I decided that I would attend my local Parkrun on Saturday just gone. Parkrun organise weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. These events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and they encourage people of every ability to take part; from those taking their first steps in running to Olympians; from juniors to those with more experience; they welcome you all.
I really didn’t quite know what to expect or know if I was really fit enough to keep up with everyone. That said I set my alarm to go off bright and early and headed over to Hinchingbrooke Park in Huntingdon.
I arrived at my first ever Parkrun on a good day it seemed. They were celebrating a 10 year anniversary and people were in jubilant mood. I was one of the first to arrive, I was spotted looking a little apprehensive by a couple of other runners who enquired if I was there for the run. They were very welcoming and was very happy that I had decided to join them and were more than welcoming. They told me what to expect, how the course was laid out and the types of characters they had turn up every week. I was made to feel at ease straight away. As the time approached 9am there was an influx of people gathering. I had started at this point to feel a little self-aware. Some of these people were turning up in marathon tops and talking about their past weeks runs. This was actually turning into something bigger than I had anticipated.
After a brief talk from the Run Director everyone made their way down to the start line, the countdown began and we were off. People at the front screamed off and were into the distance before I barely took stride. Now I decided to settle into my pace that I had practiced for a few weeks now. I know that I can finish 5k and if I run at a controlled pace I know I can get sub30 most times. People continued to stream past me but I held strong as I all I wanted to do was finish this damn thing!
As the race progressed my strategy of starting out at my controlled pace started to pay dividends. I could start to see people in front of me running at a slower pace and I recognised some of these as people that had dashed past me in the first 2k like a zombie apocalypse was happening. This pleased me and I just started pick people off one by one.
I won’t lie and say that I was finding this course easy, far from it. I was for the first time running on grass and muddy bridleways. I had to circumnavigate tree roots and conkers galore. It brought a new dimension that’s for sure.
It felt good to be running with so many people and certainly helped spur me on through my difficult 4k mark. As the race neared the end and I could see the finish line I wanted to speed up but was more content with just getting over the line in one piece. A few people overtook me at the line as they found a burst of energy from somewhere and I myself was just happy to finish and get my first Parkrun under my belt.
As I drove home I had a text through with confirmation of my time and placing. I came 103rd out of a field of 163 runners. I had come 9th in my Age Group and most importantly I had run my second fastest time over this distance crossing the line in 28:56.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and will absolutely make an effort to attend again.