…You sure were in for a big surprise – unless, of course, you were the owner of a parkrunner’s barcode. The woods in question are the Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Park Lane, Goudhurst, where Kent’s 16th and latest parkrun started on Saturday (19 March).
Run Kent, part of the National Run England programme, has installed a marked running route through the forest and helped set up Bedgebury Forest Runners, a running group for beginners that meets every Wednesday at 9.15am, so a parkrun at the venue was a natural progression. The Forestry Commission and Sport England are working to deliver an Active Forests Programme and what could be more active and inclusive than parkrun? Organised entirely by volunteers, these free 5k timed events regularly see more than 2,500 people across Kent taking part on Saturday mornings.
The inaugural first finishers at Bedgebury Pinetum were over 40 runners Lloyd Collier, of Dulwich Runners (18:33) and cani-cross competitor Jennifer Lee (20:28). The tail runner was M65 campaigner Albert Kemp, of local club Wadhurst Runners (50:19) and there were 141 runners.The mid-poiunt runner was junior Luke Draper (30:03)
Run Kent was launched in 2012 and the local programme supports over 100 qualified Run Leaders across 80 running groups/clubs in Kent. Participation in Kent is officially off the scale, with ‘new runner’ targets having been smashed for the fourth successive year.
The local programme is led by Run Kent Activator, Lucy Tomlinson, who said: "I'm really pleased to announce that Run Kent has exceeded its annual runner target for a fourth year in a row! Since April 2015, over 1,900 runners registered with local groups in Kent, beating this year’s target of 1,780! This brings Kent’s rolling total to 6,388 new runners since 2012."
For details of Kent’s latest parkrun click here.