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Junior parkrun off to a flying start

Junior parkrun off to a flying start

Published at 8:02am 14th November 2015. (Updated at 9:56am 17th November 2015)

A weekly junior parkrun is proving popular in Harrogate. 

The 2km run is held in Valley Gardens each Sunday and is averaging around 150 participants aged between four and 14 each week.

Event director Helen Williams, with the help of Adam Hearld, Carl Summerscales and other parents, got the junior parkrun off the ground.

Helen and her husband Tom moved to Harrogate from Leeds, and as keen parkrunners, couldn’t wait to start a junior parkrun close by.

Free weekly 5km runs and 2km junior runs are held under the parkrun banner around the world.

The nearest junior parkrun to Harrogate was in Leeds, so as her daughter was reaching the age when she would be old enough to take part, Helen decided to arrange one in the town.

She said: "Being part of Saturday’s 5km parkrun on the Stray has been a really nice way to meet people in the area, so I thought starting one for juniors would be great for our children in Harrogate."

The funding needed to launch a junior parkrun is £3,000, which Helen, along with a team of parent volunteers, found locally, including £500 from North Yorkshire County Council’s Stronger Communities programme. 

Helen added: "Liz (the Stronger Communities delivery manager for Harrogate) was absolutely on board from the beginning. She could see what the benefits were going to be and that it was something that was going to be great for the community."

Funding was also found from the Harrogate Borough Council Small Grant Fund, Harrogate Round Table, Harrogate Harriers Junior and Bettys Café.

Helen said: "It has really been embraced in the community. With a course that requires at least 20 volunteers to come forward every week, it's wonderful to see the majority of them coming from the community and we've seen a lot of first-timers among the runners, which shows we're already making a difference. It is a big commitment, but without the help of the volunteers, the run could not go ahead.

"It wouldn’t matter if only five children turned up in our park every week. What parkrun and its many thousands of weekly volunteers recognise is the importance of participation over the value of numbers. If we affect one child's health, wellness and happiness by allowing them to participate, then we are as happy as if we affect 158 (the number that turned up in Harrogate one Sunday).

"But the value is in the actual taking part not the number of those taking part. Our volunteers and our junior parkrunning children are equal participants in something amazing and I’m so very proud to be part of that community in Harrogate."

The junior parkrun takes place at 9am each Sunday and entry is free, but runners do need to be registered in advance.

Details can be found at www.parkrun.org.uk/register

There is also a 5km parkrun on the Stray at 9am each Saturday, which is for all ages from four upwards.