I'm Carolyn Jenkins, and I took over leadership of the University Parks team last year as Superintendent.
This is the first in a series of blog posts aimed at giving Parks users an insight into what we're up to, both around the University Parks themselves and in the many other green spaces around Oxford that we care for. You will hear about many different activities, from our normal seasonal tasks to special projects, and from events aimed at the public to our efforts to make our green spaces more wildlife-friendly.
Today I want to tell you about a couple of things in the last two categories - the regular and very successful Parkrun in the University Parks, and the work that some of the team have been doing to provide shelter for hibernating animals. I hope you find it interesting.
Parkrun in the Parks reaches its first birthday
Oxford Parkrun is a free, fun and friendly weekly 5km community event. Local people of all ages and abilities get together on a Saturday morning at 9am to walk, jog, run, volunteer or watch!
Saturday 14 January saw Parkrun’s biggest attendance to date: 527 compared to their previous record of 443. The reason for the sudden swell in numbers was a swathe of cancellations from neighbouring events during the week prior. Abingdon, Witney and Didcot Parkruns were all cancelled, so they had lots of visiting parkrunners – over 130 people at the event had never run in the University Parks before!
They will be celebrating their University Parks Parkrun first birthday on Saturday 4 February, and will be partnering with the Oxford University campaign Oxford Pink Week to raise funds for breast cancer charities.
Below are some updated numbers and snippets from Parkrun’s Event Support Ambassador, Amy Rose O’Hanlon:
In the past 48 weeks since University Parks parkrun launched...
- More than 6,161 different people have taken part in the event...
- ...and over 420 individuals have volunteered.
- Our term-time attendance has been roughly 100 parkrunners - higher than during University vacations. Students of all abilities take part in the event, from Oxford University Cross-Country Club (OUCCC) runners (the University Parks parkrun regularly forms part of the OUCCC training plan) to friends just wanting a stroll and a chat.
- Participants as young as 4 and as old as 91 have completed the course.
- We have welcomed visitors from as far afield as Australia.
- We are regularly joined by a frame runner user. The University Parks parkrun is the first wheelchair-friendly parkrun event in Oxfordshire.
- Our volunteer team comprises a mixture of students and local residents, as well as a number of school students volunteering with us as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award. Of our six Run Directors, three are PhD students at the University and the three others live and work in Oxford.
Everyone is welcome to come along to the University Parks on Saturday morning and join in the fun!
Just a pile of rubbish?
In case you are wondering why a pile of waste has been dumped in the long grass near the river, we have built a hibernaculum.
Hibernacula are places where creatures can seek refuge to overwinter. Not only large animals hibernate; frogs, toads and reptiles also seek out sheltered places to protect themselves from the cold. Logs and large stones create the base, laid with large spaces between, and these are covered with soil, leaving several entrance holes.
The Parks team has researched how to make a hibernaculum and paid a visit to Harwell to see a large new one being built there.
To make our own in the University Parks, the team lifted the grass and laid out logs, then they laid stones and more logs on top. Then they covered it over with earth saved from an old compost heap that was next to the cricket pitch. Last of all, they put back the grass that they had lifted at the beginning.
Look out for more features to support wildlife in the Parks that will be appearing over the year.