Whilst not consciously trying to visit all London parkruns (to become LonDone), the tame volunteer and I are enjoying visiting friends, family and parkruns around the city.
Following a back injury, my preference is for a not many lap course with even camber, a range of speeds including walkers (!), marshals understanding the concept of micro conversations (I’ll explain in a sec) and something fun to look at. Hilly Fields was to be my first attempt at a predominantly non tarmac parkrun in the UK since September.
My cousins live about half a mile away, if that, so following a curry in Ladywell and a late night, we managed one of those rare things for tourists – a sleep in. Arriving before 0830, we met Stephen, the RD of the day and got signed in and had a chat. Then I had a chat with (Graeme) doing first timers briefing before attending that brief and walking to the start. Of the 72 parkrunners at Hilly Fields for the first time, there were 35 new runners or just under 8% of the attendees at their first parkrun. That is super fantastic, well done everyone. Well done also to the 59 who ran the course faster than before – great job.
Injuries suck – but from my recent and not very scientific experience – I had my best parkrun in ages due to the sheer friendliness of everyone. I have lost any shame in walking up hills (though I did have a go the third lap on the big hill to run part of the hill) and I smiled, trotted, walked, gasped, smelled the pine needles, slithered in the mud and smiled again around the three laps. I didn’t even mind getting lapped on the big hill the first time. A delight to watch athletic bodies doing their stuff. I didn’t quite understand the route to start with but understood “big hill x3 run to finish” and it all worked. When injured, the micro conversations that marshals provide “looking fine” “have you seen the kite” “third time? Turn right” make what can be a difficult experience enjoyable. It’s not just about the “looking strong” or “come on you can run this bit”. I am truly grateful that I can still walk – but the tiny part of my competitive brain that likes a finish with a flourish is grumpy that what was achievable is now an effort. A genuine enormous thank you to every marshal – you were amazing and I had the sense that I could have completed the course with much less speed and still you would
have cheered me.
And having finished with half a flourish, which I’m now calling “a flour”, I stayed near the finish funnel and cheered the rest of the run in. Did your parkrun end with a flour or a flourish today? I’m pretty sure that a flour finish totally justifies cake or pancakes. It’s definitely a thing. To the clubs: this is the best bit and a big field meant a number of awards.
Well done to the new member of the most exclusive Junior 10 club. Luke OVERETT SOMNIER, wear your tshirt with pride and around every parkrunning adult who found parkrun later in life. Well done to brand new 100 club members Lorna MEINS and Ricky BOYCE and to one of our original runners, John Barron, who joined the 250 club. Even more specially than the running clubs, congratulations to Layla MATHERS and
Stephen CORRY who joined the purple volunteer 25 times club. May your tshirt links go live quickly.
We didn’t get time to have a coffee in the café but walked back to breakfast full of the buzz of an amazing morning. Thank you EVERYONE.
Pippa White, Queen Elizabeth