It may have only taken 338 events, but Telford finally saw its first parkrun take place on the 29th of February. Coming from Birmingham, I’ve only ever done this parkrun once before, but I do love coming to Telford, because it’s a beautiful place and is without a doubt one of the most cheery parkruns around!
When I arrived, Amy, the Run Director, was delivering the volunteers briefing to what was effectively a wall of coats – it certainly didn’t feel warm at this point in time, but the volunteers were still smiling away as they went to their respective stations. My aunt, who lives in the area and is a regular to this course, was one of them and was stationed at “The Onion”. The wonderful thing about parkrun is every course has its quirky titles and this was just one of them. I didn’t know why this title existed, but I was to find out later! I got to chat to a few of the other volunteers too and it was really nice to get their opinions on the layout and why they love being a part of the team.
Telford is really fortunate to have the Visitors Centre right by the start, as you’re able to use the facilities pre-run, but also has access to a speaker to address the runners at the start, which I’ve only witnessed at a few other courses. The use of the X-Factor voice to announce the first timers and main briefing was something I really enjoyed and brought chuckles and smiles to those around to witness it.
After receiving the first timers briefing, delivered excellently by Amy and Chelsea, we were all lined up ready to go parkrunning, but not before applauding a few amazing achievements, including a young runner doing their 10th parkrun, plus a few 50th and two 100th parkruns. Again, these are amazing accomplishments, but a huge congratulations goes to Stacey running her 250th parkrun – you clearly enjoy these early morning starts!
Then, we got a big countdown (from a young boy whose name I missed – sorry!) and we were off!
The course in a nutshell: A long downhill section at the start takes you into a small circular loop, followed by a big loop and finishing with The Hill of Opportunity – yet another quirky title, but one to treat with great care! The marshalls were, as always, really vocal, but I particularly enjoyed seeing a big crowd at the Amphitheatre around 2km into the course and then again as you finish up The Hill of Opportunity. The support here is simply excellent and was perfectly summed up when I saw a young boy holding up a sign showing his support and cheering runners on.
One other point to mention – at other parkruns, most signal every kilometre with a small sign at the side of the track, but this one uses permanent wooden posts, each one sponsored by a different running group in the area. I thought this was a fabulous touch and really showcases the wonderful running community that Telford has.
Overall, despite the threatening weather, it was a brilliant morning out on the first ever Leap Day parkrun. We’ll see you all again in 2048 for the next one!
Oh, and as for “The Onion”? Well, come to Telford and find out!