The fun event looked certain to be cancelled after heavy rain led to a 50m stretch of footpath on the underpass in Shinewater Park being submerged in three feet of floodwater.
However, help was at hand from East Sussex Highways electrician James Streeter, who waded into the deep in his own time on the night before Christmas Eve to fit a new pump and ensure the water was drained and the event could go ahead.
When the news was announced on the parkrun Facebook page, James was hailed a ‘legend’ and a ‘star’ by some of the 400 runners who took part in the event.
He said: “The Christmas Day parkrun is a really big thing in Eastbourne, and I know people would have been disappointed if it had been cancelled – I also didn’t want to leave it all flooded over the Christmas period.
“I went down there after finishing my shift as I just wanted to get it sorted. I was there for a few hours and was covered in black, smelly, silty water, but I felt quite satisfied afterwards and it’s a nice feeling to have been able to help.”
While he was fixing the pump, the intrepid electrician also rescued a cyclist who got stuck after inadvertently pedalling into the floodwater.
Karl Taylor, East Sussex County Council assistant director of operations, said: “All year round, our highways crews go the extra mile in all weathers to ensure we can keep people moving.
“By braving floodwater, in his own time and just before Christmas, James was able to fix the pump and save the parkrun and I know that a lot of people are really grateful for his efforts in ensuring this much-loved event could go ahead.”
The pump previously suffered considerable damage due to vandalism and temporary measures have been in place while a permanent solution was being investigated.
In addition to the new pump, further measures will be put in place later this month to protect the pump and allow for improved monitoring of flooding and any other issues.