A look back at our celebration of the NHS……..

This last week has seen the 40th anniversary of Nottingham Forest winning the European Cup for the second time (imagine how hard it is for me, as a Leicester supporter, to write those words) and, in line with many media outlets that don't have any actual sport to report on I heard that yesterday afternoon Radio Nottingham were re-running the full match commentary from that night in Madrid when John Roberson scored the winning goal against Hamburg.

Which seems a perfect opportunity for Rushcliffe parkrun to look back at some of our most memorable events, and it is so fitting that we start by going back to June 9th, 2018, when we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

What will it be like next time we get together to celebrate the NHS?

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Amazing how things turn out sometimes. It would have been good anyway, but in the end it was fantastic. All it takes is the ideas, time, determination and commitment from one person to change the Saturday morning for 512 parkrunners.

We were contacted a couple of months ago, by parkrun UK, about their national initiative to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS and Rushcliffe were invited to join in at a local level. ‘What a good idea’ we thought and, in our own, usually understated way, we planned to share the national messages via facebook and twitter, say a few words in the pre run brief and continue the theme into the run report.

Well, that was until the first element of that plan was actioned. On Wednesday May 30th we shared, on facebook, the details of the national launch event featuring Dame Kelly Holmes. Within minutes we had received a message from Nat Scroggie (pictured above) asking about our plans and suggesting various initiatives, that she was happy to organize, to put fun, excitement and meaning into our support of the National initiative.

And so it was, with Nat’s ideas, time, determination and commitment that this week’s event came to you with fancy dress, a dedicated walking group and pacers between 28 and 40 minutes – and delivered a fabulous atmosphere, fun and laughter, delighted parkrunners with new PB’s and ensured we celebrated the NHS in style. She didn’t organize the weather – that was a bonus!

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In the 10 days between the 30th May and 9th June Nat used her contacts to get support from within the medical profession, arranged fancy dress including the magnificent double buggy ‘ambulance’ with flashing blue light , spoke to members of the press – we were even featured in West Bridgford Wire! – cajoled her friends into being pacers and generally made sure everything was in place for a superb celebration of the magnificent organization that is the NHS.

As was said in the pre-run brief yesterday

'We’ve all used the NHS at some points in our lives and had experience of this fantastic organisation. parkrun is joining in the celebrations of the NHS’s 70th birthday with some special activities today primarily centred on encouraging us all to be more active and having fun, both of which have been proven to show that they lead to better mental and physical health - and keeping healthy is the best way that we can support the NHS.’

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To the end of keeping healthy, we were very keen to get the message communicated that parkrun is for everyone and we hope that by having a walking group and pacers with 28 to 40 minutes target times we will encourage more people to come and join in the fun. Nobody need ever worry about being last – we have tail walkers whose job is to be the final finishers and we will always provide a supportive atmosphere that will encourage participation by everyone, no matter your age or ability.

Please spread the message amongst your friends, relatives and work colleagues. parkrun is for everyone - we know from stories that have already been told, including a few over the years in the run reports, that parkrun can change lives for the better.

Clearly organising a brilliant event for 512 parkrunners was a breeze for Nat, because immediately afterwards she blogged about her experience, and why the NHS means so much to her, and we can all see it on her ‘This Vet Runs’ blog, via this link. She also arranged for a photo album of yesterday to be posted on facebook for us all to enjoy. You can see that via this link.

Thank you to the National Health Service for what you have done for us all over the last 70 years – and what you will continue to do in the future.

Thank you to the volunteer team that timed, scanned, marshalled, funnel managed and this week’s event.

And thank you to Nat for making it a memorable Saturday morning in the park.

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Peopleless parkrun

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Sally has been to the park early this morning and was stirred to write this fantastic poem and has called it 'Peopleless parkrun'. You will understand why!

