PARKRUN made a rousing debut in Gloucester with an estimated 500 runners taking part in the inaugural event held at Gloucester District Park on Saturday January 25.
"We'd been told to expect around 300, although I didn't think we'd get that many,'' run director Michelle Gunn said.
"I thought maybe 200 to 250. We had people there when we arrived to set up and they just kept coming. It was amazing.''
In all 463 runners completed the 5km course. Some only ran half the course, so weren't in the official count.
Michelle said there were starters from Cairns, Western Australia, Sydney, Newcastle, Scone, Tamworth, Taree and Port Macquarie.
Saturday's run is the culmination of a year's work started by Michelle.
"I'd heard about parkrun and thought it would be a great thing for Gloucester,'' she explained.
Margie Lewis from Taree was appointed Gloucester's parkrun ambassador. Margie helped bring parkrun to Taree in 2015 and has been involved establishing parkrun in other towns in the Mid North Coast.
"Any questions I ran by Margie. She came over here a few times and help map out the course,'' Michelle said.
It cost $7000 to get the start up kit which includes vests for the volunteers, finish tokens, a defibrillator among other items. Michelle said the Gloucester community rallied and the amount was raised relatively quickly.
Recent rain ensured the park was in superb condition for Saturday, Michelle said.
"It was a great family day. We had kids running with their parents, mums pushing prams,'' Michelle said.
A hot and humid morning didn't deter the runners. Teenager Ryan Binskin from Port Macquarie was the first home, completing the 5km in a sizzling 16.43 - a time that's unlikely to be beaten anytime soon. Isobel Redford from South Kotara was the first female to finish, clocking 21.45. She runs in the 11-14 years age group.
Parkrun will be on again this Saturday from 8am.
"We're not expecting anything like last weekend, but I saw about 100 locals there last Saturday,'' Michelle said.
"And others have spoken to me since to say they've registered and ready to run. I'm confident we'll get good numbers every week.''