Kate Slotover loves Highbury Fields parkrun so much that 70 out of the 72 parkruns that she has run have been around Highbury Fields. All of her volunteering has also been at Highbury Fields parkrun. In this week's profile she tells us what makes it so appealing.
When & where did you start parkrunning?
I had to look it up! It seems my first one was on 27th May 2018 and I see I set the very impressive time of 00:15:50 – but I remember that’s because I got confused (or exhausted) and only ran three laps. Oops!
What prompted you to join parkrun?
I’d done Couch to 5k but was finding it boring running on my own. I was looking to try something new.
What did you think after your first parkrun?
I liked it but I remember feeling really shy, not a proper runner at all and I don’t think I talked to anyone at that first run except for smiling at the person who scanned my barcode.
What’s your most memorable parkrun?
I remember one where Dr. Paul and his band came and played for someone’s birthday. I didn’t know them but I thought it was the most wonderful thing. Since I got braver and started talking to people I have lots of lovely memories of their stories and sharing running experiences. I have made some new friends. I miss my good friend parkrunner Jenny McCullough who has now moved back to Ireland but we still keep in touch. I was always so inspired by her running (she runs marathons) and we bonded over chats about books in the pub afterwards. I host a literary podcast and she came to be a guest on one of the episodes to talk about Anna Burns' novel Milkman. Editor's note: Jenny has also featured in our parkrunner profile series - if you missed it you can read her story here
What do you like most about parkrun?
Haha – so many things! I love running with other people but I know that I’m quite slow so I would be a bit intimidated running one-to-one with someone. When I tried parkrun I realised it was perfect as I got to run with lots of people, from the amazing athletes who really do whiz round in 15 minutes, to all the mid-range runners trying to go that few seconds faster for a PB, to the people who just come to jog round slowly and let their thoughts float away (that's me quite often). Either way, everyone runs at their own pace but we’re all running together and I really, really love (and miss) that.
I also really like how friendly everyone is – something you really find out once you start volunteering. And sorting tokens afterwards – my favourite activity!
Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?
I found volunteering a really nice way to connect with people. I love barcode scanning because then you get to meet everyone, from the people who finish first to the last. And everyone always has such a huge smile...unless they’ve forgotten their barcode! I also love cheering people home towards the finishing funnel. It has also been nice to take on new volunteering challenges - I was Run Director once which I was super nervous about. But that feeling when you get to say ‘3, 2 ,1 go' and then watch 250+ people run off up a hill on your command is one of the best ever!
How are you coping without parkrun?
Ah, I miss it so much. Running for me has always been a bit of a sideline – I mainly get my kicks from aerobic workouts at the gym. I think that parkrun has given me that extra nudge to carve out time on a Saturday to get to the park & run. Even if I didn’t feel like it, I knew afterwards I would feel amazing. As it is I have a zombie app and have been running round Highbury Fields to that. It’s quite immersive. Every so often you get chased by zombies, which makes you do a bit of interval training. But it’s not nearly as joyful...especially when they catch me and I get eaten!
Any other thoughts?
It’s such a shame that something that was so good for all of us has been curtailed by the virus. It seems obvious that it’s going to be a while until it comes back but in the meantime I have that sense of community and running as a joyful thing that parkrun taught me. And if anyone out there wants something book-related to listen to while they get their run in, I'd love to suggest The Book Club Review podcast for lively discussions of everything from the latest releases to forgotten gems from the backlist. We haven’t done any shows on running books but in Episode 40 I did manage to work in one of my favourites, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (a delight, if you haven’t yet read it). Follow @bookclubreviewpodcast on Facebook for regular book recommendations.
Ok, shameless plug over! I hope to see you all on Highbury Fields some time soon.