One of the things I enjoy about the Clapham Common parkrun is the café afterwards - it generally involves a bit less exertion and muscle ache than the running bit beforehand. Today however was different. Our run director turned up at the café wrapped in a large raincoat with the expression of a woman who was about to unfurl a tarpaulin on a ship sailing across the Atlantic in the midst of a storm. It was wet.
You got a mild indication of that in the morning from the overcast nature of the sky - though my weather forecast said that there was a 3% chance of rain! 509 of us either believed the weather forecast or had the fortitude to brave whatever the heavens would send (and recognise that it's October and it's just going to be like this for months on end from now).
Having said that, running was really lovely. It wasn’t too warm and the conditions were just right - there was some mud on the course but nothing too bad. As the parkrun drew on and more people finished, they were rewarded with a slight drizzle and the several canine companions of these weird humans running in a double circle round a park looked faintly confused as to why exactly their human had decided to take them out on this purposeless chase.
For the humans however, there was the warmth of the support of volunteers, shouting from the margins - “you can do it”, “you are almost there”, “it's just one more kilometre” or “good running”. The encouragement really matters, especially as you finish the second lap and go past the bandstand, promising yourself it's only a couple of hundred metres till you reach the finish line.
There were several achievements this week as well. Jamie Smyth on his first run at Clapham, finished first with a great time of 16 minutes, 48 seconds. The parkrun age graded rating though put him second behind Helen Cooper who achieved a rating of 78.6%. Sometimes slightly cooler and damper conditions work. 108 people set personal bests which meant 20% of the field (roughly) ran the course faster than they had ever run it before. 2 parkrunners, James Brooker and Roger Kennedy finished their 50th parkrun. Edward Brunskill ran his 433rd parkrun today - a phenomenal number of runs. 57 runners completed their first run though and I only hope that they all become as addicted as Edward and James and Roger clearly are!
But the real achievement this morning goes to the volunteers. 36 people volunteered to make sure that the run could be run today. There are practical considerations behind that of course. It is also really great to have a smiling marshal shouting encouragement from the side. parkrun really isn’t just for the people who can get round it in 16 minutes or can get a PB (this week due to bad sleep I was nowhere near that and knew it myself). It's for the fact that we all got out of bed and came down at 9 am to start our weekend with some exercise. Run, walk or do both or either whilst talking, you know you’ve succeeded at parkrun if you’ve got round the course - and it’s the volunteers who make that atmosphere a reality!