We may not be able to be together in the park, but that doesn't mean we can't still hear from some of the amazing people that make up our community.
This week Linda and James Buchan have kindly agreed to share their parkrun story. James is one of our most regular volunteers, while Linda is a dedicated and inspirational runner who has overcome setbacks to rack up a whole trophy case of race medals (and a red 50 milestone t-shirt!)
Thanks very much to Linda and James for sharing your story.
What are your parkrun vital statistics?
Total number of runs: 85 by Linda
Number of different parkrun events visited: 1 - just Billericay!
Number of volunteering stints: 85 by James
Tell us about your first Billericay parkrun
Linda: I joined parkrun in the summer of 2017 given that I had signed up for a 10k race for Cancer Research. I thought that I could join a weekly 5k running event that would support my training. My first run at Lake Meadows wasn’t pretty and in true snail or turtle fashion, I was slow and crossed the finish line last. However, volunteers were quick to remind me, I wasn’t last. The last person at parkrun is always the Tail Walker.
James: Linda had been attending for a couple of weeks and she saw a request for volunteers. I signed up and for my first parkrun I was positioned at the start line. I was given one instruction, “When the runners reach the top of the hill, send them down the path. I didn’t realise we had so many talented runners and thought a lap of the park would take ages, so when this runner came sprinting up the hill after only a few minutes, I started jumping around like a loon pointing and calling out “Down the path, down the path, don’t worry about being late, you’ll soon catch-up”. He turned around and bellowed “I’M IN THE LEAD” and he was quite angry so I shut up after that.
Are you from Billericay, how long have you lived here?
James: I’m originally from Eastwood, but due to studies and work have lived in Surrey and south London. We moved back to Essex 10 years ago and have lived in Billericay for about 6 years.
Linda: Originally from sunny Miami, Florida I often get asked why I moved to the UK? I joke, that it’s obviously for our great weather! The real reason is I wanted to travel. I joined a teacher exchange programme and came to the UK in August 2003. Initially, I was only meant to be here for two years however, I met James at a BBQ the weekend I arrived. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. James and I have been together for 17 years and will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary this summer!
What’s each of your favourite memories from Billericay parkrun?
James: There have been quite a few special and memorable events, such as Reg’s retirement from running and the Billericay parkrun second birthday celebration. The Christmas runs are always fun too.
Linda: As cheesy as it sounds, every event at Billericay parkrun is special to me. Picking one is difficult. Recently however, we celebrated International Women’s Day in style, as only parkrun can. I can wholeheartedly say, that the core team and the atmosphere is what motivates and inspires me. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is always supportive and never minimises your efforts!
Linda, can you tell us a bit more about your running journey from when you started at Billericay parkrun?
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with running. It’s no wonder that it wasn’t until months after I’d attended my first event that I started attending regularly. Unfortunately, it took a silent heart attack and stroke to realise that fitness would be essential to my recovery. In May 2018 my running journey began in earnest when I was given the all clear to exercise again. Since then, Billericay parkrun has been a constant in our lives. Family and friends would certainly say I’m addicted. I’m now a proud owner of a racing medal collection (never thought I’d say that) and I continue to push myself to keep fit through running challenges.
James, what do you enjoy most about volunteering and which is your favourite marshal point?
It’s great fun volunteering as you get to meet so many people. As for the best marshal points, the park exits are good positions, as you can find out how the runners did as they are leaving. Very often though you can tell just by their expressions!
What do you do outside of parkrun stuff?
James: I’m a school data manager. The main duty is maintaining the student database, but I am responsible for reporting to parents, timetabling, Government returns/statistics, and advising Senior Leadership. As a hobby, I play classical guitar to a reasonable standard.
Linda: I’m a senior leader and maths teacher in a secondary school in Hackney. The hours are long and on any given day I juggle a lot. My remit focuses on safeguarding/child protection and behaviour. Whilst challenging, it is never boring and no two days are the same. Hand on heart, being an educator is the best job in the world! As you’d imagine my job doesn’t allow much time for hobbies however, I enjoy running and reading. I’m also a keen billiards player. Alas, James will no longer come along as the first and only time he managed to beat me, he promptly announced he was “retiring” and has never played a game with me since.
What are you most looking forward to when we get back?
James: For me it will be seeing lots of familiar faces again and knowing that everyone is safe and well after this difficult time.
Linda: I am really looking forward to the day that parkrun starts up again! Most importantly because I want to reconnect with friends and know that they are all well and safe. I’ve missed everyone and the atmosphere that only Billericay parkrun has. I’m sure that all the runners, like me, will also be looking forward to the opportunity to chase their personal milestones.
What’s the best thing about parkrun and what would you say to someone thinking about coming along for the first time?
James: The best thing about parkrun is how friendly everyone is. I’m so grateful for the support everyone has given to Linda after her illness; it’s had such a positive impact on her recovery. As for a message to anyone thinking of coming along…just sign-up and turn-up. You’ll meet loads of friendly people and get fitter at the same time.
Linda: Everything about parkrun is amazing! Corny but true! If someone had told me, I’d look forward to a run at 9am every Saturday morning, I would’ve told them they’re crazy. For anyone considering coming along for the first time I say, “do it – you won’t regret it!” Everyone at parkrun is very welcoming – we’re one big extended family. Whether you run, jog or walk, if you join Billericay parkrun, the Tail Walkers and I will be your personal cheerleaders. Hope to see you there!
Thank you so much to Linda and James for all their support of Billericay parkrun! If you'd like to read more, here are the other profiles from this series so far:
If there's someone you'd like to nominate - an individual, a couple or a whole family - do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
The Billericay core team are:
Please check our Volunteer Roster to see if you are able to help out at anytime, there are plenty of roles available to do and all are rewarding and great fun. If you want to volunteer, email us at email@example.com
As well as checking on this site regularly for the latest information and updates, don't forget you can also find us on Facebook.
Why not trade up your paper barcode to some of those snazzy plastic barcodes and wristbands? You can get them at the parkrun barcode website and never worry about soggy paper ones again! ICE details can also be printed on them as well.
If you would like to donate to this parkrun you can find out more HERE