Some people love endings. Some flick to the final few pages of a book before they’re half-way through, others love the flight back home more than the holiday, I even have a friend who eats the ‘last’ jammy dodger out of the packet first as he insists it tastes nicer than the others. I’m more of a “beginnings” type-of-guy. I savour the anticipation of what’s to come, feeling excited about the possibilities and the likelihood of travails around the corner.
And so, Bradford parkrun began on Saturday April 17th. Even as beginnings go, this was a beauty. The finest of days greeted those wise enough to forego a Saturday lie-in and make their way down to Lister Park. And they were the finest of Yorkshire folk. All on time, all keen and ready to go - all taking part in a free event. It was clear that our expectations of a 30-40 person start were going to completely overtaken. The volunteer team were impecable - doing everything to compensate for my chaotic organisation and improve the runner's experience.
So excited was I about this beginning that I missed out 4 digits in my countdown from 10 to 1. But off they went, 82 pioneers of running. It’s sometimes hard to tell if a fast start is going to be held together, but those at the front seemed set for a punishing pace. “Ooo, look they’re down at the bottom half of the park already” I commented, shortly afterwards, only to be alerted to the fact that those I’d sighted were in the middle of the pack and the leaders were already emerging at the top of the climb. Blimey.
All four-score and two of them passed me by once, passed me twice and, dog-on if they didn’t pass me a third and final time. Some with smiles, some with the grimace of determination; all revealing a little something of themselves as they made their way towards the line. (The lycra-clad set revealing even more). Even a beginnings-o-phile such as myself couldn’t fail to be impressed by the finishes. Leon Foster and Richard Balshaw had a great battle for first place overall and the honour of being the first ever to complete a Bradford parkrun - Leon eventually coming out ahead by 3 seconds and setting a challenging course record of 17:33. Dawn Broom set a blistering pace for the ladies course-record of 20:44. In all 22 age-categories were represented and, of course, set records. I feel it would be paying a disservice to beginnings to fail to mention them all - so here they all are, record-setters each one:
Dylan Waddell JM14 35:40
Marc Steele JM15-19 25:34
Lily Wiggans JW14 28:29
Carl Cousens SM20-24 22:15
Leon Foster SM25-29 17:33
Chris D Watson SM30-34 23:13
Adrian Stott SM35-39 21:31
Rachel Cunningham SW20-24 32:47
Rebecca Hall SW25-29 23:46
Jen Willingham SW30-34 23:01
Richard Balshaw VM40-44 17:36
Stephen Raby VM45-49 20:06
Christopher Jones VM50-54 19:45
Henry Heavisides VM55-59 18:47
Barney Lerner VM60-64 22:32
Arthur James VM70-74 37:17
Cathy Farley VW35-39 27:23
Emma Drake VW40-44 25:38
Dawn Broom VW45-49 20:44
Denise Johnson VW50-54 23:23
Anastasia Lincoln VW55-59 31:33
Jacqueline Mary Walters VW60-64 31:57
I understand that Lily Wiggans is only 7-years old which makes her under 15’s record even more remarkable, and the manner in which she bounded up to the finish suggested that there was perhaps even more to come. Henry Heavisides’ record being within 20% of his world age-category record on a very demanding course also stands out. On top of this, for 26 participants this was their first parkrun. Firsts, firsts, firsts, I love them.
So, as a rather injury-ravaged Rick Pullen crossed the line (having jogged with the back-markers and ran back to ensure no-one was left on the course) the run came to an end. But, of course, it wasn’t really the end, or even the beginning of the end – it was just the end of the beginning.