I can’t believe it’s been over 3 weeks since I last blogged. Life has been hectic in our house here in Hebden Bridge as we get closer to Christmas. We’ve tried to see as much of the grandchildren as possible. So, a theatre trip with the 3 eldest, some drop in visits to their homes and what has become a regular Saturday morning get together have all been lovely.
It is the Saturday morning meetings that I want to blog about today. It all revolves around “ parkrun”.
“parkrun” is an organisation that holds free weekly 5km timed runs, all around the world. The runs are open to everyone, from complete beginners to Olympic standard runners. They cost nothing to enter, they are safe, well marshalled, and very easy to take part in. In the UK, they operate in 236 locations, and to date, have organised 23,172 runs !
|Sometimes the runs have themes.... a couple of weeks ago, it was superheroes....Matt is on the far right.|
Once you have registered on their web site and printed off your bar code, you can turn up at any run, run, and then within an hour, receive a text telling you your official time, and position.
I have competed in the Huddersfield parkrun 3 times. The first time I only ran 3 kms, and was exhausted so gave up. ( I was very proud of myself though.....3kms seemed like a long way to me, and after the year of illness and recovery that I have had, 3kms was pretty amazing ).
My next attempt actually had me completing the whole 5kms. I came 442 out of 448 runners. It took me 44 minutes 48 seconds, and stepson Matthew, and step daughter Jodie, who had both already completed their runs, came back and joined me, to help me “sprint” across the finish line. It was very emotional, and I knew I was hooked.
|Jodie pushing 2 year old Izzie, Sarah Jane pushing 3 month old Flynn, Dexter, 5, enjoying himself despite the damp conditions.|
My run last week, was actually slower. I took 46 minutes to complete the two and a half circuits of Huddersfield’s Greenhead park. I was 452 out of 454 runners. My strategy is to run a bit, walk a bit, run a bit, walk a bit.....and my plan is to try to run a bit more each time. Who knows how long it will take me to catch up with daughter in law Sarah Jane, who somehow manages to do it in under 40 minutes, pushing a buggy with 3 month old Flynn. Or Jodie, who did a fantastic 32 minutes last week, or Jess, who did a 28 minute run in Liverpool last weekend.....or of course, Matthew, the family champion, who was overweight and couldn’t run at all 2 years ago.....and who now looks amazing, regularly runs 10k for various charities and completes 5km in far less than half the time I do.
|some of the marshalls.....all volunteers, encouraging and cheering.|
It is not actually competitive at all. Everyone competes against themselves, trying to improve their time. The volunteer stewards cheer on the elite runners, those running with their children, and the slow coaches like me , who struggle to keep going. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the marshalls encouraging me last week, I think I would have given up at about 4kms.
The atmosphere is brilliant. Families run together, or support each other, cheering everyone on whether they are friends or complete strangers. Between 400 and 600 people, and their supporters are all brought together, for an hour every Saturday morning, in Huddersfield’s lovely Greenhead Park
Matthew and Sarah’s eldest son, Dexter, will be 6 in March. He has now completed 12 parkruns. Sometimes he does brilliantly, running much faster than I can, and sometimes he takes it a bit easier...stopping for a quick wee behind a tree.
|The photo being held up on the right shows Dexter, with his dad, Matt. 15 seconds of fame....and he's only 5.|
Last week, the BBC’s One show announced the candidates for Sports Personality of the Year, and asked people to send in their photos of any sporting heroes they had. Sarah sent in a photo of Dexter on one of his runs.....and they showed it on the programme. Dexter was incredibly excited. His teacher saw it, his great grandmother nearly fell of her chair when she saw it, many of his friends saw it. Then last week at the park run, as he crossed the line, many supporters and regulars cheered the TV star across the line.
It has become an important part of our week. We arrive at Carole’s house ( Mark’s ex wife) at just after 8.30am......decisions are made about who is looking after the children who are not running ( usually Mark ). Carole and Peter get on with preparing a huge breakfast for after the run, and us runners head off to the park. The klaxon goes at 9am, and by 10am, we are sitting round the breakfast table, ready to replenish the calories we have used up on the run.
Well....I never thought I’d be blogging about running. Watch this space for reports of new personal bests over the next few months !