The worldwide phenomenon will hit Grafton this weekend. Locals Sharon Hillery, Casey Smith, Kate Shaw, Jo West and Kylie McGrath are looking forward to taking part.  PHOTO: BILL NORTH
The worldwide phenomenon will hit Grafton this weekend. Locals Sharon Hillery, Casey Smith, Kate Shaw, Jo West and Kylie McGrath are looking forward to taking part. PHOTO: BILL NORTH

Parkrun craze hits Grafton for first time

GRAFTON is up with the times. The worldwide fitness phenomenon of parkrun has made it to town and starts tomorrow.

Parkrun is a timed 5km run held every week at 7am on Saturday mornings at various locations around the world.

The Grafton parkrun course starts from the athletics track adjacent to the carpark at Barnier Park in Junction Hill at 7am every Saturday.

"We've set up a two-lap course around the athletics field and up through Barnier Park, partly on grass and part gravel track," Grafton parkrun event director Casey Smith said.

"It is suitable for anybody and everybody of all abilities including walkers."

Parkrun started in the UK in 2004 and now has at least 136 participating locations in Australia and rising. Smith, Kylie McGrath and Kate Shaw had heard about parkrun and started discussions early this year.

"We found out Yamba was starting one so we thought 'that's great'," Smith explained.

"But we realised in the end it's not so close. We started to chat again and slowly but surely here we are.

"Port Macquarie is launching theirs in a couple of weeks and Coffs is trying to start one. It's definitely spreading now."

Local businesses have rallied behind the concept to ensure its success. Grafton Physio and Sport are the major sponsors with 2Be Nourised, Toast Espresso, Palisma, Hybrid Fitness, City Centre Apartments and Dick Smith Grafton also supporters.

The first Yamba parkrun was held on March 21 this year and has since had 371 different runners. Mark Windsor from University of Sunshine Coast won the 28th weekly event out of 35 starters last Saturday completing the 5km Ford Park course in 17 minutes 10 seconds.

Yamba event director Meg Dougherty was the first female for the 10th time crossing the line in 19:30. followed by first female Meg Dougherty (19:30) David Fleming (20:43) and Patrick Dougherty (21:32).

Scott Lenton leads the mens annual points competition on 1827 and Linda Burow the women on 2082.

Dougherty holds the female record at Yamba of 18:48 and Hamish Hamilton the male record in 16:34.