THE Parkes community has got right behind the Northparkes Oval park run, and it was evident in all the smilling faces on Saturday as they celebrated their first anniversary.
The sun was shining, there were party hats aplenty and 55 people pounded the Northparkes Oval track to acknowledge the first year of Parkes joining the highly-popular international phenomenom - park run.
Dan Greef, who was instrumental in founding the Northparkes Oval park run, said it had been response of the tight-knit community that had made the club so successful.
"The response post-COVID has been great, it obviously died down a little during winter and then COVID hit but it has been growing ever since," he told the Parkes Champion Post earlier this week.
"We are one of the few park runs that never struggles for volunteers, and it shows the community spirit of Parkes."
It isn't just Parkes people participating either - far from it - and it has been brilliant for local businesses.
Greef explained that the popular park run challenges encourage people to get out and experience different runs, and Parkes has been particularly popular.
"One thing that has been a pleasant surprise has been the amount of park run tourists that come to town just to do the park run," he said.
"Most weeks there would be a couple of tourists, and that's thousands of dollars coming to local businesses in town since we began.
"They might spent 500 bucks on acccomodation, meals and sightseeing, and we even have people coming from interstate.
"One guy in particular came from Perth, flew to Newcastle, then drove down here to do the run - he has done more park runs in Australia than anyone else," said Greef.
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Greef said numbers are beginning to build back up, and he is keen to see as many people take on the course - which is a real credit to the town.
"I'm hopeful it keeps a mid 70s average with the preseason for winter sport underway. When you look at Cowra, a similar sized town, we have a much higher average, which is great," he said.
"Ideally in the future we'd love to see a sealed track the whole way, but the Parkes Shire Council has been so supportive with keeping things maintained.
"It's a challenging course, with the undulating nature really pushing people...and people keep coming back which is brilliant.
"We're getting so many different types of people; it's great for fitness, it's timed, you never finish last and it really is for everyone, whether you're training for footy or just wanting to stay fit," said Greef.
Northparkes Oval parkrun started on February 6, 2021.
Since then 438 participants have completed 1578 parkruns, covering a total distance of 7,890 km, including 398 new personal best times.
A total of 62 individuals have volunteered 324 times.
On Saturday, event 33, 55 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 12 were first timers and 15 recorded new personal bests.
Representatives of two different clubs took part, and the event was made possible by seven volunteers: Sonia Bland, Dan Greef, Jenny Short, Vicki Warwick, Louise Moore, Brenton Hartin and John Short.
The female record is held by Jorja Davis, who recorded a time of 21:30 on May 29, 2021 at event number 17.
The male record is held by Scott Westcott, who recorded a time of 15:51 on July 3, 2021.
Westcott also holds the Age Grade course record after recording 89.48 per cent (15:51) on that date.
If you are interested in participating in park run, arrive at 7.45am for 8am start at northparkes oval car park each Saturday morning.
It is suitable for any age and fitness level, and you can go at your own pace.
The event is also run purely from volunteers, with all the jobs easy to do - so if you can't participate contact the park run Facebook page, and you can volunteer instead.
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