Christina Harrison has a passion for parkrun and has been (not)parkrunning each week since March. So, when required to isolate, she needed to hatch a (not)parkrun plan!
My first parkrun was on 28th of September 2013 at Tilgate parkrun in Crawley. My sister, Julianne, who was already a keen parkrunner said that parkrun was a great motivator. I had not long taken up running and so I thought I’d give it a try.
On that first Saturday I was very apprehensive. I went along on my own but wasn’t sure what to expect as I didn’t really class myself as a runner. I was very quickly welcomed by the volunteers and put at ease. I was hooked from that first Saturday. I continued to attend whenever my sons’ football matches and other family commitment would allow.
Then, in September 2014, I went along to the new Horsham parkrun and it has been my home parkrun ever since. I also really enjoy volunteering, in fact sometimes more than parkrunning! I have done most of the volunteer roles I think and find that it really helps my self esteem and general well being.
I just love everything that parkrun stands for. The friendships formed, the diversity of the participants, the encouragement and inclusiveness of it. It is just part of my life now and I have missed it greatly over the past few months. We missed out on Horsham parkrun’s 6th birthday on 5th of September, but I still marked the occasion. I always love to dress up and bake a cake to share for special parkrun occasions.
(not)parkrun is a great idea and has been a big motivator for me through this period of no actual parkruns. Being able to complete your 5k any day and time of the week is ideal. Logging our (not)parkruns means I can see that my fellow parkrunners are still out there.
Recently I had to isolate for 14 days as it was found I’d been in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID 19. Thankfully I had no symptoms and did not need to be tested.
While I was having to isolate I was wondering how I could complete my (not)parkrun on Saturday morning. I’d managed to (not)parkrun every Saturday since March and I didn’t want a break in this run streak!
Julianne, unbeknown to me, came up with a plan! Suddenly, I was getting messages from my family and friends with predictions on how many laps and how long it would take me to do a (not)parkrun in my not so large garden! There was even a prize for the closest guesstimate. I had predictions ranging from 6 laps ( 4-year niece Elodie in Canada) to 120, 250, 300, 422 right up to 1 million( my 2-year-old nephew Finnley) and very varied times too.
I couldn’t really get out of this could I?
The 10th October dawned as my (not)parkrun-in-isolation day. My eldest son, Ben counted every lap by placing a stone into a bucket each time I passed him. I was cheered on intermittently by the rest of my family.
I wore my parkrun volunteers shirt under my 100 milestone shirt under my 50 milestone shirt. When I got to 50 laps, I took off the 50 milestone shirt and then my 100 milestone shirt once I got to 100 laps, leaving me to run the rest in my prized volunteers shirt.
I looked at my GPS watch after 50 laps and it had only registered half a mile! I’d already been running for 40 minutes! Although, I fully expected it to take longer, I usually average 27 minutes for a parkrun, but I was set on my mission now! Based on that, it was going to have to be 300 laps (which was what my 11 year old niece, Eliza, another avid parkrunner had predicted).
I kept going for an hour and a half to get to 300 laps! Ben counted each lap and the whole family came out to hold the ribbon for the finish! My GPS watch had given up counting at 2.1 miles, but, my step counter said I’d done over 15,000 steps. Since a parkrun is about 5,200 of my steps, I figured I’d actually done about 2.5 (not)parkruns for my efforts!
Such fun, and a great distraction from isolation. Eliza won the prize!
I didn’t ruin the garden but I certainly wore a track around the edge!
The first day out of isolation, I was up and out by 6.15am for my (not)parkrun and have continued each week ever since.
I can’t wait for parkrun to return, to be able to get back to the community running. Just before lockdown I had just introduced another friend to parkrun, her local one being Ifield Mill Pond and she was definitely getting the parkrun bug, or maybe it was the cuppa and chat afterwards?
parkrun is very special to me for another couple of reasons:
In 2016 I introduced my Father to the parkrun community and he came to cheer me on at Wyre Forest parkrun, his most local parkrun. He loved it and was all set to become a volunteer, when he suffered a devastating stroke which left him completely incapacitated and unable to speak. On my regular visits to see him in his care home I would set off early to drive up to the Midlands, parkrun at Dudley parkrun which is only 3 miles from my Father’s care home, starting my day feeling good and energised before sitting by my Father’s bed and telling him all about it, whether he understood or not. He sadly passed away 20 months after suffering his stroke.
I also introduced my Uncle John to the parkrun community as a volunteer at East Grinstead parkrun. For the next 18 months he didn’t miss a week, whatever the weather. He became a much loved character, cheering the parkrunners on. parkrun was so important to Uncle John, giving him a huge sense of pride and well being. He passed away peacefully earlier this year aged 84 yrs. The East Grinstead parkrun team are planning a ‘memorial parkrun’ in his honour once they are able .
parkrun is so much more than a 5k run at 9am on a Saturday morning, so so much more!
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