Dudley staged its first parkrun on Saturday (7 Jan). The event organised by Nick Price and a dedicated group of volunteers, who were keen to launch a parkrun in the borough, saw 319 runners and 28 volunteers brave the cold and fog and give local people a good reason to get active in 2017.
Dudley joins Wolverhampton and Walsall Arboretum to make a Black Country parkrun triumvirate.
At 9am, the mayor of Dudley, Mohammed Hanif set the runners off from the Dell Stadium in Brierley Hill. They completed two laps of the athletics track then headed out along Stourbridge canal and across Foots Hole Grassland before returning for two final laps of the track. The course was a mixture of track, trails and a muddy canal towpath that posed a challenge, but did not spoil an auspicious debut. Runners praised the organisation, friendly atmosphere and cheery volunteers with many vowing to return.
Karl Welborn of Tipton Harriers was the first to finish, sprinting home in 17:31 and achieving an age-graded score of 75.26%. Vicky McGhee was the fastest female in 20:36 (72.57%). The last runner finished in 46:03.
This inaugural event was the highlight of a weekend in which the Midlands went parkrun crazy with record turnouts at nine locations - Daventry, Gloucester North, Market Harborough, Markeaton, Northampton, Cheltenham, Long Eaton, Hanley and Coventry. This demonstrates the increasing popularity of parkrun with runners, joggers and walkers who enjoy the social and fitness benefits.
Photo courtesy of Hilary Foster.