First Parkrun held on HMS Queen Elizabeth flight deck

A flight deck in the middle of the North Sea is not the usual location for popular running event Parkrun.

But that’s what happened this weekend when HMS Queen Elizabeth hosted her first Parkrun - with 143 members of her crew signing up to take part on a windy day.

The ship has been at sea for weeks having completed Operational Sea Training and this weekend, instead of seeing F-35 Lightning jets taking off and landing, the 4.5 acre flight deck saw sailors clad in sports gear doing the five-kilometre run.

Organiser of the event, keen Parkrun regular and Officer-under-training Midshipman Katie Synge-Curtis sought permission from the running event’s chief operating officer Tom Williams to hold one on board.

She said: “After 10 weeks at sea I thought introducing some friendly competition and fresh air would help people along before we begin the final stretch home.

“Hopefully it will inspire some of them to attend their local Parkrun when we get home and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”

After ten weeks at sea I thought introducing some friendly competition and fresh air would help people along before we begin the final stretch home.

Midshipman Katie Synge-Curtis

While some of the runners chose to enjoy just a gentle jog of 11 laps around the deck, others were sportier with the fastest time achieved by Officer Cadet Woody of 17 minutes 50 seconds.

Upon winning the race, he said: “It was a bit blustery on the flight deck. It turned out to be much more competitive than I had expected.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth and her 1,100-strong ship’s company are due to return to her homeport of Portsmouth at the beginning of next month.

It follows her first ever Operational Sea Training and exercises with 617 Squadron ‘the Dambusters’, practising strike missions and combat air patrols in the North Sea with the Lightning jets and Merlin Mk2 helicopters.