Peopleless parkrun
Well that was a strange sort of parkrun
A run with just another one
We went very early to miss the rush
Although it wasn’t much fun

We ran on the normal park route
Avoiding dogs and their owners
Moving aside to avoid a dispute
And running as though we were loners

We tried to chat to each other
Because that’s why we were there
But we might as well have not bothered
As our voices disappeared into the air

But still it was nice to be back
Experiencing what we had before
And we both said we want to keep running the track
Even if social distancing’s a bore

Eventually, we are both thinking
Our parkrun will be safe for us to go
And although at times we are sinking
We really don’t want to be too slow

So here’s to the time when it’s ready
For parkrun we really can’t wait
We’ll be fully trained and go steady
Here’s hoping there’s not long to wait !

Thank you Sally.

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So what happened to 20/20 vision? Nobody saw this coming in 2020!!

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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.

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(answer to the catchphrase-“Rushcliffe parkrun is missing you”

Paul

 

The new normal of a Saturday morning

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Who knew that Dermot O’Leary was so entertaining as the presenter of the Radio 2 breakfast show on a Saturday morning? (Don’t get me started on the mystery voice - Connie Booth?, I am not convinced even though I know it is the answer. And I have no idea about the current one. Any suggestions? Anyway, I digress.) Listening to Dermot whilst attempting to do the crossword has become my ‘new normal’ on a Saturday morning, usually followed by a short run. All at a more relaxed pace than my previous Saturday routine.

Which is a bit of a worry.

I love parkrun, it has given me so much in the last 7 years and I want it to keep doing that for many more years in the future. But I worry, what if lots of dedicated parkrunners have discovered a ‘new normal’ on a Saturday morning that doesn’t involve setting the alarm for earlier than a weekday and heading out to a puddle strewn, windswept park to battle the elements then ‘the moment’ of parkrun may have passed. Ex-parkrunners (a word I hope to never use again) may have found they prefer to spend their Saturday mornings in different, non-parkrun ways.

You don’t need to be a virologist to put two and two together to make four. The government advice is saying that we will be social distancing for some time into the future, potentially until we have a vaccine for this blasted virus that has interrupted so many good things. The latest update from parkrun (accessed here if you haven’t seen it) makes it clear that “we are not considering starting events where doing so would mean participants or volunteers are required to maintain a certain distance between each other”. Doing the basic maths would suggest it could be quite a while before we can gather again in the park at 9am on a Saturday.

That could give people plenty of opportunity to develop their new normal, which may not include parkrun. When we thought we would be missing a few weeks we were all very excited about ‘that first one back’, but as that extends into months the outlook may be very different.

And it is at this point that I remind myself that it is statistically proven that 98% of the things we worry about don’t happen. It is wasted time and energy, and the trouble is that many of us have an awful lot of time on our hands at the moment.

The concept of parkrun – free, timed, 5k, every Saturday at 9am, is brilliant. The principle of encouraging people to be more active than they otherwise would be to improve their health and happiness will be more relevant than ever. Which is why we will need to be more evangelistic about the fabulous thing that is parkrun, to make sure that we come back stronger and more successful than before.

Finally, whilst I hate to disagree with a lady, as I was listening to Dame Vera singing her memorable song as part of the VE Day commemoration, I couldn’t help but think that we may not know exactly when we will meet again, but we do know it will be on a Saturday at 9am, and it will be in Rushcliffe Country Park.

We will be back.

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The Best Laid Plans!

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To borrow a phrase from 18th Century poet Robert Burns, the best laid plans of parkrun tourists often go awry. Take, for example, my trip earlier this year to Millhouses parkrun in south Sheffield. It had been quite cold overnight but it hadn’t appeared bad enough for it to be called off due to ice, and indeed at 8.30am it was confirmed to be on. It then actually got colder and at approximately 9.05am after a further inspection it was called off. A long way to go for no parkrun.

