Foots Cray Meadows was a natural choice for the latest addition to the burgeoning parkrun family on Saturday (21 July). The 97 hectares represents the largest public open space in the London Borough of Bexley and the park is a well known venue for cross country league races in the winter.
The inaugural Foots Cray Meadows parkrun drew 160 participants and 19 volunteers and the first finishers and course record setters were Gavin Benson (Petts Wood, 18:22) and Chantelle McGinty (23:20), while the age-graded course best was established at 72.66% by Jon Hunter (Bexley, 20:58).
The first event ran smoothly as tail walker, Michelle Marsh, closed the event in 56:09. All over in an hour and off to Kelsey's Farm Cafe to celebrate. Well, hardly, as anyone with any experience of these launch events will know.
Foots Cray Meadows parkrun represents the culmination of 15 months of meticulous planning and hard graft by run director Paul Dallison and his team of dedicated helpers. Parkwood Leisure sponsored start up costs for the event and Neil Cole raised funds for a defibrillator. Kelsey's Farm agreed to offer free car parking and toilets and there cannot be too many host venues with showers and full camping and caravan site facilities available for parkrun tourists.
The first run report for Foots Cray Meadows explains the behind the scenes efforts to get the new parkrun up and running: “The road to today started way back at the beginning of May 2017, when Paul and I met with Bexley Council with thoughts of a second parkrun in Bexley.
“Many people have helped in many ways, from standing in the freezing cold December weather, talking to people in the Meadows, leaflet dropping around 600 homes as part of a consultation, walking the course to work out possible routes and lots of meetings with the Council and Friends of Foots Cray Meadows.”
The organisers also paid tribute to Bexley Council, the Friends of Foots Cray Meadows and Kelsey's Farm for their crucial support. And an hour after the start it was all over – until next Saturday and every Saturday at 9am, when they do it all again. Free, weekly, timed, forever.
Connect with Foots Cray Meadows parkrun here
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Images courtesy Brian Page