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Parkrun goes from strength to strength

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ParkrunMarpleGina HitchenJeremy WoodhamJames KempBrabyns ParkCatherine Tombs

Left to right: Brian Platt (432 runs) Catherine Tombs (Run Director, 252 runs) James Kemp (Global Operations Manager, 327 runs) and Jeremy Woodham (Co-Event Director, 192 runs)

Gina Hitchen and Jeremy Woodham are the new event directors of Marple parkrun, which recently hosted its 250th run and celebrated its 5th anniversary on 27 May. Both Gina and Jeremy have been involved since the beginning, sharing the commitment of their predecessor, James Kemp, who founded this event in Brabyns Park with Catherine Tombs.

James Kemp stepped down as event director earlier this year when he was appointed parkrun’s Global Operations Manager, one of the few full-time roles with the company. “There are more than 1000 locations worldwide, compared with just over 100 when Marple started. This is a privilege and an exciting opportunity, so I felt it was time to pass on the Brabyn’s baton. It’s in great hands with Gina and Jeremy.” 

His success in generating interest is reflected in other runs this one has inspired: the junior parkrun was the north-west’s first when it was established here three years ago, the Marple Runners club was launched by stalwart Andy Lord and attracted 100 members in its first year, and Marple has also prompted new parkruns in Lyme Park, Glossop and Hyde.   

“Although 'run' is in the name, we also welcome those who walk or jog. The quicker runners wait at the finish to encourage others, while a tail runner makes sure nobody feels left behind,” Jeremy says.  At present, weekly attendance averages around 170 participants, which Gina feels is “large enough to be sociable, but not too crowded, so it’s comfortable for runners. Everyone enjoys the friendly atmosphere. We’ve youngsters doing the Duke of Edinburgh award who also help with the organisation, which develops their confidence, whilst one of our senior runners, Brian Platt, has just turned 81. He is an exemplary volunteer, one of the willing team who share the admin and other jobs that ensure smooth running every week.  We hope they will all enjoy the little surprises we are planning for our 5th anniversary.” 

* parkrun is a timed 5k run, open and free to all, held every Saturday at 9 am - contact: marpleoffice@parkrun.com