Happy birthday, parkrun!

Today is parkrun‘s 10th birthday. On Saturday, thousands of people will celebrate this by running 5 kilometres, in locations throughout the world. I can also guarantee that a lot of cake will be consumed!

I’m going to keep this post fairly short as there is plenty of writing out there already about the wonder of parkrun. If you’re already signed up to parkrun you’ll have read the newsletter, which is full to bursting every week with stories from people who have come to parkrun and found something special. Sometimes they have no previous experience of running, sometimes they are coming back from injury or illness, but the golden thread running through all the stories is that they have found support, friendship, a community, and often they have gone on to do amazing things.  Half marathons, full marathons, team endurance races, loooong bike rides, ultra events. I would love to know how much parkrunners have raised for charity in the last ten years.

If you’re wondering what the picture of the red 50 is about (‘I thought she said it was 10!’), it’s a snap of my parkrun 50 running top, of which I am rather proud. You can’t buy one. You earn it by doing 50 parkruns. 50 Saturday mornings, at the start line for 9am, ready to run 5K. If you go to any parkrun, you will see lots of these, and some 100 tops, and maybe even a 250.

Lately I haven’t been as regular at parkrun. The starting reason was that I moved workplace and my commute was much longer, so I was more tired at the end of the week, and more inclined to sleep in on a Saturday. Then, when I did make the effort,  it was a much bigger effort because my runs during the week had dropped off as well. I wasn’t as fit, I’d put on a few pounds, I was slower, it hurt a lot more and took me longer to recover.

But I missed parkrun. I missed the people and the chat most of all, but I also missed the mud, the puddles, the hills, and the post-run tea and cake. I missed challenging myself to get up the long hill on the third lap without walking, and picking my way down the gravel slope, and saying thank you to the marshals on the way round.

I’ve been back four weeks now, alternating between my home parkrun (where I first started) and a closer one which means I can get up a bit later. Last week was my 75th parkrun. 25 more to go till the coveted black 100 top. It’s getting slightly easier each week. I’m nowhere near my PB, but I’m so glad to be back.

Thank you, parkrun. Many, many happy returns.

I’ve also written a more formal piece about the benefits of parkrun, which you can find either by going to my writing page (scroll down to non-fiction), or directly here.

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