Running revolution gathers pace in Suffolk as Clare parkrun breaks debut attendance figure
PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:30 01 October 2017
The town of Clare broke the record attendance for a debut parkrun in Suffolk, with over 200 runners on Saturday morning, astounding event organisers.
It is the latest sign that the parkrun revolution is gathering pace in Suffolk.
Clare Castle Country Park became the seventh adult parkrun in Suffolk. It means that around 2,500 people are now taking part in the free 5k fun runs across the county every weekend.
From teenagers to those aged in their 70s, a total of 208 runners enjoyed the three-lap course. Wayne Cook of the Colchester Harriers passed the line first in 18 minutes 24 seconds. The last four persevered for over 50 minutes, encouraged by everyone.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” said event organiser Sarah Bevan. “We were blown away by the turnout. We never envisaged having that many. We didn’t think we would break the 100 barrier. But we thought the park, being so scenic and historic, would be a bit of a winner.
“People came from all over. There were ‘parkrun tourists’ from as far as Cambridge, trying out a new parkrun, and we had plenty of people from the village and surrounding areas, such as Cavendish. It involved in the whole community.”
The 30-year-old, from Clare, started the process to setup the parkrun a year ago. Funding and grants were needed to pay the £3,000 start-up cost. Donations are hoped to maintain running costs.
She was inspired after entering her first parkrun in Thetford four years ago.
She said: “I realised I could run, and it gave me a lot of confidence. I thought it would be good to have one on our doorstep. There was massive demand for it.”
West Suffolk is served by two other parkruns: Bury St Edmunds and Great Cornard. The other four are Ipswich, Kesgrave, Brandon, and Lowestoft. There were around 50 fewer people at the Ipswich and Kesgrave inaugural events, which now average around 300-400. Clare surpassed the Lowestoft debut by nine runners.
Mrs Bevan said: “We think it is possible to have around 300 every week. It is just such a great event. It makes you healthier, fitter, and happier. There is a real sense of community.
“Two neighbours who have lived next to each other for five years spoke to each for the first time at our parkrun.
“Another runner ran to the back to encourage the others. It was beautiful to watch. There is nothing negative about it.”