Spring 2019 has seen a further expansion in parkrun participation across the UK fuelled by large numbers across the board, record attendances and new events. A case in point is the North East which now boasts a complement of 28 events from Alnwick to Darlington. That total was reached last weekend (Saturday – 20 April) with the arrival of two new events.
Blyth Links got off to a blistering start with an incredible 342 runners completing the first staging. A big boost for the event is a course that incorporates the coast and gives competitors the opportunity to run along the promenade and past the famous Blyth beach huts (pictured).
parkrun regular Sparrow John Richard Morley set the mark for the course with a speedy 16:43, closely followed by his Tyne Bridge Harriers’ clubmate Paul Turnbull (16:52). North Shields Polytechnic AC’s Suzanne Thew put in a strong performance as leading female runner in 19:26, with fellow North Shields Poly Becky Coleman second in 20:01.
There was also a big turnout at Hexham for Tyne Green’s maiden event. Local runners and walkers, many of them parkrun first-timers, were joined by visitors from as far afield as Dorset and one enthusiastic participant who had cycled from Lockerbie! They all enjoyed a scenic course, with great riverside stretches, on a bright Northumberland morning.
A strong contingent from Tynedale Harriers showed the 241-strong field the way round, with four of the first five finishers runners hailing from the club.
Christopher Jackson headed the lot in 17:48, ahead of Blaydon Harriers’ James Ramshaw second in 18:12. Lisa Tang with her canine companion claimed the third token (18:49).
Biggest shout-out however goes to the two brilliant teams of volunteers – 36 in number at Blyth Links and 21 strong at Tyne Green – for making the two occasions possible.