A normal Saturday morning, especially during term time, generally consists of me sleeping in and lounging around. The Hubby gets up smart and gets himself ready for his Saturday morning parkrun and he’ll gently say goodbye as I grunt, turn over and go back to sleep.
This morning however, encouraged by The Hubby, I got up early too (bit like going to work to be honest) and went with him. Not to run you understand, but to get a feel for what it is like and generally being a supportive wife. I really like the idea of parkrun and what it stands for.
Parkrun was born on the 2nd October back in 2004 at Bushy Park in Teddington. A small group of volunteers including Paul and Joanne Sinton-Hewitt, Duncan Gaskell, Simon Hedger and Robin Drummond was all it took to get parkrun up and running (literally…!). The underlying ethos, running today, was to develop a run which was regular, non-committal, inclusive and, above all, free. These being the things which fight the biggest barriers to people engaging in regular exercise.
Another two years down the line and parkrun broke free of Bushy and expanded its running empire. Wimbledon was next on the list and of course, it was time to prove that running more than one event at the same time was possible. Fast forward to today, and parkrun has nigh on 400 separate events across the UK, plus others in countries across the world, and recently celebrated its one millionth new runner.
In today’s society it’s hard to believe that something like parkrun was originally operating on small bits of paper and no technology as such. Stampeding forward a few more years and this well-oiled machine of an event is collecting data via the use of bar code scanners, using the internet to deliver results and provide exciting statistics, comparable to family members, friends, colleagues and so on. A Saturday ritual of The Hubby is to eagerly await his text message telling him how fast he ran and in which position he finished.
Although parkrun attracts runners of varying degrees of competitiveness and ability, it really is an event for everyone, regardless. If you don’t want to run and prefer to jog, walk or whatever, that’s fine and it is looked on positively. After all, you make the decision to take part. You may be running with others, but it isn’t a “proper” race- it’s a run!
As an observer, I can clearly see why The Hubby raves about it, and continues to participate whenever he can. If by chance we are not around locally for the weekend, or fancies a change of scenery, The Hubby will look up different places to see if they hold a parkrun so he can continue to do what he loves.
I think that for an event that is free, run by amazing volunteers and promotes health, fitness and positive energy is something that should be celebrated. People who take part in parkrun come from far and wide and help to build such a great running community. By observing the runners at the start line, it was also clear to see the friendships that had been made between various runners. There was a positive and supportive buzz amongst the crowd at the start, during and at the finishing line.
With cheers, smiles, shouts of encouragement and sheer determination in what was a very muggy and close morning at Crystal Palace, I had the pleasure of watching over two hundred people succeed in their personal determination. Crystal Palace, I’m told, is one of the tougher parkrun courses with a steep hill which runners tackle twice, but this is compensated for with a wide start (right next to the toilets!), a very scenic run and a welcoming café to visit afterwards. The Hubby has visited other parkruns and likes the way in which each one has its own feel and character.
I’m not a runner, and on the occasion that I have attempted to run for whatever reason, I’m sure I looked like a bow-legged duck. That said, I have and will continue to have a great admiration for those who do run and take it upon themselves to take part; it must take an awful lot of self-motivation.
But, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge and surprise myself by having a go.