A Scottish parkrun

Last weekend we went to Edinburgh (I’ll do a separate post about that) and so on Saturday morning I had decided to visit Portobello parkrun, one of the two parkruns in Edinburgh, mainly because it was closer to where we were staying (cheaper Uber ride) but also the other one was an out and back along the coast and I didn’t know quite how windy that would be.

They start at 9.30am in Scotland, something I vaguely remembered from listening to the parkrun podcast, but I then spent a lot of time checking on other Scottish ones to check it wasn’t a typo- I didn’t want to get all that way and miss the start!


The uber ride didn’t take too long and I got to the park at about 9.10. It was a gorgeous autumnal morning and the park was filled with red and orange trees, so I took a few photos while I hung around at the start. It was so cold- breath was hanging in the air, and I was so glad of the last minute  decision to bring my long sleeved top with me- I kept it on until the last possible moment.


I thought I had read that they did a new runner’s briefing at 9.15am, but nothing was announced (and on checking their page I can’t see anything about it there), they just called everyone over to the start line a bit before 9.30. They had people holding up signs saying things like “sub 26/ sub 30” so people were in some sort of order which seemed to work well. Luckily I had read the course page and it wasn’t complicated (3 laps).

During the run briefing they celebrated some 50th parkruns, clapped the tail runner, mentioned a few birthdays and then asked runners to keep left as it was a course with laps. This to me is fine- things should be organised. However, they then said that this was so that the faster runners could get past, which implies that their times are more important. This really annoyed me, as it inches towards being elitist. Yes, keeping to the left is sensible. But why is someone who can run an 18 minute 5k, but today is running 20 minutes more important that someone who is about to get under 30 minutes for the first time? As we were running this thought just went round and round my head. At some points the path was fairly narrow- enough  for 3 runners really, 4 if you were touching. Because of this I frequently found myself behind some slightly slower runners, wanting to overtake, but I didn’t know if faster people were coming behind. I would move out to get past, and then move back over, but this was not always easy, especially if I was going past people running together. My favourite part was when a lady (one of the runners) kept bellowing “KEEP LEFT” once the  faster runners were lapping, but she herself stayed in the dead centre of the path.  I don’t want to sound grumpy about it, but I just disagree with this. parkruns are not races, they are timed runs, and they are to encourage everyone, so everyone taking part is just as important as everyone else.  I do have to say that the runners who were lapping were very friendly, and most of them called out “passing on the right” so you knew if they were coming.


I finished in 28.06 (155/253), and hung around for a bit before going back to the road to call another Uber.


I particularly liked finding trees that matched my apricot vest! Fantastic views of Arthur’s Seat from the start line too.


So, my 11th different parkrun (although really 10th, as San Francisco won’t count towards the 20 as it was abroad).

What do you think about lapped courses? Do you think faster runners should have priority?

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