Preston’s first parkrun got off to a flying start yesterday, with one hundred runners turning out for the inaugural event on Avenham Park.Advertisement
The parkrun began at 9am underneath the old East Lancashire Viaduct, as it will do every week, but plenty of people turned up half an hour early to warm up and socialise with other runners at the Pavilion. After a brief introduction from the Event Director Michael Ash-McMahon, who steered the organisation of Preston parkrun with the help of others from the city’s running community such as Will Buckley, the run got under way.
Runners from established clubs, such as Preston Harriers and Red Rose Runners, took part alongside amateurs and enthusiasts, and it is this mix of age and experience, along with the lighthearted atmosphere in which the run is competed, that makes parkrun such a popular attraction. It manages to act as a race, running club and recreational activity all at the same time, and at no point are beginners looking to complete their first 5k outshone or made to feel inadequate by the professionals searching for their next PB.
I attended the Preston parkrun yesterday, and although I finished in 86th place, it was the first time I had completed a 5k race, and I came away feeling invigorated and ready to run again. The organisation of the event was faultless, and the parkrun set-up, the ease and speed with which one can register, run and receive their time, should really be commended.
William Park and Diana Xu, who I was lucky enough to run with yesterday, offered similar sentiments. After the run, I asked them what they thought of the event.
William said: “Although the actual run was quite gruelling, mainly due to a hill at one side of the park, I think Avenham Park is a perfect environment to run in. I was impressed with the overall standard of the runners, but I think more could be done to encourage complete beginners to take part, and I’m sure this is something that will grow and expand as the weeks go on”.
Diana got straight to the point: “I thought it was very enjoyable, and it was made easier with good company!”
Event Director Michael Ash-McMahon was pleased with the success of the Preston parkrun. He said: “To be honest I am not sure we could have asked for our first event to have gone any better, even the Preston weather was amazing! Although I was aware how popular parkrun events are, today’s turnout really brought this home to me, and made me realise that the Preston parkrun team are now part of a much larger community.”
“Our first 100 parkrunners included people from Huddersfield, Manchester and London who had come specifically to run and support the newest parkruns, but there was also a mass of enthusiastic local, parkrun first-timers, and above all else, the event cannot take place without these people.”
Speaking about parkrun’s aims, Michael was clear: “parkrun’s aim is simple: free, weekly, timed 5km runs, open to all ages and abilities with individuals competing against themselves and not necessarily against the other participants. However, it relies on the local volunteer team to develop and sustain it. It is built on creating a community atmosphere where people want to come and run, be encouraged, make new friends and share their parkrun experience. It is this foundation that will enable us to grow in the right way over the coming weeks.”
Preston parkrun will take place on Avenham Park at 9am every Saturday. The next parkrun is Saturday 19th May, and runners must register on the parkrun website by 6pm on Friday at the latest.
The results from yesterday’s run can be found here. You can also view a slideshow of photos from the run below.
Image credit: sammyjay