Concerns about damage caused by parkrun at Daventry Country Park

Daventry's parkrun has been going for more than three years
Daventry's parkrun has been going for more than three years

Organisers of Daventry’s parkrun are planning to hold a volunteer day to help repair footpaths following complaints that the event is taking its toll on the town’s country park.

Every Saturday, more than 100 runners take part in the free 5k timed run at Daventry Country Park.

Concerns have been raised about the impact of the run on the park’s environment, with suggestions that it is hampering the enjoyment of the park for others, such as those with pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said while he understood the benefits of the event to the community, consideration must be given as to how the park can be conserved to ensure it can be enjoyed by everyone.

He said: “The parkrun is a phenomenal success and a wonderful community event but the success of the event has bought with it problems for the park environment.

“The footpaths and bridges around the park are suffering at a remarkable rate.

“This winter has seen a lot of rain which means that runners have had to run both sides of the original path, widening the path and damaging the plants and grasses either side of it.

“The pathways have no time to recover as the parkrun takes place every week regardless of the weather or condition of the pathways.

“The wooden bridges and boardwalks around the park are also suffering because of the regular pressure of many pounding feet across their boards every week.”

He called on those involved with the run to discuss what could be done, asking: “Can anything be done to ease the pressures on the park? Could the run be rerouted or cancelled during periods of bad weather or when the pathways are in a vulnerable state?

“Families with small children, visitors in wheelchairs and mobility scooters, people with babies in pushchairs and the elderly with walking sticks are all finding a walk around the country park impossible or having great difficulty at present in getting round.

“I do feel the issue should be discussed by all stakeholders to find a way in which we can conserve our precious country park for everyone to enjoy.

“The present situation is not sustainable if we are to give the park time to recover, giving grasses, small shrubs and flowers time to flourish and reduce the damage to the park.”

Daventry’s parkrun is run entirely by volunteers and Stella-Maria Thomas, the volunteer event director, said she hoped runners would come together to help solve the issue.

She said: “This is currently under discussion with the council and with the resident who has raised this issue, with a view to trying to set up a volunteer day when parkrunners can join in and work on repairing some of the massive holes in the path along the reservoir, and doing some other maintenance work to offset some of the damage that day-to-day use does to the park.”