Saturday, 24 August 2013

Clocking up a 1,000,000 parkrun metres & what it means to me….

Even though the `200` is not an official milestone the fact I`m a parkrun `millionaire` I think warrants a few words…

Unsure how I actually discovered `parkrun` but when I did investigate it further…..I thought brilliant a free weekly rac…..I meant free weekly event…I thought how good is that :-) First I had to choose which one I wanted to go, I was lucky as there were two events within 20 miles of me.....the home of parkrun `Bushy Park
Time Trial & a smaller event `North Hampshire 5Km Time Trial` (Basingstoke parkrun as it`s known now).    I choose Basingstoke as it was newer & smaller - everyone is different and to me I didn`t want to be lost within the crowd & help out the smaller event so Basingstoke was perfect…. and on the 29th November 2008 off I went down the M3 to Basingstoke parkrun.

I wondered if they would even noticed me - a newbie in their ranks ???

I thought this was strange no booking in first, no number, just someone shouting “3-2-1-GO”…..I ran as hard I could around the two & half laps of the War Memorial Park - my time was 23:35 & finished in 21st place out of the field of 28 but I didn`t care, I loved it. Then I made one of the biggest mistakes I personally think you can make at parkruns & no it wasn`t forgetting your barcode as at that time we didn`t have barcodes…   Yeap I went straight home after the run. In fact it took my several weeks to `pluck` the courage up & go for coffee & cakes afterwards even if they did meet afterwards at the Hilton. Yes there were much, much faster runners there chatting away drinking coffee, stretching on the floor, eating cake but they didn`t care if knew less than them or that I ran slower than they did & after a while neither did I.

I leant so much about running & not just about how to run 5Kms either.  One of the most useful things I learnt from parkrun & this is from a runner in his 50`s who could run sub 17 min…..tuck your laces in as they is nothing worse that stopping as your laces have come undone…I can honestly say my laces have never come undone in a race - so thank you Tim for that gem :-) 

If time permits then I strongly recommend staying around afterwards & chatting over a coffee with fellow parkrunners.

Even then I was hooked…it was great….a fantastic event & pleased to be part of it.
Maybe 12 months later at coffee afterwards I was introduced to Steve & Louise who both had the same idea & were there asking the Basingstoke team questions about the actual day to day running of a parkrun as they were setting up an event in Frimley which was only 2 miles away….how nice of them :-) and on the 13th Feb 2010 the first Frimley Lodge parkrun was first ran.

It is great going to a different parkrun, its brilliant going to the very first one - I think it supports the team of volunteers who have worked extremely hard to setting up the event that all their work is noticed & appreciated. Each event has their own `quirk` - one lap / mutli lap, flat / hilly, road / off-road, café that is close / miles away… 
Every now and again I switched between the two - Basingstoke & Frimley but eventually (Jan 2011) I switched to Frimley Lodge - I was going to miss that crowd, my friends at Basingstoke each Saturday morning - I do go back & it`s just great and yes I will complete 100 runs round that park there one day (77 runs so far)..

I am envious of the runners who are just about to do their very first parkrun - it will change their Saturdays forever, I am envious of runners getting and wearing their new parkrun T-Shirts as it`s an incredible feeling of being awarded it & wearing that top for the first time (& yes you should wear it straight away)……oh and a certain Darren Wood (415  parkruns) - I bet he has no idea now of what he did on Saturdays morning some 9 years ago.
You can even run against (or with) former 5,000 meters World Record holder…where else can you do that on a regular basis?

Go, run, enjoy & tell everyone you know about these runs…… fact tell people you don`t know about them even if they don`t run…they can always feel part of it by volunteering.  Make that your weekly challenge..

So thank you Paul Sinton-Hewitt, thank you Basingstoke parkrun & a big thank you Frimley Lodge parkrun & lastly a thank you to everyone I`ve met at these fantastic events - I have made many, many friends - good friends at parkrun. I do consider myself very fortunate.
Bring on the 250th.....I am coming for you…. 

Above is one of my favourite parkrun photos – marshalling point along the canal at Frimley Lodge (Jan `12)

1 comment:

  1. Awesome work. I've done just 11 at my local Parkrun at Crystal palace but I have helped out a few times aswell. One of the best running ideas ever. Keep it up!