Uckfield parkrun, 6 June 2020, by Kathy Martyn

I was asked to do a little write up about my experience of parkrun. Well what can I say...  many years ago (20+), I used to be a runner, and due to health problems had never been able to get back to it again. However, seeing parkruns springing up all over the place over the last few years I always promised myself that if one ever came to Uckfield, I would take part, the blessing being that it is so inclusive and I knew it wouldn't matter that I would be very unfit. I watched and waited, and finally began to hear rumours of one starting, and to cap it all, it was literally on my doorstep.

I did a few short runs in the months before it started but hadn’t managed to run anywhere near 5k, and I turned up for the 1st Uckfield parkrun with a lot of nervousness, but also excited to get involved in something that was just starting up. I am not a morning runner at all, so I make sure I get up between 6 and 7am to con my body into thinking it is later in the day. I got chatting to a lovely lady Fiona, when I arrived, who was doing her first parkrun as well, which put me at ease, and we are now both in Uckfield Runners. It was amazing being part of something with so many other people, 321 I think we had on the first one, and I was looking forward to my next one

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The next time I ran was a few weeks later, and was about to head off home, when I saw Graham packing away all the kit at the end, on his own, so I went over and offered to lend him a hand, and did the same over the next few weeks, and that was the beginning of my volunteering as well. Since then I regularly marshal, and run when I can, and organise and pack away all the equipment each week, and have helped on a few set ups as well.  I totally recommend being involved in volunteering to anyone, it has been great to get to know everyone who helps out, and I have made some lovely friends. I love meeting everyone before we go out and marshal, chatting as we walk out to our points, and back again afterwards. I am not the most social of people, so it has been really good to get to know new people and push myself out of my comfort zone.

Each time you complete a parkrun there is a massive sense of achievement and also a sense of being part of something special.  It is an amazing, friendly community of people, so well organised, and everyone is always made to feel so welcome, whether you walk, or run, or a combination of both. I love the fact that such a wide range of people take part, and as a marshal seeing regulars week on week improving their fitness. I think I get more of a sense of achievement volunteering than taking part, although it has been lovely seeing my times get better (sometimes), and the thrill of beating the HILL for the first time, with marshal Dominic in his normal spot encouraging everyone at the top. Parkrun has given me confidence, fitness,  and friendships, as well as encouraging me to join the local running club, and take part in my first 10k race for over 20 years (thank you Elisabeth for ‘encouraging’ me to achieve that one) .

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