Olympian inspires new generation of runners at Blickling parkrun

Blickling Park's Easter park run around the grounds of the National Trust's Blickling Hall. Ex-Olymp

Blickling Park's Easter park run around the grounds of the National Trust's Blickling Hall. Ex-Olympian Paul Evans race director.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A former Olympian is inspiring a new generation of runners to pull on their trainers.

Paul Evans only took up running at the age of 25 having been a footballer.

But he went on to pick up 13 British titles at 10,000 and half marathon distances and compete at two Olympic finals and two world championships.

Now, at 54, he is continuing to coach local athletes of all ages and abilities and acts as race director at Blickling parkrun.

And on Easter Saturday a record number of runners - 228 in total - turned out for the weekly 5k race round the stunning National Trust site near Aylsham.

Paul, who sported a pair of bunny ears for the occasion, said: 'I think parkrun is great. I got involved in it from day one and we have 12 in Norfolk now and some 2000 people running parkrun every Saturday morning in Norfolk.

'They never had anything like this when I was starting out, I wish they had of done, I probably would have got into it earlier.

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'When parkrun first appeared I thought: 'Why didn't I think of this?' It's such a simple thing, it's run by volunteers and by half past nine, quarter to ten, it's finished and everyone can enjoy the weekend.'

Among the runners at the weekend were Sarah Jay and Lisa Jones, who completed their 50th parkruns and Brenda Hutcheon running her 100th.

Brenda added: 'Why I do it is because I love it. The atmosphere is fantastic and it's fantastic to see so many people out running.'

Blickling parkrun sets off from Blickling Park every Saturday at 9am. For more details, and information on other parkruns in the area, log on to www.parkrun.org.uk/blickling/

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