Watton parkrun helps boost number of runners in Norfolk

Volunteers at Loch Neaton parkrun in Watton Photo: Aidan Bunning

Volunteers at Loch Neaton parkrun in Watton Photo: Aidan Bunning

Aidan Bunning

A new parkrun in Watton has helped push numbers taking part in runs across Norfolk towards the 4,000 mark.

Sixteen adult and three junior runs have been set up around the county since the first 10 participants got on their marks in Gorleston 10 years ago.

Some 3,502 adults and 369 juniors now join in each weekend, at locations as diverse as Holkham Hall and Wayland Prison.

Loch Neaton parkrun, which sets off from the Sports and Social Cluib on Dereham Road each Saturday, is the newest. Started just three weeks ago, it already attracts dozens of runners.

Andrew Lane, regional event support ambassador for organiser Parkrun UK, said there would soon be new runs at Sloughbottom Park, in Norwich and a junior run in Lakenham.

Runners enjoy the Loch Neaton parkrun in Watton  Photo: Aidan BunningRunners enjoy the Loch Neaton parkrun in Watton Photo: Aidan Bunning

Retired accountant Mr Lane, 62, from Wymondham, said: “I used to live in Teddington, London, and I was one of the 13 runners at the very first parkrun in October 2004. There were no grand plans at all. No-one had any idea it would grow like this.

“They are all nice places to run, with no worries about traffic. Also 5km is the perfect distance – long enough to be a challenge, but short enough for everyone to have a go.”

Mr Lane began running a decade before taking part in the first parkrun.

“Around 25 years ago I did a race in London, it was a 10-mile race and I just loved the atmosphere and the DIY community feel to it,” he said.

“It was run by a local running club, we ran along the towpath and I just got hooked.”

Mr Lane said parkruns offered a “friendly community atmosphere”, where people could make friends and the runs were free to take part in, suitable for children and easy to register for.

Events are formed by local demand rather than the national body. Anyone setting up a new run must pay £3,000 to register with Parkrun UK. The one-off charge covers the cost of laptop, scanners and other equipment needed to time runners’ performance.

Mr Lane said Active Norfolk had covered half the cost of runs, with local councils providing the balance.

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