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Record breaking numbers take part in Valentines Park New Year’s Day run, Ilford

PUBLISHED: 18:17 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:17 02 January 2018

More than 300 took park on New Year's Day. Picture: Jean Marshall

More than 300 took park on New Year's Day. Picture: Jean Marshall

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Whether it was a case of too many mince pies or residents wanting to kick off 2018 with a healthy start, the New Year’s Day Valentines parkrun had its biggest turnout to date.

The race start line. Picture: Jean Marshall The race start line. Picture: Jean Marshall

More than 300 runners, joggers, walkers and pram pushers headed to Cranbrook Road, Ilford on January 1, to take on two laps of the park. Despite the event being purely for fun and fitness, many runners scored a personal best on the 3.1 mile course, with David Mills finishing with the fastest time of 17 minutes and 48 seconds.

The run is organised completely by volunteers and, bar special occasions, is held every Saturday at 9am.

Event director Andrew Gwilliam said the event is very inclusive and a diverse group of people hit the paths for personal challenge, to lose weight, increase fitness or just to have a good time.

“We absolutely smashed our previous attainment record,” he said.

Participants run a 3.1mile course around the park. Picture: Jean Marshall Participants run a 3.1mile course around the park. Picture: Jean Marshall

“We never expected so many people on a chilly new year morning.

“We usually get in the low 200s, but this time around we got 337.”

The event is free , and all residents need to do is sign up to get a barcode beforehand which allows them to see their time.

There is no commitment and people can come every week or “dip in and out” when it suits.

“In February it will be the Valentine parkrun’s seventh birthday and we were one of the first sites in the country to start it,” he added.

“Now there are parkruns all over the world, which is great as when you go on holiday you can scan in on the same account.”

“The diehard runners on New Year’s Day could also run the Wanstead parkrun at 9 before driving over to Valentines Park and taking part in that one at 10.”

Although children as young as four can take part, those under 13 are not allowed to run or walk it unsupervised.

Dogs can also take part, as long as they are attached to a human.

If you would like to find out more about the run visit parkrun.org.uk/valentines

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