Uncategorized - 1st February 2018
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It’s a small parkworld

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Kez and Nicole stared incredulously at me over their full English breakfasts.  This was the first time I’d seen my friends since I’d ruined their vacation (by making them run 2 parkruns). It was around 11.30am, we were sitting, cold and muddy in a pub, and I’d just finished ruining their New Year’s Day (by making them run 2 parkruns).

 

We’d taken advantage of the parkrun decree that on this one day of the year, runners are permitted to ‘double up’ and run 2 parkruns; the density of events in the UK is such that often runs in neighbouring towns will stagger their start times to allow runners to complete their double.

 

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While most ‘normal’ people our age were still nursing hangovers from the previous night’s indulgences, against Kez and Nicole’s better judgement we had now completed 2 x 5km well before noon. But now my particular brand of parkrun enthusiasm seemed to be descending into fantastical hallucinations, as I maintained that I recognized the woman sitting on the next table from my home parkrun in Canada, Richmond Olympic.

 

The odds were stacked against my being right – hence the incredulous looks. Richmond Olympic is only just over a year old, 7000km from where we were sitting, and to this day, fewer than 900 individuals out of the 4+ million registered parkrunners in the world have completed it. The lady in question was of average height and medium build, brown haired and with a fairly neutral accent not at all out of place in this part of the world – she could well have been anybody. But I was sure that this was Louise Ayling before me, and I remember being impressed with her hilarious account of Nose Hill, featuring lines such as ‘whichever evil mind devised that ending to the course deserves shooting.’

 

And you know what?  It was her! Louise had visited Richmond Olympic in July 2017, coincidentally 1 week after Kez and Nicole had been there. And by way of another strange happenstance, that morning she had also run my former ‘home’ parkrun, 1km from where I used to live!

 

Becky (left) with Louise (right)

 

So what’s the moral of this story?

 

Well there doesn’t really need to be one, but if pushed, I’d summarize as follows:

  • When you attend a parkrun, you’re instantly part of a really special community
  • That community is global – here in Vancouver, we are lucky to have a great mix of locals and tourists alike, which makes for lively and entertaining connections with people like Louise
  • Which brings me onto my next point – parkrun is not just about the run/jog/walk. The post-event coffee (or your beverage of choice) is a wonderful added dimension and a great way to meet people
  • Don’t write parkrun off because you’re ‘not a runner’. Last time you read about Nicole, she hated running and hated early mornings. But nowadays her love of parkrun outweighs this hatred, and she’s making progress every week
  • We love to hear from you – and in fact, both Nicole and Louise have contributed guest blogs to parkrun Canada
  • It really is a small world after all

 

Where are they now?

 

Aha! You’re probably wondering what happened to the protagonists of this slightly odd modern day fairytale, right?

  • Louise Ayling’s parkrun addiction continues untreated. To this day, she can be found roaming the UK and beyond, searching for new parkruns to tick off. She’s currently achieved a whopping 333 runs at well over 200 different locations
  • Kez and Nicole returned to Leeds, where they attend Woodhouse Moor parkrun. Despite Nicole’s initial reluctance, both are now hooked, have completed 25 runs each, and hope to reach 50 this summer
  • I returned to Richmond Olympic parkrun in Canada, where we’re all ready and waiting to welcome new parkrunners. So whether you’re a 300+ event veteran like Louise, or a reluctant runner like Nicole, we’d love to see you get involved!

 

by Becky Maybury
Richmond Olympic Event Director

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