'This is the happiest, friendliest parkrun I've ever been to'.
These were the words that a visitor shared with the Run Director, Pete, today. They struck me not only because they might be the greatest compliment Marlborough Common parkrun has yet been paid, but also because they reflect my own feelings on today's event.
At face value, this morning's parkrun was fairly uneventful. The weather was a little depressing for early April and, maybe as a result, numbers were lower than in recent weeks. There was no course record, there were no incidents (thank goodness) and it seemed like it would be an unremarkable Saturday morning.
But as I glanced up from my timekeeper duties, I just felt a buzz around the common. I noticed that we are starting to form a real community every Saturday morning.
parkrunners were lingering in the cold to chat and cheer friends across the line. We saw familiar faces who have been missing for a few weeks. We had lovely new volunteers who were enthusiastic for runners and energising for the organising team. When we suddenly realised we didn't have a tail walker, one of our regular walkers and his gorgeous dog immediately offered to put on the orange vest and take on that role.
We used our new PA system, purchased using money that our parkrunners recently donated. The PA system was greeted by cheers, which really moved me because it shows that Marlborough Common parkrunners value the event so much they are willing to give a bit of money and are thrilled to see it spent wisely to improve everyone's experience.
Great Bedwyn Medical Practice out in force; their doctors, nurses and staff were all walking, jogging or running the 5k to model healthy living to their patients. We had visitors from near and far (Australia). We had babies, children, teenagers and adults of all stages of life participating in different ways.
The golf club cafe at the end was full of defrosting parkrunners eating bacon rolls or chips with smiles on their faces and ice-packs on their knees.
The whole thing was really special.
As someone fairly new to Marlborough, this forming of community is really important. We will never be the biggest event (and trust me, the organising team do NOT worry about numbers). But what IS important is that people feel welcome and that they notice the friendliness of volunteers and fellow parkrunners. So, on the basis of the visitor's comment, I would say that this morning's parkrun was an epic success.
Thank you for being part of it.