News - 11th February 2021

The Big Bang


parkrunner Paul Spain is missing his pals more than his parkruns. Here he shares some parkrun memories.


They say it all started with the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago! Out of the resulting chaos everything evolved to lead us to where we are today. The chaos of the COVID. Everything is changed, utterly changed. Not least of which is our beloved parkrun.


I miss my parkruns and my pals. In truth, I miss my pals more than my runs.


My local parkrun is held on Naas racecourse. This afternoon I ran the course in the rain and wind as the winter sun rapidly departed and a darkening enveloped me in its winter grip. I miss Gerry’s cheerful warmup and the banter with Frank and Alan and the gang.


I imagined other days and running the first k. Catching up with Paul, Michael, Bernadette and Sean. As I near the 1k marker, I let my imagination wander. I remember our wonderful core team, Cathy, Des, Kitty, Mary, Ann Marie and the Gaisce volunteers.


Into the second k now, settling into my stride, setting my sights on Mick, a fast starter, and a friend since my first parkrun. At the 2 k marker I remember the times I struggled mentally and physically and wondered how I would ever get around.


Now, I feel part of something bigger, even if we have not parkrun together for so long. I imagine what it will be like when we are up and running again, meeting Vincent and Jacinta and Kevin and Monica and Bridget and Elizabeth. I push myself past the 3k marker and not for the first or last time I turn the corner into the wind and rain. Time to put the head down and concentrate.


It’s usually at this stage that I see our Tail Walker, my friend the Dub – Brian with his huge beaming smile and encouraging words. I miss him.


The path from 4k to 5k is slightly down hill and brings a bliss that’s hard to describe. Head for the corner and then its “only” 200 metres to the line. The competitor in me hates to be passed in the parkrun in but it happens. Regularly.


Then it’s though the finish funnel and the joy and pain of finishing. I recall seeing my neighbour Cormac with a shy smile on his face and a modest admission of a new personal best. My envy is tempered by the knowledge that he is nearly fifty years my junior. Now it’s my time to cheer others – there is Luke, walking on air, waving to us, and blessing us with his big beaming smile.


As always, he is accompanied by his brother Sean, our recordholder at just over 15 minutes. They say it will all end with another Big Bang. Sometime. I had my own big bang on August 31st. My family and running fitness helped save me on the day. Running on the empty Naas racecourse and remembering my parkrun pals fuels my recovery and feeds my hope. This too will pass. We will return and parkrun together again.


Paul Spain


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