A team of runners will cover 330 miles in a relay from Windermere to London to celebrate parkrun.
The relay will start at Fell Foot park at 9am on Friday (March 19) and will end seven days later in the original home of parkrun, Bushy Park.
The baton – a copy of a new book about parkrun – will be presented there to the founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt.
The event is being staged according to current safety guidelines, with each leg being tackled by runners in their own home area, and only one or two on each leg.
It has been organised by the book’s author, Eileen Jones, with a team of parkrunning heroes in each region through which the journey passes.
“It was a sudden – maybe crazy – idea to launch the book as we couldn’t do anything the traditional way,” said Eileen. “But the moment I put out a call on social media, I knew it was going to happen. The response has been overwhelming. So many parkrunners are missing their weekly fix, and wanted to be involved. We had to turn down many because they didn’t live near enough to the route. And all of them say that they are excited to be part of something bigger again.”
Eileen’s team comprises Simon Harrop, Eve Taylor, Phil Sutcliffe, Sue Martin, Jenny McBain and Chris Kitchener, each taking charge of a region as the book heads south, following a line created by map-lover Liz Wakelin. Between them they have recruited 90 runners of all ages and abilities.
The regional sections are:
Day 1 (March 19): Fell Foot to Lancaster
Day 2 (March 20): Lancaster to Worsley Woods
Day 3 (March 21): Worsley Woods to Hanley Park, Stoke
Day 4 (March 22): Hanley Park to Lichfield cathedral
Day 5 (March 23): Lichfield cathedral to Warwick
Day 6 (March 24): Warwick to Aylesbury
Day 7 (March 25): Aylesbury to Bushy Park
“This would have been a logistical challenge even in normal times, but they have all worked so hard to make it happen,” Eileen said. “It says so much about the mutually-supportive ethos of parkrun, and a tremendous can-do attitude. It is our gesture of thanks to Paul Sinton-Hewitt whose little idea for a Saturday morning run with friends turned into a global phenomenon that’s had such an impact on so many lives.”
How parkrun changed our lives (https://gritstonecoop.co.uk/books/how-parkrun-changed-our-lives/) details the health and social benefits of the weekly 5k events for runners, joggers and walkers. Some seven million people around the world have signed up to take part, and were still registering during the past year when the pandemic forced the events to cancel. It’s hoped events will start again in England on June 5.
The book also has interviews with many people who say that their lives have been changed for the better, and who talk of the joy that parkrun has brought them. There’s a number of parkrunning clerics discussing whether parkrun is a new religion, a blind man who has run from England to Wales and back, a couple who got married during a parkrun, and the British doctor who holds the USA female parkrun record.
The relay is supported by Open Tracking who will be providing a live map on which to follow the progress of the book. https://live.opentracking.co.uk/bookrun2021/