Next Saturday Buckingham parkrun will celebrate its first anniversary, and what a first year it has been. We set off on a beautiful sunny day last May with a mixture of over 180 tourists and local first timers licking the Bourton Park lollipop for the first time, the following week in monsoon conditions we were down to 50 hardy souls and thought that would be the benchmark for our regular turnout.
Slowly our numbers began to creep up, initially edging towards 100 and in recent weeks regularly knocking on the door of 200. On the way we celebrated Christmas (initially in October) and then again on the big day itself, over 200 people including our first Olympian welcomed in the New Year and who will forget our daffodil run.
As our numbers grew, so did the community spirit of our parkrun family. Our course has been completed by 1511 people including everyone from babies of a few months old (admittedly in a buggy and not under their own steam – but wouldn’t that have been a newsworthy story!), via children as young as 4 up to people well into their eighth decade. Some of our runners have slipped on their trainers for the first time in years, joggers and shufflers have become genuine runners, others have achieved challenges unimaginable 12 months ago; running the first lollipop, the whole parkrun course, 10k’s, half-marathons, marathons, ultras, even getting out of bed before 9a.m. on a Saturday! Our local running clubs have seen their numbers rocket and there is a noticeable increase in the number of people pounding the streets and trails around Buckingham every day.
Anyone who saw the first episode of Peter Kay’s “Car Share” will have been reminded of the I Ran the World phenomenon of the 1980’s. Seeing his bulging and faded vintage vest I was prompted to see if we had indeed ran the world over the past 12 months. Checking that fail-safe font of all knowledge (Wikipedia) I saw that the circumference of the globe is 40,000km and that over the past year our collective legs have carried us within 5,000 miles of that milestone. Given our current rate of progress, I venture we may get there by the beginning of June.
So what does the next year hold and how high can our running community grow. Who knows, and in many ways it doesn’t really matter, what is important is that firm foundations have been laid for a fantastic free weekly activity for the town and surrounding area. We have recently been given the green light for a weekly 2k junior parkrun on a Sunday morning, so hopefully a new batch of young athletes can have as much fun as we all have this year.
In this quick roundup of our first year, I have been conscious of not singling out any individuals as it is the collective effort, of the core event team, volunteers and runners that has helped Buckingham parkrun flourish. There is, however, one exception that I would like to make, as without him we would not have got off the starting blocks. Glen Turner is a volunteer regional ambassador for parkrun and was the driving force in establishing our event last year, over the past 12 months he has been a constant and valued support for the event team whilst also helping over 20 other locations across the region. For this unflinching support, we thank you.
And so next Saturday we turn one, our friends from the Ice Cream Café will be bringing their mobile cart down to the skate park: bring some money, bring your friends and family, bring a cow bell! Hopefully we will see many of you, and remember DFYBC (work it out!)