It is 31 weeks since parkrun 659 happened on the 14th of March, only the wisest envisaged that 7 months later we would still have no little buzz at noon.
A lot has happened since then, sadly thousands more people have died than in previous years, the Hospitality trade especially has been decimated to discourage people from getting within the Virus’ range from person to person, and people have had to get used to being isolated from friends and family. More advantageously, Richmond Park is now far less part of the car traffic system of South London, there are far more runners (except for 9 o’clock on Saturday morning) using the Park and after a brief ban on cycling, there are more people at all levels on bikes in the Park.
parkrun had plans to recommence at the end of this month, but the startling resurgence in the incidence of the Virus everywhere, not least Richmond upon Thames has made this only a dream. There are lots of arguments that outside exercise is unlikely to be the place or situation most likely to be at risk, but the World still know so little for sure about Coronavirus that caution is the only course of action.
A vaccine does not seem to be either immediately available, safe or to give certain immunity. As yet the Test and Trace system does not seem to be effective, especially with the huge numbers of people daily becoming contagious. Testing could be an answer, people could only congregate in those numbers if they have been very recently tested negatively. Then parkrun have to do the logistics, can they/we police this to both be safe and convince the politicians that this something worth doing. For this to happen, the Prime Minister’s Moonshot testing target needs to be reached, and that can’t be guaranteed.
In the meantime, we run solo or in small groups. Is it that we want to be ready to resume when parkrun 660 happens, or do we just like running. One thing I notice, by always running with a Milestone or Apricot parkrun shirt on, the culture and enthusiasm is undiminished. In Richmond Park, I see lots of fellow parkrunners, but here and wherever I run, I get shouts, whoops and hollers from others in our community. Often when running, I imagine the scenes as we reconvene, seeing some for the first time since March 14th and others who I see regularly on my Saturday morning runs. The chance for runners to reach the milestone they have been poised on will be celebrated even more than in those pre Covid days that in retrospect we so undervalued.
One man recognised recently for his services to running in the community is Sir Brendan Foster. Running both 10,000 and 5,000m, he won Gold at Commonwealth and European Championships, and Olympic Bronze. He took a Geordie accent into the BBC commentary box; his pronunciation of the Portuguese athlete Rosa Mota was unique. However, his organisation of the Great North Run gave 2 million people the chance to compete in half marathons since 1981. Arise Sir Brendan.
Run for your life