The man who founded Middlesbrough’s hugely popular Albert parkrun has received special recognition from Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon.
Andy Fisher brought the free run to Albert Park three years ago, developing it into one of the most popular of its kind in the UK.
The 5km runs are held every Saturday morning in parks up and down the country – the town’s was the ninth to be launched, with 55 now taking place weekly in towns and cities across the land.
There were just 26 runners at the start line of the first event on Saturday, May 21, 2008 – the event now attracts up to 250 runners, joggers and walkers of all ages and abilities every week.
Those taking part do so for free – after registering, they can follow their own progress online, with detailed information charting their finishing times, number of entries and age group rankings.
The parkrun has become hugely popular among those looking to get in shape for the RunMiddlesbrough series of events including May’s Middlesbrough Healthy Town 5k and September’s Tees Pride 10k Road Race.
And it’s set many runners on course for even bigger challenges such as the Great North Run and the London Marathon.
Sharon Caddell, who is taking over as race director, said: “On behalf of all the Middlesbrough Albert Park runners, I would like to say a massive thank you to Andy and his wife June for bringing parkrun to Middlesbrough – it couldn’t have happened without them.”
Andy was presented with his Mayor’s Award when Mr Mallon made a surprise visit to the Parkway Social Club in Coulby Newham on the evening of Saturday, March 5.
Mr Mallon said: “There isn’t much that’s free these days, but the Albert parkrun is a shining example of what can be achieved when people like Andy put their minds to it.
“The parkrun’s incredible growth in less than three years is down to one thing and one thing alone – people, hundreds of people, really love it.
“We’re all about making more people active in Middlesbrough and the parkrun has something to offer everyone, whether they’re a complete novice or an experienced club runner.
“Andy has made that possible through hard work, enthusiasm and good humour – into the bargain he has created an event which is already making a difference and which will stand the test of time.”
The Albert Park parkrun is a 5k run, walk or jog every Saturday morning at 9am. Register online, by 6pm Friday at the latest, it is FREE. Keep track of your time and/or volunteer to help others.