HUNDREDS of runners took park in a special parkrun at Southwick Country Park on Saturday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

A total of 278 runners and 29 volunteers showed up, many dressing up as doctors and nurses, for the free 5km parkrun to recognise the contribution of the NHS.

Event director, Sean Price, was delighted with the 10 per cent turnout increase and for turning out every Saturday morning for the popular run.

“This is such a great initiative to be part of. There is always a party like atmosphere for the parkrun but on Saturday it was even more special,” he said.

“You get such a great mix of runners, young, old, experienced, inexperienced, and all of them just love it. We had dozens more runners on the day which was great.

“I gave a little speech at the start, whilst dressing up as a doctor with my wife Fiona, talking about how crucial the NHS was and I could tell I was not alone in my praise of it.

“We also really enjoyed other people dressing up on the day, such as Leah Sartain, who ran it in her NHS work attire

“The NHS plays an integral part in this great country and it is brilliant that we can thank them with initiatives like this.”

Teenager Niall Thorne, who is in the 15-17 category, came home in first in a personal best of 17.38 and Leah Sartain was the fastest woman, in 20.21 (11th place).

The parkrun for the NHS initiative has been supported by Dame Kelly Holmes, a regular parkrunner who worked as a nursing assistant, who then went into the British Army before going onto be an Olympic 800m and 1500m champion.

“I know from first-hand experience how sociable and welcoming parkruns are, so it’s fantastic to see it join forces with the NHS in its 70th year to encourage even more people to get active in this special year,” she said.