Thursday 26 May 2016

Dartford junior parkrun 1

It was inevitable that after the success of Dartford parkrun a junior event would eventually follow. Conversations had been ongoing ever since the full 5km event started, but it just needed that one person to come forward to be the event director before it could really gather some momentum. I seriously considered taking it on myself, but decided against it.

Fast-forward to 22 May 2016 and the Event Director, Angela O'Sullivan, along with her fantastic core team were ready to go live with their inaugural event, which takes place in Central Park, Dartford.

[photos: bruce li / 7t]

As with all junior parkruns, this is a 2km event which takes place every Sunday morning. Remember that times do vary between junior events, but this one has a 9am start time. I imagine that most people attending this event will be local, but for anyone travelling here, Dartford train station is about 5-10 minutes away from the park.

All the local buses that stop in the town centre will get you with a few minutes walk of the start line. If travelling by car, there are some public car parks in the town centre and as I understand it, parking is free on Sundays. Bike racks are situated outside the cafe.

[photos: bruce li / richey]

The run itself starts outside the 'Cafe in the Park' which is located within the children's playground. Just head towards the white, wooden building in the centre of the park and you'll be in the right place. The course is made up of 2 laps on a mixture of tarmac paths and grass (the grass section is quite short). The course is flat apart from one teeny, weeny bump at the end of each lap. 

So on the day of the inaugural event, we wandered over to the park and arrived in good time for the start. It was always my intention to volunteer at the event, but my daughter wanted me to run with her, so I did that and my wife volunteered as a marshal.

[photos: dani]

The standard junior parkrun warm-up took place and this was followed by an opening speech from the leader of the council who has been very supportive to both parkruns in Dartford. With the runners in place at the start line, the signal was given and the first Dartford junior parkrun was underway.

It was a lovely, sunny morning and two laps later Matilda crossed the line to complete her 26th junior parkrun and her 11th different junior parkrun venue (it was also the 6th inaugural junior parkrun that she had been present at - however only 5 of those are logged as completed runs as she had a DNF at Medway juniors).

[photos: bruce li]

It wasn't one of her greatest runs as she didn't really seem to be into it this week, but she stuck with it and had a smile on her face when she crossed the line where she was handed her finish token by her favourite 'silly guy' Adam. We hung around for a bit to chat but we soon had to head off for our 15 minute walk up the hill to the rugby club where Matilda was due to continue her morning's activities.

The core team have a great deal of experience between them so it was no surprise that the results were processed at lightning speed - in fact we received Matilda's results text message before we had even arrived at the rugby club. The roving parkrun photographer, Bruce Li, was at the event, and as well as taking some great photos he also knocked up an incredible video from the morning. You can find it here: Dartford junior parkrun #1 (video)

A perfect start to what is another great addition to Dartford's running community.
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