Sunday, 25 August 2013

Colwick Parkrun: A Tailrunner's Tale

I am a huge advocate of Parkrun and enthusiastically talk about it with everyone I know, and some I don't. Before going anywhere at the weekend, the first port of call is to check out where the nearest Parkrun is and to plan the usually quite over-complicated logistics of fitting it into my travel plans. I can proudly say I've introduced several tens of people to the free, weekly timed 5k run, many of whom have become as addicted as I am.

What I love is that Parkrun is entirely inclusive. From the club runner pushing the course record, the person aiming only for survival on their first 5k, runners pushing buggies, excited racing dogs, children crying whilst keen no-nonsense dads 'gently encourage' them, other children running so quickly that their parents don't stand a chance of keeping up and everything in between.

You get all sorts marshaling at Parkrun..
 The thing that makes Parkrun special though, is the volunteers. It can only be a fantastic and free event because people come along for an hour or two on a Saturday morning to help out. I'm reluctant to say that they "give up" a couple of hours as that implies that somehow they are missing out. In fact, those that are missing out are the runners who run every week without ever volunteering. Those runners are missing out on the fundamental thing that makes Parkrun so brilliant: a great sense of community, and of course many more chances to meet and chat to lots of people.

I prefer the smaller events for this very reason; they always have a 'close knit' sort of feel and are just a bit cozier and friendlier. Yesterday I popped along to Colwick Parkrun, which was a stones throw over the river from the campsite at the National Watersports Centre. With the Triathlon Club Relays lined up for the afternoon, I thought that volunteering as a tailrunner would be a nice warm up and a chance to go out and recce a different course.

Always excited at the finish line
There's a great team at Colwick and we received a warm welcome (fellow relay team mate Emma had decided to accompany me). The course is lovely: one big loop on flattish forest track, circling the water the whole time, followed by a much smaller second loop to finish. We got to chat to lots of people as we brought up the rear, but we were particularly impressed by Jo Sullivan, who was mostly walking the course with her dog and throwing in a few running stints. Emma and I tried as hard as we could but we genuinely could not keep up with her walk speed by walking ourselves. We tried powerwalk stylee and everything but we just kept dropping back and had to break into a jog to stay with her. We also got hustled by a bloke who said he had a sore foot, so we walked and talked with him for a bit, but then out of nowhere he started sprinting off, leaving us way behind!

After finishing and doing a bit more chatting, we were absolutely delighted to hit the cafe (which was a proper greasy spoon job) and be offered a free coffee just for doing the Parkrun, what a result!

In summary: get parkrunning, volunteer, get other people doing both and always, always include the post-Parkrun social!

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