Covid restrictions prevented Conwy Parkrun from celebrating 7th anniversary

Scene from a past Conwy Parkrun

Report by Don Hale. Most photos by Steve Jeffery

Welsh Government and Covid-19 restrictions unfortunately prevented the organisers of the Conwy Parkrun from celebrating seven years since staging their very first event.

Although the junior parkrun has continued and seems to be going from strength to strength, the adult participation has been halted by a limit of just 50 participants for all outdoor sports events in Wales.

It’s a ruling that has caused extreme controversy within the running fraternity and seems in stark contrast to identical events in all other parts of the UK, with English ministers even querying the validity of this ban, and the impact on both mental and physical health.

The restrictions have also somewhat dampened the spirit of parkrun of late, and it is hoped that further meetings this week with the Welsh Government, Parkrun UK, and Welsh Athletics will help to rectify the problem.

Conwy Parkrun, however, has since become a massive success story and the challenging 5k course from the RSPB site at Conwy is noted as one of the most picturesque in the country.

A couple of years ago it was even voted by global athletes as the runner-up in the World Cup of Parkruns and were only beaten in the end by fellow North Wales rivals Newborough.

The first Conwy Parkrun, held on 10th January 2015, attracted 187 runners of all ages and abilities, a formula that continues, offering a friendly community fun run for everyone on a Saturday morning.

First ever winner Simon Cole

Simon Cole claimed first place in that first parkrun representing GOG Triathlon club in 17 minutes 51 seconds, with Paul Wathan (Eryri Harriers) 2nd in 18.05, and Tom Adams 3rd in 18.25, whilst Tracey Williams (Denbigh Harriers) was the 1st lady in 22.39, with Gemma Moore (Eryri Harriers) 2nd overall in 22.56.

Martin Green

North Wales Road Runners entered 12 athletes with Martin Green the first club man home in 4th place overall and 1st MV40-44 cat winner in 18.53. Iwan Evans finished 23rd in 22.28, with Michael Thelwall 27th in 22.36.

Richard Scamans finished in 32nd place in 23.11, with Mark Jessett 38th in 23.33, and Elizabeth Driscoll led home the pack of six female athletes in 58th place overall to win her VW35-39 age cat in 25.43.

Her colleagues included Natalie Hughes 65th, who was also the winner of her VW35-39 cat in 26.18, with Lesley Goodson just 10 seconds behind in 67th place and 2nd in her VW50-54 cat in 26.28.

Elizabeth Driscoll

Ceri Jones was 104th in 29.51, and Joan Edwards finished in 113th spot and 3rd VW50-54 cat in 30.38, whilst Nicola Lewis was 135th in 32.31 and Darren Griss acted as an essential back marker or sweeper in 187th place in 45.04.

Following this very first run, organisers have since held 282 other parkruns at Conwy, with 67,438 finishers.

The last event was on 18th December 2021 prior to the Covid shut down, and the course record is still held by Colwyn Bay athlete Bryn Woodall in just 15 minutes 16 seconds that was recorded on 21st August last year. The average attendance per event has been maintained at 239.1 runners.

*This is the link to the first Conwy Parkrun:
https://www.parkrun.org.uk/conwy/results/1/?fbclid=IwAR0ZQAdJN6xFtEQqFGh0hrW894oGruo_aD0STwE4SA2CcHSV2dt38KQCgnE

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