Sometimes the best things in life really are free and this is one of them. Perth’s junior parkrun started a few weeks ago; a timed 2 kilometre run for 4-14 year olds around the South Inch every Sunday at 9.30am.
You don’t need any fancy gear or equipment, it’s completely FREE to take part in, and parents are welcome to run with their kids. Event director Stuart Fraser is keen to point out that the junior parkrun operates on the same ethos as the more known adult equivalent; it is a run, not a race.
You don’t need any fancy gear or equipment and it’s completely FREE to take part in!
Parkruns are designed to encourage people of all abilities to take part in a supportive and friendly atmosphere.
Your kids don’t need to be winning trophies at sports days or jogging on their lunch hour to go along. Having taken part in/hauled myself around several adult parkruns myself I can vouch that they are certainly not just reserved for those ultra-fit, healthy, lithe, up-at-the-crack-of-dawn-for-a-wheatgrass-shot kind of folk (no? just me?).
Stuart has a 4 year old son and is passionate about kids getting active and outdoors in any way possible. Junior parkrun is not only good for their physical health but has lots of social benefits too- what better way for them to regularly catch up with their pals and meet new ones?
Having suffered a bit of a fitness reality check Stuart took up running himself in Aug 2014, fell in love with Saturday morning parkruns and has never looked back. Although a running enthusiast himself now (and vice chair of Perth Road Runners) Stuart knows that running, like many sports, can suffer from a bit of an image crisis. It’s easily perceived by those on the ‘outside’ as taking itself quite seriously, and only being for the elite. At parkrun everyone is cheered on equally- whether they take 15 minutes or an hour to finish the course.
At parkrun everyone is cheered on equally- whether they take 15 minutes or an hour to finish the course.
Stuart noticed that a lot of kids came along to the adult parkruns on a Saturday morning and pitched the idea of setting up a local junior version to parkrun UK in March 2015, volunteering to stand as Event Director.
Setting up any new business involves a certain amount of red tape and hoops to jump through, meaning it has taken a full year for Stuart’s vision to come to fruition. Stuart wanted everything done by the book before the big launch and in the meantime has become a dab hand in health & safety laws, first aid and web design. Luckily he’s had the support of friends and family during the last year, including his brother in law Scott to help see things through. Perth & Kinross Council have also been a massive support of the initiative giving Stuart their backing and permission to use the South Inch for the purpose.
Once Stuart had managed to gather enough interest for the event, and recruited a committee of volunteers the next stage was to raise the necessary funds to ‘buy’ equipment (everything from timing equipment to electronic tokens, laptops and software) from parkrun UK along with access to their branding, website and invaluable ongoing background support. This part of the jigsaw was completed thanks to the Perth Common Good Fund who were so impressed with the idea they generously pledged the whole amount required to get it off the ground.
There are currently 22 adult parkruns in Scotland, and Perth is now one of only 5 junior versions. Parkruns are all staffed by volunteers (including Stuart- who fits all this around his ‘proper job’) and there’s plenty of roles available for kids and family members on the day from marshalling to time keeping and barcode scanning.
From the outset Stuart was keen for Perth’s junior parkrun to have it’s own identity- it’s location on the South Inch also sees families make use of the brilliant childrens play area during and after the event and with the new Pavilion café having recently opened there’s even somewhere to go afterwards to for a hot chocolate or to wait for the results.
The first ever Perth junior parkrun was held on Sunday 24th April 2016, which Stuart describes as ‘a perfect day’. The sun shone, the equipment worked (hooray!) and no fewer than 116 kids turned up to take part. Kids are loving the fun warm ups (high knees while belting out Pharell’s ‘Happy’ on a Sunday morning, anyone?) and there’s already plans afoot for a special ‘guest’ the kids can chase around the course not to mention themed fancy dress events on special occasions.
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