parkrun #213 report – HAC takeover, 25th May 2019
Saturday 25th May brought us another cloudless blue sky, and another local athletic club takeover of Market Harborough parkrun. This time it fell to members of the Harborough Athletic Club - resplendent in their famous yellow HAC vests and t-shirts - to contribute volunteering duties for our 213th run around our wonderful Welland Park. As a MH park runner since event #27, and relatively recent HAC convert, I didn’t take much convincing to contribute this run report – after all, that way I could volunteer and run at the same time!
As ever at this time of year, the park looked stunning, and after welcoming us all RD Michael reminded us that course conditions were ‘unfortunately perfect…so no excuses!!’ (though it was a touch on the warm side for me…). Michael was obviously right with his assessment; within the hour, a remarkable 65 of the 353 parkrunners had sprinted, run, jogged or walked to new PB glory, while the rest of us had to be content with the knowledge that – as ever with parkrun – there will always be next week...
The organisation of this week’s event was exemplary; volunteers cheered us around every corner and a super-efficient post-run processing effort meant we all had our times before 11am! I’ve done a fair bit of parkrun touristing, and I’ve yet to come across a better organised or more welcoming event. Our parkrun continues to attract really impressive numbers, and this week we welcomed 33 first timers to Harborough, of whom 12 were running their first ever parkrun. Special congratulations to them, and we hope to see you again soon. I’m sure our parkrun tourists enjoyed today’s event as much as the rest of us. Among those I spoke to was a groom-to-be, from Edinburgh, running on the morning of his wedding along with his best man and ushers. It was great to see that the weather held out for his big day, and I hope he wasn’t too sore from his running efforts..!
Thinking about this report made me reflect a little on my own running journey, and the role parkrun has played in it. People start parkrunning for all sorts of reasons; to help lose weight and gain fitness, to make new friends or feel part of a bigger community, or to help achieve a better balance in increasingly busy lives, and I was no exception. I couldn’t have made a better decision than sign up to parkrun back in 2015. It has become a weekly essential, and is now also a family event, providing a really valuable common interest between father and teenage son, and has generated an extended shared group of friends, spanning the generational gap.
About a year ago, after a long period of slow gradual improvement in my parkrun times, my performances started to plateau and I knew that I had to up my training effort. I also knew that I would be more likely to stick to training if I was doing it with a group, so in September 2019, I decided to go along to a free trial session at HAC. Unsurprisingly, given the membership overlap with the MH parkrun family, the HAC community was really welcoming and supportive, and it wasn’t long before I was looking forward to Tuesday night HAC training as much as my Saturday parkruns. The club is large enough to be able to support runners of all abilities and ambitions, and a number of spinoff sessions also run on Thursday nights to suit runners across the speed and endurance spectrum. parkrun PBs started coming again and my circle of running buddies grew again. Unexpectedly, I even found myself motivated to begin competing more seriously. I hadn’t appreciated the diversity of the running year, from wet and muddy winter cross country events, to the excitement of the track season, road relays and indoor events too. All are challenging, but great fun. So if, like me, you feel that you would rather train with others than slog it out by yourself, then why not come along to the Training Shed at 7pm and give it a go?
Finally, we are especially fortunate in Harborough not only to have such an organised, friendly, supportive and dedicated parkrun team, but also to have an equally wonderful group of people looking after our junior 2k parkrun on Sunday mornings. If you have never stood by the playground to watch the sprint finish efforts of our juniors, then I can thoroughly recommend this as a great antidote to any world-weariness we may sometimes feel. The energy and motivation of those young athletes as they fly down the finishing straight is truly life-affirming. If you can ever offer your support to either the Saturday or Sunday volunteering teams, you would be warmly welcomed!
Thanks for the opportunity to contribute this report to the HAC takeover of the MH parkrun, and wishing you well for wherever your running journey takes you!