If it’s Saturday then it must be King’s Lynn parkrun
When parkrun first started in Lynn in 2011 there were only 61 participants, but now, seven years and 342 events later, that number has swelled.
Hundreds of people take to The Walks for the 5km run every Saturday morning no matter the weather conditions.
Even in the bitter cold, 245 people turned up for parkrun on Saturday, which marked 300,000km completed since it was launched.
But it’s not solely the health benefits that keeps people coming back week after week.
Run director Gary Walker said: “I don’t think there’s anything quite like parkrun for getting people out in a non-intimidating environment, where they can feel equal to everyone else and do some exercise.
“It’s a great community event, we’ve got a mix of people here from all backgrounds, all walks of life and it’s surprising how quickly you get to know people and make friends.
“The Walks are great, we are so well off to have such a fantastic place to be able to run in and it’s well looked after. The staff are really good and the cafe stays open all year round for us.
“So we really are grateful to the borough for being so supportive. It’s all helping people’s health, fitness and wellbeing.”
Amanda Barnes, 50, from Lynn, is also a member of parkrun’s ‘core team’. She was one of the six founding parkrun run directors who started the event in Lynn back in 2011.
“We were all from local running groups –I’m with the Lynnsport Ladybirds – and with help from Roger Partridge and Alive Leisure we got it off the ground,” she said.
“It’s just amazing, the whole ethos of it being a run and not a race and that community spirit is just brilliant, it’s fabulous.
“It’s free and once you’ve got your barcode printed, you can then run anywhere in the country.
“It’s great for people to improve their running or just to come and meet people, and get a bit of fresh air and then you’ve got the rest of the day ahead of you. And you’re beating all those in bed!”
Fellow run director Mick Ennis, 76, from Lynn, said: “It gets you out instead of sitting indoors, keeps you fit and you meet lots of nice people.”
Mick said a group of runners go to France every year to lay poppy wreaths on the First World War memorial and run along the front line.
Parkrun first started in London in 2004, and there are now hundreds of events worldwide.
The run in Lynn sees people of all ages participate, with the youngest being three – although parents regularly bring their babies along in buggies – and the oldest being in their 70s.
New runners and participants from outside of West Norfolk are frequently welcomed, but the event also has a loyal following of dozens of familiar faces each week.
It was Helen Driver’s birthday on Saturday, but that didn’t stop her from turning up to do three laps of The Walks.
Helen, 48, from Denver, said: “I’ve been parkrunning for about two or three years.
“When I first heard about it, I thought ‘this is going to be interesting’, and I got here and I absolutely loved it.
“The people are amazing, I’ve made some fabulous friends and it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, you can just come along, run, walk, jump, skip, hop, whatever you like, and everyone is so friendly and it’s a great atmosphere.
“The health benefits are amazing, not just for weight loss but psychologically as well, it’s really good for mental health and I think that’s really important.”
Martin Elsegood has seen impressive weight loss results since he first started coming to parkrun a few years ago.
Martin, 52, from Lynn, said: “Since I’ve been running and jogging I’ve lost over four stone and I feel really good for it.”
Parkrun regularly celebrates the milestones it reaches, and last week was no different.
When Charlie Pyatt crossed the finish line on Saturday, he was met with cheers and an Easter egg for completing the 300,000th kilometre since the running event began in Lynn.
Charlie, 71, from Downham, is a regular parkrunner and volunteer, and his son Matt frequently graces the top spot for the quickest run.
Charlie said: “That’s fantastic isn’t it? What an achievement by these guys. They are the people who do it, we just run. They’re great people.
“Isn’t it nice to be the 300,000th kilometre? I’m absolutely delighted.
“Parkrun is a brilliant thing to get people out to socialise, and there’s no runner to win, they all run to enjoy it.
“I have met more people at parkrun than I ever did in 22 years of football refereeing.
“If anybody wants to take up running, come here and try it or go and meet a group and enjoy it.
“It is fantastic, I’ve never met so many friends in my life.”
To find out more about parkrun in Lynn, or to sign up, go to: www.parkrun.org.uk/kingslynn.
A junior parkrun is also due to start at The Walks in Lynn this Sunday at 9am. The event is 2km and aimed at children aged four to 14.