St Andrews parkrun continued on its route to glory last Saturday when it celebrated its 200th run in spectacular fashion with a new attendance record.
The previous record of 244 was blown away, with a total of 314 runners, joggers and walkers covering the 5km course in Craigtoun Country Park, making it only the fifth parkrun in Scotland to break the 300 mark,
Although not a race, the first male and female home both set new PBs - Robert Sparks in 16m 51s and Angela Richardson in 17m 56s.
Saturday’s run was also notable for another reason - it was the first ‘takeover’ day, when a club or group takes over all the volunteering duties, and it was fitting that the honours were taken by STAART (St Andrews Adventure Running Team).
“We were expecting a decent turn out and in our dreams we thought we’d break 300 but to actually do it really is amazing,” said Gary Ovenstone, St Andrews parkrun event director.
“The scenes at the start line were nothing I’d witnessed at Craigtoun before and more like the crowd at a big race with everyone waving for cameras and video - it really was extra special.
“You could tell from the cross-section of runners on Saturday that we are still attracting runners and walkers from across the board. Again we had youngsters, older ones and everything in between, even buggies and dogs.
“I still can’t believe that over 300 folk turn up to a small country park outside St Andrews for a 5k run on a Saturday morning at 9.30am, with no medals on offer and no prizes - if you’d said that four years ago at a local running event you’d have been taken away in strait jacket.”
And the runners were rewarded with special treat at the end - a giant STAART cake made for the occasion by Fisher & Donaldson.
STAART head coach Neil Stewart said members were really up for the takeover, although also a bit apprehensive with it being the first one and putting the group in the spotlight.
The scenes at the start line were nothing I’d witnessed at Craigtoun before and more like the crowd at a big race with everyone waving for cameras and video - it really was extra special.Gary Ovenstone, event director.
“The response from STAART members has affirmed to me the togetherness and community spirit in our town,” said Neil “It’s not just about the running but about the satisfaction people get from being a part of a something special.
“I was very honoured to be race director for the day. I knew we would have a good turnout from Staart but was totally amazed at how the whole running community showed their support.
“I was met with a sea of people to address at the start and it was quite nerve-wracking.
“The day went so quickly, though, as there were constantly things to see to as they arose - I gave two instances of first aid, rescued a lost dog and sorted a young man’s Duke of Edinburgh volunteering stint before the first lap was even done!”
Neil also paid tribute to the parkrun movement.
“parkrun has been brilliant for our group,” he said. “It’s fun, friendly, safe, inclusive and the organisers are dedicated to making every Saturday morning better than the last.
“We don’t treat parkrun as a race but an opportunity to run against your last time and the course.”
STAART has been going for more than two years now as a jogscotland group and now has more than 200 members, with up to 100 training weekly.
It caters for all abilities, from walkers to runners and train three times a week with 16 Jogleaders.
For contact details see the jogscotland website.