I cannot lie, there was an ulterior motive in volunteering to be this weeks Run Reporter. I am a recent convert to Running (or, Shuffling, which is a more anatomically accurate description of my style) having completed the Arun Fitness “Learn to Run” course at the end of July under the expert tutelage of today’s Run Director, Mr Keith Hardwell. During the Summer, I finished five parkruns – each marking a small improvement in my time and huge improvement in my confidence…but due to prior commitments, have been unable to run for three consecutive weeks. Those in the Know, will tell you that running is all in the mind…and after a three-week break, my mind was doing a grand job of convincing me that “Running Me” had in fact been an elaborate figment of my imagination! In danger of giving up at the first hurdle, by signing up to the role of Run Reporter, I was not only committed to turn up, but also to run!
Bringing Harvey, my faithful English Springer Spaniel, for his first parkrun experience was another tactical ploy. My mantra for parkrun is “You can slow down, but just don’t stop”. Today, I welcomed the knowledge that by bringing Harv I would inevitably be required to stop for Poo and Pee breaks and therefore I was forced to change my mantra from “…Just don’t stop” to “Just ENJOY it!”
So, we arrived at Hotham Park; blue skies and sunshine – another perfect Saturday in Bognor. In typical parkrun style, we were greeted by a bunch of volunteers in their hi viz jackets and felt welcomed and instantly part of the team. Keith confirmed that my role as Run Reporter was just to tell it how I saw it. (It’s one of the great voluntary roles that anyone can do – whilst still enjoying the opportunity to run!)
Harvey and I attended the first timers talk (although I think his attention was focussed more on a beautiful black cocker spaniel than on Nicola) First timers were welcomed and showed the route, and “housekeeping” rules regarding “Running with Children and Animals” were shared.
After the welcome and running brief, during which our visitors (including a bunch of superheroes from Harlow) were welcomed and our Milestone runners received a round of applause, we were off!
Now, for a Springer, who is used to being walked in the wide fields and woodlands on the South Downs, the experience of 256 people all setting off in the same direction must have been quite strange to say the least! Obviously, being a pack animal, he would have preferred to be right at the front, nose out, tail wagging and leading the way. Sadly, he was attached to me (and I hadn’t had the foresight to wear heelies…which frankly, would have been a stroke of genius!)
In addition to the inevitable poo stop, I was subjected to the Springer scent-following instincts to visit each and every tree – so knowing that this was hardly the best conditions for achieving a PB, we were able to really enjoy the company of other parkrunners on the path.
Lovely Poppy told me that this was her first “grown up” parkrun and did a fabulous job of keeping all the grown up’s going! What a little star! Later, I spoke to Paul who was completing his 70th parkrun! Josh, who is parkrunning for the Physical Challenge of his Silver Duke of Edinburgh award had encouraged his lovely mum to join in for the first time, rather than just dropping him off in the carpark. Good work Josh!
There were also many parents running with their younger children – what a wonderful way to learn lessons about resilience – keep on going! Run your own race! Pace yourself – and learn to push yourself at the right time. What important life-lessons to learn, whatever age we are.
Despite obviously finding it strange that we repeated the same route over and over, Harvey was delighted to meet his new friend “Derek in the Alley” three times in one morning! On my second time through the Alley, I chatted briefly with Brenda who was wearing a parkrun Volunteers t-shirt – she has volunteered over 25 times and, as she said “It’s great to give something back”. What encouragement!
Brenda and Derek epitomise the community atmosphere at Bognor parkrun. The spectators that shout encouragement from the verges, the Speedy Runners who urge you to keep going as they lap you, and the Volunteers at every corner who tell you “you can do it” when you still have another lap (or two) to complete!
So, this week, walking home with Harvey, my sixth parkrun completed I can confirm, I AM a proud and grateful member of the Bognor parkrun TRIBE – another 5K down (it wasn’t a dream, really!)
13 First Timers – first ever run
13 First time at Bognor
47 new PB’s set!
Simon Rowe’s 100th parkrun.