Cross Flatts parkrun turns 8!

Mark Hodgkinson

On Saturday 30th March 2013 69 runners and walkers gathered for the first time to take part in Cross Flatts parkrun (the event had been due to start a week earlier but had to be postponed due to snow).  At that point I had no idea what an impact Cross Flatts parkrun would have on my own life and the life of the community.  If I’m totally honest it all felt a bit risky; we had a pretty sparse core team who had little experience of parkrun or co-ordinating running events (prior to setting up Cross Flatts I had only run 1 parkrun and I was one of our more experienced volunteers!)  But it was a risk well worth taking and over the last 8 years it has been one of the best things I have ever been involved in. 

As much as I love the running and having a weekly run that taps into my competitive instincts to push myself to be as fast as I can be, parkrun for me is all about the people and the friendships.  I remember looking around the room at our first ever parkrun Christmas party and thinking how amazing that only 8 months earlier I didn’t even know the majority of people in the room and how many of those people I now considered good friends.  I remember talking to one regular parkrunner shortly after that who told me that she had lived in the area all her life and had made more friends in the year that parkrun had been on than she had all the rest of her life put together.  There is something really special about our parkrun (I’m sure everyone says that); It’s great that our community has a parkrun that people can walk to on a Saturday morning;  It’s great that since parkrun started running has become a huge part of our community with the South Leeds Lakers and the junior parkrun and the Lakers junior section;  But more than anything, it’s great that there are many people who now consider people they never knew before to be some of their closest friends.  This is true for me. 

When the covid pandemic began, our family shielded for the first 12 weeks.  During this time a friend, who we met through parkrun, brought us our shopping every week.  Another couple, when they heard we were shielding, dropped off a hamper full of the most amazing treats for us and our children.  This is community at its best.

I can’t quite believe it’s been 8 years.  I can’t wait to see parkrun taking place once again in Cross Flatts Park. I look forward to hearing the stories of lives impacted and changed in the next 8 years and beyond.


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