Guildford parkrunner Matthew Bennett began completing 5k (not)parkruns in his garden when the lockdown measures were first imposed in March. He is still going! Here he tells us all about it.
I took up parkrun in 2013, encouraged by my son who took it upon himself to enter me for a half marathon! I have completed 322 parkruns since. So you can imagine how I felt when parkrun was paused due to the pandemic.
I decided to self-isolate on 20 March 2020 because I am in the ‘at risk’ group (69 yrs old asthmatic with high blood pressure). I started my 5k garden parkruns the next day on Saturday 21st March, because it was ‘parkrun day’ and it seemed right that it should be the parkrun 5k distance.
Since then, I have run 5k in my garden every day. There have been a couple of occasions when I couldn’t run, so I have run twice in a day to make up. I have been posting my progress each day on social media. I love the colour yellow and so alongside my GPS watch showing the time taken for that day’s 5k I like to display a different yellow item.
My garden course is an irregular form of a figure of eight with the start position in the middle and I alternate one of four different ways. To complete 5k I need to do between 60-80 laps! The variation is due to the fact that the garden is surrounded by trees and so my GPS signal is variable and I keep going until my watch has clocked the whole 5k distance.
Initially I challenged myself to keep up my garden 5ks going for 100 days, but once that target was achieved I decided to extend it to 200 days. A parkrun friend quickly reminded me that the parkrun milestone is 250 so I adjusted the goal and expect to reach it on 24 November.
Once I had reached the 100 garden 5k goal I started to raise money for a brain injury charity which is close to my heart as I myself suffered brain injury when I was a teenager.
After 5September and 170 garden 5ks, I began including my 100m drive as part of the course. This made quite a difference as my lap count massively reduced to 17 or 18 laps to reach the 5k distance target.
I have ventured out to do my garden 5ks at all times of day, from 4am to late evening needing a head torch. I have run whatever the weather; blistering heat and sun, storms, gusts, gales, rain and hail. Most of my course is hard surface and although worn with a track and despite traversing the lawn over and over again each day, there is still grass there.
As of run number 237 on 11th November I had a total lap count of 13051 and the total distance I’ve covered is 752 miles / 1209 km.
When I started running in my garden, I did not have any idea that I would be running for so many days, but it has become a habit. There’s just the many sharp bends to navigate each lap! The main benefit has been finding I have the ability to adhere to a long challenge.
I am not really looking forward to ending the challenge as I have become used to it and if you like it has become ‘a thing’ and I shall keep on running. I’m now thinking that my next challenge will be the virtual Lands End to John O’Groats run!
I will be delighted when parkrun resumes, with all the fun and friends it brings, although I think it will certainly be after I have finished my 250 garden 5ks!
A big thank you to: Comme Letia Alyson, Helen Patricia Rutter, Jonathan Rourke, Elizabeth Czaban & Prab Satya for your support of my 5k garden challenge and to Alan Lucas for helping me to gather photos.
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