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Carl Marston's parkrun tour: inaugural Thomas Mills parkrun at Framlingham

PUBLISHED: 10:39 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:39 13 June 2019

The cool and wet conditions failed to dampen spirits at the first Thomas Mills parkrun, where a field of 171 congregated. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The cool and wet conditions failed to dampen spirits at the first Thomas Mills parkrun, where a field of 171 congregated. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. Here he heads to the inaugural Thomas Mills parkrun

Daisy Glover on her way to first place at the Thomas Mills parkrun, followed by runner-up and leading man, Andrew Farn. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDaisy Glover on her way to first place at the Thomas Mills parkrun, followed by runner-up and leading man, Andrew Farn. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

It's about time this parkrun tour returned to its roots, where it all started - namely our own proud county of Suffolk.

Bury St Edmunds and Great Cornard kicked off this never-ending series, at Nos. 1 and 2, soon to be followed by Brandon Country Park and Ipswich, while Kesgrave and Clare Castle were all among my first 15 visits.

But it's been a while since Suffolk welcomed a brand new parkrun to the parkrun family.

That was rectified last Saturday morning when, precisely 12 hours since I had last visited Framlingham - ironically for the Framlingham Flyers Friday Five race on Friday evening - I returned to the Suffolk market town for the inaugural Thomas Mills parkrun.

Run Director of the Thomas Mills parkrun, Robert Mawson  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNRun Director of the Thomas Mills parkrun, Robert Mawson Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The run-down

The Thomas Mills parkrun was the only new parkrun to be born last Saturday morning, bringing the grand total to 632 parkruns in the UK.

A bumper field of 400 had tackled the Framlingham Flyers Five, on the previous evening, eating up a swift five-mile course from Framlingham Sports Club.

Local club runners Andrew Rooke and Dasiy Glover were in the individual victors, while most of the field were seasoned club runners, many of them planning to run in more than just one of this summer's Friday Five Series (Framlingham was No. 2).

By contrast, parkrun goes out of its way to distant itself from being a race, in the true sense of the word. Everyone is a 'winner,' every runner, jogger or walker who completes the 5K distance.

Initial fears were raised, among some of the established running community, that parkrun would have a detrimental effect on the traditional running scene.

The concern was that the lure of running a free 5K every Saturday morning would lead to a decline in the annual Sunday morning and even Friday night races organised by affiliated clubs.

Well, the doubters needn't have worried at all.

Club events have gone from strength to strength over the years, hand-in-hand with the parkrun boom - in fact, many of those now running 10-milers and half-marathons in the region started out as parkrunners.

It has proved a gateway into running, not an impediment.

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There is so much work involved in setting up a parkrun, and Run Director Robert Mawson and his core of volunteers deserve great credit for getting the new Thomas Mills parkrun off the ground.

They were also boosted by a £500 donation from Taylor Wimpey Castle Keep, whose senior sales executive Simon Long was in attendance on Saturday morning.

Also among the dignitaries was John Wheatley, the regional parkrun ambassador for Suffolk.

"I'm pleased to welcome Thomas Mills parkrun to the parkrun family," declared Mr Wheatley, before he joined a field of 171 to take part in the inaugural event.

The parkrun boom shows no sign of slowing down.

Saturday's results

The course is a two-lap affair, from Thomas Mills High School, flat but with some proper cross country thrown in for good measure - runners had to negotiate the perimeter of a sugar beet field, as well as the school playing fields.

The weather also made it a tough test, with a strong breeze and some drizzle.

Daisy Glover, of Framlingham Flyers, followed up her Flyers' Five win of some 13 hours earlier by leading home her new local parkrun.

Glover clocked 18mins 22secs, finishing 21 seconds clear of runner-up Andrew Farn (18:43). Teenager Ethan Turner (15-17 year-old age group) was third with 19:25, the same time as Ipswich JAFFA veteran Ian Elden.

There was also an encouraging 41 running their first parkruns.

Carl's experience

You should never really run when your diet has been that of Chesty Cough medicine, Paracetamol, and tomato soup for most of the week, due to a persistent chest cough.

But I couldn't resist the chance to run, of rather jog, in a Suffolk inaugural.

Any hopes of feeling the benefits of a week's stay in the Canary Islands had been dashed by a few days on the sickbed, but it was good to join the celebrations of another new parkrun. There are now 11 across Suffolk.

And no, there was no sign of singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, a former pupil at Thomas Mills, at Saturday's inaugural. He will no doubt delay his appearance until all the fuss has died down.

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