Basingstoke parkrun event #577, 2nd March 2019; Run Report by Natasha Minto
Since joining parkrun, I’ve read countless emails of inspirational stories about how parkrun has brought people together, inspired those that had once lost faith, created communities where there once were none and overall improved the health of millions.
It seemed only fitting that after the last few years of very hard work and in celebration of getting older and wiser, I add my two cents.
Before joining parkrun I had done very little to no running. You see, I once weighed approximately (depending on the day) 10 stone (65 kilos) more than I do now, so a few years ago there was little to no chance of me walking up a flight of stairs, let alone running any length of distance (and 5km at that).
Back then I used to think that to be a runner, as well as being fit and healthy, you had to be a certain way. While it definitely helps to weigh less and you do need to be reasonably fit (it’s all relative) it turns out you just need to try. Turn up and try, to walk, jog or run, that not only qualifies you, but earns you a ton of respect in the meantime. This ethos of everyone is welcome, that is so visible and bright, stuck with me and followed me on my weight loss/ health journey and into my everyday life. I may not be the fastest or smartest but I try. Every parkrun is a chance to try again.
My PB is 38 odd minutes which to some of the quicker runners may seem laughable, but to me, who could once barely walk to the bus without needing a sit down, this is monumental. What is even more so is that despite being slow and still overweight, I am welcome. ME! By all accounts a ‘non-runner’. Yet, at every corner I find someone cheering me on to keep going or am greeted by applause after what seems like the longest length of time.
From the back of the pack I am greeted by smiling faces, cheers and constant encouragement. The power of parkrun is that these people, the ones I used to call ‘nutters’ if I ever drove past them on a cold winter's morning, the ones who run in sun and sleet (and on Christmas Day of all things!), the people I used to think would be insulted or would judge my poor attempt at running, are in fact, the most welcoming people on the planet. They understand how hard it is to do, for anyone, despite size, weight, shape and age, to push your body to that limit, they understand. They welcome, they support and encourage. (They also don’t mind sharing cake at the end, which helps!)
I am now a member of local running club Hook Runners (who came out to support me at my birthday parkrun this weekend) and find myself talking about PB’s and fartleks, owning a head torch and a pair of trail shoes, and often going out to encourage others to do the same with our ABC’rs (Absolute Beginners Course). Whose life is this?
I hope that by writing this and occasionally running, someone possibly less brave (and mouthy) than I, will feel empowered to come along. If I achieve anything through parkrun (other than hopefully one day a sub 35 PB) I hope to encourage every single person who thinks that running is not for them. I hope that every person who thinks they can’t lose weight or change jobs or make a tiny change in their lives can see that I am living and breathing proof that your life can be whatever you want it to be. Joining parkrun will most certainly help.
Enough jibber-jabber, on Saturday I not only celebrated my 30th birthday, I ran with 659 other wonderful people (Basingstoke parkrun's 4th highest attendance ever). I crossed the finish line, sweaty and smiley and was greeted by my team and the fantastic volunteers as usual.
89 people managed to get PBs, on the still fairly new course (we've completed it four times now). 22 people were completing their very first parkruns - congratulations and I hope this won’t be your last time and look forward to seeing you again. We also had 33 first time visitors to Basingstoke parkrun - I hope you enjoyed running with our community on Saturday and that you will come and visit us again.
Well done to all those achieving milestone achievements today.
Kacey Camps, Oliver Hunt, Heidi Brazier and Olivia Brazier were the juniors who reached their 10th runs today and will soon be wearing their white milestone shirt.
Adults have to wait to their 50th parkrun to be entitled to their first (red) shirt, as was achieved today by Dave Warman, Karolina Narloch and Fhai Hennessy.
Another of our younger runners Jacob Hare completed his 100th parkrun (black shirt).
Finally Lily Weineck and Aidan Robertson both volunteered at their 25th parkrun events, earning their purple volunteer milestone shirt.
Unofficial (non shirt earning, but still worth celebrating!) milestones were reached by Sharon Davidson (150 parkruns); Andrew Modle and Richard Ruskin Mellish (200 parkruns) and Sophia Lucas (300 parkruns).
In summary, joining parkrun has made me countless new friends, opened my eyes to my local community and helped me gain confidence in trying something new. parkrun will mean something different to whoever you ask but for me the power of parkrun is that no matter how slow you go you will always be welcome.