Parkrun is a free, weekly, inclusive and timed 5km run which takes place at thousands of locations globally on a Saturday morning.

Andover Parkrun is one of the main events in Hampshire and attracts large amounts of people due to its relatively easy course and amazing community.  

Parkrun is open to everyone regardless of their level of fitness as you do not have to run, instead you can jog, walk, volunteer or even just stand and watch. Andover Parkrun is praised by all runners for its distinctive course and community. At the start of the year, Andover held its 600th Parkrun.

The run is held at Charlton Lakes and consists of two laps around a mostly flat course with the occasional small hill. The course is a mix of tarmac paths and grass around the lakes and fields which makes it a great event to complete if you want to start running or as a tourist.

The run starts at 9am on a Saturday, which makes for incredible scenery with golden sunrises. Unfortunately, you cannot run with a dog.

Both runners and volunteers say that the encouraging community is the heart of Andover's Parkrun. Consisting of all ages, the people are kind and above all, supportive.

Both personal and Parkrun milestones are celebrated which adds to the cheerful buzz. At every corner, there is a marshal who is cheering everyone on and mid-way through the course, a group of marshals gather to cheer on runners who say it is a key part of the event. Everyone feels an enormous sense of well-being when finishing – meaning that whether you have a good or bad run, nothing can beat the thrill of a Parkrun.

Parkrun is great for socialising and being pushed out of your comfort zone. Run directors and marshals have said that they enjoy seeing new faces and the positive impacts it has on people’s mental health. The run typically sees around 300 runners every week which is great for meeting people and making new friends. Charlton Lakeside café is a great place after the run for its facilities and a post-run drink with friends. The run has good support from its landowners meaning the course is adaptive to different situations.

If you are hesitant about starting, run directors suggest that watching one is a good starting point. Parkrun is free to complete but to have your time recorded, you will need to sign up and access your personal barcode on the Parkrun website. This needs to be scanned at the event so make sure you have it printed out or available electronically at the parkrun. A helpful first-timer briefing is available as well. If you would like to marshal, ask a member of the team at the run or message the Andover Parkrun Facebook page. For more information, see the Andover page on the main Parkrun website.

  • This article was written by Jamie Slack, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter scheme.