Full-time Dad Martin, and twin boys Hugo and Rory, choose a fancy dress theme for their parkrun every Saturday.
Spending the week learning about their chosen theme, the whole family are always really excited when the time comes to get out there, get dressed up and parkrun!
Here’s Martin’s heartwarming story.
Before becoming a father to twins, I’d heard about parkrun through friends and colleagues who took part in it but I never really thought about doing it, and certainly not doing it pushing a double buggy.
When the boys were just over one year old, I took redundancy at work and became a full time dad. Although it was great fun, it was hard work and I found having time for exercise or to do fun stuff for myself to be non-existent. As I used to do a bit of running in the past, a friend convinced me that I should get a running buggy and try going to parkrun.
After googling it and downloading my barcode, one sunny Saturday morning the boys and I turned up to our very first parkrun. I didn’t know what to expect. Not only had I not run for a few years, I had certainly never ran with the buggy!
Arriving at parkrun I saw lots of happy, friendly people of all ages, shapes and sizes. The Run Director asked if anyone was new and gave us a good first timer’s welcome briefing.
That first parkrun was hard. Very hard. But I didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. I really enjoyed it and felt so proud. Plus I got loads of positive encouragement from other parkrunners.
I started going back every other week. I did 10, 20, 30… I then aimed to get to the 50 mark, as I saw a few people had a 50 t-shirt. However, as the boys were growing and the weather got more inclement, the 50 mark seemed a challenge to reach.
Also around this time, one of my boys, Hugo, was diagnosed with autism and learning difficulties. However, I noticed he really enjoyed seeing all the people in their colourful clothing and the feel of the wind in his face and hair.
My other son Rory was starting to find it a little boring and wanted to get out to run for himself. So I started to make it the feature of our week by choosing a theme and talking about it, looking at photos or videos of that theme, so on Saturday morning we were all ready to run and excited to have fun.
As the weeks went on, our times got faster and we had real fun dressing up in different outfits. We’ve been Batman and Robin, Star Wars, Dinosaurs, Ghostbusters and Top Gun to name but a few.
Last Saturday, we finally reached our 100th parkrun and to celebrate we all dressed as centurions. We even had a home made staff with the parkrun 100 logo!
It has been an amazing journey for us and we have loved the support from the other parkrunners, who always have lovely things to say to us each week.
Of course they are toddlers (currently three years old), and toddlers sometimes fight during runs so we have to stop to sort out the domestic. Hugo hates wearing shoes so often he will kick a shoe off mid-run. Sometimes I notice it but most of the time I don’t. But the other parkrunners are so used to it now that someone always picks a shoe up and it gets back to us at the end. It really is like a baton in the Olympics getting passed between runners!
For me, parkrun is something that allows me to get out and exercise but most importantly it is something that we can do as a whole family together. As the boys are getting older, there are fewer things that Hugo and Rory can do together, and importantly have fun doing.
The best thing about parkrun is that it is for everyone.
If anyone is thinking about doing a parkrun – get that barcode and turn up! You don’t even have to run! No matter what speed or pace you do, you always feel like a winner. Everyone wins at parkrun. From the super speedy runners at the front to the chunky middle-aged dads pushing a double buggy dressed as the cat in the hat at the back!
Even though the dressing up is for the boys, I have really enjoyed it too. One week we decided to dress as Star Wars characters and I saw a bargain stormtrooper outfit online. I couldn’t believe the price so I ordered it. Once it arrived I could see why it was so cheap… it wasn’t a full stormtrooper outfit it was a Lycra Morph suit! I can still hear my wife laughing when I put it on. But I thought what the heck why not and I did the parkrun in it.
I can not begin to describe how amazing parkrun has been for us as a family. We build our weekend around it.
Martin and the Pout family
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