On the Run: Carl Marston takes part in the Clare Castle Parkrun

Runners at the inaugural Clare Castle parkrun. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Runners at the inaugural Clare Castle parkrun. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different Parkruns.

Runners taking part in the Clare Castle Parkrun. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Runners taking part in the Clare Castle Parkrun. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

The Clare Castle Parkrun has only been going for a month, but it is already proving a hit with ‘locals’ and ‘tourists’ alike.

As with all Parkruns, established over the last 13 years, the Clare event has been established to attract walkers, joggers and runners, novices and club athletes, male and female, young and old, across the whole range of abilities, every Saturday morning.

The inaugural event, on September 30, saw 208 runners congregating at Clare Castle Country Park, the biggest field for a first race of all the seven current Parkruns in Suffolk.

Since then, fields of 144, 163 and 123 have taken part in the second, third and fourth events.

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I was one of those 123 to enjoy the three-lap challenge last Saturday.

Run down

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Event organiser, Sarah Bevan, admitted to being “blown away” by the success of the first-ever Clare Castle Parkrun a month ago, when speaking to the EADT.

It certainly must have been a very satisfying day for the 30-year-old, from Clare, who had started the long process of setting up the Parkrun in her local town a year ago.

She has started something that will hopefully go on for years and years, benefiting the local community as a free, social and healthy event.

The course is excellent, a three-lapper on paths around the circumference of the park, both tarmac and trail, with the River Stour close by.

- On the Run: Carl Mareston at the Kesgrave Parkrun

The location is stepped in history, dating back to the Romans and Saxons, with the start taking place close to the remains of a motte and bailey castle, as well as the old Victorian railway station, together with its booking hall, station-master’s house and goods shed.

Clare Station opened on August 9, 1865, and survived until becoming one of the victims of the Beeching closures (it was closed to passengers in 1967).

Saturday’s results

Alex Smith, a member of Haverhill RC (18-19 year-old age group) was first home in 18mins 16secs, 23 seconds ahead of Martin Speller (18:39) and Haverhill RC’s Tony Bacon (19:09).

This was Bacon’s 103rd Parkrun, one of many centurions taking part. These included Stuart Turner, who completed his 100th Parkrun last Saturday (he was 70th in 30:18).

Fourth home, Steven Ramek, has now clocked up 279 Parkruns, while Danny Norman, of 26.2 RRC, ran his 556th Parkrun, a mind-boggling total.

Walden Tri’s Nicki Davis, who was the first female finisher in 20:32, recently completed her 50th Parkrun, while runner-up Fiona Tideswell (Cambridge Canoe Club) is now on 154 Parkruns.

Just as impressive were those running their first-ever Parkrun, at any venue, last weekend.

To avoid any criticism that I dwell too much on those at the head of the field, each week in this column (Parkrun is an event, not a race, after-all), here’s a name-check of those first-timers:

William Harmer, Brigitte Heard, Russell Docking, Austin Taylor, Steve Broomhall, Ben Farr, Paul Farr, Benjamin Stone, Chloe Gentle, James Harmer, Jackie Bush, Erica Bankier, Tilly Mills, Ian Mills, Josephine Bursell, Natasha Farr, Glenn Shipp, Lorrain Johnson and Derek Blake.

A big ‘well done’ to you all.


There have only been four events to date, but Michael Gilbert’s time of 16mins 31secs is currently the fastest recorded, on week two. Gilbert runs for local club Haverhill RC.

The experienced Odette Robson, of Saint Edmund Pacers, set the benchmark with a swift 19:22 for the women, on week one.

Carl’s Experience

I was one of the 58 ‘first timers’ at last weekend’s Clare Castle Parkrun, which was superbly organised and well supported, and certainly a credit to event organiser Sarah Bevan and her host of volunteers.

I was ‘sent to’ Coventry later in the day, to report on Colchester United’s goalless draw at the Ricoh Arena – I think I can safely say that running a 5K at Clare rather than reporting on a 0-0 in the West Midlands was the more pleasant experience.

I think I will end this column by repeating some words from Ms Bevan after that first event of a month ago:

“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.”

And she is right. It is a winner.

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