The Eagle has landed – ‘We came in peace for all mankind’

When I first said that I would write this week’s run report I rubbed my hands together with delight. It’s those best of all weeks at Conkers parkrun -  a themed week – and none other than the fiftieth anniversary of humankind first landing on the Moon. What fun you can have with a themed week, I thought. Just think how many puns and, maybe, double entendres I can fit into nine hundred words. It will be a blast! Look, I even got one in there without intending to. How easy was this going to be? Men on the Moon? I googled a list of ‘moon landing keywords’ and got to work. There would be something about ‘the Eagle landing’, and a mention of getting a ‘Buzz’. I was going to be able to talk about there being no wind at the start – one for the conspiracy theorists there. If I was particularly cunning I could even refer to the apocryphal (and since disproven) story of Neil Armstrong and Mr Gorsky – look it up. And then I thought ‘what the heck’, it doesn’t just have to be just moon landing puns – I could do sci-fi as well. I could have a title of taking part in the ‘Kessel parkrun’ - only then did I realise;  1) - that would be far better suited to a future Star Wars day event and 2) - there’s a reason sub-editors never let me near headlines. But things never quite go to plan. I was so proud of my joke that getting round the course would mean just six thousand ‘small steps’ that I think a little lump came to my throat when I saw the exact same pun stuck to the 40 minutes + board (and much better written it was than my own crowbarring would have given justice to it too). And of course Lyndsey had pretty much covered every other pun in her run-brief (you had to be there!). Blimey, what was I going to write? Image may contain: Lyndsey Hill and Claire McArthur Cox, people smiling, people standing, tree and outdoor Lyndsey (left) after her tri-pun-phant run-brief But here is where I had a stroke of luck. Being one of the slower members of the parkrun community meant that yesterday, by the time I got back to my car, a documentary was starting on Radio 4 all about the Moon landings. Professor Brian Cox was interviewing the daughter of Buzz Aldrin, an astronaut who had flown Apollo 9 and the mission controller of that historic Apollo 11 flight. I realised that away from the joking, that historic day fifty years ago was the culmination of years of hard work and monumentally significant on the lives of the participants. All of which brought back what I think is an important link between the moon landing, our parkrun, and to a lesser extent my school motto. When I was growing up my school blazer had a badge on it with the latin phrase ‘Quod justum, non quod utile’. I was never very good at Latin but I understand it roughly translates as ‘That which is good, not that which is easy’. There’s quite a link between my old school motto and the rousing speech President John F. Kennedy gave in 1961 advocating public support for the Apollo program ‘We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’ And isn’t that why we all turn up each week at Conkers parkrun? Not because we can’t wait to run up Cheeky Hill, but because each of us have our own personal challenges? Yesterday 634 of us completed the course each with our own purpose, our own mission. Whether it was Luc Burnip, completing the course in an astonishing 15:54 right through to number 634 coming through the finish line eleven seconds short of the hour mark. Each one of us has our own goal, inspiration and purpose. It could be that we’re searching for a course record or a personal best, it could be the culmination of a couch to 5K, or it could be as part of a training plan for a bigger challenge. Each one of us aren't doing parkrun because it is easy – let's face it, staying in bed is far easier – but because it is hard; and anything that is worthwhile means putting effort in. That’s the link right there between the Moon Landing and parkrun. Objectively the scale of achievement may pale into insignificance but in being an achievement, an ambition, isn’t it just the same? Of course none of us can ever achieve our ambitions in isolation. Neil Armstrong et al were entirely dependent on their team of scientists and engineers back at Mission Control (as well as all those involved in the previous space missions). In realising our own personal targets we too are reliant on the 38 volunteers who put our event together each and every week. Just like the Mission Controller who is 'invisibly' pulling all of the various components together, so are the core team of volunteers who put hours and hours of unseen effort into delivering a successful event. Image may contain: 7 people, including Lyndsey Hill, Claire McArthur Cox, Roger Cobb, Laurence Kingscott and Andy Lindley, people smiling, people standing, outdoor and nature 'Mission Control' at Conkers Theme weeks are great at Conkers parkrun. It’s wonderful to see the costumes and hear the alternative pre-run briefs and it’s absolutely right that they should be fun. Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor 'Spud-Nic'. Core Team member Nicola Briggs in her pun-tastic costume! But every now and then they can also be serious. They can make us think why we do what we do. And at their heart there is the eternal truth that nothing worth doing is ever done easily. ‘Quod justum, non quod utile’ Image may contain: 11 people, including Kevin Sanders, people smiling, people standing and outdoor Louise Douglas (4th from right) celebrating her 100th parkrun - definitely an achievement!