May 27, 2015
My first ever parkrun was a bit of a trek across town, I was meeting a friend at Wimbledon parkrun…and at that point I didn’t even know there were ones closer to me in East London. I was incredibly nervous lining up with what appeared to be proper serious runners and within moments of the event starting I was at the back. The route was incredibly challenging, muddy, root ridden and undulating and after the first lap I’d kinda had enough. I finished though, collecting my little metal stamped thing and proceeded to a man with a clipboard who asked for my name…well it was 2008. I later found out I completed the course in 37 minutes and 28seconds.
I never made it back to Wimbledon again, in fact it took me a good couple of years (3 in fact) to go to any parkrun venue…not sure why, it was just kinda how it went.
I guess what got me back into it was the birth of Wanstead Flats parkrun which was close enough to warrant me rolling out of bed on a more frequent basis, and over time I become a regular participant…not too regular though, as it has still taken me a good few years to reach my 50th milestone…although in my defence I was pregnant for a huge segment of that time.
parkrun has absolutely transformed my running even if I don’t go every week, I know its there when I need it and I am lucky because I live slap bang in the middle of three awesome venues
- Wanstead Flats for its warm welcome, cross country terrain and the opportunity to catch up with my Running Club buddies
- Mile End for its warm welcome, its HILLS (all 4 of them)
- Hackney for its warm welcome and its flat as a pancake out and back route
So as you can see, the warm welcome is the thread that runs through this sporting phenomenon, I know on the days I do go parkrun I am starting my weekend off in the most socially pleasing manor, with smiles, hugs, high fives and general chit chat about running.
I have in fact run more than 50 parkruns though…there have been the Xmas day and New Years Eve ones, there have been the run as many East London parkruns as you can in one day ones (3 and a half in case you were wondering) and there were also a few times when I could only manage one lap.
When I realised my 50th parkrun was approaching I wondered how best to mark it,
- Invite all my loved ones and enjoy cake
- Get a troupe of my TOO FAT To RUN ladies to join me
And thats when it came to me.
Why not go to the birthplace of parkrun, Bushy Park and see what all the fuss is about. I had heard they sometimes see in excess of 1000 runners, quite different from my local ones that get 100-200 runners each week.
So on Saturday morning I rolled out of bed and drove for an hour to mark my special occasion in this way. I was a little anxious as for some reason I felt like I would have to up my game, and since London my legs have just not wanted to play ball…but anyway I arrived and made my way to the start line.
It was incredible.
I finished in 954th place in a field of 1011 runners and in the grand old time of 36.56
To capture this momentous moment I tested my new GoPro camera and I put this little film together to show you around the site…although it also features a lot of my red face huffing and puffing, oh and a celebrity appearance too!!
If you are still yet to do parkrun….seriously ladies come on…what are you waiting for…get involved.
Here’s to the next 50 which I promise won’t take me 7 years to do.
Here is a useful reminder of what parkrun is all about (copied from their marvellous website)
parkrun started back in 2004 when 13 runners got together on a blustery day in Bushy Park, Teddington, UK they are now an international family of over half a million runners (and counting).
parkrun is such a simple concept: turn up every Saturday and run 5km, or if you’re a junior then 2km every Sunday. It doesn’t matter how fast you go. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. What matters is taking part.
There are now parkrun events each Saturday and Sunday in countries all around the world. Each event is based in a unique location like a park, beach or promenade. All events are organised by a group of our wonderful dedicated volunteers.
parkrun is all about inclusiveness and wellbeing. We want as many people as possible to feel part of a real local community brought together by our events, as well as our global parkrun family.
It’s why parkruns are never more than 5km – it’s a distance that anyone can complete (even if some of us are walking by the end…)
And it’s why we’ve kept the format of parkrun so simple: register once, then turn up and take part wherever you want, whenever you want.