This week I was unable to run and instead took the opportunity to volunteer as a marshal. It wasn't the first time that I stood reflecting on how incredibly inclusive and supportive the parkrun community is. Where else would you find over 1.5 million strangers coming together at nearly 1500 locations across the globe every week and encouraging each other through a common interest?
My own parkrun journey began 3 years ago this weekend - I finally gave in after years of listening to friends going on about how I should try it and "yes of course you could do it" and "no it doesn't matter if you are the slowest" and "it'll be good for you" and "you'll love it eventually". I'm still slow and it wasn't until I had run more than 80 times that I actually started to see myself as a runner. In fact, for the first 50 or so runs I'm not sure I actually enjoyed the process – it was all about the people, the post run coffee and the slightly righteous post run feeling that I'd had some exercise when usually I'd still be in bed. Everything that my friends had told me was absolutely true – parkrun is something really special.
This week there were 603 runners including a whopping 33 first timers and at least 59 tourists (including junior runner Jack Main who ran his 50th.) Local legend Chris Darling was the first finisher in 16:28 followed by David Connell (16:46) and Jonathan Escalante-Phillips a mere second later (16:47). For the ladies Justine Anthony (18:48), Jessica Cocker (19:41 PB), and Rachel Porter (20:12) showed us how it could be done. Well done to the 83 of you who got new PBs under your belts; including those of you who were motivated and encouraged by the ten pacers. Junior runner Cerys McBrien ran her 10th parkrun with a PB. Today's event was made possible by 48 volunteers who contributed their time and skills in a variety of ways. They were: Amos RONEY, Andrew GOLDSBOROUGH , Andrew PARKER, Anthony RICHARDSON, Beth MCGREER, Brent SWANN-AUGER, Brian WHITE, Cameron DUNSMORE, Clare BACCHUS, Diane MUNGOVAN, Emma GREAVES, Fiona NIMMO, Geoff MEADS, Helen HENRY, James STOCKER, Jim HIGGINS, Justin Anthony GREAVES, Karl JONES, Lauren GREAVES, Lisa CLATWORTHY, Liz GIBSON, Liz STEVENS, Loles GARCIA DIAZ, Louise PRYOR, Lucy MATTHEWS, Mary MITCHELL, Miguel TORRES, Naomi SHELMERDINE, Nicki HIGGINS, Pamela ABBOTT, Patricia KNIGHT, Paul CRUSH, Rebecca TAYLOR, Richard MOORE, Ricky MITCHELL, Ross DUNSMORE, Sally VERNON, Sam GIBSON, Sarah LEE, Sarah PROVAN, Shani CHALK, Sheila CAYTON, Simon WALL, Stuart PAYNE, Susan HORROD, Suzy ASHWORTH, Tom LINDFIELD and Valerie MORGAN.
The run this week was made even more unique with a celebration of the pending nuptials of Co-event director Gary and core team member Catriona who were engaged at Gary's return to parkrun after a broken ankle earlier this year. Being a slower runner meant I got to plod by and see the special moment unfold.
After the run my friends and I ended up chatting to Debbie and Mel McCart who were visiting from Sheffield Hallam. They'd spent the night in their camper van in the carpark and were enjoying breakfast as we strolled by. They described Milton Country parkrun as beautiful, friendly, well-organised and felt it was one of their favourite parkruns so far. How fortunate we are to have this as our home run! A huge thank you, as always, to Milton Country Park for making this possible. Debbie and Mel echoed my earlier thoughts about just how encouraging, diverse and accepting the community is.
So, whether you were one of this week's first timers, personal besters, pacers, volunteers, runners, walkers, visitors, mile stoners, never againers, pram pushers or somewhere in betweeners thank you for making your parkrun our parkrun. See you next week (even you 'never againers'!).