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MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN 2017 CAMPAIGN: Spotlight on dedicated Norfolk Parkrun volunteer and ambassador

PUBLISHED: 08:33 24 January 2017 | UPDATED: 08:33 24 January 2017

Andrew Lane, non-executive director for Park Run International & a lead ambassador for Norfolk Park Run.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Andrew Lane, non-executive director for Park Run International & a lead ambassador for Norfolk Park Run. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

As part of our support of the Voluntary Norfolk Make a Difference in 2017 campaign, the EDP is shining a light on voluntary groups and individuals. Reporter Sophie Wyllie spoke to a passionate Parkrun volunteer.

Runners taking part in a previous Norwich Parkrun anniversary event in Eaton Park. Picture : Steve Adams Runners taking part in a previous Norwich Parkrun anniversary event in Eaton Park. Picture : Steve Adams

A dedicated marathon runner has turned his passion for running into a voluntary role in a bid to get more people active.

Wymondham Athletic Club race director Andrew Lane, 60, was one of the 13 people who took part in the first 5K Parkrun event on October 2, 2004, at Bushy Park in Teddington, London.

There are now three million people registered to take part in Parkruns across 14 countries and Mr Lane, of Avenue Road in Wymondham, is one of its many volunteers who turn out to help organise the community run every Saturday morning at 9am.

Such is his dedication to the free weekly event, Mr Lane, who moved from London to Wymondham four years ago, set up the Norwich and Gorleston Junior Parkrun events in March 2015 and April last year, respectively.

He has backed the Voluntary Norfolk Make A Difference in 2017 campaign, supported by the EDP, which encourages more people to take up volunteering.

Mr Lane, a semi-retired accountant, said: “I wanted to help get a Junior Parkrun started because I had seen elsewhere how much people enjoyed them. I thought that Eaton Park in Norwich was an ideal location.

“I am very pleased with how successful it and the Gorleston Junior Parkrun events have been. Both of them have built up great communities of runners and volunteers.”

The 2K Junior Parkrun events are for children aged four-14 and held every Sunday at 9am.

Scenes from the first anniversary of Norwich Junior Parkrun at Eaton Park. Picture: SIMON FINLAY Scenes from the first anniversary of Norwich Junior Parkrun at Eaton Park. Picture: SIMON FINLAY

This year the father-of-two also became one of the 15 lead ambassadors for Parkrun in the East of England.

He volunteers for Norwich Parkrun at Eaton Park as well as running the 10 other Parkrun events across the county which offer a variety of landscapes from clifftops to stately homes.

He added: “When I volunteer for Norwich Parkrun I get a very sociable feeling. You get a great sense of achievement. All the volunteers have helped 400 runners to enjoy their Saturday Parkrun.

“Parkrun for me means pure pleasure and happiness. Its ethos is to make the world a healthier and happier place. It is lovely to be part of it.”

Mr Lane “caught the running bug” by accident after taking part in a 10- mile run along the River Thames towpath in 1995 with friends.

A year later, he completed his first marathon in New York and since then he has been “hooked” on running marathons – finishing more than 40 of them.

“I like the physical buzz of running,” he said.

Mr Lane has taken part in 290 Parkruns and volunteered between 50 and 100 times for the community events.

Andrew Lane (in yellow T-shirt) taking part in the first Parkrun at Bushy Park, London, on October 2, 2004. Picture: PARKRUN Andrew Lane (in yellow T-shirt) taking part in the first Parkrun at Bushy Park, London, on October 2, 2004. Picture: PARKRUN

These roles include marshalling, timekeeping – Mr Lane’s favourite job – giving out time chips.

Speaking about why he took part in the original Bushy Park Parkrun, he said: “It was local and I thought it would be nice. It grew in numbers each week. What has been nice is Parkrun has sprung up in places that you would not have thought could sustain it.”

The father-of-two, who holds a voluntary non-executive role within the Parkrun organisation, could not have predicted the popularity of the running movement.

He added Norfolk was a strong area for Parkrun, which has over 1,000 volunteers across the county.

“It has produced a lot of really strong friendships.”

For more information about Parkrun visit www.parkrun.org.uk.

To find out more about opportunities available through Voluntary Norfolk visit www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk

Are you a involved in a voluntary group? Email sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk

PARKRUN HISTORY

Parkrun was founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt who ran the first ever 5K route on Bushy Park, Teddington, London, on October 2, 2004.

He organised the run, originally called the Bushy Park Time Trial, with his friends because he was recovering from an injury and wanted some company.

The 5K Parkrun events, free for participants, are now held in 14 countries including Australia and South Africa over five continents.

The running movement started to spread in 2007 and it was in 2009 the first Parkrun route was started abroad, in Denmark.

The biggest single Parkrun attendance was 1,874 at Durban North Beach in South Africa.

The fastest woman to date is Hannah Walker who completed St Albans Parkrun on July 27, 2013 in 15 minutes 55 seconds.

The fastest man to date is Andrew Baddeley who completed the Bushy Park route on August 11, 2012, in 13 minutes and 48 seconds.

NORFOLK INVOLVEMENT

Parkrun attracts scores of runners and volunteers each week.

And just recently, on Saturday, January 7, there were more than 110,000 people taking part in 434 Parkrun events across Britain.

On that same day the 11 Parkrun courses in Norfolk attracted 2,591 runners and 171 volunteers.

The first Norwich Junior Parkrun at Eaton Park started on March 2015 with 215 runners and the first Gorleston Junior Parkrun started on April 2016 with 97 runners.

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