Parkrun #17 – Krakow Bonus Parkrun!

When you realise you’re going to be in Poland, a parkrun-mad country, on the final Saturday of the year, but you only have this realisation when you’re in Spain that same week, having brought only orange shorts with you for running. Cue going to parkrun Krakow yesterday morning for my official final parkrun of the year and being told by the Polish volunteer that “we guessed you were from the UK by your shorts!”

So happy I did it! It was definitely the coldest parkrun of the year, with my phone reading -6 degrees celsius when I woke up that morning. However, the skies were blue and the sun was out which made the frosty run a very enjoyable one. One lap and a bit round the perimeter of the park – flat as a pancake! And a very respectable time of 30:45 despite doing no running for the last three weeks. Winning!

The coolest thing about this parkrun was that everything was in Polish in terms of announcements and instructions. I had no idea what was going on, except I did, because every parkrun follows the same format, regardless of where you are in the world! Love it. I also enjoyed my free, hot rooibos tea at the end.

Dzieki, Krakow!


Parkrun #16 – Bushy Park Finale!

I did it! 12 months of running, 22 parkruns in total, with 16 different routes, across four different countries, finishing at the original parkrun location, Bushy Park on December 2. My first parkrun in Melbourne, Australia seems like a very long time ago.

‘Did you ever think you might not do it?’, asked my friend Susie last month, referencing my motivation to meet my 12-month target.

Though my immediate reaction to this question was shock that anyone would doubt my commitment to the cause,  Susie’s question was completely valid. My commitment to life in London over the past three and a half years has been quite poor. I’m sure I’ve been talking about moving back to Scotland since year two, and I could probably spend a good ten minutes rattling off all of the extra-curricular activities that I’ve started in London and then stopped for one reason or another. However, despite this being the context in which I started running, I never doubted that I would complete my mission. Once you’ve put yourself out there on the blogosphere especially, it’s a bit more difficult to give up! I guess there’s a level of accountability there that I created for myself to ensure that I achieved my aim. In addition, because running is such a positive thing to do in terms of maintaining fitness, as well as contributing to positive wellbeing, I felt like giving up on running would be counter-productive.

A core group of friends joined me for the final parkrun of the year in the slightly-out-of-the-way zone 6-located Bushy Park. It’s the first parkrun I’ve ever been to that started early, which caught us all off-guard.

‘What? Wait! I need to start Strava!’

Bushy Park is another flat route which winds round the park, bringing you back not far from where you started. With approximately 1000 runners every week, it’s definitely the biggest parkrun I’ve ever been to, and as a result they have a double funnel at the end to file runners through. To be honest, it wasn’t my favourite route in the world – I found it quite dull. But then again, no park looks at its best in December! My final time was 30:15, frustratingly close to be sub-30 goal, but not quite there. It’s like it happened on purpose to ensure I kept on running in 2018. Don’t worry, I fully plan to do so. Parkrun on New Year’s Day, anyone?!




Parkrun #15 – Mile End

Just in case I’d forgotten, parkrun was straight on it this week to remind me of my parkrun achievements. It’s like I’d turned 21 and they were wishing me a Happy Birthday. Or simply ‘Catriona, did you know you are 21?’ Fortunately, parkrun does not lie; last weekend I completed my 21st parkrun of 2017, and my 15th different parkrun in total. Only five more (different) parkruns  to go and then I’ll become an official parkrun tourist!

For the big 2-1, I ventured to Mile End in east London, to run with my Utrecht flatmate of 2007/2008, Ailidh. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough off the mark to take advantage of Ailidh’s brief running career (she did a 10k in the summer!) which meant she stayed in her lovely, warm flat whilst I ran around the park literally in front of her abode. Oh to live that close to a parkrun! However, it turned out I have more friends in Mile End than I realised and at the last minute I managed to persuade my work friend Hamid to join the partay. I love introducing people to parkrun.

Though my day in Mile End was lovely, this parkrun route was not my favourite. I think it’s because the park isn’t really that big compared to other parks where I’ve run, which means the options for routes are quite limited and in this case, straight and uneventful. You essentially run a length of the park, then back on yourself, and repeat the route one more time to make up the 5k. Annoyingly, Hamid also managed to beat me by around 10 seconds, despite this being his first ever parkrun. I’m not sure that’s how it’s supposed to work?

That same week, I ventured out to a running club at King’s Cross called Run KXIt’s a free 5k run, led by a really cool guy called Martin Whitelock, and it starts just down the road from my office. In my head, I was going to go to this running club for two weeks in a row, before my parkrun finale at Bushy Park. In reality, I only went once. Why? Though I had a great sense of achievement after my one and only run (so far, at least), I was by far, the slowest person in the pack. There were maybe 15 of us that night, and we did a 6.6k run from Granary Square in King’s Cross, up to Primrose Hill and back again. Martin had to keep coming back to check I was ok. “You know where you are now, right?”, he kept asking me. Never have I felt quite so much the south Londoner. “Nope, still no idea!”. I remember getting to the finish point and everyone else was already halfway through the cool-down. I felt like maybe I’m not running-club material quite yet.

The experience highlighted to me all of the reasons why I am such a big fan of parkrun. The volunteers don’t pack up until every runner has completed the route. Others cheer you on because they themselves have been cheered on. You never come last, because you ran, and that means you’re way ahead of all of the people who didn’t run at all. It’s such a positive environment.

One more parkrun in 2017 to complete catmacbirthdayslam

Bushy Park, bring. it. on!