Boom!

Hi, I'm Ronnie Bray and have been involved with parkrun since my first event in 2011. Anyone who knows me knows I can sum myself up in one word - Boom!

TN9

Having previously been a heavy smoker I decided to give up and was able to use parkrun to get fit and replace the addiction! I don't do anything in half measure. I quickly loved the buzz of parkrun and felt part of the parkrun community.

I also found I enjoyed volunteering and organising the events as much as I did running them therefore I eventually setup Temple Newsam parkrun in 2012.

I soon became a parkrun Ambassador helping parkruns and junior parkrun events get off the ground in my area. Yorkshire had one of the first junior events outside of London, Roundhay juniors and now we have a whole host of them running every week with more locations coming on board all the time.

TN7TN5TN6

I'm a passionate volunteer as you can see and am always amazed at the passion of other volunteers at our junior events. I remember the first time we ran the inaugural junior event at Temple Newsam and we had a lot of volunteers turn up from our Saturday parkrun, many of them without children. They just wanted to help out!

At Knavesmire juniors for our first event we had 152 runners taking part which was just fantastic to see. I love it when a community really embraces the event right from the off.

TN8

One thing I always make sure with any new junior parkrun is that we measure, measure, measure and measure it again and then once more just to be sure. It can be surprising how many different results a trundle wheel can produce when walking on the same loop!

We take the same care for our younger runners as we do for our 5k runners.

It’s not been all fun and games...

I remember meeting Paul Sinton-Hewitt for the very first time in Harrogate when I was supporting the startup of Harrogate juniors. This has now been running for nearly a year in the lovely Valley Gardens. I couldn't have been more nervous if I was meeting the Queen!

Those who know me will probably be surprised at that, but it’s true.

It's an exciting time and I'm looking forward to seeing all the junior events go from the strength to strength.

TN10

Boom!

Ronnie Bray

 

Many reasons

Hello. My name is Adam Freeman and I’ve been invited to share my story with you.

Adam
There are many reasons to love parkrun and junior parkrun. My family love it for many different reasons: health, community, volunteering, etc. The other Sunday morning someone stopped me and asked why I had such a big smile on my face? Simple I said “I’m going to junior parkrun”.

Hazel 3

Let me introduce you to Hazel, my daughter, who has just turned five. Hazel contracted Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the womb. This caused mild brain damage and has rendered her profoundly deaf. At 14 months she had a very successful operation for cochlear implants and it is amazing what she can hear now.

Hazel

Hazel walked independently for the first time in April. She would love to run the full junior parkrun course, but she fatigues quickly. As well as muscle fatigue and motor control issues she has vestibular processing disorder. This doesn’t stop her though, in the garden and park she often says “come on, let’s play parkrun” and off she goes for about 100 metres. She is amazing, she has taught us, as a family, so much. She is so happy, her smile and hugs… well they are pretty amazing too. So anyway, you have your daughter who loves parkrun, but she can’t run far, she can’t timekeep, barcode scan, she can’t hold a camera very well, but you want her to feel more involved than just sitting next to you while you volunteer. You spend ages looking at all the volunteer roles, what can she do? Think… come on Dad... think. I know! Finish token support. She can sit next to whoever is barcode scanning and hold a tub and everyone can put their finish tokens in Hazel’s tub. Fantastic! It worked! Some of the parkrunners even say “thank you Hazel”. Anyone can be a part of something amazing and feel involved. It’s brilliant.

Hazel 2

I love my family. I love our core team, who are fantastic with all the children and treat Hazel exactly the same. I love all the volunteers. I love parkrun and I love junior parkrun.

Adam Freeman

Chippenham junior parkrun

 

Making the magic happen

Last Sunday saw the launch of four new junior parkruns: Bramley, Avenham Park, Laleham and Chichester.  When I heard about this, I was delighted, imagining how many new young people were now able to join in at a junior parkrun on a Sunday morning, and how many parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties, and other family and friends could enjoy watching, supporting and volunteering. Or taking the more active option and running, jogging or walking the 2k course alongside their 4 to 14 year olds.

Laleham

What I didn’t think about was how much hard work and effort had gone in to getting those events off the ground. That is, until a chance comment from parkrun ambassador, and half of the dream-team behind Laleham junior parkrun, Rory Murphy: “I’ve been plotting this with Emma since March 2015”. March 2015? Wow, I had no idea that it could take so long to get a new junior parkrun off the ground. Did you?

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I’m sure that everyone who reads this loves junior parkrun as much as I do. But how much thought have you given to the time and effort that goes in to starting one? Here’s just a very brief ‘behind the scenes’ insight…

  1. Someone has to have the idea about starting a new parkrun!
  2. They have to find and measure a suitable course; easier said than done.
  3. Next, someone has to find someone willing to fund it. Luckily, junior parkrun is such good value for money that local councils usually find it hard to say no!
  4. Not forgetting to gain permission to let us use the park.
  5. Consider health and safety stuff.
  6. And some child protection stuff too.
  7. No parkrun would work without a brilliant team of core volunteers, so these have to be appointed and confirmed.
  8. Core volunteers then have several different lots of training, and appropriate criminal record checks carried out.
  9. They need to take delivery of the kit, things like cones, bibs, stop watches, scanners, barcodes, laptops, etc, and understand what to do with it.
  10. Some more training.
  11. Don’t forget websites and social media!
  12. A trial event need to take place and the course needs to be accurately measured.
  13. Then all the planning to make sure that the inaugural run goes without a hitch.
  14. And this is all before it even starts!!!

junior parkrun

And just in case you lost interest in my list, who could tell the story better than two people who have just been through this very process, over to you, Rory and Emma (Laleham):  

Rory: "I've been involved in activating two junior parkruns and both took their time. I'd argue setting up a junior parkrun involves a lot more than a normal 5k parkrun as you have so much more to think about, especially around course design and safeguarding. You typically need a bigger core team because of marshal demands. Never underestimate how much work goes into setting a junior parkrun up - but it is truly a labour of love. I've just had an inaugural event that was 16 months in the planning and execution. It was born out of a conversation with my friend Emma about the need for a junior parkrun in our area. That started months of plotting and planning, scoping out courses before settling on one that suited our needs... Emma can tell the rest…"  

Emma: "Laleham Park is a beautiful, large space tucked away between Laleham and Chertsey close to the River Thames.  Perfect for a junior parkrun, we thought! We looked, and we thought, and we measured and we thought some more. We talked to the council and they were extremely positive about it all. They helped us with the funding, permissions, storage and advice, as did the parkrun [HQ] team.  Alongside this, we quietly built a core team of volunteers who were sworn to secrecy! We held a small test event in mid-July, and today we finally (but still quietly!) unveiled the event with our perfect inaugural. We had 40 runners, of whom 21 ran their first ever junior parkrun, whilst others were experienced junior parkrunners.  We couldn't have written a better script."

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So, next time you’re at a junior parkrun, please say thank you to the volunteers, or even better, why not volunteer as a way of thanking the core team for everything they’ve done to get your event where it is today.

#loveparkrun

Clare Fowler

Safeguarding Lead at parkrun UK

@parkrunclare

Big thanks to Bruce Li for his ever-brilliant photos, and to Rory Murphy and Emma Rowley for their fabulous quotes.

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