Park Run event to cel­e­brate its fifth birth­day

The Wokingham Paper - - NEWS - By GEMMA DAVIDSON

A FREE weekly run­ning event in Wood­ley will cel­e­brate its fifth birth­day with a party in Wood­ford Park next week­end.

Wood­ley parkrun, which is part of the global parkrun se­ries, en­cour­ages run­ners of all ages and abil­i­ties to run, jog or walk 5km ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing.

Now, the com­mu­nity has grown from hum­ble be­gin­nings to more than 300 peo­ple tak­ing part each week.

Kerri French helped to set up the Wood­ley chap­ter on October 13, 2012 after be­ing ap­proached by Wood­ley Town Coun­cil and Wood­ford Leisure Cen­tre, who wanted to see a lo­cal parkrun take shape.

Since then, more than 7,000 peo­ple have taken part in 264 runs, run­ning a to­tal of 301,820km.

Kerri said: “I started as Event Direc­tor and looked after the event for the first four years. We had a core vol­un­teer team of 10 peo­ple to be­gin with.

“Over time we've grown the core team to about 20 peo­ple who work in four sub teams with a Run Direc­tor.

“The first event had 148 run­ners, and we get just over 300 most weeks now.”

Kerri says that parkrun means more to peo­ple than just get­ting some ex­er­cise on a Satur­day morn­ing: it has helped peo­ple con­nect with their lo­cal com­mu­nity.

She said: “I wanted to give some­thing back to the lo­cal run­ning com­mu­nity, parkrun has in­spired me to be more ha­bit­u­ally fit and ac­tive and now more and more peo­ple are gain­ing the same by hav­ing a free com­mu­nity run on their doorsteps.

“I also get peo­ple say­ing that be­fore Wood­ley parkrun they didn't know any­one in Wood­ley and now they know so many peo­ple and feel part of an ex­tended fam­ily.

“It's far more than just a run in a park. Every­one is wel­come re­gard­less of age, shape or speed. parkrun truly breaks down bar­ri­ers to par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“I’d re­ally like to thank Wok­ing­ham Coun­cil and the In­spire Wok­ing­ham grant, Wood­ley Town Coun­cil and Wood­ford Park Leisure Cen­tre and any­one that has ever run, walked or vol­un­teered at Wood­ley parkrun.

“To cel­e­brate the fifth an­niver­sary, we are hav­ing a big party on October 14 where peo­ple can come dressed up, fol­lowed by a pic­nic in the park after the run.”

And Kerri’s ad­vice to any­one who is think­ing about join­ing parkrun: “Come, don't think about it just come and bring your parkrun bar­code.”

To find out more about Wood­ley parkrun visit www.parkrun.org.uk/ wood­ley

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