As a parent there’s nothing better than seeing your children participate in something they clearly enjoy. Those of you who are parents will probably recognise that look on their faces, that outward squeal of uncontained excitement, the inner smile shining brightly. Even if they don’t quite know what the feeling is yet... you can see it, the thrill, passion, energy and fun in their eyes. That’s what I see, and love, at junior parkrun.
Now, here’s the thing, I’m married to two-time Olympic marathoner Liz Yelling and I co-host the podcast Marathon Talk. Much of the work we do is in the running community and with that in mind I’ve got a bit of an admission about our daughter Ruby. She really hasn’t shown much of an appetite for running. Never has. Now, I imagine some of that is of our making as we’ve purposely let her drive her own interests and activities. Like many six year old girls this largely revolves around fairies, singing, drama, babies (we also have twin two year old sons) and at the moment the Wishing Chair books. When she comes with us to our local parkrun in Poole on a Saturday morning she’d rather volunteer to make tea (and eat biscuits) than run.
That is until we set up Poole junior parkrun.
We’ve just delivered our fifth successful event in Poole (the first week without rain!) and last Sunday saw a fabulous 179 little people chasing each other around the park. Each week our daughter has been one of them. Here she comes... in pink.
She decided that she wanted to do the very first event, she printed her barcode (this was quite a ceremony!), she chose her running kit, she decided where to stand at the start (right at the back!) and she decided her pace during the run. This is usually a mixture of walking, chatting to her friends, looking at things, jumping in muddy puddles, laughing, sweating and sprinting. You know what, she loves it, and what’s really clear is so do all the other children (and their parents) running together around a very wet park on a Sunday morning.
After the run seeing the rosy cheeked children exit the funnel clutching their barcodes with pride, chattering to their peers, finding their parents, some of whom have run the course with them and filtered off to allow their children finish line glory, and others who have stood on the paths cheering with pride, is an awesome place to be. Next time you take your children, or someone else’s to the park on a Sunday morning stand back and watch a while. See the run through the eyes of your children. What a fantastic way to start your Sunday!
* Many thanks to Nigel Dawson for sharing his wonderful photographs with us.