This week it's turn to find out more about David Hodgkinson. Unusually for Reading, a Run Director who, so far, has actually volunteered more than he has run at parkrun.
What do get out of running?
I get real satisfaction out of being able to push myself further, or faster than I thought when I set out. That post run glow doesn't always happen, but when it does it's a fantastic feeling. Although the happiness a good time, long distance or strong run gives me, it soon turns into “Well if I can do that, then maybe I can improve on it just a little bit more…”
What do you like most about parkrun?
I love the ethos of the whole thing. The fact it’s free, the fact it is for everyone, is wonderful. When you see someone celebrating a PB whether that’s 30/40/50 minutes, when you see people hanging around and chatting at the end of the run, or the pride when someone reaches a milestone, you can see that although people treat it in so many different ways everyone can get something out of it.
What do you like most about Reading parkrun?
The people. Without question. Over the course of a three and a half years of coming to parkrun I’ve met some great people, some I probably would never have met otherwise, and some have turned into friends.
David learning the intricacies of timekeeping from Event Director Teresa Caswell
What do you get out of volunteering at parkrun?
It’s great to still be part of the parkrun community every week even when I’m injured, which seems to have been rather a lot in the last few years! But as well as the social side, when you volunteer you feel like you are sharing in the achievements of those who actually run, and you go home with a warm sense of contentment. Plus it still gets me up and out early to start the weekend!
What made you first volunteer at parkrun?
At the time I was recovering from a tough period with my mental wellbeing, and I was looking around for a form of volunteering to help me reconnect with people and the world in general. One of my best friends from University suggested parkrun as her husband ran at Reading and knew they always had a need for volunteers, but she also knew how much I loved being involved with sport. The two together seemed like a good idea...
What is your fantasy parkrun to do (real or otherwise)?
I’ve only run Reading & California Country parkrun so far, but I’d love to do some of those that are on beaches, and/or doing a milestone run at the home of parkrun, Bushy Park, would be on my list.
What is your best running memory?
Running my one and only marathon (so far), The London Marathon in 2008. I’d not even run a 5k before training, but after sitting and watching the London Marathon for as long as I can remember on TV, and (blindly) thinking I’d love to do that one year, I applied to the ballot. Unbelievably, I got a place on my first try. Their are so many small memories of the actual day, standing on the start line next to a 70 year old who was about to run his first marathon since having a double hip replacement (!), the deafening noise coming over Tower Bridge, seeing friends along the route, and then being able to find a sprint finish - from I don’t know where - coming down The Mall. A very memorable day.
David has run just one marathon but several half marathons
Are you a member of any running clubs / do you run elsewhere other than parkrun?
I’m not a member of a club as yet, although people at parkrun try to cajole me every so often to join one of the local clubs. So apart from parkrun, it’s many a solo pursuit training for races. Having a race in the calendar help motivate me.
What’s the longest distance you have run?
Do you have any running ambitions/dreams/goals?
First and foremost I’d just love to get back running consistently and then doing the odd half marathon here and there. I’d like to go back and do London again one day, and get under 4 hours.
Are you training for any upcoming events?
I was due to go to Run Fest Run in May, before lockdown altered pretty much everything. I also have a place in the Oxford Half in October, so I’m about to start gearing up for that on the off chance mass participation events will be back by then.
Quick Fire Questions:
First parkrun & date? Volunteering at Reading #377 on 18 March 2017 as Number Checker, but then running Reading #410 on 11 November 2017.
PB? 27:11 for parkrun, and 22:07 all time (a few years ago now!)
David takes the run briefing before another Reading parkrun
No of RDs? 11
No of volunteer occasions? 103
Have you ever done a double? Not yet. I’m always off visiting family at Christmas & New Year, so I haven’t found a way to do it yet.
Have you done a parkrun in any other countries? I haven’t really done any tourism yet. But I’m hoping to do more in the future, some of the US and Canadian parkrun appeal, and I think I'd get a decent finishing position too!
What’s your favourite post parkrun refuel drink/food? A cappuccino (or two) and toast is my regular post parkrun refuel at Tutu's.
Do you do any other sports/have any other hobbies? Sport is my passion, and I trained to be a PE teacher at University, although I didn’t end up going into the profession. So I’ve played lots of different sports in my time and have coaching badges in seven different ones, but I watch much more than I play these days. I play golf sporadically, and watch a fair bit of football, rugby, and both two and four wheel motorsport.
What injuries have you had? Too many to mention! Over the last few years I’ve had knee trouble, calf strains, and achilles strains which have severely restricted my running.
What are you doing in lockdown? I’ve explored a lot of the country lanes near where I live during the daily permitted exercise outings, and started doing HIIT with Joe Wicks to get some of the excess weight off. I watched some great box sets too, I’m in the middle of The Last Dance right now.
What is your favourite parkrun memory? That’s difficult. But I’ll never forget turning up to volunteer at my very first parkrun. It was at Dinton Pastures, and in the cafe afterwards some of the regulars spotted me and pulled up a chair and asked me to sit with them, we chatted and laughed as we drank our coffees. I was hooked on parkrun from then on. (Thank you Kerry, Pete & Charlie!)
David has both run and volunteered at California Country parkrun
What is your favourite (non-Reading) parkrun? I’ve only done one other - so it has to be California Country parkrun. I was invited to do some of the trial runs during set up, and I did the inaugural there. With several ex-Reading parkrunners being part of the core team, there’s always familiar faces when I go there.
What is your advice NOT to do at a parkrun? #DFYB - don’t forget your barcode! Every run you complete gets you toward your next milestone T-Shirt, so it's worth making sure all your effort is logged and recognised.
Worst parkrun weather you have run in? The parkrun weather fairies (yes, they do exist) have always been relatively kind to me. The worst kind of weather at Reading is a wind that blows directly down the finish straight back toward the bridge. On the older version of the course with the completely straight finish run to the line it sometimes felt like the finish line would never come!
Approaching the finish line during Reading parkrun #442 for a then parkrun PB
Photo credits: Peter Cook, Peter Reilly, David Hodgkinson