Melton's Junior Parkrun is a Sunday morning boost of exercise and fun

Elliott Metcalfe (5), who clocked up a marathon distance of Melton Junior Parkruns today with parents Richard and LaurenElliott Metcalfe (5), who clocked up a marathon distance of Melton Junior Parkruns today with parents Richard and Lauren
Elliott Metcalfe (5), who clocked up a marathon distance of Melton Junior Parkruns today with parents Richard and Lauren
Every Sunday at 9am families converge on Melton Mowbray’s Play Close Park for a burst of exercise and fun.

The Junior Parkrun has been running in the town since 2019, with youngsters aged four to 14 running around a 2km course, the smaller ones alongside their parents.

Around 40 children take part every week in the joyous event, which started out at Melton Country Park before moving to the Play Close Park last summer.

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On a chilly and bright morning just before today’s start, co-event director, Andy Nicholls, told the Melton Times: “Ninety per cent of the kids run off like a hare at the start.

Some of the children who completed the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun this morningSome of the children who completed the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun this morning
Some of the children who completed the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun this morning

"Pacing just does not exist at this age group.

"It is all about participation, though. We do have some very good runners but it is not about the finishing times it is all about giving them a chance to exercise and have fun.”

Getting out of bed can be quite a challenge for many on a cold winter’s morning but today’s turnout was impressive.

“The coldest we’ve held it has been minus 1 or 2 but kids are pretty resilient and they still enjoy it when it’s cold,” explained Andy.

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The volunteers who help organise the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun every Sunday morningThe volunteers who help organise the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun every Sunday morning
The volunteers who help organise the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun every Sunday morning

“They feel it in their lungs and their fingers and toes but we always give them a good warm up first.”

Everyone gathers near the Bandstand just before the off to hear announcements on runners who have hit personal milestones.

Little Elliott Metcalfe was clocking up a marathon today with all the Junior Parkruns he has completed.

His mum, Lauren, who ran with him, said: “Elliott has been doing it since he was four and he is five now. He loves it.”

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Roger Bickle pictured as he chalked up his 150th volunteering shift at the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun this morningRoger Bickle pictured as he chalked up his 150th volunteering shift at the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun this morning
Roger Bickle pictured as he chalked up his 150th volunteering shift at the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun this morning

There was also a shout out for volunteer marshal, Roger Bickle, who was chalking up his 150th Junior Parkrun. He is such a regular he even has a sign on the course which reads ‘Roger’s Corner’, in the place where he stands every week. His three grandchildren revealed t-shirts denoting ‘150’ before the run.

He told the Melton Times: “I’ve been doing it since 2019. I’ve only missed one due to illness.

“I like to volunteer and it is really nice to do something to help children.”

Moving to the Play Close has been very positive for the organisers.

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Runners, and some parents, run around the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun course this morningRunners, and some parents, run around the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun course this morning
Runners, and some parents, run around the Melton Mowbray Junior Parkrun course this morning

Co-event director Andy said: “We moved here in August 2022 and this is the 70th Junior Parkrun today.

“It’s more central here and there are better facilities.

“We have lots of car parking and we can use the toilets at Waterfield and store our stuff at a hut here at the park.”

The youngsters set off on the footpath nearest to the Melton Borough Council offices before doing two-and-a-half loops of the town parks, finishing with a flourish close to the Bandstand.

An army of 20 volunteers, clad in hi-vis jackets are dotted around the course, making sure the runners don’t veer off in the wrong directions. They also offer plenty of vocal support.

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Andy added: “Some families come every week, while others dip in and out.

“Some of the children do the parkrun and then go off to play rugby and football at local clubs.”

New runners are always welcome at Melton’s Junior Parkrun – follow the ‘Play Close Park Junior Parkrun’ Facebook page for more information.

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