Athletics

Running enthusiasts want to set up a junior Parkrun in Plymouth

The Plym Valley Parkrun, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in September

RUNNING enthusiasts are trying to set up a junior Parkrun in Plymouth.

Organisers have spent the last eight months attempting to get a weekly 2k event up-and-running.

They have hit a host of stumbling blocks along the way, but now have everything in place – apart from the set-up costs.

They have received permission to hold the weekly runs on a Sunday morning at Devonport Park, already have a team of BDS-checked marshals and have parking arranged at Brickfields. However, the final hurdle – the set-up costs – is proving tough to get over.

“We are just having real trouble getting it off the ground,” said one of the organisers Hollie Baxter.

“We are just finding it hard to get people to help fund the initial start-up cost.

“The council have agreed we can use the park, we have a route set-up, a core team together, all our documents have gone into Parkrun HQ – we are essentially ready to go, except for the funding.

“To set up a junior Parkrun requires £6,000, of which Parkrun put up half of that and then shoulder the burden of the on-going costs. So we need to find £3,000.”

The organisers have tried the council, but they say they do not have any funding available, they have tried the local MP but with no luck and a host of local businesses and companies.

However, they have had support from Livewell South West and Plymouth Community Homes, but still have around £2,000 to raise.

“We have had some success,” said Baxeter. “Livewell South West have made a donation and so have Plymouth Community Homes. They have both said it would be a brilliant thing to start and can see the benefits of it.  But we still need to get the remaining costs in place.

“There are specific rules with fundraising for Parkruns. We are not allowed to handle any cash at all, so I have to direct everyone to Parkrun. We also can’t do Crowdfunding.

“Everyone has said ‘why don’t you Crowdfund’ or go to an existing Parkrun with bucket’, but we have to explain that we are not allowed to do that.

“We do feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall a bit.”

The start-up costs are needed to pay for a laptop, the timers, software licences, initial course markers, the bibs and training, but after that Parkrun will cover any further costs.

Baxter is convinced there is a demand for a junior Parkrun in Plymouth.

“I am involved with the Mount Edgcumbe Parkrun, which is an adult one,” she said.

“There are three adult ones in our area, but I’d really like to get a junior one off the ground because I see young children coming to Plym Valley or Mount Edgcumbe and 5k can just be too much for them.

“They have just opened a junior Parkrun in Bodmin, which is incredibly popular, but our nearest one is Exeter and there’s another at Barnstaple, but no parent is getting up early to drive that far to let their child run 2k on a Sunday morning. That’s why we want to try and get one going in Plymouth.

“We know the demand is there. We have been in touch with all the local schools and they are waiting and ready to help. Three of the local running clubs have junior sections, so there is definitely a market there. We feel we could be getting a couple of hundred on a weekly basis.

“This is an easy way to get kids out and about and active. It’s also a route to get parents active as well. They can run with their children and then maybe they can graduate to an adult Parkrun and then maybe a running club.

“If a youngster does 10 junior Parkruns they are eligible for a T-shirt and they also do wristbands as well. So if you run the distance of a half marathon, you get a half marathon wristband, you also get one when you do a marathon distance and then ultra distance, so there’s plenty to keep kids coming back.”

She added: “We have a beautiful two lap course ready. Friends of Devonport Park are involved and it will also bring lots of business to the cafe there. We have set up parking at Brickfields, so that we don’t snarl up the local area with cars.

“We have worked out we’d need 10 marshals so that everyone is in sight and a marshal on all (park) exits. We all have to be DBS checked and that’s already in place.

“We have thought of everything and we are ready to go, apart from the funding. We are really struggling. Our team keep filling in forms for grants that no-one seems to want to give out.”

If anyone has any ideas that could help, they should email hollie_baxter@hotmail.com.

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