My “lockdown” experience ….. with Matt Coyne

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Our Running Community


Oh boy how we miss parkrun. Parkrun to us, means so much more than just a free weekly timed run. My family all go. My pals all go. We run, we cheer, we drink coffee and eat cake afterwards. And we miss that… a LOT. 


See running for us isn’t just about running, it’s about our extended social network of pals getting together, having fun together and encouraging each other to push a little harder or get out for the first time together to run. 


And this is where my tangent begins. 


We were listening to a podcast the other day called Science Vs (it’s great for kids and adults alike) and there was a bit of a random story about ants that inspired this blog. 


These weren’t just any ants, these were ants trapped in a nuclear bunker with no obvious means of survival. It was completely sealed with no light, no obvious way in and no obvious way out. They were trapped and it baffled scientists. 


When this nuclear bunker was sealed, thousands of ants were trapped inside and slowly started to grow as ants that colonised above the bunker occasionally fell down the ventilation shaft never to return to the surface again. They were trapped. When the bunker was discovered, scientists found nearly a million ants trapped inside this bunker. They found no queen ants and no ant larvae so these queenless ants had to survive. They were trapped and had no chance to escape. As one scientist said, “"They were merely surviving and continuing their social tasks on the conditions set by the extreme environment." Something that we can all relate a little bit to today. 


So ignoring the fact they survived on cannibalism, I mean, I certainly hope we don’t get to that stage, what amazed these researchers was how they thrived to survive. How they worked together to make the most of their situation.


The podcast went on to talk about other ant colonies and how they work together to hunt much bigger animals (termites) and also how they looked after their injured ants by carrying them back to their base for much needed rehabilitation, helping them to survive. 


Ok, back to running…


I think this is where our parkrun community as well as my beloved RunPals can relate most. All of us have been affected by this current pandemic in some way. I’ve lost close friends, pals have lost jobs, many are on furlough and many have been locked down for weeks not able to leave their four walls but… but this running community that we call our extended family has pulled together and helped us to get through it. They have helped us.


We have been organising free running challenges for a few years now, but they seem to be even more relevant to people today. Through these running based challenges people have worked together to achieve incredible feats or with “Time Trials” (which is how parkrun began in Bushy Park in 2004) people have been given an opportunity to focus, channel their bad times with some good times and in some cases, some serious PB times. 


For some of those in lockdown, runners have regularly gone past their windows to show waves of support and if you didn’t already know, what may seem like a tiny little “wave” gesture, can mean more to the person receiving it than we’ll ever know. 


It’s not always easy, but knowing there are pals out there virtually supporting you, encouraging you to do better or just get out and get it done is food for the soul. It fires us. It motivates us to keep going. 


It doesn’t replace our face to face running, our physical high fives and hugs, but it keeps us close. It lets us know that there are other busy ants out there who do care and can’t wait to run with us all again. 


My family look forward to seeing you all soon.




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