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The very first Hastings Park Run on Saturday 18 April this year

The very first Hastings parkrun on Saturday 18 April this year.

Run off the Christmas dinner

Hastings parkrun is a FREE 5-km (3-mile) run which takes place on Saturdays at 9am. It is part of the nationwide series of parkruns, with over 350 now available in the UK, and is suitable for all ages and abilities – including wheelchair users. If you are looking for a way to burn off those extra Christmas calories, then turn up on Boxing Day and join the crowd. Erica Smith put on her trainers and tried to catch up…

Since the first run on 18 April this year, nearly 1,400 different runners have already completed the seafront promenade course, starting and finishing at Grosvenor Gardens in St Leonards. Of these, 730 are first-time parkrunners from the Hastings area, many of whom had never run in a competitive run/race before. Many of them become parkrun regulars, for whom Saturday morning can’t come round quickly enough!

0018-April-007The route
Parkrun is NOT in Alexandra Park, but on the seafront. This might sound daft, but actually, Alexandra Park is not ideal for a big group of runners to use. You have to cross Dordrecht Way which involves dealing with cars, and the paths are not very wide. Instead the run starts just by the seafront shelter near Grosvenor Gardens. If, like me, you navigate by pubs, that means that it starts on the seafront down from the Marina Fountain. The run sets off towards the pier, going on the lower prom and through Bottle Alley. The halfway point is just past the pier – there will be someone there to remind you to turn round and run back along the top of the prom all the way back to Grosvenor Gardens. You are usually running into a headwind on the way back, but that helps stop you over-heating! Running back along this route is also great for anyone planning to do the Hastings Half Marathon – it’s good to be familiar with the final stretch of the race.

Tips for beginners
I am an irregular parkrunner, but when I do participate, I really enjoy it. Three miles is a manageable run, even for a beginner. If it is your first time, don’t push yourself too hard. You should always be able to talk as you run – so take a friend along with you, or see if you can find someone running at the same speed as you who is happy to be your buddy for the run. It is a very friendly group of runners. If you really can’t keep up the pace, don’t feel ashamed to walk for a while – just don’t give up!

Especially if you are not a regular runner, it is a good idea to stretch a bit before the run. If you turn up ten minutes early, there will be other runners who can suggest some good stretches to do. I usually do three rounds of the yoga ‘Salute to the sun’ at home before the run. That gives thighs and calves and ankles a good stretch-out.

You might find after your first run that you ache a bit for the next day or two, but that just shows you are working muscles that you don’t usually use. I find that if I go out even once during the week and do a gentle run for 20–30 minutes, my parkrun time that Saturday is better. It is amazing how quickly your running improves. I also feel so much more bouncy and cheerful after a run – even if I’ve been running into a headwind in the rain.

00marshals 002Volunteering
An important part of the parkrun is the support from the volunteers who stand along the seafront course, encouraging you to keep running and helping you out if you need it. Here is a BIG THANK YOU to the marshals – I really appreciate your smiling faces and supportive comments as I struggle on the return leg of the run.

Some of the marshals are keen runners who have a temporary injury, some are friends and families of runners, some people who just like getting a bit of fresh air. Marshalling/volunteer duties normally take 60–75 minutes.

If you are able to help out from time to time, please email

So how do you take part? Click here, register, download your barcode, then just turn up!

STOP PRESS: Hastings parkrun has just been voted amongst the top 10 parkruns in the UK by members of The Running Bug community.

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Posted 18:29 Monday, Dec 21, 2015 In: Sport

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