This week’s parkrunner is Eleanor Young, a regular at Highbury Fields over the past 6 years. She tells us about how she got hooked on parkrun and her role in the Highbury Fields Junior parkrun event.
When & where did you start parkrunning?
I first started parkrun at Highbury Fields in October 2014.
What prompted you to join parkrun?
I started because my daughter Iris (then 9) wanted to do it with her friends Michael and Fred. As you have to run with under 11s I gamely rocked up but sadly could not keep up with Iris that day (she ran with Michael’s mum instead) and I have never ever been able to catch her since!
What did you think after your first parkrun?
I was amazed to make it all the way round without stopping in a super speedy time of 32.56. I collapsed at the finish line! However, I was hooked and I came back the following week. I did not finish that second attempt, but over the years since I have managed to complete 139 parkruns in total, 129 of them at Highbury Fields.
What was your most memorable parkrun?
My first one of course. I have also enjoyed a bit of parkrun tourism and my favourite ‘other’ run is Northala Fields in Ealing. I have been a couple of times with my Ealing Council friends. It's such a beautiful park and only 1 lap which is a treat after Highbury! I am so keen on parkrun that I celebrated my 44th birthday in 2017 by making the whole family do parkrun with me!
What do you like most about parkrun?
I like the community that goes with it, which is wonderfully supportive. I have made a lot of friends by running and volunteering at parkrun. In this ‘lockdown’ period one of the highlights of my daily walks has been seeing, waving and chatting to my parkrun friends – from a safe distance of course!
My first instinct at parkrun was to focus on running. I am a serial volunteer and do a lot for others as well as being a mum of two, so when I discovered parkrun I wanted to focus on myself for once. I started off with the philosophy ‘if we all volunteered 3 times per year the event would run itself’ so that’s what I did. I became a regular volunteer in 2016 when the Junior Highbury Fields parkrun event was established and am one of the core team volunteers and a regular Run Director there. I started to volunteer more often at Highbury Fields parkrun last summer when I had to put running on hold due to an attack of the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis, from which I am nearly recovered now. I’m pretty sure I have volunteered 99 times and I’m waiting to do my 100th once the event starts again. However, by that time I hope to be running again so my 100th volunteering slot might have to wait even longer.
How are you coping without parkrun?
I miss it a lot. For the first few weeks I would always pass by Highbury Fields early on a Saturday morning and sort of sigh in despair. I don’t know how and when it will start up again but I hope we aren’t on hold for too long. It has definitely supported me in developing both my physical fitness and mental well being and I really crave getting back to my Saturday morning 9.00am habit when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Any other thoughts?
I think we’ve all seen our communities draw closer together in the times that we are currently facing. I feel like we shouldn’t save this spirit for times of crisis and that parkrun offers the Highbury community an opportunity to come together week in and week out whatever the weather (except storms!). I definitely think it is a massive asset to the whole community, whatever age you are, whatever your fitness level - there is something there for everyone.
Long May You Run, parkrun!