The alarm’s invaded my deep slumber, the rain is hitting the conservatory roof so loud it sounds like frying bacon, it’s dark and, dammit, it’s weekend. Before I know it, I’m in my running gear and ready to go. What the heck am I playing at?
It’s Saturday of course, parkrun day and whatever the weather, we’re off to run 5km along with 50,000 others, part of a growing community. Obviously we’re not all in the same place, that would be a heck of a crush, we’re headed for Woodhouse Moor, Leeds, one of more than 300 runs throughout the country and an increasing number worldwide. And do you know what? We LOVE it!
Of late, Noel and I have been volunteering, these events wouldn’t happen without volunteers, plus given there’s opportunity to boss people around, and shout at everyone, in a supportive and encouraging kind of way, how can I resist it? It’s an early start and we’ve to carry the kit from the stores and set out the course, complete with finish funnel. Someone also has to sweep away the huge puddles and mud. I like to delegate that task!
Parkrun (always a quirky lower case ‘p’ unless at the start of a sentence) has enjoyed an explosion in popularity, each week there are more and more new runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities. The way it works is that runners register online, receive a barcode and that’s good for any parkrun anywhere. Run the run – it’s not a race, pick up a token at the end and the magic scanners and interweb do the rest. By the afternoon, there’s a text or email with details of time, place and the magic age-related grading which compares you with the best of the best at the same age. That way I can tell Noel I am as good as he is, even though I’m slower. I like that. I like it a lot.
We’ve been handling the magic electronic parkrun result things once a month, it’s all very scary when the scanner with all the results inside its little electronic head make a ‘peewwwwww’ noise as they are uploaded. I have visions of lots of numbers spilling on to the floor at Opposite Cafe, the post-race base and place for general banter and silliness. Thank goodness Noel is in charge of the technical things, though I do get to write the run reports, which use WordPress, my blogging platform of choice, so that’s a safe option, then.
I can honestly say that as well as clocking up the kilometres, we have made so many new friends, drunk so much good coffee and had so many laughs that I’d recommend parkrun to absolutely everyone. Even the Saturday morning alarm is welcome!
I’m just seven runs away from my 100th parkrun, when I’ll get another teeshirt to go with the once I got for doing 50 parkruns. I will most certainly wear that with pride.