A MUCH-loved parkrun will not be returning to its usual course after spending three years at the location, in a move described as “short sighted” by a local volunteer.

Catterick Parkrun has been asked to stop attending Catterick Racecourse, despite spending three years at the course due to “multiple factors”.

In a Facebook update the parkrun team announced: “It is with great sadness that we must announce parkrun will not be returning to Catterick racecourse.

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"Unfortunately after careful consideration the racecourse have decided that they can no longer accommodate us.”

The Northern Echo: PICTURE: Alan GiplinPICTURE: Alan Giplin

Some of the factors the racecourse gave for the decision included public liability risk, a member of staff living on site and disturbances to the local fishing club.

Hazel Leah, a volunteer at the parkrun, said: “We’re obviously very disappointed it’s been a bit of a shock for us really, because I think there’s always been a risk that they might change their mind, but you don’t really expect it to happen.

“We’re very grateful for the three years at the racecourse that they’ve given to us, we have some fantastic memories and really good connections with people and ultimately we have to respect their wishes.

“It’s such a shame because the racecourse is such an ideal venue, loads of parking, really good solid flat surface so it’s suitable for everybody, it doesn’t matter if you’re fit or not.

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“No matter what the weather we would continue, I think the only time we ever stopped was with extreme frost, when it became a bit of an ice rink which only happened once or twice.

“It’s just trying to find somewhere local that is comparable to the racecourse is going to be very difficult I think.

“We have tried to be as flexible as we can with our approach. One of their concerns is about a member of staff living on the site and we have had a few instances over the years where we’ve tried to make changes and keep him on board.

“Ultimately that wasn’t enough for him, which I do sympathise with, would you want around 200 people turning up on your doorstep every Saturday running round.

“Equally I do think there’s things we could have done and tweaked, maybe changed the place we started off to try and keep gatherings of people away.

“I’m a little dubious about the fishing club personally because when we were there we saw no more than half of the fisherman there.

“I’m not sure how we were really disturbing them that much because we weren’t running right next to the water or running right next to them, we were away from them.

“Another big reason they gave was the planned future of the racecourse, developments and things and they’re looking at the tracks and things.

“Maybe there’ll be big changes coming that aren’t compatible.

“I just feel that it’s a bit short sighted of them.

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“It’s clearly a valued event by the local community, you’d think as a big business of the area, they’d want to be supportive of the local community, so yeah it’s a real shame.

“It’s been fantastic, I started out as a participant, I’d done a couple of parkruns before it and then I was hooked.

“Then I became more involved in the volunteering and the main volunteer team, and I did a lot of social media updating and the website and things.

“It’s just the people, I don’t know what it is about Catterick but the volunteers and people are just second to none.

“Catterick just stands out and we made a lot of friends and people you wouldn’t normally meet in all walks of life, people from the Gurkha community.”

The Northern Echo: PICTURE: Alan GiplinPICTURE: Alan Giplin

The parkrun regularly delivered to Richmond Storehouse, a local foodbank.

Suz Gregory, community manager, said: "The food we recieved from them was helpful and we love building relationships in the community. We have other places that people can donate to such as Tesco or our bin outside our building."

John Sanderson, managing director of Catterick Racecourse, said: “I think I’m right in saying it’s been at the racecourse since 2017, I know that it stopped in lockdown of last year.

“We had a board meeting recently and this was a subject on the agenda. I’s a directors' decision - they just felt, it is private property, there’s staff that live in the middle with a young growing family and there’s a fishing club which also get’s a bit of disturbance when this happens.

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“The board is looking at doing a few improvements and developments in the pipeline and we just felt we’ve made a contribution to it, it is private property, parkruns take place all over the place and it’s been going on since about 2004 and 2005.

“I can understand them saying it’s the perfect place because it’s a round track, but my understanding of parkruns is they take place all over the place - there’s lots of places you can do it.

“I’m sorry but that was the board's decision - we’ve tried to help them and had it since 2017 but it’s time to move on.”


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