The event, which takes place every Saturday morning at 9am is served by a hardy band of over 50 volunteers, who deliver the event under the watchful eyes of Event Directors, Tim Cooke and Carrie Hudson. It caters for runners, joggers and walkers of all ages, sizes and abilities, who can take in the beautiful surrounding countryside, as part of a free, 5k timed event.
Since its launch in May 2016, Ellenbrook Fields parkrun has welcomed over 12,500 runners, joggers and walkers and has hosted over 1,700 volunteer placements and this success story has not gone unnoticed by the growing number of parkrun tourists that cite the local event as one of the country’s best parkrun experiences.
The ripple effect of the local parkrun is also quite remarkable, with the organisers regularly receiving feedback from visitors from across the UK, commenting on how much they enjoyed their visit to Hatfield and how they will be recommending it to their friends and family.
On New Year’s Day 2018 two Antipodean visitors - Maria Crawford and her fiancé Mal Baron - from Melbourne, Australia, were spending Christmas and the New Year in Welwyn Garden City with Maria’s sister Rhian and her husband Will Hollyer.
Rhian, a founder Run Director at the Ellenbrook Fields event, suggested that the couple run the local course but Maria and Mal, never having heard of parkrun, were reluctant to drag themselves out of bed on a cold, wet Hatfield January morning. Nevertheless persuaded they were, and with their soggy barcodes got themselves along to Ellenbrook Fields, listened intently to the customary new runners briefing and following a warm welcome for the Australian visitors, from the rest of the assembled runners, took part in their first parkrun.
Not only did they enjoy their run, revelling in the beautiful Hatfield countryside, they were hugely impressed with the whole parkrun concept and from that moment on, they were hooked. Indeed Mal was finding out how close their nearest parkrun was back in Melbourne, whilst on the journey home!
Since then, they have attended a parkrun virtually every week to run or volunteer in their local area, even taking part in parkruns in Auckland, New Zealand, when Kiwi Mal returns home to visit his parents.
The couple are coming back to Welwyn Hatfield this summer and have already planned to re-run the Ellenbrook course and take in two other Hertfordshire parkruns, as part of their stay.
So as we move towards the centenary celebration of the Ellenbrook Fields parkrun (7th April), it is heartening to know that its impact on both local people, and those from much farther afield is so pronounced.
The Herts Sports and Physical Activity Partnership – which has been instrumental in the growth of parkrun across Hertfordshire – continues to support the programme, including the staging of an annual parkrun Volunteers Celebration Event, which this year will take place at the University of Hertfordshire on Monday 23rd April 2018.
HSP Director John O’Callaghan, an enthusiastic parkrun volunteer, said:
“It is always heart-warming to hear feedback, such as that received from Maria and Mal. Their experiences are not untypical of parkrun – which is populated by some of the most enthusiastic, warm and welcoming people that I have ever had the pleasure of associating with. To think that our local event is changing lives not only at the local level, but internationally too, is hugely satisfying and humbling in equal measures.”
Pictured: Maria Crawford and her fiancé Mal Baron embracing the Hatfield parkrun message at the Westerfolds event, Templestowe, Victoria, Australia.
For further information contact John O’Callaghan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01707 281009.
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