the race.
Looking back at my emails we were contacted by Andy Pearson in 2011 where working as the Sports and Leisure Development Team Leader for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council he was keen to get something going. Andy and Graham spent the next few months bringing it all together and here we are a couple of years later after 95 events that have seen 1,135 different people run over 35,000km around the Park. The real benefits are far greater however, and not measured in miles run or PBs achieved, the local bowling club host the post-run coffee every week, which generates significant income for them and has brought the two community groups together. Friendships have been made. Talking of friends, the Friends of the Park group have become heavily involved and Sunday’s race generated some much needed funds to help keep a much needed park in tip-top condition.
Helen, Rosie and I had also travelled to Redcar with our good friends Jamie and Debbie and their son Josh. Debbie grew up right by the Park and went to school just round the corner so I really felt a sense of pride that our wonderful movement had created such positive community engagement in an area close to my friend’s heart. This is in no way unique of course, all around the UK (and the World for that matter) our model has been replicated time and time again and with each new email enquiry we receive the opportunities to build communities in wonderful places increase. What Sunday reminded me of however is that whether you’re in a World Heritage site or a local town-centre park the beauty is in the people coming together and sharing an area of open space, with friends old and new.
P.S. Andy - In your original email you said ‘we have a fairly challenging course’… it's flatter than the proverbial pancake!