Making a resolution to take up running? Try a free parkrun in 2020
PUBLISHED: 19:00 28 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:02 29 December 2019
If you're making a New Year's resolution to get fit, parkrun events across Suffolk are preparing to welcome hundreds of new runners.
Parkrun has grown hugely in popularity both locally and across the UK over recent years, and the start of January is always a time when many more people join in.
Many parkruns are organising extra events on January 1 - and New Year's Day is actually the only day when keen parkrunners can take part in two events in one day.
Usually the 5k runs start at 9am across the country, but on January 1, there are staggered starts for some events.
Ipswich parkrun, in Chantry Park, will start at 8.30am, while the Felixstowe event will start at 10.30am - meaning it's possible to join in both. The Kesgrave event will be at 9am on that day.
Graham Rodgers, East Suffolk ambassador for parkrun, said: "We are expecting around 700 to 800 people to join in the Felixstowe event. It will be great to see them running along the prom."
Every Saturday, hundreds of runners of all ages and fitness levels pound their way around parks across the area during the free runs, which are all led by volunteers.
"We always get quite a lot of 'New Year's resolutionists'," said Mr Rodgers, who is also event director for the Ipswich parkrun.
"A good thing about parkrun, unlike, say, joining a gym, is that it's free, and going to be free forever.
"It's also a great way of getting out and meeting people, and making new friends. It's almost as important for mental health as for physical health."
Mr Rodgers said the age range went from under-10s right up to people in their 80s, and many junior parkruns are held on Sundays. "It really can be life-changing."
Hundreds turned out for the Kesgrave run on Saturday, December 28. Ian Duggan, a member of the Kesgrave parkrun core team and one of the run directors, said: "Kesgrave parkrun is going fabulously and we celebrated our five-year anniversary in September.
"We get around 300 people attending each week and always see a spike in numbers during January."
As well as running, parkrun events also encourage people to walk the course if they find it easier. Mr Duggan said: "We'd love to see you in the New Year whether you walk or run or a mix of both. We can promise a warm welcome to a fantastic community. Saturday mornings will never be the same again."
The Ipswich parkrun is currently being held in Chantry Park, up to and including January 4. But the event will then return to its winter course in Christchurch Park, which will see numbers rise still further.
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Parkruns in the area also include regular events in Bury St Edmunds, Great Cornard, Clare Castle, Colchester Castle, Sizewell, Framlingham (Thomas Mills) and Harwich.
Before taking part in a parkrun, you need to register once only, and you are asked to take along a printed copy of your barcode when you take part in events. Registration means you can take part in any parkrun.
For more details of events and to register, visit the parkrun website. Each event has its own page on the site.