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Celebrations as Suffolk parkrunners hit 1,000,000km milestone

PUBLISHED: 18:52 06 November 2017

Participants in Kesgrave parkrun. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Participants in Kesgrave parkrun. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Runners at Suffolk’s Parkruns have raced to a major milestone by jointly covering 1,000,000km or 621,000 miles in the past five years.

On the run: The 200th Bury St Edmunds parkun. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTOn the run: The 200th Bury St Edmunds parkun. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

The national community of running events – which currently take place at a number of different locations across Suffolk – began in 2004 with Ipswich’s course being set up in 2012 at Chantry Park.

The events encourage people of all ages and abilities to get out and take part in a 5km course that can be run, jogged or walked.

There are six other locations across Suffolk, including in Bury St Edmunds and Kesgrave.

Suffolk’s newest parkrun at Clare Castle in Sudbury started on October 1 with over 200 people taking part in the inaugural event.

Runners take part in the 100th Park Run in Notwon Park, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: PHIL MORLEYRunners take part in the 100th Park Run in Notwon Park, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Rory Marriott, event director for Ipswich parkrun, helped to set up the event and is now parkrun ambassador for the East of England.

“At that time it was all about just trying to get it established in Ipswich,” he said. “Parkrun wasn’t as big as it is now. Its just grown so huge across the country and the world.”

When the Ipswich course was set up it was expected that around 100 to 150 people would use it.

Now, over five years later, around 300 people regularly set out to complete the Ipswich 5km course, with countywide parkrun numbers estimated to reach around 2,000 people. Despite this high level of attendance, Rory was still surprised at the milestone Suffolk runners have achieved. “It was totally staggering,” he said.

Runners at the inaugural Clare Castle parkrun. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTRunners at the inaugural Clare Castle parkrun. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Rory calculated that the distance covered by local parkrunners is enough to travel to the moon and back, do an additional four laps around the entire planet and still have more left over.

As well as the main Saturday event, around 400 youngsters also take part in the Junior parkrun events offered to those aged from four to 14.

Although there are no plans currently to open any new events, Rory hopes parkrun will continue to grow and help to get more and more people active in the county.

He believes that the accessibility of parkrun has been the main part of its appeal and success. “It gives people the ability to run without it being seen as competitive,” he said. “People do things they did not believe were possible.

The first 'parkrun' taking place in Clare Castle Country Park. 

Picture: ANDY ABBOTTThe first 'parkrun' taking place in Clare Castle Country Park. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

“Parkrun is for all ages it doesn’t matter whether people are young or old.”

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