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The parkrun phenomenon is celebrating it’s eighth anniversary in Essex after inspiring over 78,000 people to take part, running and walking a combined distance of 3.7 million kilometres across 21 parkruns in Essex.
Launched 15 years ago, parkrun changed the face of Saturday mornings with free 5km events targeting a community of runners and those aspiring for healthier, more active lifestyles.
Parkruns now take place in over 650 locations across the UK and create opportunities for all ages and abilities to get involved, with additional benefits of social inclusion and building new friendships.
n Essex, 10 junior parkruns – which target 4 to 14 year olds – have also been created to encourage more families to take part in physical activity and tackle child obesity levels.
Jason Fergus, Head of Active Essex, said: “We are delighted to have played a significant role to support the set-up of local parkruns and encouraging people of all ages and abilities to take part, which is closely aligned with our strategy to get one million lives active in Essex.
“We would like to say thank you to all of the volunteers and local communities that come together every week to make these parkruns happen, and to the 2,000+ Essex residents that get up early every Saturday morning to take part.”
Paul Brooks, Leader of the Chelmsford Central Parkrun, commented: “It’s fantastic to see so many people encouraging one another, having fun and getting fit in the process. It has become much more than simply getting active, but those taking part are also enjoying making new friends and feeling part of their local community.”
“Anybody can join and it’s so easy to get started. You just need to register online, print out your unique barcode and you’re good to go!”
Research shows that 91 per cent of those who take part in regular parkruns feel a sense of personal achievement and 84 per cent of its volunteers feel happier for getting involved**.
Holly Chandler, a regular volunteer at her local parkrun, said: “I ran when I was little but didn’t really enjoy it, so I turned to volunteering and haven’t stopped since! I have now taken part in over 200 parkruns and love meeting new people.”
Parkrun has also teamed up with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to encourage doctors to prescribe the social weekly run to patients to improve health and wellbeing, particularly those suffering with long-term health conditions.
To find your nearest parkrun, visit http://bit.ly/parkrunEssex.
For more information about sport and physical activities taking place across the county, visit www.activeessex.org