Littleport Parkrun

Cathy Gibb-de Swarte tells us some heart-warming human-interest stories from the weekly Littleport Parkrun and how some are running the Littleport 10k for the MS charity on July 28!

Parkruns have now become such a phenomenon that the whole world and their dog are taking part every Saturday morning just to experience that ‘get fit fix’ and Littleport is part of that global phenomena.

Such a regular event does encourage that community spirit of togetherness, fun and feel good factor. If you turn up regularly and meet the many Parkrunners, walkers, babies being pushed in buggies by their parents, children and many happy doggie companions on a regular basis, you do get to find out more about the people who turn up, and it seems that everyone really has a story to tell. I’ve met some amazing powerhouse athletes from the likes of Ely based runners who include Lisa Redman (Long), Lauren Thomas, Justin Smith, Amanda Murfitt, James Lee, Ashleigh Blackman-Doyle, to name but a few, who are likened to those battery operated toy bunny rabbits in the Duracell adverts, who never stop running. These doughty Parkrunners just constantly rack up the mileage be it 5k, 10k, half marathons, marathons, tri marathons and win sack fulls of medals. Then there are those who are just happy to arrive every early Saturday morning who love the challenge of completing a 5k circuit and comparing times with fellow Parkrunners and walkers afterwards.

And you never know who you are sharing a Parkrun with and the brave stories they have to tell.

Every Saturday, Henry Wright would turn up to Littleport Parkrun and week after week his times would improve and he was getting healthier, fitter and quicker. I didn’t realise Henry was taking up running to get fit for this year’s London Marathon in memory of his young 4 year old son Douglas and raising money for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.

“CLIC Sargent was the glue that held us together and they were so important to our family,” said Henry who wanted to do something tough, not just for his son Douglas, but also to help with his own physical and mental well-being which has taken a beating over the past few years. And Henry’s training and running various distances including Littleport’s Parkrun paid off and he finished the London Marathon in a punishing time of 6 hours 18.58 minutes

Then there is another amazing Parkrunner Naomi McCombie, an Operations Director at Ely’s Atrium Fitness Centre. Naomi has survived bowel cancer back in 2013 and still has to have regular check-ups as well as taking part in a clinical trial. Always a cheery soul she loves a challenge, especially when it comes to local Parkruns, and already boasts 19 under her belt, and has even achieved a New Personal Best of 31.15 in March of this year.

Littleport resident Ann Schofield is a tenacious Parkrunner who is happy to be part of such a healthy activity but admits being a MS sufferer does have its drawback.

“You have your good and bad days which can be unpredictable” Ann told Littleport Life.

Ann who was born with a deformed hip has been told by her doctor that exercise can help and already she has seen signs of improvement.

“I never took up running at school because I was always the chubby kid so I wasn’t built for the sport, but then I was inspired by March Parkrunner Lisa Forrest, who inspired me to take up Parkrunning and I haven’t looked back,” said Ann, who knows she is not fast but more the steady pace kind of Parkrunner, but she has courageously agreed to be part of a MS charity team competing in Littleport’s 10k event on Sunday July 28th.

Making up the team is 37 year old local refuse collector Jamie Gayfer who is joint Manager of Ely City Reserves and has played football for both Littleport Town FC and Ely City Reserves for 20 years.

Ex-Littleport Town FC goalkeeper David Rollings achieved a good finish in the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon in March and successfully ran the 10k last year. Ashleigh Blackman-Doyle, a Special Needs Teacher in Ely enjoys running since taking it up last January. She wanted to challenge herself when she reached her 30th birthday by running 12 half marathons in 12 months winning 30 medals and is on course to complete her goal. Ashleigh’s friends are Parkrunners Verity Fretwell and Laura Baker. Verity who superbly ran and completed the London Marathon in 5 hours 00.55 is a 1 to 1 Teaching Assistant at Littleport Primary School, while Laura is also a Teaching Assistant at Highfield Ely Academy. Both women started running at the same time as Ashleigh.

Amanda Beavis who is getting into her running stride agreed to run the Littleport 10k again having accomplished it last year and in terrible torrential rain and blustery wind. Amanda’s young son Stanley will also be part of the MS team running for his Nanna in the fun run at 10 am. Clare Andrews became the 9th member and admitted that she hasn’t run a 10k before, but looking at her excellent Parkrun results and getting into her stride, her team mates will be there willing her and Ann over the finishing line.

Bob Bragger, Group Co-ordinator/Chair of the Cambridge & District MS Society Group told Littleport Life that the Society purely survive on donations only and are indebted to a local lady whose husband is a MS sufferer and who raised over £800.00 on her birthday. And on June 22nd they will be holding their first ever MS Motorcycle Show with Harley Davidson donating a leather jacket to auction, plus people donating to enjoy a ride on a motorbike.

Sigma Embroidery are donating 5 running caps for the participants.

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