Juniors on the run - early steps to a healthy lifestyle

It's never too early to lay the foundations of a healthy lifestyle - and the opportunity to do just that is available in Wyndham Park, Grantham.

The parkrun phenomenon has swept the country and now it's youngsters who are continuing its runaway success.

The Wyndham junior parkrun, open to four to 14-year-olds, takes place every Sunday at 9am over a 2km course in South Kesteven District Council's picturesque park. Best of all, it's free.

SKDC Cabinet Member for Health, Communities and Wellbeing, Cllr Robert Reid, said: "Everyone is welcome at parkruns, regardless of ability. It's a great way to be active and enjoy being outdoors.

"We are delighted to open up the park for such a good cause. It is encouraging youngsters to put down their digital devices and exercise outside."

The junior parkrun is open to youngsters of all abilities and can be tackled for fun or as part of a training plan.

SKDC has worked with Grantham Running Club, Grantham Athletic Club, Belvoir Tri Club, and the Rotary Club of Grantham's annual Swimarathon to set it up and around 128 children have taken part since it started, with a weekly attendance of up to 72. The co-event directors are Kate Marshall and Edina Burns.

"Running is obviously good for you and children really love it," said Kate. "They are encouraging their parents to bring them here and the mums and dads then get the bug as well."

Kate and her husband, Fraser, are regulars at the 5k parkrun held at Belton House on Saturdays at 9am and she is sure of the benefits it brings.

"It's not about winning, it's about getting out there, taking part and encouraging people to be active," said Kate.

"Three years ago I couldn't run to the end of my street but will be taking on my first marathon in April."

Their children, Olivia (12) and Grace (11), are also keen athletes and have embraced the parkrun spirit. Both run and volunteer at the Wyndham junior parkrun and encourage other children to get involved.

The runs are safe and easy to take part in, with the options of running, jogging or walking. The course is marshalled by volunteers so the juniors can be seen by at least one adult at all times.

Before their first run participants have to register via the Wyndham junior parkrun website at www.parkrun.org.uk/wyndham-juniors/

Times are recorded each week so progress can be recorded.

"It doesn't matter how fast or slow you are, everyone is welcome," said Kate. "The junior parkrun is a great way of improving health and fitness and offers an opportunity for all the family to get involved."

Edina took up running on the advice of a friend after completing a Couch to 5k course at Grantham Running Club.

"By the end of the course I had started going to the Belton House parkrun near Grantham," she said.

Edina was keen to help her son, Antonio, be more active and started taking him to Newark junior parkrun.

"When Kate asked me to be involved here I was delighted as it was something I was very interested in, and I've enjoyed being involved in the set-up of Wyndham junior parkrun."

Pic 1: The co-event directors Kate Marshall (left) and Edina Burns

Pic 2: The parkrun start line

Pic 3: The team of parkrun volunteers

The co-event directors Kate Marshall (left) and Edina Burns Park run start line Park run team of volunteers