Anyone who knows me knows that I love parkrun. I am a parkrun evangelist!
The first time I went to Chelmsford Central parkrun in summer 2014 I was terrified and I'm not even sure whether I managed to run all the way. There were over 300 people in the park, ranging from babies to pensioners some fit some not so fit, but all wanting to challenge themselves on a Saturday morning.
It is daunting going to anything the first time, and lining up with all those people at 9am and waiting for the 3, 2, 1, RUN! and not knowing which way to run (there are marshals and signs, I didn't get lost!) and finishing that 5kms and feeling exhausted!
But I have come to love parkrun and everything about it. I sometimes run with my son in the buggy (well, jog walk now he's getting so big and heavy and tough to push). I sometimes run on my own and attempt to get faster (pb is 31m44s). I regularly volunteer when I can't run, as volunteering is just as much fun as running. My son likes to high five all the runners and tell them to keeeeeeeeep running!
I have made friends through park run, and I have introduced friends to parkrun. A saturday morning without parkrun is a sad saturday for me. I even do parkrun in other locations - when I visit my parents, or when on holiday. Every course is different but they are all the same -
a free, 5km run, every Saturday morning at 9am in a park near you, brilliantly organised by super friendly volunteers... and usually featuring a coffee and a cake afterwards!
Again, as with my running clubs, parkrun is very inclusive. There are people who will really push themselves and race around in 15-20 minutes and there are people who really push themselves and race around in 30 minutes or 37 minutes, AND there are people who want to walk, are still training so run/walk. It really is for everyone.
My favourite volunteer role is as Tail Runner. The Tailrunner jogs or walks at the back of the pack to make sure everyone gets around safely, and is always the last over the line!
You can run or volunteer any week any where, just don't forget your barcode! You register on the parkrun website and get a printable barcode. They scan that for you at the end of the run so you can receive a text message or e mail with your time on.
It's not a race in the traditional sense, but most people are racing in their heads, against themselves, trying to get quicker than last time.
We've just started taking our son (age 4) to junior parkrun some Sundays too. That's for children under 14 and is a shorter 2km course, and mums and dads run with the little ones. A great way to get your children active and have wonderful family time.
Give it a go. parkrun makes me happy :) Where do you parkrun? Click here to find your nearest parkrun event.