The Longliness of the Lone Distance (park) runner.

Conkers parkrun non-run run report - August 4th, 2020

In this weekends excellent run briefing Jo Iorio posed the Question “Who is YOUR Roger Cobb”

In reply to that I would say it was not a Who but a What. I was enticed to parkrun by the promise of a bacon and Egg Cob(b), at the end of it, and before the purists from around the country start arguing the toss as to whether it was a Bacon and Egg sandwich, Bap, Roll or any other variant, for the purposes of this article it is a Cob(b) as anything else would ruin the pun.

So back in 2016 – on July 30th to be exact, so pretty much 4 years ago to the day, I ventured forth to attend my first parkrun, encouraged by my wife, Elspeth and her friend Lisa Shaw, who had just completed a C25K course with Washlands Ladies Runners and had done their first parkrun the week before. Elspeth had raved about the Bacon and Egg Cob(b)s in the café at the end of the run and the thought of that swung it for me.

As we got to Cadley roundabout on the A444 the heavens opened and in the midst of a downpour that the cars wipers could not clear, we decided to call it a day and not bother! Maybe not the heroic start you expected but whizz forward a week to event 284 on 6th August 2016, and a rather nervous 71 year old non -runner wearing extremely baggy shorts, a thick t-shirt and trainers that weighed in at about the same as a pair of divers lead boots, made it to the runners briefing. Several people said “Hello” and asked if I was a first timer or a Tourist (whatever they may be). I settled down to listen to the First Timers briefing that was closely followed by the Run Brief which gave a lot of background and lauded several people who had done 50 or 100 runs, very commendable, but I didn’t realise the significance at the time and, in reality thought I would be lucky if I ever did 5 runs!

As I struggled my way round, I was amazed at the number of people who, as they passed me encouraged me along, and a young lady (unfortunately I never got her name and didn’t see her again) who ran with me from around Hells Angels Bridge on the return journey, and kept telling this gasping Grandad that he was doing amazing and could do it.

I did and ended up with a time of 36.19 finishing 344th out of 406. I duly went into the Cafe afterwards, enjoyed said Bacon and Egg Cob(b), chatted to several very friendly people but the memory that sticks most was the welcome to the “Club” given by a certain Robert Dilworth, who I have rapidly found to be a true gentleman of parkrun, always willing to help and encourage.

From this point I moved forward improving my time to 29.17 by the 3rd of December. This was partly due to getting rid of the diving boots and buying some decent running shoes but in the main to the tremendous encouragement, friendly fun filled spirit sometimes tinged with a slightly competitive element, I mean what red blooded bloke won’t try harder when he is being beaten by a very sweet 8 year old girl?

From there on parkrun has become, as it is certainly for the majority who will read this, a weekly institution. For me with 140 runs and 100+ various volunteering roles it is something that I can’t wait to get back to for my weekly fix. It has undoubtedly helped half marathons this year, even though, due to the circumstances I have only so far been able to do one, I would have laughed my head off. It has given me the opportunity to meet loads of lovely people including all our amazing Core team and the legion of marshals, some of who unselfishly marshal week after week, the runners, joggers and walkers of all ages, genders, and ethnicity who make up our ever growing numbers, become part of a team running in a variety of events for our own fun and having a great time in the effort and generally having a very special and enjoyable experience

Would I recommend parkrun to anyone? YES, I have and do frequently and I will do everything in my power to encourage others to do as I did and take the plunge. If I can, anyone can”!!!!

Dennis