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I love parkrun

I do

I can’t deny it. I love its simplicity. I love how inclusive it can be. And I love that it is always there, even when I am not.

And most recently I have not been there that much at all.

Saturday mornings have become problematic for me…with my 4 and a half year old nowhere near willing or able to run with me, and on the weekends I do have childcare I tend to be racing, working, travelling or socialising….its a hard life.

But this Saturday morning I did have childcare, I had no hangover and no excuse not to go…so I embarked on some parkrun tourism.

So what is parkrun tourism?

Well, its simple really. When you sign up for parkrun you have to register one of the 1202 parks as your home park…then any other park that you visit and run at becomes a tourist run, it really is as simple as that.

As long as you have a barcode you can show up at any parkrun worldwide and run.

My home parkrun is Wanstead, but actually I am in between 3 really good ones,

Wanstead which is a two lap course, quite cross country/trail like
Mile End another two lap course on tarmac with hills
Hackney Marshes which is an out and back and flat as a pancake

Can you guess which one I go to most? Yes thats right I have been to Hackney 29 times out of my 68

I celebrated my 50th parkrun at Bushey Park where the event was established by Paul Sinton Hewit in October 2004.

My first event was actually at Wimbledon in 2008 when the initiative hadn’t yet made it to my neck of the woods.

In total I have visited 9 parkruns…one in (get this!!!) Cape Town, South Africa…now that was really quite something.

Today was a slightly less glamorous location, but exciting none the less.

So where did I run this weekend?

I went along to Barking parkrun, which is about a 20 minute drive from me held in Barking Park, a park I used to go to loads as a kid.

I have been meaning to go along for ages, as it is one of the few East London ones I haven’t done yet

I have the perfect excuse now too, because Too Fat to Run working with Studio 3 Arts who are based in Barking have secured £60,000 worth of funding to deliver a range of running programmes for overweight women in the borough. So I wanted to check it out and see how inclusive it was…in a nut shell it was very inclusive and very friendly.

The 2 lap course was very pretty, nice and flat and lots of views across the park where you could see the faster and the slower runners.

I didn’t know how I would get on today. I haven’t really run much at all since my 40 mile spitfire scramble…every time I have gone out I have cut my session short.

My intention was just to get round. But after the first 15 minutes or so I decided I didn’t want to stop and walk, and that would be my target. I wasn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination, but I was consistent and felt strong as I finished…I probably could have kept going for a while longer, which is just as well as I have a half marathon coming up in just 5 weeks.

Why might you consider being a parkrun tourist?

  1. It is a great way of fitting in runs while you are travelling
  2. It is brilliant for not getting bored of the same route
  3. You know the format is going to be the same wherever you go
  4. The terrain will be different which can help improve your running
  5. If you often end up with the same tail runners, this is a great way to have a break and meet someone new or not
  6. It is brilliant for exploring the world…like seriously there are 13 more countries for me to try

The format of parkrun is so simple: register once, then turn up and take part wherever you want, whenever you want. Why wouldn’t you want to try out more than one?

There are now parkrun events each Saturday and Sunday (junior ones for kids aged 4+, Rose tried it once and declared “I don’t like running I like skipping”) 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.

Click here for more info and to find local parkruns to you 

If you are based in Barking & Dagenham and would like to get involved in our up coming programme please contact hello@studio3arts.org.uk or call 020 8594 7136. We are looking for coaches, marshals, ambassadors and participants. Barking parkrun…I will be back.

I’d like to give a shout out to a lovely lady I met today who was also a tourist at Barking. Jackie from Hertford was there with her daughter Ava. As one of my blogs followers she recognised me at the start line and we had a lovely chin wag after the run.

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