I started running, like most people, because I wanted to get fitter (and need to be in shape for work) and love being outside. My job involves surveying grassland and farms during the summer. However, lunchtime runs were a little dull until I discovered a parkrun starting down the road at Longrun Meadow.
I joined the community of over 200 runners and with a relatively flat course it left lots of time to look around and enjoy the landscape. The park is well used by lots of people; dog-walkers, children playing games and the river is often used by kayakers. Longrun is a wildlife haven in the centre of the town and I was amazed at the number of different bird songs that I could hear, and have even spotted water voles and otters. Through my involvement with parkrun, the local community group found out that I work with wildflowers and asked me to help create a wildflower meadow. Last year we sowed yellow rattle, a plant that parastises grasses, with the hope to sow more wildflowers in a few years time to increase the pollen and nectar for bees, butterfies and other pollinating insects.
Many Parkruns take place through meadows. Lullingstone parkrun passes through spectacular wildflower meadows where training courses take place as part of the national Save our Magnificent Meadows project. Penrhyn parkrun near Bangor in Wales has had donor seed taken from a Coronation Meadow and spread near the castle in the middle of the running course. Coastal strips and road verges are also places where wildflowers will thrive.
National Meadows Day is on Saturday 2nd July and over 60 events are taking place across the UK. It is all about celebrating our meadow wildlife, so if you still have some breath left after your parkrun, check out the events in your local area www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk.
Save Our Magnificent Meadows is the UK’s largest partnership project transforming the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife. Led by Plantlife, the partnership is made up of 11 organisations and is primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim of the partnership is to give people all over the UK the chance to visit, enjoy and learn about our wildflower meadows and grasslands, to raise awareness of the desperate plight of our wildflower meadows and grasslands and to equip communities with the knowledge and skills to reverse their devastating decline.
Article for parkrun enews by Cath Shellswell