Over 300 Parkrun volunteers from all over Hertfordshire gathered at the University of Hertfordshire’s Weston Auditorium to hear the founder of the worldwide Parkrun movement talk about its origins.
Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE was keynote speaker at the event, organised by the Herts Sports Partnership in association with Parkrun UK, to celebrate the contribution made to the Parkrun movement in Herts by over 800 registered volunteers.
Each week, more than 200 volunteers get together at 11 locations across the county so that more than 2,000 runners can enjoy their weekly timed, free 5k run.
In his address, Sinton-Hewitt said that the growth of the Parkrun movement – from the first 13 runners in Bushy Park, Teddington, in 2004 to the three million or more runners who now take part every Saturday morning across the globe – had been beyond his wildest dreams.
He congratulated all those who had been involved in growing the Parkrun family in Herts over the past three years and was particularly pleased to note that the very first Junior Parkrun in the county had now been established.
Audience members also heard some poignant accounts of how involvement in the Parkrun programme had improved the lives of volunteers and participants.
Director of the Herts Sports Partnership, John O’Callaghan, said: “In 35 years working in this sector, I’ve yet to come across such a concept which is so brilliant in its simplicity. It gets people moving in such a friendly environment, where forging friendships and enjoying a post-run coffee are very much as important as the taking part.
“It unites communities, is a great social leveller, and is a simple but very powerful tool to help address health inequalities at the local level.”