AN enthusiastic young runner is set to celebrate a milestone achievement as he prepares to complete his 150th junior parkrun.

St George’s Junior School pupil James Ellesley, who is nine, will become only the second youngster in Colchester Junior Parkrun’s history to hit the marker on Sunday.

In total, James has run 300km, or 186 miles - the equivalent of more than seven marathons.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: James EllesleyJames Ellesley

His mum Victoria says parkrun has changed James’ life.

“James has been doing it since it started four years ago,” she said.

“He goes as often as he can, no matter if it is raining or snowing.

“He loves it so much and he now wants to do the adult parkrun, as well as some fun runs on his own for charity.

“When James first started, he could not do it without stopping, but he now finishes in less then ten minutes.

“He is very competitive, but it is healthy because parkrun is not about beating other people, it is about beating your own time.”

The weekly event has become a real family affair too.

“Me and his dad, Colin, are not together, but we do the parkrun as a family,” Victoria said.

“I bring my daughter and step-son and we all go to the park together with my mum.”

Following James’ lead, four-year-old Lillee has now caught the parkrun bug, as has step-brother Ryan, 11, who has now completed 85 events.

Victoria said: “Lillee couldn’t wait until she turned four so she could take part.”

Colchester Junior Parkrun director Chris Chandler’s daughter, Stella, is the only other youngster to surpass 150 runs.

He said: “It is quite a rare achievement.

“My daughter Stella, who is ten, was the first and she is now up to 187.

“We have six people who have gone past 100.

“The kids get medals when they reach certain distances, like that of a marathon.

“When they get to 100, we do something ourselves and we will be doing something special for James at 150.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Youngsters set off at Colchester Junior ParkrunYoungsters set off at Colchester Junior Parkrun

Mr Chandler says the group itself continues to go from strength to strength.

“It is great, the kids love it and we have got a really great team working with us now,” he said.

“Often we find the parents push them to start, but then the children get competitive and they want to beat their best times.

“We normally get between 130 and 140 kids. The most we have ever had was 209.

“We are an all inclusive group and everyone is welcome to take part.”

For many of the youngsters, junior parkrun will mark the beginning of their athletics careers, with some expected to be the champions of the future.

But the event also encourages a love of exercise, something which will stand all the children in good stead for the future.

Mr Chandler said: “Our record time is six minutes and 53 seconds. That works out to roughly a five-minute mile, which is seriously impressive.

“Sometimes our kids take part in the adult event too and they end up beating most of them.

“I always say you only need to give it a go and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back.

“It is free and the kids make loads of new friends.”

Victoria said James and her whole family were extremely grateful for the organisers of the event, who give up their time for the love of running.

She said: “The team are all volunteers who give up their time so that the children can run safely.

“I think they deserve a massive thank you for all of their hard work.

“They even put a Christmas Day run on which we love going to.”

Colchester Junior Parkrun takes place at Old Heath Recreation Ground, Colchester, every Sunday from 9am.

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