Last Haven Park Run at Caister-On-Sea

Car Parks & Cul-de-sacs – Amanda Thomson

We did it! We set out in March to run a 5km route around all Haven Parks by the end of the 2019 season, and the tally is now 39 Parks – that’s every single site, and a total of 195km, equivalent to just over 4.5 marathons.

Why did we do this?

To be honest, one motivation was to stay fit. We’ve enjoyed running since November 2018, and we’ve come to realise that it’s such a sociable activity. I always thought of running as an activity that you do on your own, but since joining the local Garboldisham ‘Foxtrotters’ Running Group, the fun and encouragement I get from running with others has been a revelation. So we wanted to encourage others to take up running AND to raise funds for an important charity – Mental Health UK.

What was the inspiration?

Exercise is important for so many health reasons, not just mental health. In fact, we could have chosen to support pretty much any health-related charity, but we chose Mental Health UK as being the beneficiary of these runs because November 2018 marked the anniversary of Michael’s brother’s premature death after struggling with mental health issues.

We’ve all heard the statistic – that 1 in 4 people suffer with some form of mental health issue at some point in their lives. So if you’re not affected personally, it’s highly likely that you know someone who is. And one consistent piece of advice given to any sufferer, is to exercise. So, coming back to the motivation for this, we’d genuinely like to think that an outcome and lasting legacy will be that every Haven Park has a clearly marked out 5km route.

That’s easier said than done…What have we learned on this journey?

  1. Park planners seem to be inspired by mazes when they’ve designed the layout of their parks, and if you were to look at some of Michael’s earlier Park Run routes, they resemble the course of a spider on ‘uppers’, with numerous u-turns at the end of unexpected cul-de-sacs, and circuits around carparks to make up the mileage to an almost exact 5km
  2. Coordinating and planning was as much a challenge as the runs themselves. Haven Parks are located in some beautiful spots on the UK coast between Cornwall and the East Coast of Scotland, and we tried to plan in the runs to coincide with our ProClean service work, but sometimes it didn’t work out as simply as that.
  3. It’s amazing what you can achieve once you’ve told everyone you’re going to do it. There’s something to be said for sharing big, hairy audacious goals with the world. And to know that the funds raised by the challenge were going directly to an important charity certainly helped to galvanise us.

What was the hardest park run?

Littlesea – the route was just under 1km long and made up almost entirely of a big hill which Michael had to run up 5 times. It certainly tested mental resilience

The most fun run?

Thorpe Park – despite the drizzle, we were accompanied for a little while by Rory the Tiger, but he kept on tripping over his under-carriage

So what’s the next challenge?

We’re not sure, but we’d like to think that you’ll be taking part next time too.