parkrun legend Tom Williams to “headline” at Cumbrian festival

A leading figure in the parkrun world, Tom Williams, will be a keynote speaker at the Eden Escape festival in May.

Tom, who is Global Chief Operating Officer at parkrun, will appear at the family-friendly weekend festival in Cumbria which has fitness and adventure at its heart. There’s also camping and music, running and swimming sessions, yoga and adventure films, and children’s activities.

Tom, whose wife Helen presents the Free Weekly Timed parkrun podcast with broadcaster Vassos Alexander, supports more than 2,000 parkrun events across 23 countries. With a BSc in Human Biology, Exercise and Health, and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science, he spent four years in the academic sport science department at the University of Leeds then started working full time for parkrun in 2011.

Tom and son Aston on parkrun volunteer duty

In 2010 he started the Marathon Talk running podcast, which ran for 600 episodes over 12 years and throughout that time was the most-downloaded UK running podcast. He’s completed 25 marathons (with a PB of 2:49) and seven Ironman triathlons (with a PB of 9:24).

The Eden Escape Festival will be held at Mains Farm, Kirkoswald, on the banks of River Eden in the northern Lake District at the end of May. It’s organised by Wiz Lees and Leigh-Ann Newburn, from Shap, and Keswick-based wild-swimming guru Ali Phillips. Wiz is a personal trainer and fitness instructor, and Leigh Ann teaches yoga, and together they created Fox Red Events to organise the festival, which had a small-scale launch in 2019. After two years hit by the pandemic, they’re planning to offer adventures on a local level and a staycation experience for the whole family. Ali, a well known blogger for Girl About the Lake District, will be bringing her expertise to the river-swimming side of the adventures.

Staged at the farm camp site, the festival promises a real escape from the ordinary, a time to get away from it all, spend time together outdoors, getting active and enjoying great company and great food.

Wiz Lees said: “We are delighted that the inspirational Tom Williams will be joining us. He represents the parkrun ethos, to make the world a healthier and happier place through their free, weekly 5k events. That fits perfectly with our aim here, to offer open-air adventures at a local and sustainable level. We all know the benefits that come with exercise, especially when it comes to mental health. In today’s work-obsessed world, more people are finding it difficult to manage stress, and live in constant worry about something or the other.”

She added: “It’s possible to have a really exciting time, and have mini-adventures, here on the banks of the River Eden, without having to travel too far. We know that Tom will be an informative and entertaining speaker for everyone, even if they haven’t done a parkrun yet.”

More guest speakers will be announced shortly. The festival will stage music events, including a 1980s night on the Saturday featuring tribute band Under Neon, and films from Kendal Mountain Festival. Massage therapies will be available, and there will be a market area in the former milking parlour where locally-made crafts, clothes, toiletries, candles and much more will be on sale. There’ll be plenty of good food available, with lots of vegetarian and vegan choices, but also chicken and chips and pizza. Says Wiz: “We know what families want when they go away for a weekend, and we know it means catering for everyone.”

The festival is on May 27-29. For more information and to book tickets see https://www.edenescapefest.co.uk/

  • A number of parkruns can be reached from the festival site including Penrith (20 minutes), Talkin Tarn (25 mins), Carlisle (30 mins), Keswick (45 mins), Whinlatter (50 mins) and Tyne Green (65 mins).

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