This weeks run report is brought to us by Michelle Lamarre
A few years ago, had anyone tried to tell me that I would be looking forward to starting my Christmas day on a run at the local park wearing a Christmas themed outfit my reply, at best, would likely have been to laugh.
But that was then and this is now. Apologies if you like a short report. My dinner is now in the oven, my partner is watching some non festive tv, I have a bucks fizz in hand and a few minutes to spare to waffle on and I probably shall. I am not a runner. If you are hoping for a 'proper, grown up runner report' I'd recommend that you stop reading now before you are too disappointed. I am a parkrunner. My first parkrun was on 25 December 2016 and to my surprise it was OK. I am goal orientated and before the year was out and as it was OK I decided that my 2017 goal would be 3 runs a week and at least 1 parkrun each month. Soon afterwards I read the book that describes how parkrun begun and I learned that the event is entirely reliant on volunteers and that us parkrunners are encouraged to volunteer at least once for every 10 runs we complete. Learning that I could volunteer in some roles and still take part made me quickly add a volunteer goal to my initial 2017 list and I decided to volunteer once a month too.
Having already said that I am not a runner it might not surprise you to learn that I soon discovered that I enjoyed volunteering as much as I did 'running'.
I wrote a race report back in September. I already knew that I was ahead of my target for the year so I upped it. Could I try out all the rostered roles before the end of the year and could I aim to do 25 runs and 25 volunteer stints on the 25th. So here we are. A year of parkrunning.
My favourite volunteer jobs are, today at least, tailwalker, timekeeper and photographer.
Tail walking means that I don't have to run so that's a 'no-brainer' really.
Timekeeping means I get to see the front of people, especially the faster finishers.
Photography has always been a hobby of mine and I enjoy capturing pictures of the parkrun dogs.
I might enjoy some of the more fiddly jobs more I tried them in the warmer months. I suffer from Raynaud's syndrome and my fingers really suffered with the tokens and scanning support during November. Scanning is relatively painless when the equipment is working. I'm always impressed when one of the faster finishers does scanning after their run too. That goes back to me not being a runner; a sub 30 time for me is unlikely (never say never on that one) but a sub 20, hell no.
Set up is no problem for me. It means that I can take part and help out. I'm an early riser anyway and like being in the park before there are too many people about. It's a bonus when the tide is coming in or the sun is coming up.
Helping to pack up isn't really a problem either. I know how useful it is during set up to make sure all the signs up put away in order and I've mastered how to get the pesky banner back in its bag.
I guess what I am trying to say is that if you haven't had a go at volunteering try and make it your resolution for 2018. There is really something to suit everyone, the events can't happen without us volunteers and it is, above all, very rewarding.
So. Here we are. The Christmas day event is managed on a volunteer 'shoestring'. There are a couple of mandatory roles, including the event director and tailwalker. Without these there is no event. High fives to the core team.
I was down for tail walking and arrived at the park at around 8:40. Our run director Sue and a few other people were already busy setting up our finish funnel. The weather was unusually mild but there was a bit of drizzle around. As the minutes ticked over more and more people began to arrive. There were lots of festive outfits on show; santa's and elves as well as people with hats, antlers, Christmas puddings and even a turkey or two on their heads. Plenty of Christmas t's and jumpers as well as more conventional running attire, including some apricot and milestone shirts.
I chatted to some of the people I have met at previous events and to a first timer and his dog then grabbed a few photos ahead of the start. A special mention to my 'dog of the day', the french bulldog (sorry I forgot your name) with his santa jockey.
The briefing was well spirited. I was sharing my volunteer milestone with a few other running milestones and us and some tourists from further afield than normal were applauded before we set off.
I walked the first part of the course with Nell (and her human, Barbara) who has become one of my favourite four legged parkrunners over the year. They were going a bit slower than usual so it was great to have a chance to chat. We were passed by the faster runners in the woodland area and many of them shouted hello, merry Christmas or thankyou tailwalker/volunteer as they passed. I saw the first time runner I'd spoken to around here and both looked like they were enjoying it (hurrah for another convert)
I lost Nell and Barbara/Nell at around the amphitheatre as they picked up the pace and went off ahead. It was around about here that I was passed by one of the smartest dressed parkrunners of the day in his holly covered suit. He was going at a pretty good pace too considering that he was in a suit and pushing a buggy (blasting Christmas music) Love it!
I paused and took a few more pictures, taking care to not lose sight of the two ladies (Julie and Jenny) that were now at the back of the field. Setting off again, I caught up with them at our little 'hill' by the kiosks and 'paper clip' (it's not) sculpture. One lap to go.
We headed through the wooded area chatting about a whole variety of thing from apps, best ways to cook red cabbage and Star Wars. How else would you want to spend the day?
A couple more people stopped to chat with me on route including Simon Baker who told me that his wife was working today, reminding me to spare and a thought for all those people that are.
I saw lots of other people who I have come to know or at least recognise through my regular parkrun visits including Bob Gear in his own blue and white take on father Christmas AND the other 'blue and white' man whose name I don't know but I'm sure I will one day.
I even managed to pause and greet/ kiss/hug some non parkrunning dog walkers I see each week.
There wasn't the usual number of people cheering us on as we finished but that wasn't surprising as Christmas is a time to be with friends and family but as we crossed the finish line (54.24) to a santa high five I was happy to have spent the last hour and a half with my parkrun family.
I hope that I've given you a feeling of what parkrun feels like for me (the non runner) and I hope to see you all again very soon. For now Seasons greetings to you all and pass me another glass of fizz.