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Parkrun – We Salute You!

On Saturday morning (4/10/2014), I wasn’t woken by my usual alarm of the Star Wars theme tune at 07:15am.

Instead, I was woken by the carbon monoxide detector. Fearing the worst, I darted to the object only to discover, it needed fresh batteries.

PictureR-L: Neil, Stephen, Nick, Bobbi & Me!

Since I was up, I flicked on BBC Breakfast and one of their headlines on the hour was, about the ParkRun, “Oh, I do that, I wonder what the story is?” I thought.

It was revealed, that the ParkRun event was celebrating its 10th year and the BBC Sports presenter, Mike Bushell, ran the course that hosted the very first run with founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt.

I have to say, what an achievement!

I was still in comprehensive school when the first Parkrun or the Bushy Park Time Trial as it was first known as, back in 2004 and it’s done fantastically well ever since, not only for the keen runners that run the distance week in, week out, but for those who are in my boat – those who want to take up running and some doing it to get fit with the added bonus of its cost…NOTHING!

What I thought was pretty cool was, at the time of the 10th anniversary of the ParkRun, it also marked one year since I began doing the ParkRuns too and I’ve loved every run, whether it’s the South Shields course or the Newcastle one.

I can still remember the first run, almost. I was late, didn’t know what to bring so I piled drinks, spare kit and a snack into a bag beforehand and legged it to the start line as my ‘warm up’. When I got there I met up with my friends Nick, Helen and Neil and realised I was far too keen. The weather was gorgeous – so i decided to wear black (good effort, Briggs, good effort) and wore my athletics shorts (the lycra kind). I definitely felt out of place!

I can’t remember a lot from the entire run, I did enjoy a quick catch up chat with Nick before I sped off to trying to pick off other runners and power home to the finish line in 25:26. I was definitely hanging by the time I had to go and film for Jarrow Roofing though! But nonetheless, it had me hooked!

When you see how far the event is spread, you won’t believe your eyes. It’s not only based in the United Kingdom, no, no – but it’s even showing up around the world! Just take a look here at where Paul’s hard work has taken him – it’s quite a spectacle.

It’s great to see that events like that bring the running community together, especially when an elite athlete drops in one week, it can act as a kick-start for someone who may not take running seriously, to running weekly and entering 10k runs.

I’m lucky enough to have access to three of the courses in Gateshead, South Shields and Newcastle, so I can mix it up when I feel like it, although I have yet to run the Gateshead course, something that may have to be done over time!

Saying that, I have to say that for scenery, the South Shields route is gorgeous, particular on a clear day. Plus, you’re running the last mile of the Great North Run, but in the opposite direction. Newcastle’s ParkRun is very quick I’ve learned. You get to run by cows (and dodge cow pat ha!) as well as the open fields of Town Moor. A mention must go out to ALL the volunteers that help out too, they are so, so important. Without them, we may not have our 5k morning runs!

It’s not the longest of blogs for this post, but I felt a special mention should go out to everyone that is involved with ParkRun and their development.

I would have never have had the ability to carry on running if I wasn’t introduced to them in all honesty, I never had targets, times or checkpoints to aim for until Emma ran it last year and friends pointed it out to me, so thank you!

Long may it continue and grow!

If you wish to find out where your local Parkrun is, then check out their website here. All you need to do is register and print off your barcode – it’s all FREE.

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