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Running FREE! Fancy taking up running in 2018 but don't want to pay too much or run too far? Then parkrun is for you. JANE TYLER reports.

Byline: JANE TYLER

F you haven't heard of it before, parkrun is a timed run which is held in parks and open spaces around the UK every week.

It is tailor-made for anyone who is new to running and wants to try it out to see if the sport is for them.

Since it started in 2004, parkrun has spread to 1,222 locations in the UK, and is held in 20 other countries.

There are currently 23 locations in the West Midlands, with more planned.

Fancy trying it out? Here's everything you need to know.

How much does it cost? Nothing - it's absolutely free!

How do I join? You have to register first on the parkrun website www.parkrun.org.uk, get a barcode which you then take along to the event, get scanned and off you go!

How fast do I have to be? Not fast at all. The event prides itself on being fully inclusive and suitable for complete beginners, so is open to walkers, joggers and serious runners.

Some runners bring their dogs along with them and amble along, while others treat it very seriously and aim to better their previous time every week.

Can I bring my children along? Yes - most parkruns welcome babies in buggies, and there are some where they have special Junior parkruns for four to 14-year-olds.

How far is it and when does it take place? It's 5k (three miles) and is held every Saturday at 9am. When you cross the finish line your barcode will be scanned and your time will be either emailed or texted to you later. You also get details of how fast you are in your age group.

parkruns and Junior parkruns in Cannon Hill Park Where's my nearest parkrun? Here's a list of all the parkruns currently held in and around Birmigham and the Black Country SOLIHULL Brueton Park, Warwick Road, B91 3HW Confusingly, the event starts next to the tennis courts in Malvern Park, which is a stone's throw from Brueton Park.There are regular bus and train services to Solihull, and there is parking in Brueton Park, as well as surrounding side roads. There is also free parking for parkrun participants in the grounds of Solihull Sixth Form College in Widney Manor Road, as long as you leave a parkrun barcode in your car window and have left by 10.30am. People are welcome for a post-run coffee at the Parkridge Centre in Brueton Park.Dogs and buggies are welcome.

Average number of runners every week - 257.

EDGBASTON Cannon Hill Park, Russell Rd, B13 8RD The start is on the main path opposite the Garden Tea Rooms. The nearest entrances are from Edgbaston Road, opposite the cricket ground, or Russell Road. There are plenty of bus services serving the park. There are several large car parks, but since last spring all now charge fees. Afterwards runners meet at either the mac arts centre or the Garden Tea Rooms. Dogs and buggies welcome.

Average number of runners - 400.

DUDLEY The Dell Stadium, Bryce Road, Pensnett, Brierley Hill, DY5 4NE.

Unlike other courses, it is a mixture of running track, paths, canal towpaths and trail and can get muddy. The nearest train stations are Lye aat capl and Stourbridge Town and buses run close to the stadium. There is a car park with 120 spaces, and an extra overspill car park. Runners gather at a local cafe for a post-run coffee. Because of the narrow section along the canal towpath, no dogs or buggies are allowed.

cnc bwpdtSr Please note: this event was temporarily suspended at the end of 2017 due to building work taking place at The Dell Stadium, but was due to re-start in early 2018 - please check before turning up!

ptu Average number of runners - 202.

rSKB0 SUTTON COLDFIELD Kingsbury Water Park, Bodymoor Heath, B76 0DY.

The race starts close to the cafe and the Echills Wood Miniature Railway Station.Buses serve the park, and the village of Kingsbury is nearby. On-site parking is available at a significantly discounted rate for parkrunners displaying their barcode and arriving between 8.15am and 8.50am. Outside these times, the standard parking rate applies. Other parking is available in Kingsbury with access on foot into the park a short walk (or jog!) away. A post-run coffee is held in The Old Barn Cafe. Dogs and buggies welcome.

Average number of runners - 281.

PERRY BARR Perry Hall Park, Perry Avenue, B42 1RS The run starts by the moat area near the main gates. Buses run past the park, and Hamstead is the nearest train station. Car parking is available through the main gates on Perry Avenue, and there are toilets. Runners gather for a coffee afterwards in Goodfillas in Walsall Road. Dogs and buggies welcome.

Average number of runners - 95.

SANDWELL VALLEY Sandwell Park Farm, Salters Lane, West Bromwich, B71 4BG.

This is the newest member of the parkrun family in the West Midlands, only starting last summer. It starts within Sandwell Valley Showground and Midland Metro Kenrick Park and Smethwick Galton Bridge are just over a mile away. There are also buses serving nearby roads. Car parking is in the main car park at 40p per hour. A post-run coffee is at Sandwell Park Farm. No dogs or buggies.

Average number of runners - 133.

WALSALL Walsall Arboretum, Arboretum Road, WS1 2QG.

It starts on the main path next to the Rose Garden, outside the Sons of Rest building, close to the main entrance. It is about a mile from Walsall train station, and buses run nearby. Free parking is available at the Grange car park off the Broadway North Road, along with roadside parking. Runners gather for a cup of tea afterwards at the cafe in the new Arboretum Visitor Centre. Dogs and buggies welcome.

Average number of runners - 236.

WOLVERHAMPTON West Park, WV1 4PN The run starts beside the Bandstand.

There are plenty of bus services, and Wolverhampton Train Station is nearby.

Parking is available around the outside of the park. A post-run coffee is held in the park's Tea Rooms. Dogs and buggies are welcome.

Average number of runners every week - 198.

| For more details visit the website www.parkrun.org.uk

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 18, 2018
Words:1046
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