Hatfield’s Ellenbrook Fields parkrun helps inspire global audience as duo get hooked!

PUBLISHED: 13:52 02 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:54 02 March 2018

Australian visitors Mal Baron and Maria Crawford were hooked on parkrun after visiting Hatfield's Ellenbrook Fields.

Australian visitors Mal Baron and Maria Crawford were hooked on parkrun after visiting Hatfield's Ellenbrook Fields.


Hertfordshire parkruns are making their mark around the world – with Ellenbrook Fields in Hatfield a case in point.

The Saturday morning run, which started in May 2016 and will celebrate it’s centenary on Easter Saturday, caters for runners, joggers and walkers served by a hardy band of 50 volunteers.

And when Maria Crawford and her fiancé Mal Baron, two Antipodean visitors from Melbourne, Australia who were spending Christmas and the New Year in WGC, were persuaded by Maria’s sister Rhian, a run director at the Ellenbrook event, to take part, they were unaware just how it would change their life.

The pair had never heard of parkrun and although reluctant to drag themselves out of bed on a cold, wet January morning, once on the start line they were hooked.

Since then, they have attended a parkrun virtually every week to run or volunteer in their local area, even taking part in parkruns in Auckland, New Zealand, when Kiwi Mal returns home to visit his parents.

The couple are coming back to Welwyn Hatfield this summer and have already planned to re-run the Ellenbrook course and take in two other Hertfordshire parkruns, as part of their stay.

John O’Callaghan, director of the Herts Sports and Physical Activity Partnership and himself an enthusiastic parkrun volunteer, said: “It is always heart-warming to hear feedback, such as that received from Maria and Mal.

“Their experiences are not untypical of parkrun – which is populated by some of the most enthusiastic, warm and welcoming people that I have ever had the pleasure of associating with.

“To think that our local event is changing lives not only at the local level, but internationally too, is hugely satisfying and humbling in equal measure.”

Garden City Runners would certainly agree with that assessment and a number of their members were in action at events at the weekend.

Back after injury, Neil Hume took the tape at Ellenbrook while the biggest turnout of GCRs came at Panshanger where Richard Darley celebrated his 100th parkrun by clocking 26 minutes 41 seconds.

Justin Hill was the first GCR member home in 19:58 while there were personal bests for Matthew Harding, Ali Eroglu and Terry Tristram.

And like Maria and Mal, the GCRs travelled far and wide for their runs, none more so than Jane Molloy who was in Perth, Western Australia.

Closer to home Tom Casserley was at Oak Hill, Steve Grout at Poole while Richard Willcox, Helen Moye and Tichaonezvi Rurredzo were at Stevenage.

Over in Ireland Laura Doogan ran in Falcarragh and Sophia Chastell finished the globetrotters by clocking a new best at Tooting Common.

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