Forest of Dean parkrun – Oldest in Gloucestershire Turns 14

Forest of Dean parkrun, the oldest in Gloucestershire (and the 36th parkrun in the UK). This week it celebrated that it turned 14 years old so we went along to celebrate. Thank you to all the volunteers who have supported this event it really showed what hard work they have put in.

Forest of Dean parkrun sign

Forest of Dean, Coverham Enclosure Five Acres, Berry Hill, Coleford, Glos, GL16 7QW

The Course at Forest of Dean parkrun

Obviously the course is trail shoes material – it’s completely in the Forest (near Coleford)! And it was raining! So it was slippery with a few ruts and tree roots. It was a relatively flat course, the elevation gain was only 88ft – so not the most tricky.

Forest of Dean parkrun first timers briefing

Described as a two lapper – but really it felt more like one as there were two different laps – which you followed with the help of the clearly marked arrows and help of the volunteers. We were told not to just follow the person in front – but honestly they all seemed to know where they were going! Advice was if you’ve come to the road you’ve got lost!

Information for First Timers

This course allows dogs. There are no toilets at the start. Teas, coffees and cake were provided for a donation as part of their celebrations. Although they told us not to worry if we had no cash because they didn’t want to have to take all that cake home!

fod parkrun refreshments

We parked at Berry Hill RFC as we arrived early and they expected a lot of people. There were two volunteers waiting there. Turns out that we could have easily parked at Five Acres School across the road as there was lots of space and not that many participants (most likely due to the rain and the now large number of alternative parkruns).

My Experience at Forest of Dean parkrun

Yet again another friendly course. Obviously it was beautiful from a nature perspective too. I only slipped once and managed to stop myself from falling! Due to the trees not everyone’s results will record accurately on their watches – luckily mine was fine. Also I was worried that my Spotify wouldn’t work – but again I had no issues with signal.

Barefoot Running

It was nice that someone commented on the fact that I was wearing my barefoot shoes – although this is really because they are my only trails. What I would say is that the course wasn’t as trail as I was expecting. Many parts felt more like path underfoot and were quite firm. In saying that my calves did not hurt like they would if I just ran on tarmac.

Jeffing at Forest of Dean parkrun

The boys jeffed with me today as I was quite anxious about the course and my inability to follow directions. This meant that there were three of us trying to jeff on what is quite a narrow course in parts.

We did manage a 60:30 but weren’t always able to pass others on the course when we would ideally have liked. I do hope that we weren’t annoying and we did try and move over into single file every time we walked. There were definitely small sections where it wasn’t a good idea to start walking if you had other participants immediately behind you.

Forest of Dean parkrun jeffing with vibram fivefingers

Facts and Stats

I have done a few report writing previously but never has it been so easy with some facts and figures already provided for me from Run Director Mike Carter!

The First Forest of Dean parkrun

Back on 24th April 2010 there were 21 runners at the Forest of Dean parkrun and just 3 volunteers. They aren’t sure how they didn’t get lost! Up until today there had been 12,912 unique runners who had completed the course 63,890 times.

Volunteering at the 3K mark was Jaqui Wynds (as marshal) and Chris Hawkins (photographer) who were both at that very first Forest of Dean parkrun!

Mark Mathews

Also making his debut at the third even was their very own Mark Mathews. He finished in a time of 22:47 with an age grading of 59.03% that first time, and the last time before today (event 667) he finished in 23:54, an age grading of 62.69%.

Today Mark celebrated his 600th parkrun. Of those 564 have been run at the Forest of Dean parkrun. Whilst also sporting an incredible 420 volunteer credits – 37 of which have been for Run Director! Plus he has a list of freedom and not parkruns!

Before event 669 he course checked Forest of Dean parkrun by completing it 5 times – making the actual event his 6th parkrun that day!

Forest of Dean Event Number 669 Facts and Stats

Today there were 64 participants at Forest of Dean parkrun. They finished in times varying between 21:18 and 59:33. 28 of those finished in Sub 30. With 29:03 being the overall average time for the course for all events.

Forest of Dean parkrun course map

The highest age grade today was Melanie EATON 74.27% in the VW50-54 category.

Other Milestones

Fay Pearce and Stuart Evans both celebrated their 50th parkruns today

New to parkrun and Tourists

Welcome to Julie Nixon running her very first parkrun ever here today.

Today’s tourists included Becky from Southsea, James from Fareham, Tom from Manchester, Ash and Aaron from London, plus myself, husband and two boys from elsewhere in Gloucestershire.

The Volunteers

Currently the Event Director is Fiona Dean who took over the role a year ago and has continued a tradition of an inclusive and enjoyable run, supported by a great volunteering team.

Fiona Dean Forest of Dean parkrun event director

Everything was really clear from the off. From what was expected of us volunteers, to where to park/arrive, volunteers to support (including in the overflow carpark) clear signs all around, a great first timers and main briefing, helpful marshals, and well just about everything – and not forgetting the cake!! There’s also a really cool parkrun symbol on the bridge on the approach!

Forest of Dean parkrun overflow carpark

Special thanks to all the volunteers, particularly given the rain!


Other Nearby parkruns I have written about:

Ross-on-Wye (7.2m), Berkeley Green (9.3m), Newent (11.6m), Severn Bridge (13.4m), Stonehouse (14.1m)

Also see Sarah’s reivew of Forest of Dean parkrun

2 thoughts on “Forest of Dean parkrun – Oldest in Gloucestershire Turns 14”

  1. It’s great to hear the number of runners has increased significantly from the first ever Park Run there in 2010!

    No wonder, the course looks amazing through the forest – love how it’s flat-ish, even I would give it a try!

  2. Such a lovely course with so many nice people. I’m in awe of Mark Mathews for all those parkruns and all that volunteering.
    Pretty sure Melanie Eaton was the lady who beat me when I ran it on New Year’s Day!
    Thanks very much for the mention!


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