Having struggled to run as a child, the sheer thought of moving at a relative zippy pace, would inevitably lead to a bright red face, gasps for breath and rummage around a pockets for an Inhaler before I had even properly set off.
In more recent years, seeing how running has helped two people very close to me get fitter, lose weight and act as mental health first aid, eighteen months ago with a desire to get a bit leaner (after a summer of consuming far too many cricket teas) I thought I would give it a go. With Inhaler in hand and an old pair of trainers donned, I decided to get involved with something called parkrun.
parkrun (deliberately spelt with a little p – an auto-correct nightmare) is a free timed 5k run every Saturday 9am which happen across the world. There’s probably one happening near you this Saturday, if you jump onto the parkrun website and wanted to be nosey. All you need is a team of willing volunteers to hold it, a free personalised barcode to record your times, and you are off. Having now participated (to date) in 59 parkruns in 52 different parks, it has been a pleasure to participate in runs with a cast of characters from top club runners, wheelchair users, marathon record holders, people half my age, people triple my age, dogs (on short-leads), babies (in buggies obviously), visually impaired runners and guides, a multitude of nationalities, walkers, Nordic walkers, trotters, amblers and coffee morning dawdlers. parkrun is a focal point for some communities to come together, and has brought the opportunity to safely exercise to some who would not necessarily have the ability or means to otherwise. It is more than just a run in the park. With all the recent entertainments which has led to parkrun to receive some media interest, lets hope that the positive testaments of parkrun, will build understanding for councils across the UK (not just the one in Stoke Gifford) of its benefits.
With the Roses Run seeing me complete twenty consecutive parkruns back to back, the trotting (my little pony run) I do every other day needs to be stepped up. Whilst I have built up my running over the past 18 months, 60 miles in two and half days is not impossible but will not a run in the park either. The terrain in South West London is a little less bumpy than that of the Roses Route across the Pennines. In an attempt to find just a minor hill, running routes have been devised in the Sunbury area which purposely involve running over loads of railway bridges, to get some elevation. Fitting in running around the demands of proper work, cricket work and other commitments, my trusty car has been having an extended break, as my other vehicle is my feet to cart me around. These feet are taking me through some very interesting and sometime quite picture-esq areas I wouldn’t have seen if I was in my car or taking public transport to places. Ok so it is taking longer for me to get to places, but the journey is usually far more pleasurable – there’s something twenty years ago I would not have said!