Missing his regular Nobles Park parkrun, Isle of Man resident Paul Collins tells us how he’s keeping up with his Saturday morning routine.
Living on a rock in the middle of the Irish Sea we are probably more used to isolation on the Isle of Man than most, but the thought of missing the Saturday parkrun for me was a really strange one. My initial thinking was, “After completing 111 parkruns in the past 2.5 years surely I’ve earned a nice lie-in on a Saturday morning?”
However, that thought, as attractive as it seemed, didn’t last long. I decided one of the key things to get through this unprecedented social isolation, both mentally and physically, is to keep to a routine.
The disused railway track behind my house has now become my ‘isolation’ parkrun. The old railway was a former steam train line approximately 12 miles long, running between Douglas on the East coast and Peel on the West coast of the island. It closed in the 1960s and the line was later lifted, it has since become a popular cycling, running and walking route surrounded by the beautiful Manx scenery, it is known as the Manx Heritage Trail.
My 5k course takes me from my house to the old Union Mills station, out and back along the trail. Each Saturday morning I drag myself out of bed and make sure I start from my driveway at bang on 9am. It’s actually a little more leisurely now as I don’t have to get up until 8am. During normal times I would usually be in Nobles Park helping with set-up by 7:30am, dragging cones around, knocking posts in, hanging signs and all the tasks required.
It is certainly different running my parkrun alone. It’s very strange not thanking the Marshals on the way past, but that is replaced by a ‘good morning’ shout to the occasional dog walker passing by, at a respectful two metre distance of course!
I am being a little more cautious with my pace over the mostly gravel surface as I am ever mindful that any slip or trip could mean a further burden on our already stretched NHS. So I try to keep it swift but smooth. As my watch bleeps to tell me I’m entering the final 100 metres of my 5km, I can picture the finish funnel ahead of me, and our two regular timing volunteers, usually the ever smiling Lynda and Kerry in the distance as I sprint towards an imaginary finish line.
Then it’s a quick stretch and a jog back to the house for a shower, coffee and toast. Still a great start to my weekend and a routine that is important to me and that I want to maintain until we return to more normal times.
To all parkrunners missing your regular Saturday event like I am, please stay safe and be careful out there. I am sure we will all be back doing our parkruns together for real in no time.
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