So this week the Parkrun newsletter popped into my inbox and I saw that they are celebrating their 9th birthday. When it started they had 13 runners, and now they have over 630,000 runners registered. That is some impressive growth. They are all over the UK (check the website to find one near you) and they have spread into Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America and South Africa.
I am a relative newcomer to Parkrun- my first one was in March this year- and I don’t manage to go every week (in fact today was my 8th one, plus 3 times volunteering) but I love it and now really look forward to it starting my Saturday.
Just why do I love it so much? When my Dad first mentioned it to me, I mentioned it to Andy who basically said “I could have run a 5K and be home and showered before you have even got to the start”. Which is a good point. But then I started running with Sweatshop and found that I loved running with other people- it helped me speed up a lot, and helped me to run without a podcast or music. My Dad mentioned it to me again, and it came at the perfect time as I was all signed up to marathon talk’s Jantastic, and the third challenge was to predict a time- I had chosen a 5K time of 27.00 (although I had somehow entered 27 hours not minutes as my prediction)- so I went with my Dad and brother in the pouring rain– I managed 27.12 so I was pretty close to my prediction, and got a 5K pb to boot!
I love the whole ethos of Parkrun. Run by runners and volunteers. It is free to enter, welcomes club runners, joggers, people new to exercising, families, children, some courses are wheelchair /running buggy accessible… basically it is inclusive to all.
I love that it is a run and not a race. The people who come at the front are the first finishers and not the winners.
I think that runners are really friendly, and I love that the volunteers (and fast finishers) cheer everyone on. My local one is a large event, and when I have helped there is some community aspect there as there is a core of people who know each other well, and from what I have heard, smaller events are really friendly and everyone gets to know everyone else.
I love the feeling of starting Saturday off with short sharp exercise- it is done in half an hour and by 10am I can be home and out of the shower, full of energy for the rest of the day.
I love that there are children involved- some of them run, some of them stand by the side and cheer the runners on- it is great for them to see some positive role models, and enjoy being out in the fresh air.
I also really love the timing system and all the stats. The timing is so clever, and later in the day/ over the weekend, you get a text (or email, or both, or just check the website) with your placing, time, whether it was a pb, how many Parkruns you have completed and more!
I was not sure that I would continue to go, because I tend to like having a long run on a Saturday morning, but I have managed to fit it into my running routine. I find that I need a rest day after a long run, but I am OK to run the day before, so some weeks I have been to Parkrun on Saturday, and then done a long run on the Sunday. I have not run the day before a race (although I did today, as tomorrow the 10 miles are the same distance to some of my half marathon training runs), but then if I am around those days are a good day to be a volunteer.
I would love to get my 5K pb down even further. A few weeks ago I managed 26.50, which I was so exited by! But I want to go faster and would like to go at least once a month.
I also want to earn my 50 t-shirt. It will take me a few years, but it is the sort of thing that has no shortcut. Paul who blogs at Father Fitness recently completed his 50th Parkrun, which is a fantastic achievement.
Some other bloggers who have bitten the Parkrun bug are Lara, Lauren, Anna, Mary, Catherine, Claire and Steph to name quite a few (apologies if I missed you off)- check them out if you want to be enthused further with the whole concept!
Post Parkrun pumpkin pancakes (love some alliteration) are the best too. I used the last of my Orgran Buckwheat pancake mix, some egg replacer and a big tbs pumpkin puree, plus soya milk. I cooked the apples in gingerbread syrup, and added some cinnamon at the end, and then topped the pancakes with a few Beyond Dark chocolate chips.
So happy birthday to Parkrun, long may it continue.
If you go to Parkrun, what do you love most about it?
If not, would you be tempted?