Andy Ratcliffe went along to his first parkrun aged 49, having never ran in his life. After having surgery for Crohn’s disease, he found a new drive to stay fit.
Andy tell us the part parkrun has played in his fitness journey.
Before my first parkrun I was really nervous about being with all the ‘serious and proper runners’.
I was convinced that I would not be coming back and kept thinking why have I got out of bed this morning.
As it went on (although I don’t think my heart had ever pounded so fast and I felt awful) I was encouraged so much by the Marshals and other parkrunners.
Afterwards I couldn’t believe all the support I got from the people who had finished before me. I’d expected them to look down their nose at me. It was nothing like that.
But more importantly, I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I was to have finished.
When I said I’d never run before that was not strictly true. About 15 years earlier I’d decided I wanted to try to run so I ran in some woods near my house. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore then walked back. When I got home I had a Crohn’s flare up and was in bed for two days.
Now I always smile to myself when I run on that path. That day I ran just over a quarter of a mile.
I always tell anyone thinking about doing parkrun just to go along and watch, you won’t believe how supportive everyone is.
Enjoy it and remember why you are there. A saying I like is ‘a 15 minute mile is as far as a 6 minute mile!’
I got so hooked on running I decided that when I was 50 I was going to run a marathon and I did. parkrun has a lot to answer for!
I have learnt a lot about myself, things like perseverance and how a small increase every day, week or month soon adds up to a great achievement. You also learn people can achieve amazing things.
It is no understatement to say that parkrun has changed my life. I’ve made lots of new friends and what used to be 30 minutes or so on a Saturday morning is now often a good couple of hours drinking coffee and having a good laugh.
I’d also say I am a much more content person with my life. I value and appreciate people much more and that is certainly a direct consequence of my experiences at parkrun.
Next year I plan to increase my distance. I want to run the Leeds to Liverpool Canal (130 miles). As a kid my parents had a boat and it was always my Dad’s dream to sail the length of it. So to run it would be fantastic.
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