What is it about parkrun that it brings out the very best in people? While they’ve all been going bonkers over in Nice about the burkini, one of our new parkrunners, a Muslim who wears a headscarf, is overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome she’s had at Woodhouse Moor.
Like most new runners turning up for their first parkrun, standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of strangers, she was nervous and found it a bit daunting. We do have a couple of runners who wear headscarves and to be honest, no-one bats an eyelid, because all we see is a fellow parkrunner doing their best to cover 5km around a park on a Saturday morning.
Namrah was so happy with the welcome she received – and the cheers from marshals and other runners that she wrote to tell us. She’s done ten parkruns now, and when she left this week, she was carrying a flyer for the Abbey Dash, one of Leeds’ most popular 10km races. And she’s also eyeing up the red and white strip of one of the local running clubs. We even talked running hijabs, the wicking headgear that may help her knock seconds off her PB by keeping her cooler.
A couple of weeks previously, Leeds Frontrunners, the city’s LGBT running club took over our parkrun to celebrate Leeds Pride. What a joyous occasion, again, we were all parkrunners there to run at whatever pace we wanted, then chat afterwards and share a coffee or two.
It thrills me that a few folk running in the park with their mates can be so inclusive, so nonjudgmental, so friendly. Maybe all the G20 leaders who’ve just finished their falling out, I mean summit, in China, should register for their local parkrun. They might learn a thing or two about inclusivity, they might get fitter, they’d certainly see what makes real people tick.