‘Don’t laugh,’ she said, meaning that whatever she said, I was going to have to stifle giggles and guffaws. ‘I’ve bought 400 bananas and I’m writing a personal message on all of them. In pen. It’s taking a while’
Of course I didn’t laugh, if you cut Jaz in half, there would be ‘kindness’ written all the way through her, right next to ‘parkrun’. But by gum, she does some wacky stuff!
She was one of the 15 or so runners on the start line of the first ever Leeds (now Woodhouse Moor) parkrun 12 years ago. At the time, she had no idea what she was doing there at 9am on a cold,crisp October morning. She didn’t even like running.
But she persevered and last weekend was ready to run her 500th, a major milestone reached by only half a dozen at Leeds (87 worldwide) and, as she proudly points out, the first Indian woman to claim that blue tee-shirt.
People call me Mrs parkrun at Woodhouse Moor, mainly because I’m so gobby, but Jaz is Lady parkrun. While she confesses she’s still not that keen on running until she’s finished and enjoying the endorphins, she loves parkrun and says she has her dream job as Head of HR and Volunteering. But best of all, like so many parkrunners, she has made many friends and been encouraged by others as she runs.
So to say thank you to her fellow parkrunners, she wanted to do something personalised, different, healthy and eco-friendly. She bought 400 bananas, hoiked them up the two flights of stairs to her apartment, spread them out on the counter and set to work, writing thank you messages. It took her just short of six hours.
Yes, she said, she had thought of printing stickers, but that wasn’t the same. Yes, she added, she could have asked someone to help, but she wanted it to come from her personally.
Come Saturday, her car was humming with the scent of bananas and packed with spare tutus. I mean, what’s a special run without a tutu or two? She asked me to tell the 600 parkrunners why there was a table full of banana messages at the finish and to shield their eyes from the blaze of tutu glory as they ran past 15 or so of us accompanying Jaz on her special parkrun. They applauded, everyone knows and loves Jaz!
There was a lot of parkrun love for us as we tutued the three laps around the course. We even sang, when I say sang, we made tunefulish noises which definitely gave us a different kind of workout.
Afterwards there were just four bananas left. The boxes and skins went to compost and everyone went away with a smile. That’s lovely friends like Jaz for you. That’s parkrun for you.