As a dedicated (my family would say ‘obsessed’) parkrun tourist, the current situation the world finds itself in has rendered useless several hours of planning. On 11 April I should have been at Doddington Hall (near Lincoln) for their 11th event. Why? Because I don’t have an event number 11 in my list yet. On 18 April I was scheduled to complete my 250th parkrun, qualifying me for the green t-shirt. Last week I should have been at Queen Elizabeth parkrun in Hampshire with fellow obsessives (Ian Howe, Richard Harland plus Brodie and Harry) to tick off the much-coveted ‘Q’ towards the alphabet challenge. Running there would have seen me complete my UK alphabet, which would have left just the small matter of a trip to Poland at the end of May to get the elusive ‘Z’ to complete the parkrun alphabet, in the small town of Malbork just outside Gdansk. My planning spreadsheet (I know…) also had me at Rushcliffe a few times as well, doing some volunteering when I had races on Sundays, and also when I needed to stay local or just be back at my home course. Achieving all these different challenges and planning my parkruns months ahead is incredibly motivating and gives me a real buzz.

So I don’t mind admitting that I am finding the current situation hard. Very hard. When you dedicate yourself to something in such a committed way and then can’t do it, it leaves a huge gaping hole. So what to do?

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Well, parkrun tourists are nothing if not resourceful. Somebody in the parkrun tourist facebook group, a group for which you have to ‘qualify’ by completing 20 different events, went out running and took photos of street signs, using the first letter of each street name to spell out a parkrun-related word like, er ‘parkrun’ or ‘barcode’. Like any good basic idea this was then extended to people doing this to spell out their home course, their own name, or even completing the parkrun alphabet (no ‘x’s). I went out and did this to spell out ‘Rushcliffe parkrun’ – I did have to use the same ‘u’ twice but I did collect them all in order. You can see the evidence on our parkrun’s facebook page. I now know my home town (Bingham) much better than I did, and concentrating on where to run next meant it didn’t really feel like I’d run nearly 11k in the process. If anyone else would like to join in please do and post your photos in the ‘visitor posts’ section.

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Doing things like this helps to a certain extent, but of course what we all want to know is when we’ll be back parkrunning. If I was a betting man (I have to be careful here; the last time I bet in public it didn’t quite go to plan…) I’d be astonished if we were back before 2021. With social distancing set to continue for the rest of 2020 I can’t see how that squares with large groups of people congregating to do parkrun. But it’s not up to me, and I have everything crossed for a resumption as soon as possible.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that there are far more concerning issues than parkrun tourism at this time. This report should be read in that context.

Thanks for reading, and keep safe and well.

Jonathan

 

Could parkrun save the world?

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No.

Well, this could be the shortest ever post no-parkrun-run-report if I stopped right there, so I won’t.

What am I going on about?

A few years ago (actually it was only in early March this year…..) I thought of writing this for the parkrunners of Rushcliffe, and this was my heading, and intended start point. My thinking at that stage was that movements like #BeKind that emerged after the tragic death of Caroline Flack picked on the apparent zeitgeist of some people starting to reject the poison of social media and the mainstream press; I thought parkrun typified a lot of the good in society, and goodness in people.

Ever since I started to do my regular Saturday morning parkrun in March 2016, I for one have said “thank you” to many a bemused steward at my beloved Everton; or to the curious Bus Driver who normally only gets drunken abuse from his passengers; or to the suspicious security team at a gig when they’re clearly not programmed to receive such niceties. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if the parkrun ‘habit’ of thanking marshals, volunteers and fellow runners/walkers became even more widespread beyond the parkrun communities of the UK. “Let’s start a movement”, I thought.

And then blasted March happened. No parkruns, but worse, far worse, death like we’ve never known in our own lifetimes, taking the famous, the infamous, the rich, the poor, the elite and the downtrodden, in something that has quite literally spread across the world and dominates every conversation we ever have, and occupies almost every minute of news, should we choose to watch or listen to it.

