Sutcliffe Park swans
The swans got out of the way in good time for the 9am start

Almost 200 people ran or walked their way around Sutcliffe Park in Eltham this morning as Greenwich borough gained its second Parkrun.

The free weekly event’s debut comes 21 months after 853 reported how Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe intervened to help volunteers after they complained of town hall officials being obstructive. Since then, the volunteers have worked with the council to get the event on.

There are over 50 Parkruns across London, but until while neighbouring Lewisham hosts three and Bexley two, Greenwich borough only had one – in Avery Hill Park, also in Eltham.

After preparations were held up by the pandemic, 198 people completed the five-kilometre, three-lap course around the park this morning in times ranging from 17 to 57 minutes.

Sutcliffe parkrun
It was all smiles at the start of the 5k course

Each event takes place at 9am on Saturday morning and is run by volunteers. Parkruns have built up a huge following across the country, and – as with all new runs – the launch of Sutcliffe was kept low-key to prevent it from being swamped by visitors from afar trying to bag an inaugural race.

Anne Novis, the chair of the Friends of Sutcliffe Park, told 853: “Many people asked me if we could do a Parkrun. I thought this was great idea but there were hurdles to overcome. Red tape to get council permission, health and safety risks, choosing the right paths for the run. Initially I hit some brick walls, then I contacted Danny Thorpe as I knew he ran in other Parkruns.

“Then we got permission!. Next step was getting enough volunteers to support the run and funding, via social media we had lots of interest, individuals donated money to help and it was happening!

“It’s such a joy to help bring what the local community wants in the park, in the Friends group we have committed volunteers who do lots of activities and care for the park. From litter picking, bat Wwalks, planting trees, rescuing wildlife, addressing all park issues, we all do it. So its great to get a good result like Parkrun for all to enjoy.”

The team will now be looking to build up their own group of volunteers as the event grows – to find out more visit the Sutcliffe Parkrun website. In test events, one marshal was designated “swan marshal” to keep an eye on passing swans – this morning the birds crossed the course 25 minutes before the race began.

To take part, simply sign up at the Parkrun website, print off a barcode, and bring it along to the meeting point outside Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre for 9am every Saturday.

A third parkrun in Greenwich borough, in Charlton Park, is expected to begin later this autumn.

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