Cranbrook Town News

Celebrating Cranbrook's 100th Junior Parkrun

By Geoffrey Hayward
Cranbrook Town News

The children heading out of Cranbrook's 100th junior parkrun start line
Image by Ben Tucker

Yesterday Cranbrook Country Park celebrated its 100th junior park run. The participants celebrated the 100th junior park run with a finish line breakfast picnic in a warm, partially cloudy blue-sky weather.

The 100th Cranbrook junior parkrun was run by forty participants and about as many parents and 16 volunteers that had given up a little bit of their Sunday for the event to go ahead.

Like every Sunday, the event started at 8:50 with a run briefing, birthday wishes, and a fun themed warm-up that got everybody moving.

A crowd of many families doing a warm-up
Image by Ben Tucker

At 9:00, the participants headed over to the start line. Soon after, on the sound of the horn, the run began.

The children heading out of the start line
Image by Geoffrey Hayward

Unlike every Sunday, yesterday’s 100th Cranbrook junior park run had a finish line celebratory breakfast picnic. Run Director Kelly Keatley said, “I am thrilled with how [the Cranbrook 100th junior parkrun] went. The weather held out for our run and picnic – it’s a little bit of junior parkrun magic! The picnic was great. It was fantastic to see families staying, chatting, and eating together. The best bit, as always, was seeing all the children who come and want to run and all the volunteers who turn up every week to make the event happen”.

Many families enjoying a finish line picnic
Image by Ben Tucker

Each week the Cranbrook Junior parkrun, located in Cranbrook’s Country Park, follows a gravel path through vast open green space edged by trees and passes two picturesque duckponds. The course is a fully marshalled two kilometres out and back flat course.

A group photo of the 100th Cranbrook junior parkrun volunteers
Image by Ben Tucker

Kelly Keatley added, “the planning and set up [of the junior parkrun and its course] is a team effort. We have a strong team of DBS checked Run Directors and support crew who collect the equipment and set it up from 8 am. We have volunteers who organise the roster to know exactly who will be doing what on the day. Many volunteer roles include timekeepers, barcode scanners, [finish line] funnel managers, finish tokens and a tail walker”.

A picture of the tail walker
Image by Ben Tucker

You don’t have to be over 18 to be a volunteer, as “some roles are suitable for under 18’s too,” said Kelly Keatley. Noah, an otherwise enthusiastic junior runner, said, “I couldn’t run [in the 100th Cranbrook junior parkrun] because I was injured, but I decided to volunteer instead. I appreciate all the volunteers that mean the event can happen for me to run every week, so I wanted to help”.

Noah added, “I loved the picnic because it was nice to hang around for longer and chat with people. Plus, I had iced cinnamon buns to eat! Other people should definitely come and take part [in the Cranbrook junior parkrun]. It’s fun, and I really like meeting up with my friends who run it every week too. I like the challenge of trying to beat my time!”.

Thea, who ran yesterday, said, “I really liked [this] parkrun because I really love running with my daddy. I loved the picnic because we had pancakes to eat! I would love more of my friends to do it so I can run with them. I’m looking forward to running on Thursday [in the Cranbrook Jubilee fun run] and getting a special medal”. Read on for more information about this coming Thursday’s Cranbrook Jubilee fun run, 5K, and 10K race.

The Cranbrook junior parkrun is a free weekly event for participants aged between 4 and 14 years old that started 100 events ago, on Sunday, the 28th of April 2019. Matt Rowett was the organiser and run director that day. He recounted, “The first event was amazing. Kelly, Liz and I had assembled a fantastic group of volunteers, many of which came from the [now named Cranbrook] Running Club with additional support from the community. I remember the nerves, too, hoping people would turn up and come back. We had 71 children turn up and run, which was incredible. I remember my first run directors’ briefing and warm-up too. We were all learning that day, but everyone was in high spirits and ready to walk, jog or run. Sounding the starting horn and seeing all those children up early and exercising with their families was magical”.

A picture of the tail walker
The marshals from the first Cranbrook junior parkrun. Image by Matt Rowett

On asking how did it all begin, Matt Rowett recalled “bumping into Kelly [in September 2018], and chatting about how good it would be to have a parkrun in [Cranbrook]. At the time, the bridge connecting the two sides wasn’t in place and given the demographic of the town with plenty of children to participate, the junior version [of the parkrun] seemed like the perfect option. [Soon after, in] Dec 2018, the town council granted permission to use the country park. They wholeheartedly agreed with the [healthy] ethos we were bringing to the town. From there, the hard work started.”.

A picture of Kelly Keatley and Matt Rowett
Kelly Keatley and Matt Rowett. Image by Ben Tucker

Like every event, the junior parkrun had to halt for the pandemic, but “After the lockdown eased in March 2021, we saw many children taking part again, more than in the pre lockdown events. [The children] came week after week, and it was brilliant to be back! Oddly now, we’re not seeing the numbers we had at the same time last year. We hope to change that“, Matt Rowett said.

Runners returning from lockdown
Returning from lockdown. Image by Matt Rowett

For anyone interested but yet to participate, Kelly Keatley said, “come next week. This is the best time of year to try it. It is warm, often sunny and the Cranbrook Country Park is at its best. You don’t have to worry about running the whole thing as many children run and walk. We have wristbands for you after completing enough parkruns to add up to a half-marathon, marathon and ultra-marathon distance. We also have wristbands now for children who run 100 junior parkruns”.

A picture of the wristbands
Image by Ben Tucker

Matt Rowett added, “come along and have a go. It’s really good fun! You get to be silly at the start with a fun warm-up, you can bring your grown up with you, and they will either run with you or cheer you on. You don’t have to be quick to run. You don’t even have to run if you don’t want to. You will be cheered along by all of the volunteers”.

The Cranbrook junior parkrun takes place nearly every Sunday. Come rain or shine (unless flooded) at 9:00 am. You can find out more information on the official Cranbrook junior parkrun page.

The Jubilee Race flyer

If you cannot wait until next Sunday, this Bank Holiday, Thursday the 2nd of June, Cranbrook Running Club has organised a Jubilee family fun run. For the adults and very keen juniors, there is also a Jubilee 5K race and a Jubilee 10K race too. Each race is open to all (with age limit restrictions). The start times for each are spaced out such that it’s possible for all the family to enjoy and for everyone to get a special Jubilee race medal. Once the races are done, it will be over to The Jack in the Green for a BBQ, Courtney’s Cider bar, music and the race award ceremony. Find out more about the event on the Cranbrook running club’s website and get your tickets here.