Junior Parkrun event up and running soon in Leighton Buzzard?

The inaugural Rushmere parkrun in November 2015
The inaugural Rushmere parkrun in November 2015

Award-winning Parson’s Close Recreation Ground could be the setting a weekly junior Parkrun for Leighton Buzzard.

The Green Flag park has been earmarked as the ideal place to host a junior event following the “massive success” of the adult version – the Rushmere Parkrun, which has been held at Rushmere Country Park since November 2015.

If progressed, the junior event would be a free weekly timed run to be held at 9am every Sunday morning and aimed at children aged between 4 and 14.

At a meeting last week, town councillors endorsed a one-off payment of £2,500 to support the setting up of the event by local Parkrun volunteers. It could take between three to six months to get off the ground.

A report by Ian Haynes, head of grounds and environmental services, revealed that parents would be allowed to accompany their children, to spectate or assist with marshalling or other volunteer duties.

He said: “With waiting lists for youth clubs – particularly running related – we are confident this event would be as successful as its parent event.

“The project will offer more young people in the Leighton Buzzard and Linslade area the opportunity to be physically active and will help improve the health of those participants.

“The success of the adult version of this programme in Rushmere indicates that there is demand for activities of this nature in the local area.”

So far the Rushmere event has had 2,684 unique participants, with over 11,019 visits in total. Mr Haynes said this demonstrated the local volunteer group’s ability to deliver a junior event successfully.

Mr Haynes added: “In the UK Parkrun operate an independent not-for-profit organisation supported by commercial and various other supporters.

“To survive financially Parkrun also look for local organisations to contribute towards the establishment of events in their area. Parkrun currently seeks to achieve a £3,000 start-up fee when establishing an event. This is always a one-off cost and Parkrun are committed to supporting every event indefinitely from then on.

“The key to starting any Parkrun is to find the right person to lead that event as a local volunteer, to champion its benefits to their community and to slowly but surely build a strong volunteer team to deliver the event going forward.”