Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun number 171 was the parkrun with a difference that's for sure.
I met my partner Gareth 4 years ago yesterday and we have had an amazing 4 years. Life really is great with Gareth. A year after we met we moved in together and the same week we started running. A month after that we decided to give this parkrun we keep hearing about a try. That first one was at Lee-on-the-Solent and we were hooked. We love to do a bit of parkrun touring these days, but now having run 89 parkruns, Lee-on-the-Solent remains our most frequent parkrun and a very special one to us.
It was a beautiful morning and the sun was out. Gareth decided he wanted to run to parkrun to clock up his mileage, so I was going to drive and meet him there. Now knowing Gareth, he is a real romantic, getting up and going out without me on our anniversary just isn't in his nature. Particularly running off and forgetting to wish me a happy anniversary. I could not help but wonder what was up his sleeve. Would he pop the question today? Mmm, possibly. Surely he wouldn't do it in front of people at parkrun? No, categorically not, Gareth is shy by nature he definitely wouldn't do that...
I arrive 10 minutes before the start as usual and see Gareth running in just before me. A few of our running friends are already there. Funny enough, a few of our best friends were walking their dogs at the seafront too! Well it is a nice morning and catching up for breakfast after didn't seem suspicious.
A couple more friends turn up who I wasn't expecting there this week.
Geoff starts the running brief and I can feel myself being coaxed closer to him. I clock my friends with their dogs and realise I've never seen them dressed and made up at 9am on a Saturday morning! Geoff then decides to do something "a little different" in his brief. Audience participation? You're kidding me, this is a setup, I can feel where this is going. I literally start to shake. I look at Gareth, prime spot to be next on the mic. Surely this is only going one way. Shall I back out now?
I swear it happened in slow motion. That mic moved over to Gareth and having blanked out what was being said I heard the words "Grand romantic gestures" in response to a question I was incapable of hearing. This IS happening!
So for those of you that witnessed, heard, or read since, Gareth uncharacteristically took the mic in front of 400+ runners and friends, and characteristically spoke some beautiful words and then asked me to be his wife... and of course I said yes.
Before I knew it I was wearing an engagement running vest, friends who had travelled down from Milton Keynes to witness the proposal had sprung out of the crowd and I suddenly heard 3,2,1... go!
This is an absolute whirlwind, Adrenalin is pumping and I've now got to run 5k! There's no way this week is going to be a fast run. Off in the crowd I've lost Gareth already (looking back it would have been nice to run together but I didn't have time to think about that) and I'm pretty sure I've got to keep some breath to thank everyone who was congratulating me round the course. Which of course being friendly parkrun was very often.
The congratulations continued throughout the run and it was just amazing. Gareth ran half the run with friends and ran in shortly behind me. Bubbles were poured shortly after the finish line, cakes were handed out, photos were taken and so many runners come over to congratulate us it was unreal.
Thank you to everyone that gave us a congratulations and to Lee-on-the- Solent parkrun for helping Gareth to arrange it all. It was an amazing and a very fitting proposal that will never be forgotten.
Now to stop talking about myself and talk about the rest of the 412 runners yesterday.
Event number 171
15th September 2018
This week 412 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 38 were first timers and 83 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 26 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 33 volunteers:
Lee RHODES • Miranda CARRICK • Angela ELSHAW • Susan BARRETT • Thomas GRIFFIN • Lee WESTWOOD • Nick MACBEATH • David WALTERS • Jenny SHILLING • Cate MULLEN • Maggie ATKINSON • Donna GREENSLADE • Jacob BARCA • Geoff OFLANAGAN • Pearson ATKINSON • Fran BENNETT • Eileen BARTLETT • Jackie BRADY • Martin PEGLER • Stuart WHITE • Honor READER • Henry PRICE • Lola RHODES • Anne HEDGES • Jacqui TORRENS • Collin FRENCH • Laurie MULLEN • James MARTIN • Julie CLARKE • Brian WOODHALL • Lisa SAMWAYS • Andrew CLARKE • Jon FLYNN
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun Results Page.
The female record is held by Jen ELKINS who recorded a time of 17:46 on 1st January 2017 (event number 81).
The male record is held by James BAKER who recorded a time of 15:54 on 28th April 2018 (event number 151).
The Age Grade course record is held by Penny FORSE who recorded 96.26% (22:45) on 7th July 2018 (event number 161).
Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun started on 4th July 2015. Since then 8,219 participants have completed 58,146 parkruns covering a total distance of 290,730 km, including 11,520 new Personal Bests.
Many thanks as always to all the Marshall's for making parkrun happen.