parkrun came to Nottingham six years ago. As a competitive club athlete and coach, I thought this was great – a free 5k race every week. I turned out regularly, chasing first finisher positions, PBs and age group records. I understood the parkrun ethos, but I have to admit I was a reluctant volunteer – too busy racing.
However over the next few years my relationship with parkrun changed. I suffered a number of injuries which made fast times difficult. I began to care less about minutes and seconds and learnt to just enjoy my running. parkrun became much more sociable – I’d turn up early, have a good natter and run with a familiar face – my kids, athletes that I coach or people that wanted to achieve a particular time. I became an unofficial, and occasionally official, pacemaker.
I started to do my thing as a volunteer. Feeling a little ‘tired and emotional’, I spent New Year’s Day 2015 out on the course at Rushcliffe parkrun – steering runners around a patch of ice in foul weather. Without exception, everybody thanked me. I felt 10 feet tall. This gave me a far greater buzz than charging round the park myself and what a great way to start the year. I’ve repeated my New Year’s Day marshalling ever since.
This winter, two of my kids signed up as junior parkrun volunteers for their Duke of Edinburgh bronze award. Not trusting two teenagers to get up and walk a mile to the park for 8:30 am every Sunday morning, I joined them. THE BEST THING I EVER DID! For three months solid, in the cold, dark, wind and rain, we cheered on and high-fived the hardy bunch of under 14s who, almost without exception, were having a ball! – exercising, being outside, connecting with their families and feeling good about themselves. My weekly parkrun volunteering fix became the highlight of my week – it gave me a real mental boost that helped me through a difficult period. I was extremely proud to see my kids complete their volunteering stint and grow in confidence themselves
Having earned my purple Volunteer Club t-shirt, I still turn out at my local parkrun whenever I can, usually running on Saturdays – sometimes slow, sometimes steady and occasionally nippy. On Sundays I continue to support the junior parkrun. Last Saturday I was tail walker at Colwick parkrun and proud to record a ‘personal worst’ as last finisher in a record field. On Sunday I was high fiving the juniors at Rushcliffe junior parkrun.
parkrun – once a week a community briefly unites to invigorate the body and mind. Slow down to savour the special atmosphere. You’ll be glad you did.
Melanie Norman and her husband Andy have been helping their parkrun community stay engaged and in touch with each other over lockdown. Melanie tells us what they’ve been up to. My husband, Andy and I are avid parkrunners. Our home parkrun event is Worcester. I have completed 193 parkruns and Andy 248. I did…
Roger Boys challenged himself to run one mile per year of his life over July. That’s 74 miles! Up until 2002 I had not run a mile for the best part of 40 years having given up playing football. We were on holiday in the Isle of Wight and my wife Nicky had gone into…