It now seems like a lifetime ago that I finished my last parkrun at Wollaton Hall, bumping into some of my new found friends who are regular Rushcliffe parkrunners, completing my full set of Nottingham parkruns.
Whilst this is undeniably an extremely difficult and worrying time, the values that parkrun is built upon do provide a great basis for dealing with this situation.
It was October 2016 that I did my first parkrun at Rushcliffe. I remember turning up thinking it was just another run (I had previously ran numerous 10ks and half marathons) but it soon became apparent that it was much more than a run. Straight away I was hooked (I do think parkrun should carry a warning that “parkrun is addictive and can seriously improve your health”).The atmosphere was like no other, the volunteers were enthusiastic and supportive, the other runners were all friendly and welcoming. The diversity though really stood out, people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities coming together to complete the 5k in a non judgemental way. It didn’t matter how fast or slow the runners were they were all treated in the same way, given the respect they deserve (even those annoyingly fast runners who seem to glide by with very little effort!). The volunteers were deservedly thanked by many runners.
I think these non judgemental and respectful values are something we are going to need in abundance as we recover from this pandemic. This has certainly been the case as I have been out and about running and walking, discovering new routes along the way. The vast majority of people I have encountered (from a distance of more than 2m away) have been friendly and respectful, moving to one side of the path to enable me to pass safely or thanking me as I zigzag across the road to maintain my social distance (incidentally working in a maths department has made social distancing much easier as most mathematicians have practiced this for years!). This reinforces parkrun founder,Paul Sinton-Hewitt’s philosophy that most people are good people.
As we begin to ease the lockdown measures, hopefully avoiding a second peak, these values will become even more important. We won’t all agree will the actions that are taken but it will be important that we respect the differing opinions and take responsibility for ensuring our own actions put us in the best position.
Similarly when parkrun is unpaused, which personally I think will be many months away, there will be some that think the decision was taken too quickly and others thinking it some have been done weeks ago. Whatever your opinion we must respect that parkrun head office together with the event directors have taken what they believe to be the right course of action to deliver a safe, sustainable parkrun experience as they have done for many years now.
I shall leave you with a message from my parkrun street name challenge (I need to dash it’s nearly parkrun quiz time). A lack of a certain letter locally changed this into a parkrun street name catchphrase (answer at the end)
I hope everyone stays safe and I look forward to seeing you all again at a time where our biggest worry in life is whether we will need a single, double or triple finishing funnel.
(answer to the catchphrase-“Rushcliffe parkrun is missing you”