All The People, So Many People…

January 28, 2012

…all go hand in hand, hand in hand through their parkrun!

The play on the Blur lyrics is far from original, as is a blog post extolling the virtues of the magnificent parkrun experience, but it has become such an important part of my running life that I felt the need to share a few thoughts.

For those who don’t know, parkrun is a network of weekly, free, timed 5km runs at park venues throughout the UK and beyond.  Started in 2004 by Paul Sinton-Hewitt there are now close to a couple of hundred parkrun events each week with over 16,000 runners taking part.

I can’t remember how I first heard about parkrun but I made my debut last August as I recovered from a niggling achilles injury. The venue I chose was Grovelands Park in Enfield.  A couple of new events closer to home have sprung up since then but I’ve stuck with Grovelands out of both habit and loyalty.

Grovelands is an unusually pretty suburban London park and the parkrun course is three laps, each of which has an annoying little incline. Actually, third time round it’s more than annoying, it’s pretty bloody painful.  The organisers each week are a couple of young coaches from Spurs, captained by the fantastic Omari Chambers-Alert whose dedication and good humour are hugely appreciated by the runners, especially at this time of year when I’m sure they would prefer to be in bed at 9am on a Saturday.

I’ve completed 18 parkruns now and there are several factors that keep me going back week after week.

Firstly, it’s incredibly convenient. The majority of the runners at Grovelands turn up 5-10 minutes before the 9am start (I’m there earlier, of course – you all know about my OCD punctuality and liking for a proper warm up) there is plenty of parking and I can race, stretch, warm down and drive home by 10am.

Secondly, parkrun is well run both at a local and central level.  They use a clever barcode system to record times and the website is fantastic.  I love pouring over my stats and those of my fellow runners, keeping an eye on progress and trying to spot trends.  I know, I really, truly need to get out more.

Lastly, and most importantly, there is the camaraderie.  At Grovelands there is a sizeable group of regulars. Some of them I know by name, some just by face and I especially enjoy seeing a few of the guys who run about my pace.  Everyone is incredibly friendly and whether you run 17 minutes or 37 minutes you are made to feel equally welcome.

Amusingly, last September the stars aligned and I ran my first sub 20 minute parkrun in a week where nobody quick showed up and I managed to win the race.  I’ve spoken often enough about my recent transformation from the least sporty kid in the class to competent runner and crossing the line first at a timed, recorded event was a pretty special feeling, regardless of the size of the event.

If you like running, you should go to parkrun.  If you are thinking of taking up running but don’t know where to start, you should go to parkrun, if you want to do something sociable on a Saturday morning and get some exercise while you are at it, you should go to parkrun.  In fact, all of you should just go to parkrun. It’s a truly wonderful thing.

It turns out it is about you joggers who go round and round….


2 Responses to “All The People, So Many People…”

  1. […] minute half marathon, cajole 40% of my colleagues into running the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, win an organised, timed 5km run or become a running obsessed, six-day-a-week, gadget loving, pavement junky. Yesterday, I completed […]

  2. […] Sunday I took part in my first “proper” race, ie not a parkrun, since last July. It was a 10km in Regents Park, part of a monthly series of events organised by […]

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