799 people make their way around Towneley Park for the 500th Burnley Parkrun.799 people make their way around Towneley Park for the 500th Burnley Parkrun.
799 people make their way around Towneley Park for the 500th Burnley Parkrun.

Burnley Parkrun: Record number of people descend on Towneley Park for special 500th event

A record-breaking 799 people put their best feet forward as they helped Burnley Parkrun celebrate an incredible 500th event at the weekend.

The free 5k run, which has been held at Towneley Park every Saturday since June 2012, registered the third highest attendance in the UK on Saturday.

Regularly averaging around 300 runners and walkers each week, organisers had been hoping to attract 500 people to mark the major milestone. But were left overwhelmed by the response.

"We absolutely smashed that and we are so thankful to everyone who came," said Karen Holland who, along with husband Darren, organise the event. "We actually ran out of tokens as we only had 600 – we improvised and everyone was brilliant."

Burnley Parkrun was started by Marion Wilkinson 11 years ago as the community initiative began to take hold around the UK. And it was Marion’s, 'On your marks, get set, go' that got Saturday’s special occasion under way.

Burnley Council leader Coun. Afrasiab Anwar, who is a regular at Parkrun, also made a small announcement before the runners started the two-lap course.

He said: “Parkrun is a fantastic initiative that allows people to get active, improve physical and mental well being and meet new people. I would like to thank all the dedicated volunteers who turn out week in week out to make it happen. Parkrun brings so many wider benefits to the borough and It was brilliant to see so many people attend and support the 500th parkrun at Towneley. It was a great showcase for Burnley. All those involved should be proud of themselves.”

Regular Julie Bithell said: “What a privilege to have been part of Burnley Parkrun’s 500th run celebration on Saturday morning at the lovely Towneley Park. We were hoping for 500 and got 799! The atmosphere was warm and inclusive, and for me has been a life-changing, life-enhancing experience. One that I hardly ever miss! The friendships formed and the support given is second to none and all led by two beautiful selfless humans – Karen and Darren Holland. If you have never been to parkrun, take the plunge, give it a go, you won’t regret it!”

Runner and volunteer Pam Buckel said: “What an amazing morning! Karen and Darren Holland, with the help of volunteers, have selflessly given up their Saturday mornings for the last 10 years – with an odd holiday thrown in here and there – so that, this wonderful event called, Parkrun can happen. Today’s atmosphere was one that can not really but put into words.”

People turned up from far afield, including Australia, to celebrate the event together. There were 146 first timers, with representatives from 66 different clubs taking part. A total of 86 people also recorded personal bests.

"It was such a special occasion," continued Karen. "We got such positive feedback and we hope many who came for the first time will come back next week."