Run Report #288 by a First Timer

Father and Son first time out

Talking with my son, William, he told me how much he enjoyed distance running at school and that he wanted to do some Cross-Country running.

I did some research and was delighted to find a local parkrun at Ashford’s Victoria Park. My wife was more than a little surprised when I set the alarm for 08:00 on Saturday morning but I wanted to make sure we arrived in good time.

The morning was bright and crisp, and we were surprised to arrive and find such a large group of people coming together around the start line. Apparently, Ashford parkrun regularly has 250-300 runners. William and I agreed a meeting point at the end of the course, I expected to walk one lap and meet him when he finished. We all ambled over to the start line and after a brief countdown the runners set off. I waited for everyone to pass and started ambling along at the back enjoying the sunshine. At this point a man in a pink marshal’s jacket asked me if I was doing the parkrun, I laughed and explained I was having a walk whilst my son completed the run. Simon quickly took me under his wing explaining that he was the “tail walker” who’s job it was to ensure all the runners are safe. Together we headed off and I was struck by how diverse the pace of the participants was, whilst some were off in the distance in the blink of an eye others walked just ahead of us chatting. This was a real plus as one of my anxieties had been that everyone would be an accomplished runner.

The course was well signposted and as we approached the stage where runners were coming back towards us, I was able to wave to my son as he came back the other way at least a kilometre ahead already! It was amazing how many runners Simon knew by name and there was an amazing sense of camaraderie as all the runners supported each other whether they be at the front or the back. As we rounded the next corner we passed a marshal clapping and encouraging every runner as they passed, again the sense of support and community was palpable. Along the next straight we were lapped for the first, of many, times by another much faster father and son team “He’s really flying today!!” was the only comment made as they rushed past.

It was as we entered the final 3rd of the circuit that, William, came running past. It was great to see him doing so well and enjoying the run so much. For me this seemed the perfect excuse I needed to make an exit at the end of the first lap. I think Simon could sense this and he started to prompt me about doing the whole 5km combined with gentle encouragement that I was doing well. As we climbed the gentle incline towards the finishing line I resolved that I would do the second lap and complete the 5km challenge.

We passed many runners now heading home but they all thanked us for bringing up the rear and encouraged us on our way. We started collecting signs and markers, thanking marshals as they packed away. We continued round until we caught up with a lady and her children, it was inspiring to see how she had brought them out and was determined to get round, before long she had managed to galvanise them again and they pulled away from us. At the end I was both pleased and embarrassed to be clapped over the finish line with the words “well done you’re under the hour mark” ringing in my ears.

My thanks to all the runners for their positivity and mutual support and a huge thank-you to all the volunteers, especially Simon, who make the event possible. I look forward to returning soon.


The Stats - Event number #288, 18th May 2019

This week 254 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 27 were first timers and 34 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 22 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 26 volunteers:

Edwin BARTLETT • Lee STANDEN • Richard GIBSON-VENNER • Simon JACKSON • Robert YOUNG • Claire GOODWIN • Ann FIDGE • James BOOTH • Emma STANDEN • Michele SADLER • Keara ISTEED • Peter ROWLEY • Nicole OSBORNE • Hazel TURNER • Geoff STEED • Gavin HART • Paul PILCHER • Veronica ROBERTS • Owen TIERNAN • Kathryn TIERNAN • Jamie BARTLETT • Derek NELSON • Lily MANSFIELD • Gavin WILLIAMS • Andrew LAWRENCE • S GARDNER