Haverhill is set to become the latest town to join the parkrun phenomenon that has swept the nation — and the world — with an event set to begin this spring.
Event director Annette Hall has revealed a plan to get the free 5km running event — which takes place every Saturday morning in 18 countries across five continents — up and running within months.
The voluntary committee of up to 20 people will hold a trial event on March 3, for invited participants only, at Puddlebrook Field.
That event, Hall said, will highlight any snagging issues to correct before the main event — hoped to be on March 10 — can go ahead.
Hall said: “It’s very exciting for the town.
“It’s a run, not a race, designed to be fully inclusive so you go as fast as you want to go.
“It’s for everyone, from experienced runners to people looking to get the ball rolling on fitness.
“And it’s absolutely free and committed to staying free, which makes it different to racing events.
“It also opens it to everyone, especially in an area where there are people who struggle.
“You can run, walk, how ever you want to cover the 5k is up to you. It’s also an event families can join in, under-11s have to be accompanied by an adult, which is a big thing.
“Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to cater for wheelchair users at the current planned location but, long term, this is something we would want to also include.
“I would love to see it move to somewhere more scenic in future, where everyone can take part but, for now, Puddlebrook is a great site.”
She said the event plans had long been in the offing, before she had became involved, as the council had identified a need to boost health outcomes in the area.
It first saw Clare introduce a parkrun event on September 30 last year, which has regularly attracted more than 100 participants.
It joined the parkruns of surrounding Bury St Edmunds and Great Cornard — locations Hall said were ‘difficult’ to reach on public transport.
She said: “There are some wonderful stories from all over about how people have benefitted from the events and that’s what we want to see locally.
“The Bury and Great Cornard events were impossible to get to without a car, so clearly the town needed something.
“And it has led to first Clare — and now Haverhill — setting up a new parkrun.”
She added that Bury event director Steve Pretty continued to be ‘so important’ to the overall organisation as the Haverhill committee were feeling their way.
“We’re learning how to do it as we go to a large extent,” she said. “And we’ve already realised we need people to park in the industrial estate.”