PARKRUNS across the county have featured in a new book about the Saturday morning event that’s been hailed as the greatest public health initiative of our time.

'How Parkrun Changed Our Lives' charts the personal stories and academic research which proves the benefits of the free weekly 5k runs.

Millions of people around the world had registered to do parkrun before lockdown, and they were still signing up throughout the past year when the pandemic called a halt to the events.

Author Eileen Jones set out to see why parkrun is so widely loved and – during the past year – desperately missed.

She found a female bishop whose home parkrun is at an Abbey, a couple who got married half way round a parkrun, a man who runs it backwards, old runners and very young ones.

Ms Jones, who lives in Ambleside, is a member of the volunteer team at Fell Foot parkrun, Windermere, and helped set up the new one in Rothay Park in her home town which was only staged six times before lockdown.

She’s also a parkrun tourist and of her 260 events, 104 have been at different venues around the UK and beyond.

The book includes interviews with volunteers at local parkruns, and the author’s own experience of running in the Black Combe event at HM Prison, Haverigg.

Ms Jones meets a popular fell-running champion who has finished first at Whinlatter Forest, the doctor from Windermere who holds the women’s USA parkrun record, and the 'refugees' who turned up at Ford Park, Ulverston, when all other local events had been flooded off.

But the book concentrates on the many people who say that parkrun has changed their lives.

“They are people who found solace, companionship, respite from grief, escape from social isolation, a new purpose in life, and just the sheer joy of running every week in good company,” said Ms Jones.

The book is a Cumbrian collaborative effort. The cover photo was taken by Laura McGuigan, originally from Barrow and now living in Devon, and the cover was designed by Windermere-based Ellen Longhorn whilst the printer is Windermere’s Latitude Press.

The book is dedicated to the memory of John Nettleton, MBE, who was a popular volunteer and runner at Fell Foot and who died aged 92 last year. The book will be available in bookshops from early March.