THE parkrun phenomenon is celebrating it's 8th anniversary in Essex, having inspired over 78,000 to take part.

Over the last eight years, participants have walked, run and sprinted a distance of 3.7million kilometres across 21 Essex parkruns.

Parkrun has changed the face of Saturday mornings, with free 5km events targeting a whole community of runners and those aspiring for healthier, more active lifestyles. The Chelmsford central parkrun, which launched in 2013, has alone inspired over 14,000 residents to take part.

Jason Fergus, Head of Active Essex, said: “We are delighted to have played a significant role to support the set-up of local parkruns and encouraging people of all ages and abilities to take part, which is closely aligned with our strategy to get one million lives active in Essex.

“We would like to say thank you to all of the volunteers and communities that come together every week to make these parkruns happen, and to the 2,000+ Essex residents that get up early every Saturday morning to take part.”

Paul Brooks, Leader of the Chelmsford Central Parkrun, commented: “It’s fantastic to see so many people encouraging one another, having fun and getting fit in the process.

"It has become much more than simply getting active. Those taking part are also enjoying making new friends and feeling part of their community."

Holly Chandler, a regular parkrun volunteer, said: “I ran when I was little but didn’t really enjoy it, so I turned to volunteering and haven’t stopped since.

"I have now taken part in over 200 parkruns and love meeting new people.”