But I suspect that Covid19 will be what we look back on in months and years to come as the catalyst to changing the society we live in. Or at least it should be, and I hope so. We’ve all experienced the Thursday evening applause for the NHS, there have been volunteers shopping for self-isolated neighbours, a whole army of volunteers well in excess of the numbers called for by the Government to help in this time of crisis, we’ve probably chosen this moment to WhatsApp/Facetime/Zoom/Houseparty etc etc our physically distant friends and relatives, and for those in our immediate household, we’ve all held our loved ones just that little bit closer as each day passes, unless of course you’ve accused them of cheating at Monopoly.

So No, parkrun can’t save the world, at the moment I think we need to rely more on Medics, nurses and Epidemiologists and the like to do that; but when it comes to this post-apocalyptic time, I like to believe that the goodness in people that always shines through as we hurtle, sprint, jog or amble around Rushcliffe Country Park every Saturday will be the thing that comes to the fore even more, just as it has done during this hideous health crisis of 2020.

Ross Crombie

 

Alan is ruminating on a lifetime of highs and lows, to which COVID-19 can now be added.

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Hi Everyone! I’m Alan Howe. Many of you will know me as “Ian’s Dad.”

This is my third run report but this one will be very different. I wrote my second report on Easter Saturday, 20th April 2019 when we had 529 runners, including tourists from as far afield as San Diego, California and New Zealand. How times have changed.

Nobody is immune from the COVID-19 virus. I will be 75 in June and have been told that because of my age I am at a far higher risk of suffering the worst effects of this awful virus than the population at large. The government has put me in the vulnerable category which means that I will have to remain in self-isolation for several weeks after the lockdown restrictions are lifted. Knowing this has made me ruminate on the highs and lows throughout my lifetime nationally, internationally and personally.

I can remember rationing, the creation of the NHS, the Queen’s Coronation and man walking on the moon. There was national celebration when England won the World Cup and total euphoria in Nottingham both times Forest won the European Cup and in parts of North London when Spurs (my favourite team) achieved the league and cup double. I believe other teams have had similar successes!

On the negative side there was the nuclear missile crisis and the three-day working week when electricity to every home and business in UK was limited to just 16 hours per day and the two TV stations, BBC1 and ITV were only allowed to broadcast for five hours each day, going off air at 10.30.

If you wanted to make an international telephone call back in the 1970s you had to book your three-minute slot 24 hours in advance. We had to wait until the late 1980s / early 1990s for the creation of the internet and the communication explosion that produced the global world we now know. How did we survive without online shopping, video conferencing, 24-hour rolling news, Facebook, FaceTime and Skype? During the current lockdown these have been a lifeline keeping us supplied with essential groceries and staying in touch with family and friends from across the world. Then there is Zoom for keep fit classes in your own living room every morning and YouTube for your daily workout with Joe Wicks. My wife, Chris (she is a member of the new walking group) and I haven’t missed any of Joe’s sessions although I must confess, we occasionally have had to modify some of the exercises.

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Working out with Joe Wicks

But these exercise classes through cyberspace are no substitute for the personal contact that parkrun brings. Chatting with friends before the start and that explosion of applause when you reach the finish feeling like an Olympic champion, even if you do cross the line in 400th place.

During these hard times it is important to keep healthy in both mind and body. I have been testing my woodworking and upholstery skills constructing two adjustable foot stools and resurrecting my love for art, particularly drawing.

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Chris and I have taken full advantage of the lovely weather to run laps around our small garden. Although, I must admit we have fallen a few short of the 178 laps needed to complete the full 5km run.

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Doing my laps!

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Marshal offering refreshment!

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Finished! In more ways than one.

For us the end of lockdown can’t come soon enough so that we can get back to parkrun. In the meantime, please stay safe and follow the Government guidelines. We must protect ourselves and be thankful to those wonderful doctors, nurses, paramedics, carers, shop assistants, lorry drivers, bin men and everyone else who is working so hard to keep the country going. Let’s have a long round applause for them all at our next (real) parkrun!

