The first Aberystwyth parkrun took place on 1 September, 2012 and, apart from Covid times, it has been a regular weekly feature for those taking part. In fact, over 450 runs have been held at Plascrug Avenue at 9am on Saturday mornings since then.

Despite the name, you don’t have to run, and people regularly walk, jog, push prams and take their dogs along the route.

It has become a lifeline for many, and a social activity for others. Over 5,500 people have taken part in the last 10 years and an average of 100 people, plus 18 volunteers, attend most Saturdays.

The community event offers something for everyone, as 86-year-old Lionel Curtis, who has completed Aberystwyth parkrun over 150 times, explained.

“I cannot emphasise enough how important parkrun has been for me for my physical and mental wellbeing.

“It is such a supportive event, whatever your ability, and I would encourage anyone to come down on Saturday morning and take part.

“You certainly won’t regret it, you will have fun and you will definitely feel better for it.”

Ioan Guile with another parkrun enthusiast, Sue Lewis
Ioan Guile with another parkrun enthusiast, Sue Lewis (Picture supplied)

Ioan Guile agrees. Recalling how he first got involved, and the benefits of taking part for him, he said: “It was my personal trainer, Lina Land, who encouraged me to take part in my first Aberystwyth parkrun in March 2018.

“Despite my initial reservations, I soon realised that the parkrun community is a friendly, non-competitive, supportive crowd.

“Each week is a positive experience and my regret is that I didn’t start taking part 10 years ago!”

Sion Meredith parkrun
Siôn Meredith, a relative newcomer to Aberystwyth parkrun (Picture supplied)

Siôn Meredith has just discovered the merits of parkrun. He said: “I’m a relative newcomer to it.

“I had heart bypass surgery in August 2020 at 54 years of age.

“Before surgery I had not run for about 30 years, but I joined Aberystwyth parkrun when it restarted after the last lockdown in January 2022, and by now I have done 14 parkruns, mostly in Aberystwyth, and a few in Bangor.

“I’m now trying to beat my personal best of 27:29 that I managed in March.

“I have enjoyed every minute. It’s a great way to keep fit, and to be motivated, and I think parkrun is just brilliant.

“It’s such a supportive, encouraging and inclusive community. Thank you for the welcome!”

He added: “If you don’t feel up to running, you are welcome to walk, and there are always tail walkers, so no one comes in last.

“I’ve also joined the volunteer team. Volunteering is also a great way to join in and to get to know everyone.”

Jade Gaitely and Rob Pugh
Jade Gaitely and Rob Pugh (Picture supplied)

Rob Pugh said: “I started running parkrun about six years ago and have done it 122 times and volunteered 42 times.

“I look forward to Saturday morning to meet my parkrun friends and have a coffee afterwards.

“I had my 70th birthday a few weeks ago and hope to keep going for a few years yet.”

Jade Gaitely joined parkrun following a bereavement.

She said: “Most weeks I run, jog, walk or volunteer to help out at parkrun. I suffer from epilepsy and I don’t want to run on my own because of that. I found out about parkrun and it’s great. It really helps me and my anxiety.

“I started in 2018, a few weeks after my mother-in-law’s death. It was really helpful with that too, and for my partner who also came. Everyone gets together and it really helps. You don’t have to run. You can walk, push a pram – anything you like.”

Jane Thorogood and Lionel Curtis
Jane Thorogood is one of Aberystwyth parkrun’s earliest participants. Meanwhile, 86-year-old Lionel Curtis has completed the parkrun over 150 times (Pictures supplied)

Jane Thorogood said: “I got involved with Aberystwyth parkrun not long after it began, in late 2012. I enjoyed the challenge of the weekly 5k run and the social aspect that it also offered.

“In 2014 the idea was mooted that we could start a junior parkrun in Aberystwyth and I volunteered to take on the role of event director, establishing a team of volunteers and raising the necessary funds to set up.

“Our first event was in May 2015. Events at parkrun are supported by a team of volunteers, known as ambassadors, who are the first point of call for any teams or groups of people wishing to set up a parkrun in their area.

“I was approached by parkrun Wales and asked if I was interested in becoming the event support ambassador for mid Wales. I said yes without hesitation, and since 2016 I have supported teams of volunteers in Dolgellau, Newtown, Llanerchaeron and Builth Wells to set up their events.

“I also volunteer as critical incident line ambassador.

“For me, parkrun has helped my fitness and my mental health as well as giving me lifelong friendships across the world.”

Deian Creunant who has completed 75 parkruns
Deian Creunant has contributed as both a runner and a volunteer (Picture supplied)

Deian Creunant said: “I run and volunteer and think it’s a fantastic event – I ran my 75th parkrun this month.

“Parkrun is really positive for tourism too. I look for parkruns when on holiday or away somewhere else.”

Nick Thompson, co-event director, said: “Aberystwyth parkrun was established as a positive, welcoming and inclusive experience where there is no time limit and no one finishes last.

“We have seen its popularity increase over the years, with about 30 coming together originally and we now see over 100 finishers every Saturday supported by volunteers.

“We also now have the increasingly popular junior parkrun every Sunday morning, so the future looks bright for parkrun here in Aberystwyth.”­

Aberystwyth parkrun is free to join, but organisers do ask people to register first online.