Maggie is the Event Director for Folkestone park run, a FREE weekly 5km event for runners of all standards, which takes place every Saturday at 9:00am in The Leas (west of the Leas Cliff Café). It is not a race against other runners, but a 5k timed run and it can really be whatever you want it to be, whether that’s for fun or as part of a training plan.
Maggie: I was inspired to do the NHS Couch to 5K programme after the London Olympics in 2012. When I was nearing the end of the programme and could run for 30 minutes without collapsing, parkrun was suggested to me as a great way to carry on running. I’ve been running since. My first parkrun was at Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.
The beginning? When we were planning our move to Folkestone in 2014 I noticed that there wasn’t a parkrun and asked if there was going to be one starting. Coincidentally Shepway Sports Trust were looking to start a parkrun. I trained as a Run Director with Leamington parkrun before we moved and Folkestone parkrun started six weeks after I moved down.
ParkRun? It offers an opportunity for all the local community, male or female, young or old, to come together on a regular basis to enjoy this beautiful park and get physically active into the bargain. We want to encourage people to jog or run together irrespective of their ability – this event is truly open to all and best of all it really is FREE! Taking part is easy – just register before your first ever parkrun. The great thing is that you only ever need to do this once! Then just set your alarm for Saturday morning and get yourself there! Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in Leas Cliff Café – please come and join us! Maybe swap stories about your run that day, chat to other runners over a cup of tea or coffee and just be an important part of this new running community.
Who comes? Some people are competitive and enjoy the challenge but for most it’s a sociable event that helps them keep fit. Lots of people run as families and we welcome children from four to 11 running with a responsible adult. Children over 11 can run on their own. We also welcome people running with buggies or running with their dog. It’s a really friendly event.
First timer? We are a welcoming event and hold a new runner briefing every Saturday at 8:45am to explain how the event works and answer any questions. Not everybody feels they can run 5K and people are welcome to walk or run or any combination. You never come last at Folkestone parkrun because we always have a tail runner who is at the back of the course. Give us a try.
Community? On Christmas Eve we held a tinsel run with fancy dress and a collection for Shepway foodbank. We had 225 people take part that day. We recently obtained for a grant to buy an AED for the use of Folkestone parkrun on a Saturday morning but anybody else in Folkestone who needs it during the week. We are a community supported and run event working to improve the fitness of people in Folkestone. I think we all need some support at some point in our lives.
Volontering? There are eight Run Directors, including me, who organise the parkrun each Saturday. We are all volunteers including the people who marshal, timekeep, hand out tokens and tail run. We also have young volunteers completing their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze or Silver awards. Anybody can volunteer and some of our volunteers have never run. We ask that all parkrunners volunteer three times a year to keep the event free.
A hidden place in Folkestone – Bayle Pond Gardens, I love to see the Tracey Emin mitten on the fence
A personality of Folkestone – There’s a fantastic Veolia employee who picks up litter on Sunny Sands beach. He always has an interesting viewpoint.
Best walk – Through the Lower Coastal Park towards Hythe and then back along the promenade
Best fish and chips – Papa’s Fish and Chips on Sandgate Road
Best ice cream – Bello Gelato on Cheriton Place
Best coffee shop – Steep Street on The Old High Street. Such great service and lovely cakes.