I first heard about Parkrun a year or so ago when it was mentioned in my Twitter News Feed and then someone asked me in passing if I was a fan. I didn’t know much about the concept – aside from the fact that it involved getting up early on Saturday mornings and didn’t involve medals – and didn’t research it further.
Until recently. More and more people are talking about it on Twitter, and more and more fellow runners are asking if I take part. So I visited the Parkrun website and actually read up about it. It’s basically a free weekly 5K timed event. The ‘success’ stories, sense of community and intrigue motivated me to register, which was very simple (and you only need to do it once). I printed off a unique barcode and purchased a Parkrun t-shirt while I was there, too – to look the part!
On Saturday 10th September I got up at 7:30am (eeek) and arrived at my local Parkrun, Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where there was plenty of parking. I’d eaten a bowl of Special K and had a coffee, and was feeling ready to rock’n’roll in my new t-shirt! Fellow runners smiled my way and the atmosphere was quite lovely. I was stretching when a megaphone announced that there would be a ‘new runners briefing by the tree’, so off I went, and it was all very self-explanatory and relaxed.
All runners set off at 9am and completed two laps of a very hilly multi-terrain course (pavement, grass, gravel…). It’s always a worry that I’ll come last, especially with a small crowd of what looked like pro runners, but found myself over-taking a lot and really enjoying the run, surrounded by a mixture of runners aged anywhere between 8 – 50 (at a complete guess).
I ran through the finish funnel in what I thought was an OK time, and was given a token to ‘cash in’ when I got my barcode scanned over at a marshalled desk. Volunteers were cheering all finishers which was lovely.
Soon after I got home, an email came through from Parkrun, stating: “You finished in 112th place and were the 30th female out of a field of 204 parkrunners and you came 1st in your age category SW25-29.” I was really chuffed with that!
Parkrun is such a simple, easy concept which I can tell will become a solid fixture in my calendar. It’s ideal for those who want to maintain fitness, get into a routine and make friends without spending any money. The local locations are so handy, too, with either none or very minimal travel costs. Would highly recommend to anyone and can’t wait for the next one!