Maggie Bowes from Leamington parkrun is a Visually Impaired parkrunner who completed her 90th parkrun at the weekend.
Saturday’s run may not have earned Maggie a milestone shirt but, following a bad fall a month earlier, it was a milestone run for so many reasons.
On Saturday, I along with 387 others went to Leamington parkrun. The course is challenging and is mainly off-road. There is a steep hill above the golf course. Which, on a clear day, gives beautiful views of Leamington and Warwick. The course is undulating with lots of uneven surfaces. I have run this course many times, but Saturday was particularly important.
On 29 April I tripped over some bricks whilst running and had a nasty fall. I had an inch gash on my head, a cut nose and two shiny black eyes. I looked as though I had done two rounds with Anthony Joshua. My very special guide gave first aid and took me to Warwick A&E. They glued my head together and sorted my cut nose. My guide drove me home and attended to my cut hands and grazed knees. She was brilliant! I am now the owner of a scar that would make Harry Potter proud!
I arrived at the start of Leamington parkrun. The atmosphere was vibrant but I was in a darker place. I wanted to run the course but my confidence has been knocked. If I want to run, then I have to accept the challenges that come with it. Anyone can have an accident. I would never blame my guides. They can’t see everything. I am just like any other runner. It’s just that my shades don’t work properly. I have only fallen on that course twice and have completed 90 parkruns now.
Guided by Ellen and supported by Tess, a very wise old owl, we started the run. The weather was hot and humid with occasional showers. I don’t like the heat and I struggled with the hill, which is not unusual. My speed was very slow. I began to question whether I should continue to run. Is it fair to ask people to run with me, when I am running so slowly, when they could be running faster themselves? My thoughts then turned to why I was running. I thought about people I knew who for good reasons could not run or walk, even if they had wanted to. I thought about the race plans I had made for this year, which may have to be put on the shelf for another time. My legs felt very tired. Then I remembered I had done 13 miles this week (albeit slowly) prior to parkrun. I concluded that I could still run and I simply had to re-build my confidence, but this will take time.
Eventually, Ellen and I, together with Tess the wise old owl hovering over my left shoulder completed the course. I was disappointed with my time, although I knew it would be slow. Saturday wasn’t about time. It was about re-starting the parkrun journey. Sometimes when you receive one of life’s knocks you fall down. Then you have to pick yourself up and get on with it. Because of the support given by Ellen and the wise old owl, I am re-starting that journey. It can only become easier now.
Whilst I am still in a dark place, the light is beginning to shine through the trees and I must take some positives from Saturday. We completed the course. I was proud and privileged to have Ellen as my guide and a very special wise old owl on my left shoulder. The day was further enhanced by Mrs Doyle’s cold drink, Heather’s homemade shortbread and the encouragement given by other parkrunners.
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