For over a year now I’ve been loving my 5k runs at 9am every Saturday morning; okay, give or take a few! And yes, I don’t apologise for telling everyone I meet about how great parkrun is! Because quite simply it is, and it’s only going to get better.
On 12th October 2013 I finally signed up but it wasn’t until the 2nd November 2013 that I finally ventured to Shore Woods to see what it was all about. With my printed barcode in hand, taped up with Sellotape for protection I made my way to the start line. With some trepidation I saw a few runners congregating and made my way towards them. Clearly looking like a newbie or a rabbit caught in headlines, one volunteer started to talk me through the crucial factors. This settled my nerves so that all I had to then focus on was running. I wasn’t after a great time, it was to get round and get to know how parkrun works. The atmosphere was great, everyone was so friendly and the mix of abilties, dog walkers and buggy-pushing parents was astounding! parkrun clearly caters for all! I came in at 30:41, and 3rd in my age category! I was over the moon!
It didn’t take long for the parkrun addiction to kick in. Following Tonbridge‘s inaugural event, for which I turned up far too early, I was hooked, 2nd run in and first run as a tourist! (a tourist being attending a parkrun that’s not your home run).
The addiction was well and truly alive and kicking when then following week I discovered Bromley, the local flat fast course! My first attempt saw me cross the line in 26:42. The following week 26:16. I was dumbfounded by how quickly my times were coming down. I focussed on getting under the 26 mins mark, and achieved it two runs later with 25:49, then 25:12 the following week. Whilst I didn’t reach my goal of getting in under 25 mins in 2014, it’s still something I want to achieve!
The following 12 months saw visits to many other parkruns; Orpington, Greenwich, Bexley, Chelmsford, Pontypridd, Dartford. It was in December 2014, that the Kent Quest began – to run all the parkruns in Kent. So adding to the list, Great Lines, Whitstable and Margate (the New Year’s Day double), Royal Tunbridge Wells, Ashford and Folkestone! That leaves Pegwell Bay and Canterbury left to do!
I cannot say enough good things about parkrun to enough people. I urge anyone to get out of bed on a saturday, put on a pair of trainers and head to your nearest parkrun. It’s not all about running at your absolute fastest pace, it’s about getting out there and doing something great with other great people. I regularly run with my boyfriend, my boyfriend’s son, and my boyfriend’s dad (3 generations!) – it’s such a great feeling to see everyone there!
If you do one thing more today, then register and print out your barcode (you only need to bring one along, the other are spares!), and come join the parkrun party! Take a look at the map, and there’s bound to be one nearby!
And if you’re not feeling up to it one week, then put yourself down as a volunteer and cheer on the rest of us! It’s such a great laugh and you’ll get such a buzz out of it!