Popular parkrun continues to thrive as the best times tumble

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Nearly 100 runners took to Rushmere Country Park for the third running of the parkrun.

The free weekly 5k event, which is open to all ages and abilities and consists of two laps of Rushmere Country Park, welcomed 59 people taking part for the first time.

Among the first-timers were James Bell and his son Harry (12) and daughter Julia (10).

“I love the fact that I can go running with my children in a beautiful location that is right on our doorstep,” said James.

“Previously we travelled to Tring, Buckingham or Milton Keynes if we wanted to do a parkrun, so it’s great that we now have one in our local area.

“The event is really well organised and the strategically placed marshals around the course give all the participants loads of encouragement, whether they are running, jogging or walking.

“The kids and I particularly loved the long downhill section!”

Despite some of the forest trails becoming slippery after heavy overnight rain, an impressive 15 runners improved their times from previous weeks.

Hannah Brennan recorded the biggest improvement of the week, reducing her best time by a staggering five minutes to cross the line in 32 minutes 28 seconds.

Trish Owen improved by a similar margin to stop the clock at 38:16, while Lisa Mitchinson (32:33) and Niki Casey (33:52) were both two minutes faster than last week.

Not to be outdone, there were similarly impressive performances in the men’s field as Wesley Fraser dipped under the magic 30-minute barrier for the first time to finish in 29:57, while Gareth Erskine-Jones posted 26:59 to come home two minutes quicker than last time.

In the juniors, Harriet Grimshaw set the biggest personal best, reducing her time from 29:05 to 27:54.

Each runner also receives a percentage score that is calculated according to their age and gender.

Stephen Green recorded the highest for the men with 69 per cent, while Caroline Beechey, in the women’s 50-54 age group, achieved 66 per cent. Sam Nicholas was the highest ranked junior with 67 per cent.