Hello everyone, my names Tony and I'm event director at Warrington parkrun. Most of you will know me for being the loud northerner at the start of the event. Preaching the gospel about how fantastic parkrun is. Hope you don't mind but ahead of our Birthday celebration I wanted to speak about a few things and thank everyone. We will try and get this message spread across social media etc over the next few days and with a bit of luck it may encourage even more people to join the parkrun family.
Lets start with some basics, put everyone in the picture.
It's our Birthday! Warrington parkrun (Knutsford Road, WA41DU) celebrates its first anniversary at Victoria Park this Saturday, 24th January. Runners have been turning out every Saturday morning (plus Christmas day and New Year’s Day) over the last twelve months for the 54 starts at 9am come rain, hail, wind and best of all sunshine. On average 180 people turn out each week which means that almost 10,000 have crossed the finish line.
For anyone who hasn't heard about parkrun it's a free 5km timed run which takes place every Saturday morning 52 weeks of the year (weather permitting) at 9am. Open to all abilities from Olympians to first timers, parkrun encourages people to get active and get running! The events are organised by local volunteers. To register and for more information please visit www.parkrun.org.uk
To encapsulate the ethos of parkrun would be a task of epic proportions. It means so much to so many and you can bet that where the core values of parkrun are universally the same the personal motivation for people joining this community are also the same but also very different.
This is ultimately the beauty of parkrun. It's open to everyone, no matter if you're a seasoned runner, member of a running club, the occasional plodder or wanting to get a bit more active and find some motivation to start running then parkrun is for you.
It all started on the 25th January 2014. For our inaugural event we had over 400 runners taking part. This is a parkrun UK record of which we still hold! (i think)
Over the past year, along with a dedicated team of volunteers I've had the enormous pleasure of being a part of this wonderful community.
Runners and volunteers have been coming together from all over Warrington and the UK. Affectionately known as "tourists" for runners joining us who don't live locally or registered at another parkrun and wanting to experience a different event from their own local parkrun. We've even had runners from over seas joining us, although our recent Australian visitor may well have been on holiday! All the same it shows how parkrun has spread globally to become synonymous with bringing people together to get more active.
We have many first time runners at Warrington, at each event we always get super excited to say hello to them all. You see, parkrun really does work in engaging people to get more active. Not only does this mean healthier bodies but we all get to socialise more which is always a good thing..
At the other end of the scale which believe me isn't as different as you may think in terms of ability or passion we have many official running clubs that take part. This is a vital part of parkrun. It's a fantastic sight seeing lots of club colours mixed in with our runners at the start line. It's inspiring for everyone that we all run together, no egos just happy runners, joggers, plodders and walk/runners.
There really is no excuse for not taking part. We even have buggy pushers, runners taking part with their dogs and when it comes to families running together this is very popular, much better than Saturday morning TV!
As you have just read parkrun really does cover all bases, there for everyone to enjoy and take part in. Thank you to all our runners, you're the best!
I mentioned volunteers at the beginning of this. I haven't finished typing yet (stick with me) but it's time to talk a little about them. This is where the magic happens, these people make all this possible. Not just at Warrington but across the UK and over seas volunteers are the backbone, heart, soul and voice of every last event.
As people sleep, every Saturday morning many 100's of volunteers are already out across the UK setting up their local event.
I'm very proud of our volunteer team at Warrington. We have a reputation for being the loudest and happiest around! As excited to volunteer as to be taking part running, we stand on at the start, on each corner and at the finish line cheering everyone along.
We have a core number who are the stalwarts volunteers responsible for putting together each event but then we have volunteers who dip in and out of the team. Mixing running the route with helping out, everyone's contribution is priceless and from the early days up until this weekend their input will never be forgotten. Please salute all our volunteers, what a fantastic team!
A shout-out must also go to everyone who has supplied our treat table and facilities that our runners enjoy each week. We try and supply as many treats for you as possible after you cross the finishing line. From cakes and biscuits to a welcoming drink we do all we can to make the parkrun experience an enjoyable one.
From the very start, designing the route, measuring it out and setting up the social media pages it's all been amazing. Along with the people who were involved at the very start in bringing this to Warrington Lisa F, Louise Shannon (Warrington Active Team / Live Wire) and James Kemp UK parkrun ambassador and everyone who sat in the meetings, shared the joy and a few tears, it was worth it!
My heart felt thanks to you all. I hope the legacy lives on for many more years.
That's all from me. The team at Warrington parkrun would like to thank you all. Together we have made parkrun what it is. Keep living the dream and keep on running.