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 KX. It’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!