Brand new Swanage parkrun gets off to a flying start

The first ever parkrun at Durlston Country Park in Swanage, attracted more than 100 participants on a gloriously sunny Saturday morning.

Different from more competitive activities, parkruns are free, weekly events for the community, where people are invited to walk or run, or a combination of the two, along a five kilometre course.

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Runners at First Durlston parkrun
Durlston parkrun

The inaugural Durlston County Park parkrun was starts by the Swanage Town Crier

Swanage Town Crier bellowed out the countdown

To start the first Durlston Country Park parkrun at 9 am on Saturday 19th March 2022, Swanage Town Crier, Andrew Fleming was on hand to bellow out the countdown and, in the absence of a starting pistol, ring his town crier’s bell to send everyone on their way.

There were 128 walkers and runners, with some locals and others who had travelled specially to take part in the new parkrun.

Runners at First Durlston parkrun
Durlston parkrun

The briefing before everyone sets out

A 5k timed run or walk

Organisers say it’s not a race against other runners, but a 5k timed run or walk and people can take part just for fun or as part of a training plan.

The Durlston Country Park parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9 am, beginning outside Durlston Castle.

Runners at First Durlston parkrun
Durlston parkrun

Participants need to try and not be too distracted by the views, or possible dolphin sightings!

The course

The course consists of three sections which are all different and all start and finish by the castle.

  • The Tilly Whim Loop heads west and is run twice clockwise
  • The Castle Loop heads east and is run twice anti-clockwise
  • The Isle of Wight ‘Out and Back’ is run once with a small anti- clockwise loop at the turnaround

The course is completed in the order of Tilly Whim – Castle – Isle of Wight – Tilly Whim – Castle.

It finishes outside the castle but also conveniently near the Seventh Wave café.

A gentler, less competitive event

While there’s plenty of opportunities in Purbeck to take part in marathons, triathlons and even extreme endurance running, for a while there’s been an ambition to bring a gentler, less competitive event to the town.

The event director, who has been responsible for setting up the parkrun, is Swanage resident, Zodwa Chasokela. She’s been helped by a core team including Stuart Morris, Ross Wayne, Jane Harrington, Rob Harrington, Wendy Mansell and Katy Astle.

Runners at First Durlston parkrun
Durlston parkrun

While there are tough up hill sections, there are also easier downhill parts to the course

“A real buzz”

Keen parkrun enthusiast and part of the organising team, Katy Astle said:

“It has been brilliant and a real buzz. It’s a tough course because of the hills but there are some beautiful views, especially along the coast path – it’s a constant distraction! I think it will be very popular with tourists as well as locals.

“It’s free and everyone is welcome to join in. We also rely on volunteers to marshall and would love to hear from anyone who would like to help us.

“Hopefully it’ll become quite a sociable event and people will stay afterwards and get refreshments at the café.

“I’d really like to thank the Durlston Rangers, particularly Katie Black for being so supportive with this new venture. Also the Purbeck Runners, the Purbeck Primary Care Network – our local doctors – and Swanage Town Council for helping us get started.

“I also want to mention our Dorset parkrun ambassador, Kirsty Weston who has been a huge support.

“It really was a good morning and it will now happen every Saturday from 9 am, weather allowing!”

Runners at First Durlston parkrun
Durlston parkrun

The course starts and finishes by Durlston Castle and the Seventh Wave café

Further information

  • To get involved and sign up, go to the Durlston Country Park parkrun website
  • It starts at 9 am every Saturday at Durlston Country Park, Lighthouse Road, Swanage, Dorset BH19 2JL.

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