We arrived at quarter past 8 for what would be my 32nd different parkrun, and 72nd parkrun overall – dare I say after the weeks of a heatwave, it was slightly chilly. Having never been to Arrow Valley before, I could immediately see its appeal – the lake looked stunning under the blue sky and with the trees mirrored in the still water.
I am a very keen runner, and very competitive with my own times, always striving to run as quickly as I possibly can at any parkrun I attend. However, there was to be a difference today. Unfortunately I have been injured for 4 weeks, so to still take part in parkrun I have no choice but to walk, something I am certainly not too keen on, but that's the beauty of parkrun – RUN, JOG OR WALK!, it really doesn't matter what your pace is, it's something for all, and 5km is still 5km, no matter how fast or slow you go.
There was an advantage of not needing to go for a warm up and not running flat out so that I am unable to speak – I was able to take the time to chat to some of the other parkrunners at Arrow Valley, and what a delight that was. I met Clive Rose who would be running his 300th parkrun, the most experienced parkrunner in the field today – his journey started in December 2011 at Cannon Hill parkrun, and he has run 167 at Arrow Valley which he now calls home. Well done Clive, in another 200 runs you will reach the next parkrun official milestone of 500.
At the other end of the parkrun numbers spectrum, I chatted to Yvette Donnelly whilst out on the course. I could hear the encouragement and excitement of her two friends, Emma and Barbara – shortly after we started they were saying with some glee "this is it, Yvette, you are doing it now, this is your first parkrun". Yvette had completed couch to 5km with Kingfisher Harriers recently – I hope this is the first of a lifetime love affair with parkrun that we all seem to have. My top tip was to hold back this week, and return next week to get a lovely PB – don't we all get an extra buzz from those two little letters on the results?
From first timers to the experienced, the other group we have are of course the tourists – at Perry Hall in Birmingham which is my home parkun, we always ask during the briefing where the tourists are from, a little game to see who has travelled the furthest – I don't think many UK parkruns could have beaten the distance that Sallie Wake had travelled – she was from Australia!! I thought I had done well getting to Devon or the north of Scotland on my travels!!
How could my eyes not notice the man in orange with huge orange glasses – this was Ken Byng, or more affectionately known as 'The Flash'. He happily told me how he is now 79 years young and took up running at the young age of 71 – Wow, I was amazed, my immediate response being "I hope I am like you at the age of 71 or 79, that is a true inspiration"
Finally, I will mention the course – 2 laps around the lake on nice wide paths. There are a couple of cheeky little slopes (they are not really hills), but I think it has the potential to be a fast course. I will be back when I am running again – the advantage of having to walk today would mean that I can pick up a nice PB. There is nothing to worry about if you don't like slopes, there were 2 of the most enthusiastic marshals at the top of the one at mile 1 / 2.5. Thank you for the encouragement – all marshals were lovely, and as I was lapped by the quicker runners, there were plenty of lovely words exchanged there too. So, I have walked 2 parkruns now, it still feels strange when the Run Director sets everyone off and I see all the runners go ahead – I feel like shouting "wait for me". But to anyone who wants to walk a parkrun, for whatever reason, I would recommend you do come along – you will still very much be part of the event, and still have covered the 5km to set you up nicely for the weekend.