Last Saturday, I did Tilgate ParkRun for the first time in almost a year. As you might imagine, I have lost a fair amount of time in that year, but the event itself has lost none of its attractions.
ParkRun is a free volunteer-run 5k which takes place in various locations across the UK on a weekly basis, the ParkRun in Tilgate Park is one of the biggest and regularly draws in around 500 participants.
Who is ParkRun for? It’s for everyone. The runs are timed, but it attracts every kind of participant and the whole thing has a real sense of camaraderie. In 2017, the group were the winners of the Crawley Community Award in recognition of their contribution to the town.
I don’t think it goes too far to say that ParkRun has been one of the most cost-effective public health interventions in Crawley’s history. With a tiny amount of upfront funding from the council the group have given many thousands of local residents the opportunity an easy route into improving their health and fitness. It was certainly my first step in trying to get fit and the confidence of being able to see your times improve week-on-week gave me the boost I needed to take on tougher and tougher physical challenges.
Last year, a different ParkRun was threatened by their local council with a charge on runners to pay for park maintenance and at Crawley BC we were quick to respond that we would never introduce such charges at Tilgate. We haven’t and we never will. We owe a huge thanks to the volunteers who make Tilgate Park Run possible, their efforts are helping to make us a healthier and happier place. Long may it continue.