 

Jo is in a reflective mood on the day she should be celebrating her 100th parkrun

Today marks what should have been my 100th parkrun. It’s a milestone I’ve been working towards since my 50th in 2018. Before all of this, I’d signed up to write the run report so I thought I’d keep to my end of the bargain and write it anyway. Here goes…

Back to 2018. Funnily enough, this was also the year I changed jobs, one of the reasons being to have a better work life balance. It was a very happy coincidence that I didn’t have to work Saturday mornings. I ambitiously set out to get to my 100th parkrun in a year and I thought it would be simple, with every Saturday free for my beloved parkrun. However, life gets in the way. Holidays, courses and, dare I say it, hangovers have all got in the way but this current situation has really put a spanner in the works. I was not anticipating a pandemic stopping parkruns all over the world. I’m stuck on 97 and the new date for my 100th parkrun is very much to be confirmed.

I am so grateful for the keyworkers who are keeping the country going. I’m sure I speak for all of Rushcliffe parkrunners when I say thank you and I suggest a huge clap for them at parkrun when we do all reunite. For the rest of us, the pandemic has given us time. Time to connect with our friends, family and colleagues in different ways and time to disconnect, to think and to reflect. During my reflective moments, I have been able look back on my 97 parkruns.

I’ll give you a brief overview. I was that kid in PE at school. I’ll admit hated it and even got called a “nincompoop” by one of my teachers for my terrible efforts! The only thing I ever remotely enjoyed was the 100 metre sprint in athletics, and that was because it was over and done with quickly! I walked my dogs but apart from that, I avoided sport and exercise like the plague. In 2016, life needed to change. I was anxious, stressed and it was actually my GP who asked if I had ever considered running to release some tension. I recoiled at the thought, laughing out loud when I told her that it wasn’t for me. However, it was in my head and, a few conversations with friends later, I changed my mind. Not one to do things by halves, I signed up to my first half marathon. The reality hit; I needed to learn how to run. 10 months later I would be running my first 13.1 miles when I’d never even ran a mile. ‘Oops’ was the polite version of the words that sprung into my head!

By chance, Rushcliffe run director, Lisa, was one of my clients and I quizzed her about what this parkrun thing was. A friend had told me about it but I had no idea how it worked nor where and when I needed to go. Lisa was awesome at talking me through it, and showing me how to get my barcode. I printed it, laminated it with my finest sellotape and turned up the following Saturday ready for 9am. It wasn’t pretty and the colour of my face matched the top I had chosen to wear but I did it, with Lisa cheering me in (see the photo for my beetroot impression).

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I was totally hooked. It has just built from there. I did parkrun on my 30th birthday complete with balloons. I’ve dressed up with my pooch on Christmas day parkruns. I convinced my friend to join and we volunteered as tail walkers together for her first time to show her the route. I persuaded my cousin to come to parkrun although he hadn’t really understood the concept; he turned up wondering why 500 other people had come to see us complete a run in the park! At 76 years old, my Dad completed his first parkrun joined by our friend’s 6 year old son, Seth - they even made the national parkrun post! I’ve done parkrun dressed as a purple lady (shout out to NWR!), a pumpkin and with a Christmas pudding.

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I have made great new friends. A lot of these started as people I would just say hello to on a Saturday morning, and I’m sure a lot of us can relate to that. These friends have become a hugely supportive network, which we need more than ever in these times. In the last year alone, I’ve ended up on trips all over the world including Bushy Park and Benidorm as well as more recently staying at home, having Saturday nights in and sharing Zoom calls with them. These are just a few of the memories I have made through parkrun in the last 5 years. And I did the half marathon by the way, then went on to do quite a few more and even a marathon. It all started with parkrun. To this day, if I hear anyone mention parkrun, I still pull the same face as my dog does when he hears me rustle the treat bag! Like I said, totally hooked!

