Our 500th parkrun
From 0 to 250 in 9 Years
Yesterday I celebrated my 250th parkrun and Peter his 200th.
In the last 8 years parkrun has become "what we do" on a Saturday morning - we don't even consider missing one unless there is a very good reason. It has given us friends, helped us discover lovely new places, provided amazing memories , cured hangovers (except on Christmas Day 2019!) and restores our faith in humanity every week.
We have never had so many friends, some of them have become very close friends and it was lovely that they joined us at out little "boutique" parkrun at New Earswick yesterday to celebrate. We all support each other, next week it is off to Heslington parkrun as another of our group celebrates her 100. Some of the friends are people we meet just once - a chat on a new course or over coffee when we are out and about on parkrun tourism - people united by a love of parkrun.
I could share with you loads of stats about our parkrun achievements, but in this blog I am going to share some of the memories from over 750 miles of running.
Our Favourite parkrun
If you ask us for our favourite so far we would both say Bryn Bach in Tredegar, South Wales. It was a special day when we visited - in the glorious heatwave of 2018 and just after the celebrations of 75 years of the NHS - (Nye Bevan was from Tredegar so the area had been in the news), it was also the "graduation" for the latest cohort of Couch to 5K runners, so there were plenty of causes for celebration. But the main thing to remember from Bryn Bach is the toast. As we walked to the start we were told we must get the toast - free if we bought a cuppa in the cafe. And it was well worth all the hype - it was an excellent piece of toast. Then, to put the butter on the Bryn Bach toast, our car broke down the next day and we were towed all the way back to York by a parkrun regular who had finished just one place behind Peter the previous day!
Another special day was the first time we went to Albert parkrun in Middlesborough - that day 'Boro FC had the chance for promotion to the premier division and most of the runners were dressed in club kit and very optimistic.
The Teesside parkruns are all brilliant, mostly in lovely parks with good facilities and so friendly. One of them, Flatts Lane was named in 2018 as one of the hardest in the country - I love it because it has a great downhill finish and it is one of only three parkruns that we have done on their very first run.
In the same item, Millom parkrun in Cumbria was named as the hardest, so obviously on a break in the Lakes we had to go. We went in April 2018 and it was a 5 lap slog around a muddy field - apparently that was the best conditions it had been for 6 months. As we pulled up at Millom, we recognised the lady in the car next to us - a York regular who we had first met trail running. Millom is a small parkrun, so the three of us from York made up 10% of the field!
It is always interesting to meet people you know when on parkrun tourism. This has happened to us at both North Wales parkruns we have done. At Conwy we were in the coffee queue (at the RSPB reserve, so ticking three of my hobby boxes) when I recognised the lady behind us - she used to work with Peter in York and was doing only her second parkrun. The next year at Penrhyn Castle a group of us were supporting family members in Snowdonia Marathon and decided we had time for a parkrun before they set off. I think our son's friend, Robert, who was by that time studying at Bangor Uni had a bit of a shock to see a group of us from York parkrun there.
Problems with the weather
We have done Hallam parkrun in Sheffield twice, the second was notable in that we bumped in to a number of York friends on tour with Good Gym. The first was even more notable as it was the time a 5k race became 6. There was a course detour due to works in the park and the re-measurement was a bit out. It was a bit unfortunate for our son as he was in third position as he started the last lap - a number of runners, however, realised that the final loop would make it too long so cut it out to finish - meaning that Matt ended in 17th place. I don't think he ever did go back to get a well deserved course PB, perhaps because the second time we did Endcliffe parkrun with him was the wettest one we have ever done.
Northallerton is a nice parkrun, not as pretty as Castle Howard or Fountains Abbey perhaps, but Peter and I had to do this one as we first met in Northallerton. This parkrun also came to our rescue one Saturday in icy conditions - we were heading up to Teesside and I kept getting news on Facebook of cancellations, but because Northallerton is on grass it was on and we managed to divert there to get our run in through the snow.
Weddings and holidays
What is the first thing a parkrunner does when they get a wedding invite? Look for the nearest parkrun of course. That is how we ended up doing the Bolton parkrun - the wedding was on the Friday and all our friends couldn't believe that we would do a parkrun on the Saturday. Of course we did - and it was quite a tough course with two laps with a steep hill and then an out and back on a warm day. As we arrived back at the hotel for breakfast the rest of the guests were just emerging.
Holidays are always a good opportunity for some parkrun tourism (hence Wales, Watergrove and Bakewell) so when our daughter suggested a family trip to Krakow for the Christmas market we were happy to go - provided the flights allowed us to do parkrun. An inspired Air BnB booking from Peter got us an apartment equidistant between the Old Town, the Jewish Quarter and the Krakow parkrun - all within easy walking distance. This was the only time we have seen a competitor having a pre-race cigarette. In a concession to the weather you put your kit in the back of a marshall's car who then drove all the kit to the end - about 1 km up the long starting/finishing straight.
All parkruns have their own feel - some are in stunning places, some are lovely courses and others have a great breakfast or brilliant team of volunteers. I could bore you with a story about all of them, but not in this blog. (Mainly because the Yorkshire Puddings are in the oven.)
- You do not have to be a runner to join parkrun - it is for everyone
- Being a volunteer is brilliant fun too
- Find out more about parkrun here