The global phenomenon that is parkrun celebrates its first birthday at Yamba this Saturday March 19. Since the weekly, free, timed 5km run/walk event started in Yamba on March 21 last year, 1,730 participants of all ages have run, walked, pushed prams, encouraged children and exercised pet pooches for nearly 9,000km – all while overlooking the beautiful Yamba Bay and Clarence River foreshores. The first birthday, which is the 50th parkrun held at Yamba, will be a special milestone for regular local and visiting parkrunners. Event directors, Meg Dougherty, Vicki James and Scott Lenton would love to see some new faces at the fun event. “The main motivation for bringing parkrun to Yamba was to provide the local community with an opportunity to enjoy healthy, active activity in an organised, friendly and social environment,” Ms Dougherty said. “We have achieved that goal in bucket loads; many people have developed new friendships and will go out for breakfast and coffee after their run. “So it’s great for the community and adds value for local business.” Parkrun offers free registration and worldwide access to participate in any parkrun event on any Saturday of the year. Yamba’s event recently hosted a runner from Edinburgh, Scotland, who was holidaying with friends in Maclean. “parkrunners drove from as far as the Sunshine Coast and Newcastle to be in the first Yamba event a year ago,” Ms James said. “Participants from a wide variety of locations are again expected to join the first birthday celebrations and enjoy some birthday treats. “Visiting parkrunners are always telling us that we have one of the nicest parkrun courses they have been to. “Being a flat track also assists the more competitive people achieve their personal best times. “Whether people take an hour to walk, talk and enjoy the 5km course or opt to run it faster, like Brisbane’s Hamish Hamilton, who is the current record holder at just 16:34 minutes, parkrun caters for anyone and everyone.” This weekend’s event starts, like it does every Saturday, at 7am sharp, with the start and finish located at the picnic shelter in Ford Park, near the Ferry Wharf end of River Street. “The best thing about parkrun is the friendly, encouraging vibe, Mr Lenton said. “The second best thing is that it’s free and all you need to do is register once at www.parkrun.com.au, print out your barcode, bring it to parkrun and you’ll be hooked. It doesn’t get any better than that.” More details can be found at www.parkrun.com.au or the Yamba parkrun Facebook page.