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If you’d have told me in 2016 that I’d be writing a report about how much I enjoyed running, I would have laughed my head off but here we are. I was missing it so much that I ran a parkrun in my garden the other day, but it’s just not the same. Whilst there are no PBs, no first timers and no pre-run briefings at the moment, there is some normality. I still thank parkrun and the volunteers who help to run it and currently those who put on the Great Big parkrun Quiz.

For me, parkrun really has been a life changer. Thank you! I absolutely LOVE parkrun and Saturday mornings at Rushcliffe and can’t wait for them to return. When we do reunite and when the big 100 finally happens, there will be cake and much celebrating! What a day that will be! Life might get in the way, but it just gives us more to look forward to in the future. Whilst the finish funnel is still the end goal, it’s so much more about the journey getting there.

I hope everyone stays safe, happy and well. We will be back!

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We’ll be back – and stronger than ever

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In many ways, parkrun changed my life. I might even go so far as to say it saved it.

If you asked a typical crowd at Rushcliffe on a Saturday – or at any parkrun, for that matter – to raise their hands if they were there for the mental health benefits it brings as much as for physical fitness, I’d say the chances are high you’d see an overwhelming response.

It makes the situation we face right now especially challenging. We not only have to abstain from one of the most positive things in our lives. In its place, we must endure a period of who knows how long in conditions that will put the mental resilience of many to the test.

With time on our hands and nowhere to go, it gives us plenty of scope for reflection. And I’ve certainly been reflecting on what parkrun means to me, and how much of my life has changed for the better either directly or indirectly as a result of it.

A change will do you good

Around two years ago, maybe a little more, I wasn’t in a great place.

I was working in a job that, though reasonably paid, was wearing me down in all kinds of ways. It was relentless but rarely rewarding. The hours and travel were punishing. Egos were everywhere and their voices tended to win out over the contributions of their quietly hardworking colleagues (of which there were many lovely, talented people).

It had long since killed my confidence, damaged relationships inside and outside work, and drained me of energy, my sense of humour and an interest in much of anything. When I did have spare time, the job, workplace and worry were never far from my mind. But, at the time, I lacked the clarity, strategy or courage needed to get off the rollercoaster.

When things came to a head, and friends and family members told me they were concerned about me (one even saying they feared I’d do something drastic), I knew something needed to change. But what and how?

parkrun helped me find the answer.

First parkrun at Lanhydrock An early Rushcliffe attempt
Small steps, big benefits

I’d dabbled once or twice before. First on a visit to friends in Bodmin years ago, when I attempted the infamously hilly Lanhydrock (great choice, Darren!). Later they visited Nottingham and we made our Rushcliffe debut. At the time, though, it never really took.

This time was different. There was a fresh determination somewhere inside. Perhaps the knowledge I needed to do something to improve my physical health at least, if not a realisation of the impact it would also have on my clouded and conflicted brain.

Those first few visits were tough. I walked more often than I ran. But the support I experienced – just as every first timer does – was phenomenal and (to use some corporate speak) transformative.

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Each week, the ratio of walking to running shifted in the latter’s favour, until the proud day I ran the whole of both laps without walking once. Over time, the times started improving too. I felt stronger and quicker. But I also felt other, arguably more important, things too.

Clarity and confidence – things I hadn’t experienced for some time. As the runs improved, I found myself thinking less about breathing technique or ‘just staying alive’ as I ran and more about all kinds of topics. Not least, what I could do to improve my work situation.

Then there’s the other massive side of parkrun, of course. The people and the community.

Those running Rushcliffe parkrun regularly (the event as a whole, I mean, not the course) are incredible. Selfless and slick are the two ‘s’ words I’d use.

From Geoff and Lisa, who’ve given so much of their time to steer the ship, to all of the other regular volunteers who take on important roles and keep everything ticking over each weekend with a skill visiting event directors and tourists regularly compliment. There are too many to list here, but you know who you are.

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Growing family, growing confidence

People often use the word family to describe the connections they make at parkrun. And it’s no wonder. It’s an environment where everyone looks out for an encourages one another (what a contrast), and where you get to know people you see every week well.

