Major step forward to establish Knaresborough's own parkrun

James Wright, Mark Taylor, Linda Dodsworth and Sean Brennan
James Wright, Mark Taylor, Linda Dodsworth and Sean Brennan

A major hurdle has been cleared to secure Knaresborough’s own parkrun, with a route for the event receiving the stamp of approval from Harrogate Borough Council.

The route for a ‘Conyngham Hall parkrun’ has been officially confirmed - going around the pitch and putt golfcourse at the hall, to Horseshoe Field and following the River Nidd towards Bland’s Hill. To protect paths the route will be rotated when necessary.

While funding, totalling £3,000, will have to be first raised through local community funding, or individual donations to the central parkrun group, the event is expected to be held every Saturday at 9am once work is completed.

The progress of the project has been made possible thanks to the hard work of residents, including members of the Knaresborough Striders (KS) running club, and the support from organisations including Knaresborough Town Council (KTC) and Knaresborough Nidd Gorge Conservation Group.

While difficult to predict the popularity of the 5km, run, walk or jog event in advance, Linda Dodsworth ,of KS, said there was potential draw of between 100 and 200 people. She added there could be wide-ranging benefits for the town if it had its own run.

Linda said:“parkruns are fantastic events, they bring together people from all parts of our communities and are incredibly inclusive, everyone is welcome, no matter whether we look on in awe on the parkrunners who can complete the 5km in less than 20 mins to those running/jogging/speedwalking and completing parkrun in 40-45 mins, to those brilliant people for whom just completing walking the 5km distance is a major achievement. They will be cheered across the finish line at the end.

"They can raise the profile of an area, increase the number of visitors to a place, some parkrunners travel specifically to parkruns they have not done to experience them and sometimes stay overnight.

"It is part of the parkrun experience to invite everyone to stay for a chat after the parkrun, and there is always a cafe for each parkrun to meet at afterwards and therefore local businesses benefit too. It will be incredibly beneficial for the health and wellbeing of our town. GPs can now ‘prescribe’ parkrun and we will be working with the GP surgeries in the town so they are aware of this new local event.

She added: "If anyone is wondering about coming along or getting involved I would say do it, you won’t regret it. You will make such friendships and get so much out of it and before you know it, your weekends just won’t be the same if they don’t involve a parkrun. Start however you feel comfortable. Maybe go and watch a parkrun first, maybe start by volunteering, or come along fully ready to line up on the start line. "

The parkruns are free events, once registered you can print off a personal bar-code allowing you to take part at any parkrun event, wherever it is in the world.

The events are put on entirely by volunteers, normally by parkrunners each taking a turn at volunteering about three times a year. There are a number of people who only volunteer and have never run/jogged/walked a parkrun themselves. There are many different ways to enjoy the event, say organisers

People can run, jog or walk the distance, and there is always a ‘Tail Walker’ volunteer role, to ensure no one comes last.

Whilst earlier parkruns were named after the city or town they were set up in, new parkruns are now normally named after the park or land in which they take place - So it's likely this will be known as 'Conyngham Hall parkrun', but this will be confirmed as development of the event progresses.

Permission has to be sought for the run, since this is a regular event and there is a need to find if there is support from landowners of the paths that are to be used.

It’s welcome news for those in the town who have worked to raise the footfall at Conyngham Hall, including Hannah Gostlow of KTC’s Conyngham Hall Facilities Working group.

Hailing the news as another success for the area, following previous events to draw new visitors to Conyngham Hall including those organised at Easter with the Harrogate & Knaresborough Toy Library.

She said: “Our working group is delighted that Harrogate Borough Council gave permission for this weekend event in the grounds of Conyngham Hall.

"We feel it's another fantastic and accessible activity for the town. It's free, and promotes mental and physical health, which families can take part in together.

"We believe it will be a great opportunity for the town, drawing visitors who have never been here before and get them coming back again.”

Speaking on how far work at Conyngham Hall has come, she added: "We had confirmation that the cuts at Conyngham Hall would not go ahead last Christmas, and will stay the same as last season. We feel this shows HBC trust us to raise the footfall together, and think of new initiatives to implement."