On 28th April 2012 saw the inaugural Redcar parkrun with 91 finishers. This Saturday (30th April) sees the 447th and 10th anniversary run.
So it seems a good time to look back to how it began, and what has changed in that time.
I first became aware of parkrun back in December 2007 when Martin Pearson emailed me to tell me about this free timed 5k event that he had been to in Leeds. (Woodhouse Moor parkrun, parkrun was known at that time as “UK Time Trials”). Martin has run Redcar parkrun 79 times, contributing to his total number which has passed the 600 milestone!
He hinted that perhaps I should setup one locally. I started looking at setting one up at Ropner Park in Stockton, but quickly dropped the idea when I was made aware that Andy Fisher was planning one at Albert Park. We would never want/need to have more than one parkrun on Teesside, would we?!! I offered technical assistance to Andy but unfortunately we were away for the 1st Albert Park event and made my parkrun debut on its 6th running. I ran at Albert about 10 times over the following 12 months, but returned in January 2012 and was shocked to find 258 finishers compared to 75 on my previous visit.
This prompted me to team up with Andy Pearson, who worked in Sports Development at RCBC at the time, to set up a parkrun in Redcar. He took care of the financials and permissions; I took care of the course, based on one previously used for NYSD relays.
So here we are on the start line on the first event, me as timekeeper in the middle, Andy Pearson in red to my left, posing for photographer - Tom Williams, founder of the Woodhouse Moor parkrun (which incidentally celebrates its 700th edition on 30th April 2022). Tom has since gone on to be Chief Operating Officer of parkrun Global. Notice the white line on the ground, which I painted around the full 1 mile lap, which Tom commented on as a first for parkrun. Tom later returned to Locke Park to run in the first 20 Mile Race held in the park.
The old hair pin – again note the white line
Remember the bridges on and off the Island!
A seven year old Bethany O’Grady handing out a finish token to Kath Aspin
Over the next couple of years, we had a couple of weather events including a near total flooding of the park, and the odd random patches of ice which have been met by temporary diversions.
However, on 21 Nov 2015, we had a fallen tree, which for one week only, was a nice “tunnel” feature before the council closed this section of the path for the next few weeks. This caused us to adopt a “permanent” second course, which still involved the bridges across the island, but a new start at the boathouse, a two-way traffic section between John’s corner and the middle gate. This 2½ lap course stayed in place until growing numbers and the discovery of a new configuration without the bridges brought about the current course in 2017 and a new finish into the tennis courts.
Compared to previous versions the current course has fewer twists and turns, but still had a dreaded but different “hairpin” bend!
But on this 10th anniversary the hairpin has gone!!
Well just about….
We have had the path altered and instead of one very, very sharp bend we now two lesser bends.
But what is taken away needs to be added back
So we have a brand-new path connecting the “railway” path to the lakeside path, through the trees.
These changes benefit the club’s Pie & Peas 5 Mile Race and also the 20 miler which we hope will be back in March 2023 – the proceeds from these races have contributed to paying for the cost of these course alterations, as well as supporting the Friends of Locke Park in their work. Anyone that wishes can volunteer to help FoLP – they meet nearly every Friday morning at 10am at the small container across from the play area.
Over the 10 years we have had scores of parkrun volunteers.
As well as the core team which has included myself, Andy Pearson, Sara Porley, Natalie Allison, Katie Robson, Mandy Dewse and the joker of the pack, Brian Chinnock, I have to give a special mention to the nearly ever present volunteers, John Walshaw and Ron Fletcher.
By Graham Hall,
Chairman, New Marske Harries
Session Days & Times
6pm to 8pm Seniors road & off road