The majority of you will not have a clue who I am, what my background is or even what kind of person I am, but that is my reason for wanting to write this report.
Around 6 months ago when I was invited to join my friend at a parkrun, my world was not a good place to live. That first parkrun woke me up, I was actually quite shocked at what I saw and experienced. I was not in good physical condition and didn’t hold too much hope or ambition for my performance, but it didn’t matter. Before we even started I, along with other newcomers, were applauded for simply turning up. I thought “eh, what’s this all about”. Then we set off and it felt like most people shot off into the distance, but then within a matter of a few minutes strangers were clapping me and telling me “well done”. I thought “well done, I’m one notch above walking here”, but then I went through the start line again and a group of people stood there clapping as I plodded past. I was confused, but I couldn’t help feeling uplifted and encouraged to carry on.
I struggled around the course, up and up the hills, wondering if I would make it to the finish line but being applauded and encouraged as I did so. In my final lap, panting my way around the lake with my legs voting to stop, fellow runners passed me by as I expected. But as they passed me, they didn’t just carry on or make a point of it, instead they encouraged me to keep going, and reminded me that I was nearly ‘there’. As I battled up that last hill, still people encouraged me on, and when I finally got ‘there’ amongst the exhaustion and drum beat of my pumping heart was a real sense of accomplishment. However, what stood out above all was that despite being among hundreds of strangers it felt like they were all on my side, it was a strange and almost surreal experience.
That wasn’t the end of it though, I was then invited to join people I did not know for coffee and toast or such like provided by people that did not know me and were getting nothing financially from it. Now there I was drinking pretty much free coffee that strangers had made purely to give me and others an opportunity to share our experiences and positively connect our minds for longer. It all felt quite alien to me on that day, completely at odds with the world as I knew or saw it. I left the cafe that day alert to the possibility of good things being out there, and that the world was not all some kind of evil and twisted place that conspires against me.
I returned the week after, of course I did, now looking to achieve a better time than I had done the week before and as the weeks went on I got fitter and strived to beat my personal best. It fed into my training during the week as it gave me a purpose and a weekly goal to aim for. No doubt as many do I probably became too obsessed with beating my pb but I was able to rectify that mindset and remember the point of being there. After all, while my 'what' is to run around the course as well as I can on any given day and my 'how' is by putting one foot in front of the other at a certain rate, my 'why' is not to beat my personal best. My 'why' is because turning up is seen as an achievement, because hundreds of strangers applaud each other and cheer each other on, and because I want to hang out with people that think that way.
That is what parkrun means to me.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all and thank you, whoever you are.
Christmas and New Year Running
We've still got some special events for the festive period - join us if you can:
28th December - Christmas Social from 7.30pm at the Glebe in Stoke
30th December - Last Run of 2017 - 9am start
1st January 2018 - New Year's Day extra run - 10am start. Please note: New Year's Day is the only day where you can run two separate parkruns - our nearest neighbours at Congleton will be starting at 9am on New Year's Day.
Many thanks to everyone who has volunteered at Hanley parkrun during 2017 - we really do appreciate all you have done to make sure parkrun happens each week. Our most recent hi-viz heroes were:
23rd December: Dean BROMLEY, Simon CLARKE, Paul COTTERILL, Charlie COX, Beth DAWID, Philip DAWID, Craig EDWARDS, Paul ELTON, David GODWIN, David HEBB, Millie HOLMES, Chris KING, Sean LEWIS, Caitlin OTWAY, Kirsten OWEN, Dan OXLEY, Evie PARRY, Jowan PHILLIPS, John PUTT, Eduardo SATO, Linda SHEFFORD, Ian SLOSS, Victoria STEVENS, Lily STEVENS, Paul THORNE, Liz TIDESWELL, Katherine TRAVERS, Rebekah YENDOLE, Jo YENDOLE
Christmas Day: Kevin BILL, Sara BROOME, Mary CHADWICK, Peter COOMBS, Mark DIXON, Kerry DIXON, Neil HANKEY, Violet HAWLEY, David HEBB, Bryn HOLMES, Julie HOLMES, Michael HOWARD, Niamh MORRISSEY, Kaye MORRISSEY, Sarah OAKLEY, Caitlin OTWAY, Emma PHILLIPS, Sarah THORNE, Tracy WRIGHT
There are lots of different roles available, from putting out the signs to pacing, timekeeping to token sorting and marshalling to making the tea and helping with the washing-up. Get in touch by e-mail (email@example.com) or have a chat to us on Saturday morning to put your name down! And if you'd like to join our team of run directors, please get in touch as well. It's really not as daunting as you might like and you will get lots of support.
23rd December: 357 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 25 were first timers and 43 recorded new Personal Bests.
After two weeks of cancellations we had a bumper turn out of runners, lots of elves and Santas limbering up for the big day. During the holidays it is important to stay active, to embrace the fresh air, getting the heart rate up a little and put some colour in your cheeks, you will always feel better for it. Very much like parkrun you can walk, jog or run so long as you are outside and you are moving. Sometimes, a parkrun is just what you need.
It was also a bumper food bank collection, thanks again to everyone who were able to give something we know it will be really appreciated by those in need over the Christmas period.
Christmas Day: 196 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 15 were first timers and 15 recorded new Personal Bests.
Whilst Christmas dinners were cooking, a Christmas Day record turnout of runners in Santa hats (and dinosaur costumes) enjoyed a festive 5k in the park. The efforts of the volunteers were particularly appreciated in the mizzly miserable weather, which didn't seem to dampen the spirits of regulars and visitors at all.
Check out Christmas Day photos from Mick, Constantine, Wendy and Paul
Hanley parkrun started on 24th September 2011. Since then 6,752 participants have completed 52,243 parkruns covering a total distance of 261,215 km, including 10,045 new Personal Bests.