We would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thanks to the National Trust for hosting Hatfield Forest parkrun since March 2015. We have been privileged to be able to join together in the beautiful location every Saturday as walkers, joggers, runners and volunteers. Thanks to the National Trust more than 4000 people have taken part; improving their health and happiness, learning new skills and forging lasting friendships along the way.
Hosting a free, timed, weekly 5k in a sensitive location such as Hatfield Forest has always required close collaboration between parkrun and the National Trust. Last winter it became apparent that our increasing numbers were beginning to have an impact on the parking situation at the forest, with demand exceeding supply on a weekly basis and we were sensitive to issues this was causing for the National Trust.
For this reason, and to ensure the long term sustainability of our event, as it continues to grow, we began to look at other local venues that could accommodate us into the future as we welcome more people to parkrun. As parkrun needs to operate within the same locality all year round, we as a core team accepted that a full move of the event, rather than seasonal relocation was the only sustainable way to maintain a parkrun in the local area. Over the past few months we have taken an in depth look at our parkrun population to best determine where would be most appropriate to relocate to, with considerations to how any potential venue would cope with our current, and potential numbers in order to avoid the same situation occurring in future years.
We can therefore announce that September 23rd will be the final Hatfield Forest parkrun, before we move to our new location in Bishop’s Stortford on September 30th for our first event, as Castle Park parkrun. Castle Park comprises of the Sworders Field, Town Park, Grange Paddocks and Red, White & Blue areas of parkland in Bishop’s Stortford.
It is obviously disappointing that we are leaving Hatfield Forest. Through discussions with the National Trust we as a core team have been working towards a relocation since earlier in 2017. It has been an emotional process; this forest has brought us all together over the past two and a half years and we have a great deal of pride in the event that is delivered to you, the walkers, joggers, runners and volunteers on a weekly basis. We have seen first hand the bonds of friendship that have been created and the achievements enjoyed through parkrun, but we are accepting that we have to move on in order to maintain the event.
We are tremendously excited with the potential that our move to Castle Park will offer to our event. For the first time in our existence we will be able to offer public transport, reducing the reliance on cars. A central location will provide a high percentage of our participants with the ability to walk, run or cycle to parkrun.
We are also extremely grateful to East Herts Council & Bishop’s Stortford for providing us with ongoing permission to use Castle Park as a venue and I’d like to praise the time and efforts of all of the core team who have made such an enormous contribution in not only creating a wonderful parkrun at Hatfield Forest, but helping to ensure that we will continue to thrive in our new location.
To celebrate the past two and a half years at Hatfield Forest and to show our appreciation to the National Trust, on September 23rd we will be hosting a picnic on the grass at the finish funnel to say goodbye to the venue. We will also be operating some of our original routes to celebrate our time at the forest.
Over the next couple of weeks more details will follow via the website and social media, so please keep an eye on these for further information.
We have produced a list of questions that we think you might have and will make them available to you at the end of your run today, after you have visited our Barcode Scanning volunteers. Please enjoy your run this morning, then take a moment to read, digest and reflect before asking further questions.
The core team will be on hand to answer any further questions, but I will not be answering questions at this time. The FAQ will also be made available online later today.
We as a core team appreciate this news might come as a surprise to you, especially those of you that have been regulars at the forest since 2015. Now is a time to celebrate what we have built here and to focus on the future of our event as it evolves and grows.
The people are what make a parkrun special. Although Hatfield Forest is a unique and beautiful venue, Castle Park parkrun will become a special parkrun thanks to each and every one of you.
Hatfield Forest parkrun Event Director