parkrun is out of the blocks in Builth Wells

It was an absolute pleasure to be one of over 200 people taking part in the inaugural parkrun on the Groe in Builth Wells on Saturday (2nd March). 

Without getting carried away, it is easy to see the consistent and lasting benefit the weekly 5k run could have on the town and the high street in particular. In the digital age, it is great to see a regular community event for all ages, shapes and sizes; one that gets us away from our screens and provides an opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbours while trundling (in my case) around the 3-lap course.

Photography by DRL Photography, © all rights reserved.

Event organiser, Lee Jarvis and his team (many volunteers from the Builth Wells Social Running Group) have spent months of meticulous planning to bring parkrun to the town and it was fantastic, if not surprising to see the first run being delivered so smoothly.

parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. These events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and we encourage people of every ability to take part; from those taking their first steps in running to Olympians; from juniors to those with more experience; we welcome you all.
— From the parkrun website

It is fair to say that George found parkrun easier than me.

It is fair to say that George found parkrun easier than me.

Saturday mornings are ‘boys’ time in my household and until my 2-year old son, George is ready to take on the course, he will have to settle with being my co-driver for many more parkruns to come. So at the 20 minute mark, I was sweating buckets in the morning sunshine, gasping for breath and looking for a drinks stand (that would be a nice addition!), I look down to the push chair and can see George completely chilled, laid back with crossed legs and waving at runners as I pass them by (ok, maybe they passed me by). If you are interested in joining George on his relaxing weekly drive, all of the important Groe parkrun information can be found here:

It's difficult to argue against the view that it has been a tough few years for British high streets, with the repeat bank closures, increase in out of town shopping and the exponential growth of online behemoths such as Amazon, many small businesses have needed to constantly innovate and adapt to keep moving forward. In Builth Wells, the reality is no different. Since I relocated back to Mid Wales in 2015, the market town of Builth Wells has been hit by 3 bank closures, the loss of the town library and most recently, the closure of the crucial Post Office (although this is hopefully a temporary predicament). A number of high street shops have also closed and the town has been crying out for some positive news and a change of fortune. Without wanting to apply too much pressure on the fledgling event, regular community activities like parkrun can act as a catalyst for the town as we look to move into the next decade and beyond. 

parkrun statisticians said to expect around 61 people if within Builth area, and then to expect around 68 people if Llandrindod area were to be included. We are delighted to announce that we had 201 people with finishing times.
— Lee Jarvis

Not only will many participants make their way into the high street for a post-run breakfast or coffee, it also becomes an additional pull for tourists in this beautiful rural corner of Wales. I was speaking to a parkrun regular on Saturday who was perfectly happy with a 4 hour roundtrip from Wrexham to be part of the inaugural event. Again, without counting too many chickens, it bodes well for the future.

Here’s to many more action packed Saturday mornings and hopefully a host of new community events like parkrun in Builth Wells.