Uckfield’s First parkrun

Uckfield’s first parkrun was held on Saturday 4th May at 9 am, starting at the Rugby Club,  with over 320 men, women and children taking part  

The Mayor of Uckfield  Cllr Spike Mayhew , the  Uckfield Town Crier Ian Bedwell and the Chair of Wealden District Council Councillor Chris Hardy were there to start the run.

The inaugural Uckfield parkrun took place on Saturday 4th May.  Parkruns are 5k runs (approximately 3.1 mile) held in parks and on other traffic free routes every Saturday at 9am.  You register online for free, print a bar code and you can then run, jog or walk any parkrun in the world.  All parkruns are free.  There are a number of parkruns in East Sussex but Uckfield is the first parkrun in Wealden.  Parkruns are suitable for all abilities, you can run, jog or walk and it is a great way to get some exercise in the company of others and make new friends.  It is up to the individual how they wish to complete it, from the serious runners at the front seeing how quickly they can get round to the casual walkers at the back, they are all parkrunners and part of the parkrun community.

Uckfield parkrun starts at the Uckfield Rugby club with most of the route through the very scenic Buxted Park.  The route is all trail, going past lakes and whilst most is fairly level there is one hill leading up the toward the Church in Buxted Park.  Given this was star wars day (May the fourth be with you) there was a bit them with storm trooper on timekeeping, and ewok on scanning and a light sabre welding tailwalker.  The Town Crier called everyone to the start and the run was started by Chairman of the Council, Councilor Chris Hardy, Spike Mayhew the Mayor and Donors Douglas and Valerie Lewin.

There was large turnout of 321 finishers, true to the philosophy of a parkrun there was a full range of abilities and people with Ben Gibson first back with a time of 17:23 whilst the last finisher was 61:33, there were children running whilst the oldest finisher was 83 and there were a few dogs as well.  Children are welcome to run at Uckfield parkrun and all senior parkruns but if under 11 they must be accompanied by an adult within arms reach at all times and dogs must be on a short lead with only one dog per person.  Refreshments are available in the Uckfield Rugby club afterwards: socialising in a cafe after the run is very much a part of parkrun culture.

The feedback on the course was very positive.  Ben Gibson described it as “A lovely course, excellently set up and marshaled by a group of very happy and encouraging runners and volunteers, definitely worth a visit”.  Spike Mayhew, Uckfield Mayor said “what a brilliant first parkrun with 321 people turning up, there was a good atmosphere, the course was well marshaled and I enjoyed running it apart from the hill, probably won’t wear a suit and chain next time, well done everyone involved”.   Runners are all very supportive so the mayor did receive some well directed advice into more suitable running kit!

The parkrun could not have started without the donations, time and support from a number of bodies.  Donations were received from Buxted Inn, Uckfield Town Council, Douglas Lewin, Anytime Fitness and Uckfield Runners and the support of Uckfield Rugby club for use of their facilities and Buxted Park Hotel for allowing the use of Buxted Park.  Uckfield College initiated the idea of a parkrun and have been heavily involved in the set up with Uckfield Runners involved in the one day running of this and future events supported by the Uckfield volunteer centre.

Hugh Hennebry, Principal at the College said, “I want to thank the amazing team of volunteers, in particular, Graham West, who has kindly taken on the Event Director role. All volunteers are the true heart of parkrun.”

The event will be run each Saturday at 9am from The Uckfield Rugby Club, Nevill Road, Uckfield.  Please see the Uckfield parkrun website for further details.  Parkruns are wholly run by volunteers so if you would be interested in volunteering you can also find details of this on the Uckfield parkrun website, click on the volunteer tab for further details or email uckfieldhelpers@parkrun.com.   If you live in the area and are interested in running or looking to improve you fitness Uckfield Runners caters for all abilities from complete beginners upwards, please see www.uckfieldrunners.co.uk for further information.

Hugh Hennebry is the Uckfield parkrun Event Organiser and was behind the initiation of the event: The event organiser basically leads the initial set up of the event.  Graham West is the Event Director who is  responsible for the running of the parkrun each week.  Each weeks event is lead by a Run Director,he was the run director at the first event, there are seven people who have volunteered to be run directors including myself, Hugh Hennebry and  Spike Mayhew the Uckfield Mayor.

Parkruns are entirely run by volunteers, there were 28 volunteers on Saturday drawn from Uckfield Runners, Uckfield College, Uckfield Volunteer Centre as well as other running clubs, Eastbourne Rovers, Polegate Plodders and Heathfield Road Runners.


Words by Graham West (Uckfield Runners) 


ALL IMAGES by Ron Hill (HillPhotographic)