I started doing parkrun back in June 2007 when I lived in Teddington. I’d heard about this timed, non-competitive run every Saturday morning in our local park, Bushy Park, and thought I’d give it a whirl.
I’ve never looked back. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, despite the then Bushy Park Time Trial already attracting over 300 runners. I caught the bug and set out on a quest for ever faster personal bests.
When we moved to Devon I found yet more friendly groups of runners and the exact same ethos first at Killerton and then at Seaton.
This year’s major push was to get into the 250 Club which I finally managed on 29 February – injuries and a spell working in Portugal had delayed this milestone. I’m so glad I made it just before the lockdown, because it would have driven me nuts to be stuck on 249 (like hundreds of people are!).
I am a very target-driven person so what was I going to do to make up for missing my beloved parkrun? Well, obviously I have kept on running – every other day because my poor old knees couldn’t take a daily pounding. Then came the inspiration. I’m a trained luthier (a stringed instrument maker) and I have accumulated a lot of materials left over from other instruments. So I decided to make use of them to put together a mandolin. It’s a small instrument and one I’d never made before, and I could make use of all these lovely pieces of expensive tonewood. I worked on it every day for exactly 7 weeks, my fastest instrument ever!
I hope you agree with me that it is a beautiful object. I can also tell you that it sounds lovely too, with a richer, more resonant tone than the rather thin sound you can get with factory-made mandolins. But apart from that, making it helped me cope with what has been a very stressful and worrying time living far away from vulnerable family members.
I’m very proud of my achievement, but I suspect I will be just as proud when we all get parkrunning again if I can beat that 22:59 PB of mine and possibly in another ten years’ time reach my 500th parkrun. Here’s hoping!