My name is Linda Walker, I am 55 years old, and three years ago I was involved in the launch of Lancaster parkrun. Back then I thought that being a volunteer was about as near as I was ever going to get to running.
I had gone along to a couple of the meetings and put myself forward to be a regular volunteer. As a ‘non-runner’ this seemed a really good idea. My son, who has now run more than 250 parkruns, had always raved about them.
At school I absolutely hated sports and I remember having to run the 1500 metres in PE and being told we had to run it in under 15 minutes otherwise we’d be made to run it again. I managed to scrape in around the 15 minute mark – just a fraction under.
In my early twenties I thought I’d give jogging a try but only managed to run to the bottom of the road – about 100 metres – then I gave up.
So three years ago – as a 52 year old – I was at the very first Lancaster parkrun. My husband, himself a relatively new runner for around a year, ran the course and I cheered him on.
A week later I decided to join a little running group in Morecambe called Plodding Along. There were about half a dozen runners and I was made to feel really welcome. I was absolutely over the moon when I managed to run a whole kilometre without stopping. I got such a buzz from it. The next week I was back at the group and managed to run a bit further. I told my husband that when I could run 5k then I would maybe consider running parkrun. On 30 January 2016 my husband volunteered as the Tail Runner (now called Tail Walker). He told me that if I wanted to give parkrun a try then he’d be right behind me – literally!
I was a nervous wreck on the start line, but all the volunteers were amazing and I ran round in just under 41 minutes. At that point I guess I began my journey of my love for running. I have now run more than 100 parkruns – not bad for a ‘non-runner’. Recently I got my fastest ever time at Fleetwood parkrun of 32 minutes.
In 2018 I ran two half marathons. My first one was in London which was the London Landmarks Half Marathon, and my second one was the Manchester Half Marathon. I ran Manchester 10 minutes faster than London. I have run lots of 10k races and I am gradually getting faster and faster. I feel fitter and have lost a stone in weight. I’ve never been overweight, but running has toned me up. I feel fantastic and spend weekends away which have a running event tagged into them.
I can’t believe that a year ago I even joined the Lancaster and Morecambe Athletics Club and train once a week with them. At present I run about 15 miles a week. I owe so much to parkrun.
Increasing female participation and encouraging more people from low socioeconomic communities to take part in free, weekly, social activity will be the focus of a new collaboration between Sport England and parkrun. Funding from Sport England over three years will support the creation of 200 new parkrun events in England, building on the successes…
584 parkruns take place around the UK on Saturdays, but just six share their name with a parkrun in another part of the world: Albert, Bushy, Cambridge, Durham, Gladstone and Victoria. In this edition of the parkrun Tourism Series we take a look at these parkrun ‘twins’ and reveal how many people have completed…