Woodland running craze is helping people to get fit

3 ''Early morning fun-runners have been enjoying 'Havant parkrun' at Staunton Country Park for a 5km stretch on Saturdays''Local firefighter Glen Willie (40) pushes his daughter Gabriella (20 months) in her buggy for a bit of fresh air and lots and lots of rain !!! ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (1394-6992)
3 ''Early morning fun-runners have been enjoying 'Havant parkrun' at Staunton Country Park for a 5km stretch on Saturdays''Local firefighter Glen Willie (40) pushes his daughter Gabriella (20 months) in her buggy for a bit of fresh air and lots and lots of rain !!! ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (1394-6992)
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HUNDREDS of people braved the rain, cold and mud to run through a woodland in what has become a keep-fit phenomenon.

Parkruns have been taking place since 2004 but only recently began in this area – in Staunton Country Park, Havant.

STAUNTON parkrun (EB) MRW 12/1/2013 ''Early morning fun-runners have been enjoying 'Havant parkrun' at Staunton Country Park for a 5km stretch on Saturdays''Picture: Malcolm Wells (1394-6890)

STAUNTON parkrun (EB) MRW 12/1/2013 ''Early morning fun-runners have been enjoying 'Havant parkrun' at Staunton Country Park for a 5km stretch on Saturdays''Picture: Malcolm Wells (1394-6890)

Runners of all abilities can take part in the free, 5km timed run which is organised by volunteers and sponsored by companies such as adidas.

You can go at your own pace and walk if you like, and it’s perfect for people whose new year’s resolution is to get fit.

Firefighter Glen Willie, 40, said: ‘I started going because I wanted to set an example to my children that physical activity is the norm rather than playing computer games and sitting in front of the telly all day long

‘All four of my children do it now, I even push the baby in the buggy.

‘What I love about it is it’s available to everyone – whether you’re a keen athlete or just beginning and can only walk round. You can even take your dog.

‘You get encouragement from everyone and all the other runners are positive.

‘Because it’s at 9am it’s over by 10am and you can get on with the rest of your weekend. We’ve even started a coffee and cake club afterwards.’

Hayley Court, 26, from Woodmancote Road, Southsea, said: ‘I’ve never been a particularly confident runner, and that’s why I love Parkrun.

‘It’s for runners of all ages and abilities and you race yourself as much as you race the person next to you.

‘Most of us try to improve on our time the previous week.

‘Everyone was welcoming and friendly.

‘And I don’t know of any other running club that greets new members with a round of applause.

‘When you cross the 5k finish line – whatever your time – there’s a cheer and a round of applause waiting for you. You start the day on a high.’

To find out more go to parkrun.org.uk/havant where you will need to download a personal barcode.