Saturday morning brought some lovely running weather (if a bit damp underfoot!) and I, along with 342 like-minded people, made the weekly pilgrimage to Welland Park for parkrun. The event was supported by 51 volunteers including 18 pacers – as ever, enormous thanks to these hi- viz heroes without whom parkrun couldn't happen.
It was fabulous to see so many people donning a hat to participate in the 'Bunnetrun' ... it gave many of us an opportunity to bring out the festive headwear! It's hard to believe that Christmas is only a copy of days away and, as we crossed the start line on Saturday there were only 9 days of 2018 left. This time of year always makes me reflect on the year's events, so in addition to my usual mental running commentary (I love running! I hate running! Why do I do this to myself? What would I do without this? Have I really only done one lap so far? etc. etc.) I spent some time thinking about my parkrun 'journey'.
My first parkrun was at Harborough in July 2017. I remember how terrified I was as I arrived. I'd had an absolute aversion to exercise my whole life and arrived at the park overweight, unfit, convinced that everyone would laugh and stare and certain that I would come last – you will never know how happy I was when I learnt about the tail walkers! This weekend was my 52nd parkrun; I've run at 9 different parkruns across three continents including Boston USA, San Francisco and Phillip Island, Australia (that one is a little hot in January and it's where I learnt what 'undulating' means when it comes to running i.e. flippin' hilly).
Every parkrun I have attended has the same characteristics: a warm welcome, friendly non-judgemental people who don't care how big, small, fast or slow I am and an atmosphere of support and encouragement. parkrun helped me to realise that if you put on a pair of trainers and give it a go you are 'a runner' and you don't have to wait to achieve a certain pace or distance to earn that title; that realisation gave me the confidence to go and try other events. In the past 18 months I've participated in many 'races' including 5Ks, 10Ks and Half Marathons. January 10th to 13th I'll be in Orlando taking part in the Dopey Challenge as part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. The Dopey Challenge is 5K, 10k, Half Marathon and Full Marathon run over four consecutive days – I won't be fast, and it won't be pretty but I'm really looking forward to it!
No matter where I run, coming back to Market Harborough parkrun feels like coming back home. The routine is the same every week (including my non-runner husband always being the first customer in the café, although he's a bit gutted as when I first started he would have time for a full fry up and a second cuppa ... now it's a pain au chocolate), the familiar smiling faces, the awesome marshals (who doesn't love a high five from Austin?!) and the beautiful environment that we are fortunate enough to run in. It's always amazing to see new people join the parkrun family and watch their journey as their confidence and fitness grows.
As well as a time for reflection on the past, it's a time to think of goals for the coming year.... my parkrun goal for 2019 is to give more back to our fantastic community by volunteering more, as so many regular volunteers are frequently giving up the opportunity to run. What's yours?