On 1 September 2012, a group of volunteers from Aberystwyth Athletics Club came together to organise the first Aberystwyth parkrun.
Led by Anita Worthing, who was Event Director then, the group’s aim was to be a part of a worldwide, weekly, community event that brought people together for a 5km run, walk or jog.
For the very first event there were just over 30 runners. That number has grown significantly over the years, and 150 runners took part in Aberystwyth’s 500th parkrun on Saturday, 12 August.
The honour of starting the 500th parkrun - quite rightly - went to Anita Worthing, who started the very first Aberystwyth parkrun almost 11 years ago.
“When we started, we were only the 4th parkrun in Wales,” said Anita.
“Few people had heard of parkrun, and we were all slightly worried that it would be a complete flop - it seemed a big ask to expect runners to turn up at 9am on Saturdays to run three laps of Plascrug avenue!
“What I didn’t anticipate was how people would keep turning up to improve their times (or just remain consistent!), the slightly competitive feel when you run with people of similar ability, and mostly the friendships that would develop.
“Aberystwyth parkrun is now a community.
“We all support each other and we’ve flown the Aberystwyth flag all over the world as parkrun tourists. Starting parkrun up in 2012 - getting all the necessary permissions and funding - is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
Over the past decade and more, nearly 6,500 different runners have taken part with over 42,000 finishers in that time. Aberystwyth parkrun is stronger than ever and every Saturday morning you can find over 100 eager participants lining up in Plascrug Avenue, all with a different goal in mind, maybe to gain a new personal best, possibly meet up with friends for a walk and a chat or cover the distance as part of their medically prescribed recovery.
Its success would not be possible without the dedication of its volunteers, and all participants are encouraged to volunteer from time to time, as one of the volunteer co-ordinators, Mel Hopkins, explained.
“The role of volunteers in ensuring parkrun is delivered successfully is crucial, be they as marshals, timekeepers or barcode scanners.
“We are fortunate in Aberystwyth to have a parkrun community who volunteer on a regular basis and respond to my appeals for support without hesitation.
“This again contributes to the supportive ethos of parkrun, a fantastic initiative that offers so much on so many levels.
“We also have the increasingly popular junior parkrun every Sunday morning, so the future looks bright for parkrun here in Aberystwyth.”
To find out more information and register for free visit www.parkrun.org.uk/aberystwyth/