Three years ago I made the incredibly scary, but ultimately brilliant decision to try out the New Starter Group at a local running club. The aim of the group, to get us to run a continuous 5k over a ten week course.
After a couple of weeks Sue our coach told us we should try parkrun, a weekly, timed, 5k run round Leverhulme Park.
My friend Susan and I laughed at the suggestion and told Sue we’d wait until the end of the course when we were sure we’d make it round. But Sue continued to push us; telling us it didn’t matter how slow we were and it would give us a base line time which we’d see improve over the 10 week NSG course.
So we registered at http://www.parkrun.org.uk and on 5 October 2013 Susan and I turned up at Leverhulme Park with our barcodes printed and ready to have a go.
I can’t remember a lot about the run only how horrified we were at having to run (walk) up the aptly named Cruella de Hill TWICE and on seeing the finish line we were sent away from it by the marshal for a final out and back stretch.
One thing I do remember is how social and friendly it seemed, people warming up together, groups stood chatting (who needs a warm up?), dogs (on short leads obviously 😉), children and adults of all ages shapes and sizes milling about. The scary bit, everyone knew everyone else! Well that’s how it seemed to us, how would we ever fit in?
Fast forward to March 2017 and the world of parkrun is a completely different place. Between us Susan and I have now taken part in 135 parkrun events, the majority at Bolton but we’ve had the odd spot of tourism at Burnley, Delamere, Worsley to name a few. Our first time of 35:33 has been reduced with both of us having a PB in the 28/29 minute region.
Most importantly we found our feet. We know more people, we have our group of buddies to stand with, warm up with and run with. Sometimes we push ourselves and each other for a good time, sometimes we take a more leisurely approach (check out my time from yesterday as an example!).
After a period of falling out of love with early Saturday alarm calls I made an effort last year to get back to regular appearances at parkrun both in a running and volunteering capacity and I couldn’t believe it when a few weeks later my co-blog author Ann and I were asked by the event directors to join the core team as run directors. Of course we said yes (or rather Ann said yes for both of us!) and in the last six months or so we’ve conquered public speaking fears (standing on a blue plastic step, holding a clip board speaking through a megaphone), we’ve made events happen in all kinds of weather and even mapped an alternative route when our beloved Cruella was out of action.
We’re now members of another fab group of folk, although I think the musings of these two looney old women on the RD Whatsapp group have the rest of the RD team bemused!
I look back to October 2013 with a smile and like Sue Booth would encourage anyone to come down to parkrun. Don’t wait until you can run 5k, come and walk run if you need to, you won’t be last as we always have a lovely tailrunner
So is parkrun serious running stuff? Yes,to many it is (sometimes, even for me). I’ve results processed and know from post event e-mails how important seconds can be but it’s not all about times and PBs, it’s not even all about running, for me it’s all about friendship, being part of something good and just having a great time on a Saturday morning.