Stokes Bay junior parkrun gets off to a flying start

The first event of the new junior parkrun proved a spectacular success with 184 finishers and lots of great volunteers on Sunday.

Wednesday, 7th June 2017, 7:30 am
The first junior parkrun event at Stokes Bay proved a big success. Picture: Neil Marshall (170308-22)

Event director Paul Atkinson felt it was important to give juniors the chance to run the timed 2k event and Stokes Bay is a perfect setting for it.

He said: ‘Over Christmas and new year, I got to run a couple of Lee-on-the-Solent parkruns and I noticed how happy and excited the youngsters seemed to be at the beginning.

‘But by half way some looked like they had had enough, 5k is a bit too far for the smallest runners.

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Runners received great support from family and friends in the Stokes Bay junior parkrun. Picture: Neil Marshall

‘I have run with my son, Pearson, and he enjoys parkrun, but didn’t want to run all that way, every week.

‘In January, I thought we needed a local junior event to complement Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun, so I looked at where we could hold one, and how we go about making it happen.

‘My wife Maggie and I decided to start the ball rolling, and just five months later, everything was in place and Sunday was our inaugural event.’

The amazing turnout for the run certainly justified the hard work in setting the event up and everyone received great support.

Runners received great support from family and friends in the Stokes Bay junior parkrun. Picture: Neil Marshall

Paul added: ‘On the morning, Maggie and I arrived at 8am, and luckily the sun was shining, and we were soon joined by our superb team of volunteers.

‘We got to work getting the course set up ready for the arrival of the juniors.

‘At first there were a dozen or so, then looking back towards the splash park we were excited to see lots and lots of smiley faces heading our way.

‘We gathered them together, welcomed them and explained about junior parkrun and the course.

‘Then it was time to get them warmed up, with our junior warm-up routine, ending with a countdown and a loud cheer. They all joined in, even some of the grown ups.

‘During the run we saw lots of smiling faces, and runners were supported by friends, family, and our volunteers.

‘With the finish line at the ready, we looked out towards GAFIRS lifeboat station and it resembled a mountain top finish of the Tour de France.

‘A crowd of proud supporters filled the promenade, cheering everyone on to the finish.

‘We hoped it would be popular with the youngsters, but, wow, 184 finishers.’

Austin Tavener Stephenson set the course record as he finished first in a time of 8min 05sec.

Libby Evans was the first female finisher as she completed the 2k in 8.38 and was sixth overall.

The Stokes Bay event will take place every Sunday at Stokes Bay Road, Gosport, PO12 2BL (9am).