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Complaints raised over Ashford Parkrun runners

By Aidan Barlow

Mothers with prams and elderly people have complained of being brushed aside by inconsiderate joggers taking part in a weekly run at a town centre park.

Concerns about joggers’ behaviour were raised by the mothers who say some of those taking part in the Parkrun event at Victoria Park in Ashford have shown a lack of concern for others.

Parkrun was first set up in October 2013 and has gone from strength to strength, with an average of more than 200 taking part in the run every Saturday.

Ashford's Victoria Park
Ashford's Victoria Park

But South Ashford Community Forum has reported problems as the event has grown, with large numbers of people driving to the race and some runners showing a lack of concern for the public.

According to forum minutes, mothers with prams and elderly people have been concerned, with one man reporting that he was worried his walking stick would be kicked away from him.

The minutes state: “Complaints continued to arise regarding the lack of consideration by some runners to other park users.

“Examples include mothers with pushchairs being forced off the path and older people worried that their walking stick would be kicked away from them.

“The situation may be arising because of the growth of the event from 90 runners in 2013 to 250 runners in recent months.”

The Parkrun marked its 200th event earlier this month and is set for its fourth birthday celebration in October.

Runners in Ashford.
Runners in Ashford.

South Ashford Community Forum chairman Bob Shrubb says he has discussed the situation with volunteers and organisers.

He said: “Our view is that it’s just getting too big with the numbers of people participating, it is getting to more than 200 on an average Saturday.”

Parkrun volunteers say safety advice is issued to runners, who are asked to arrive early to listen to the race briefing from marshals.

They said that some 4,170 runners have taken part and clocked up 150,000 kilometres between them and added that the event typically lasts for just one hour each week.

The event will celebrate its fourth birthday in October, and Parkrun volunteers say it often helps people get physically active in a friendly environment.

In a statement the Ashford Parkrun said: “During the run briefing we remind our runners that Victoria Park is a public park and to be aware of other park users.

Runners taking part in Ashford's first Parkrun event in October 2013
Runners taking part in Ashford's first Parkrun event in October 2013

“We ask them to give way to other park users and be polite and considerate. We also reiterate this regularly on our website and social media pages.

“We have marshals around the course to ensure everyone’s safety and if anyone has any comments or concerns at a particular event then they can ask the marshals to contact the run director who will be able to assist.

“Anything that is reported to the run director of the day is logged via our main head office system and dealt with if possible by speaking to the people involved directly or via online correspondence.”

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