On the 16th February 2013, 178 runners attended an event that had never before been held in the town – the inaugural Telford parkrun. Back then, parkruns in the West Midlands were in short supply; Wolverhampton had only just started two weeks before, Shrewsbury still hadn't quite come into being, Cannon Hill, Hanley and Walsall weren't exactly a short drive away, and the likes of Cannock Chase, Wyre Forest, Dudley and Sandwell Valley hadn't even been thought up yet.
Over the last 5 years, Telford parkrun has grown and gone from strength to strength. Attendances have grown as a general trend, and only once in 235 runs has the attendance dropped below 100 (and that was 99!) – a significant achievement if you look at other parkrun attendance lists. A number of changes have occurred, including the relocation of the finish line to its current position when a housing estate was built on the old car park, a change which also included reversing the order in which we ran the big and small loops. The start line has also seen changes (who else remembers having to start in the arena to stop people from trampling the flower beds..?).
This week's parkrun, on 17th February 2018, saw Telford parkrun celebrate its 5th birthday, and there was a party atmosphere as we all arrived to hear music pumping out of the sound system. We were also informed that we had a new start system to try out for the first time – a birthday present?! Attendance seemed a little lower than may have been expected for a birthday run, but the fact that it was the start of half term (so people may have headed off on holidays), and the fact that it rained until about 15 minutes before that start may have put a few people off, as well as the fact that Crewe parkrun had its inaugural on the same day, which may have tempted a few people away.
Of the 486 runners present, Jonny Morris of Wolves and Bilston AC was first back, in a time of 15:57, his first time running at Telford parkrun. He was followed back by the Telford AC pairing of Dylan Gillett (16:18) and Matt Costello (16:19), who rounded out the podium in a close finish. First lady back was Deborah Millington of Wrekin Road Runners, setting a new PB of 20:39 on her way to 34th place overall. 2nd lady was Jolanta Staneviciene (21:54), and 3rd was Sarah Hicks (22:15).
As well as the parkrun hitting its 5th year, a number of runners hit personal milestones, with Iain Price of Wrekin Road Runners running his 100th parkrun, 57 of which have been at Telford. Emmeline Cureton of Run Mummy Run ran her 50th (whilst, we are told, pregnant!). Also running their 50th parkruns were Hamish John Eccles of Wrekin Road Runners, and James Vardill. Well done to all of you!
A number of PBs were also set, so many I cannot list them all! Amongst them were Julia Harris (30:15), Rob Green (20:34), Emma Hall (27:49), Paul Roberts (27:26), Melanie Weatherer (25:46), Phil Shieber (25:51), Olivia Chapman (30:16), Elliot Das-Gupta (18:57), Olive Critchell (39:07) and Aaron McDermott (22:48). Well done to everyone who got a PB this week!
It was great to see a few tourists in amongst the regular Telford parkrunners – some from further afield than others! Amongst the parkruns we welcomed tourists from for our 5th birthday were: Linford Wood, Cannock Chase, Pymmes, Cardiff (missing their 10th birthday parkrun!), Shrewsbury, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Wyre Forest and Rushcliffe. Thanks for visiting, please come back soon!
A final note is just to say a huge thank you to everyone – especially the core team, and everyone who has ever volunteered at Telford parkrun, but also to everyone who has ever run it. The volunteers and runners at Telford make it a great parkrun (and I've been to 31 other parkruns, I can report that Telford really do it right, and we have a great reputation) with a great atmosphere. The last 5 years have given everyone some great memories. Mine include: doing my first ever parkrun here in 2014, setting a PB the morning after spending the night in a tent, running the New Year's Day soak-fest this year with my glasses fully steamed up and having to use my sister's bright pink top as a guide, and doing my 100th parkrun on my birthday (with Telford 10K the day after) just a few weeks ago.
Here's to the next 5 years!