Since I started parkrunning, I’ve made friendships I could never have anticipated. Taken a train at the crack of dawn with fellow tourists for a pilgrimage to Bushy Park. And, as the running that started for me in earnest at Rushcliffe has progressed, tackled three half marathons with several of them – the most recent overseas in Benidorm (just two weeks before COVID-19 grounded flights).

What’s also fantastic is when your ‘other’ family gets involved too – like the day my wife Kirsty first joined the volunteer roster. Since then she hasn’t looked back, quickly surpassing my own tally for helping out (in about 16 months she’s clocked up over 50 volunteer stints).

Run Director duty and team
parkrun has surprised me in other ways, too – like giving me the confidence (and the encouragement) to take on the role of run director, briefing and helping organise volunteers, and standing up in front of 500+ people with a megaphone.

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From small steps to big ones

parkrun has taught me that if you just start by putting one foot in front of the other you can be surprised by where those first steps take you, the possibilities that open up and what you discover about yourself.

It gave me the clarity to make a big decision – and so I left my workplace after over 13 years in January to go self-employed. At last I found the courage and confidence to do what was needed, and the clarity upstairs to have formulated a plan that could work.

It’s a big leap and potentially a quite risky one – even before you add the COVID-19 effect. But I’m following the same strategy, to put one foot in front of the other, and gradually it seems to be taking. Time will tell. Whether it works or not, I’m certainly feeling happier and more chilled out.

So that’s why I see no reason to use any other strategy to cope with this temporary hiatus from parkrun we’re all having to endure. The knowledge that one day we’ll all be back at Rushcliffe, whether volunteering or running. That alone, and the thought that the turnout is likely to be incredible, gives me real hope (faith, even – not bad for someone who’s not religious) and something to aim for.

We’ll be back whenever we can because we need to be. It’s too important.

In the meantime, what’s important right now is to keep moving and stay connected with each other in all the ways we’ve probably never fully appreciated were there until now.

If we do, we’ll be back stronger than ever. And I can’t wait to see you there.

Stay safe, everyone.

Darren

Tourists In Benidorm with Ian, Jo, Rob and Amy

 

March 28th was supposed to be very special for Tracey!!!

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So March 28th was supposed to be a special parkrun Saturday for me. Not only was I going to be volunteering again, clapping and cheering as hundreds of lovely parkrunners whizzed and walked past me, but there would also have been cake. Lots of cake. Lemon drizzle for Louisa Langton, carrot cake for Robert Hackford and another lemon drizzle for Kirsty Parnaby. And maybe a few to spare too. "Why so much cake?" I hear you cry. Well, it would also have been my 250th parkrun.

So a time for reflection in these troubles and uncertain times. I ran my first parkrun on 1st December 2012. Some park runners weren't even born then! It was Event no 9 ar Rushcliffe and I ran a time of 28:45. I came 40th. If I ran the same time at the last Rushcliffe parkrun I would have been 177th. Or to look at it another way to be home in 40th position I would have had to run a time of 22:37. Not a chance!!!

This morning I ran my socially distanced 5k in a time of 29:27. I came home to be told by my son that that was rubbish. "but you've been running for years and you are not getting any better" is his argument. (PB 25:07 on 23/1/16 actually, although no idea how I managed that!) So I told him he is missing the point. I dont run at parkrun for any other reason that the pure enjoyment of putting one foot in front of another, somewhat faster than walking pace, and chatting my way round catching up with the friends I have made over the years. To me it will never be about beating last weeks time. That is fine for others but I am happy to just turn up and get round.

And so as we adjust to the changes in our lives over the new few months, I am grateful that I can still run from home, moving to the other side of the street if someone is coming the other way, offering a wave or smile of togetherness.

Life for all of us is on pause. And I can wait for that amazing green Tshirt with 250 on it. In the meantime I might make my own T shirt out of a cushion cover.......keep well ....keep safe xxx

Tracey

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