Parkrun launches on Penryn Campus

Volunteers outside Tremough House | Jeremy Booker

On Saturday, 16 October, after two years of preparation, Penryn Campus held its inaugural parkrun event.

Since its inception in Bushy Park in 2004, parkrun has become a global phenomenon which has seen nearly two and a half million people finish the free, weekly five-kilometre event. Penryn Campus now joins 731 other parkrun locations across the UK, each encouraging runners, walkers, and volunteers to get outside, improve their health and happiness, and feel a part of their local (and global) community.

At 9am, 96 runners gathered outside Tremough House ready to be amongst the first to cross the blue and orange finish line. Volunteers in bright pink high-vis vests stood by whilst the race director explained the route (three laps up and down the old drive) through a megaphone.

Members of the Students’ Union athletics club put in a series of brilliant runs, setting the first course record of 18:07 for the men and 22:14 for the women. As a member of the core team that has brought parkrun to Penryn, it was a fantastic experience to see so many people turn out on a chilly, misty Saturday morning to support the event and even better to be able to walk it myself as the tail-walker.

There was a buzz of excitement and achievement in the Stannary Café as runners and volunteers made their way over for a coffee and cake at the end of the event. After a difficult two years from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a proud moment for the core team to finally see their efforts come to fruition.

“People are just delighted to have gone through it, and they feel a great sense of achievement. Everybody loves it”

I asked Catherine Leyshon, Penryn Campus parkrun’s event director, where it all began and what it feels like to have finally launched the first event on campus.

Where did it all begin?

“In 2019, a bunch of interested people were looking around for a parkrun location in Falmouth or Penryn, but parkrun has really strict rules about where you can have a parkrun, and we just couldn’t find a site. Then, I noticed on a Facebook page people were asking about it, so we jumped on and said: ‘How about the Penryn Campus?’”

What did it take to bring parkrun to Penryn?

“It’s actually a lot of work over a few months because you have to find a route that fits parkrun’s criteria, which are quite strict. You have to do a risk assessment, and you have to raise £3,000 towards the cost of starting the parkrun. We did that through sponsorship from Falmouth Town Council, Penryn Town Council, the University of Exeter, and a bunch of others. You have to liaise with a South West ambassador who comes to look at your route and check it’s all okay. You also have to have permission from the landowner, you have to have a licence, and you have to get hold of all the kit. There’s quite a lot of work involved.”

What does it feel like to have finally launched the first event on campus?

“Well, it feels amazing because when lockdown started in March 2020, we were only about three weeks from being able to launch at that point. When we came out of lockdown, the core team had to almost start again. We had to review the route, redo the risk assessment, renegotiate the licence, and all of that. So, now we’re actually underway, it feels absolutely great. I think it’s a really brilliant thing for the campus to have this, not only for students and staff but people in Falmouth and Penryn and the surrounding area.”

How can you get involved with parkrun?

“You can turn up at 9am on a Saturday morning or just before 9 and run our 5-kilometre route, or you can volunteer. Volunteering is great; it promotes wellbeing, builds links with the community, and there’s lots of volunteering roles which are all really easy to learn. And it’s great fun. They’re all great things to do, the tail-walker is fun because you can literally wear a tail!”

Do you have a favourite volunteering role?

“I like being near the finish line because then you can really encourage people as they run over the line—they’ve really achieved something. People are just delighted to have gone through it, and they feel a great sense of achievement. Everybody loves it.”

Do you think you’ll run it yourself one week?

“I might. It’s quite hilly. We’ve chosen a route that is quite demanding because we’re not allowed to run the route on public roads. So, we’re up and down the old drive three times, and anyone who’s been up and down that drive will know that ‘what goes down must come back up’.”

Will you not be going for the course record then?

“I probably couldn’t break the course record on a bike! But, in a way, that’s not the point of parkrun because it’s for everybody, whether you want to run it, or jog it, or walk it, bring your dog, bring your children, the pram, you know, it’s for everybody. It’s fully inclusive.”

Click here to find out more about your local parkrun.