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An elderly man in a high-vis vest finishes parkrun

Richmond parkrun celebrates 14th anniversary

Richmond parkrun celebrated their 14th anniversary on Saturday with little fanfare, but hailed its loyal participants and the community that has supported it.

The fourth official parkrun event, Richmond has hosted over 26,000 entrants across 672 events since its first race on 20 October 2007.

Event director Andy Caie, who has been involved with parkrun since 2009, said the community that parkrun builds is special.

He said: “I’ve made some great friends and met some amazing people in our community.

“As the world gets back to normal and when people are ready, we are here to welcome them to parkrun.”

Volunteer Pat Hewlett, 84, has completed nearly 430 parkruns, but found it difficult during the stoppage due to Covid-19.

She said: “Being over 70 during lockdown meant I had to shield more than most. It was difficult not being able to see the same familiar and smiling faces.

“The community here is amazing. I would call it friendships rather than community. If you are a stranger to London, it’s a great way to make friends and there is a local event for everyone.”

JUST KEEP RUNNING: Richmond parkrun welcomes new runners, or those who have done it a hundred times

Volunteers said they enjoy being able to help the event continue, whether they’re injured or don’t want to run anymore because it’s a great way to still be involved.

Many of the runners expressed their appreciation to the volunteers who make sure the last person across the line gets the same round of applause as the person who crossed first.

One spoke about how it’s not an elite group and everyone takes part at their own level.

He further added going to parkrun sets you up for the weekend and draws a line under what can be a stressful week.

The bounce back from COVID-19 is testament to this community aspect of parkrun.

Caie, who has been in his current role since 2016, added: “People were always aware of the physical health aspects of parkrun, but have more recently become aware of the importance of looking after mental health and parkrun can help with this too.”

Richmond parkrun was recognised in February by the council when Caie along with his team, Francesca Creasy, Michael Glazebrook, David Pennell and Ally Pickard collected the award for Outstanding Sporting Achievement.

The Bushy Park parkrun, initially called the Bushy Park Time Trial, started in 2004 with its founder, Paul Sinton Hewitt, 61, running the initial 5km with 13 other entrants.

Now 17 years on, the global organisation has over six million loyal runners, joggers and walkers across 1,500 events in 20 countries.

Click here to find your local parkrun.

All photos courtesy of parkrun Marketing on Flickr

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