With the Saturday parkrun events held weekly across the length and breadth of Britain already well- established and forming an integral part of many families' routines it seems nowadays, an initiative has been launched to extend the running fraternity's friendly reach to a wider audience. In recognition of the fact that the standard parkrun distance of 5km may be a little too arduous for those wanting to make their first steps in the sport, the junior parkrun has been developed over the shorter distance of 2km.
The city of Norwich in Norfolk has been in long discussions with the parkrun organisers and local interested parties, and can now announce the launch of the first Norwich junior parkrun on Sunday 15th March at 9am.
As with the full-distance parkrun the day before, the event will be held around the traffic-free Eaton Park, approximately two miles out from the city centre. The distance to be attempted will be 2km and is open to those aged between 4 and 14 years only. It will be free to compete and entrants will be timed, but competitors need to ensure that they register in advance and obtain a barcode to be brought along with them to each event they participate in. Existing barcodes from the Saturday parkrun can also be used, if competitors have already registered for the full parkrun event in the past. The website and volunteer register will open on 21st February.
With the numbers participating in sport post-London 2012 not seeing an universal increase across the board, as per the organisers' promise of 'legacy' after Britain had hosted the Olympic Games, it is refreshing that parkrun seems to be bucking that trend with numbers in the main seeming to increase week by week. Clearly though for the younger age-groups, to expect them to run a distance of over 3 miles at one effort in what may be their first foray into the sport, could be seen to potentially deter many from donning their training shoes, the morning after they have completed their week's studies..
The timing on Sundays has been selected to avoid potential clashes with local Sunday league football matches, but also to keep the event separate from the regular Saturday parkruns.
The event director for the new Norwich junior parkrun, Andrew Lane, was one of the original pioneers from the very first parkrun event, held at Bushy Park in London in 2004. He recently told the local EDP newspaper that: "I'm very confident that once we can offer an event to people, they will support it and enjoy it." He had visited the nearest alternative junior event in Cambridge a few weeks ago and sensed the enthusiasm around it. As with the Cambridge event for juniors and full parkrun events, parents will be free to run with their #Children if they so wish, which may be advisable with the younger children that may get involved.
Mr Lane was grateful to Active Norfolk for their assistance in providing resources for the events and to Norwich City Council for granting permission for Eaton Park to be used for the runs themselves.