Kirsty Reade gives a rave review of her first parkrun:
For some people Saturday mornings are all about lying in, watching Saturday Kitchen, then maybe trawling a shopping centre. For an increasing number of people they are now all about parkrun, the free, weekly, timed 5k runs at an ever growing number of venues around the country.
I’m obviously very late to this party but this Saturday I finally decided to do what lots of members of my running club (Didcot Runners) have already done and give parkrun a go at Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
Firstly, I knew before I went that the parkrun organisation is without question a brilliant thing. It’s completely free, run by volunteers, and for all abilities, from Olympians to beginners and children. Actually, a lot of the kids I saw were incredibly quick, so maybe I should say ‘Olympians, children, and other, slower people’.
When I went down to the venue in Abingdon (Rye Meadow) it was all so simple: free parking, short walk to the start, run (marshalled and marked), pick up time barcode at the finish line, get it scanned along with your personal barcode. It was so laid back and easy, no having to get there really early, no standing around for ages at the start, no fuss, no need even to remember safety pins. And you can take it as easy or as seriously as you like.
Results were posted by the time I got home and there’s enough data to please even the biggest running geek, as you would expect for something Tom Williams is involved in.
The social element was just as important as the run. WARNING: parkrun is clearly dangerously addictive as there were lots of regulars there, who were really enjoying themselves. This could easily become another running addiction and I really don’t have a vacancy to be filled there.
Lots of people went for coffee afterwards and it felt like such a friendly community. And a not inconsiderable feeling of smugness is to be had by running a 5k before 9.30am on a Saturday, then sitting in Coffee Republic while the other clientele jealously (I’m assuming that’s what it was) survey our muddy legs and wet hair.
I couldn’t have picked a worse day for the weather – wet, cold and windy – but I couldn’t have enjoyed my first parkrun more. Parkrun, and the organisers at Abingdon, you are brilliant. I’ll be back for your first anniversary on May 5th.
For more information and to find a parkrun near you check out www.parkrun.org.uk/
I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. The thing I get the biggest kick out of is being involved in my running club, Didcot Runners, encouraging people to get into running through a group I have in Oxford, and coaching runners to improve.