Well that was a memorable morning out! Earlier this year I realised that, if I kept going, I would pass 200 parkruns this year and, at the current rate, I would achieve this sometime in the autumn. As the target grew nearer I could work out that, all being well, I would reach the mark on September 15th. I started to thinking as to which venue I might celebrate my 200th at and how I might mark the occasion.
But then another possibility came up. Some friends on Realbuzz were thinking of another parkrun meet up and they were planning it for .... September 15th! Problem solved! I could go to St Albans and celebrate my 200th with some old friends. Normally when I go to a parkrun there is nobody there that I know. This is not a problem as parkrunners as a group are invariably friendly and supportive but it would be a nice change not to be a stranger in town, to be there with some friends. The Realbuzz crew were not planning the meet up specifically in my honour but I couldn’t think of a better place to be today.
The meet up was originally planned as a friendly get together but then unfortunate news put a different slant on the matter. We learnt recently of the sad passing of Marika, a fellow runner who had died of cancer. We could use the day to honour her memory (by wearing her favourite colour, purple) and raise a bit of money for Pilgrims Hospices.
This has an extra resonance for me as my mother has been suffering from cancer and we’re not sure how much time she has left. It depends how well the treatments she is currently receiving work out. At the moment she is being given steroids (I tell her she will be ineligible for the next Olympics!) For the time being she is still with us and we are going on holiday to Cornwall in a couple of weeks.
So to today’s run. I arrived there nice and early and was delighted to be reunited with some familiar faces and one or two people I had never met before. One person whose attendance was in doubt was Dave ‘Hollywood’ Griffiths who had fallen ill after his mudbath the previous week. Actually that’s not really true. I knew, we all knew he’d be there. It would take at least two broken legs to keep him from starting. He was there and ready to run!
My plans for today - I was planning to take it easy. Normally when I go to a parkrun, I am going to a venue for the first and only time, so I give it a proper effort. I rarely run a parkrun as a casual run with friends. Today would be the day. It was a small landmark in the history of St Albans parkrun today as they would be trying a new course. Previously we had done three laps around the lakes. The trouble was, with the numbers of participants edging up towards 500, the course was getting a bit crowded around the narrower sections especially when people were being lapped. So they have introduced a new course which includes two laps around the lake plus a loop around the sports fields.
On to the run. I started in the middle of the pack and chose to run alongside Hollywood. Two things you need to know about Hollywood. When he says he won’t be there ..... he’ll be there! When he says he’ll just jog round gently ..... he’ll put his head down and charge! Actually we did start quite easily, but when we got down to the lake he saw Dave Hobs a little way ahead and felt the urge to chase after him. I quite enjoyed the new course - it had a bit more variety in it and it cut out the problem of lapping. We were still going well, still overtaking people, though I suspect Hollywood may have been feeling the pace in that last kilometre. Just before the finish we were overtaken by Dave H so the three of us crossed the finish line almost together. My position was 152nd and my time was 25:44, which is a personal worst and I couldn’t be happier.
After the run we retired to the café where it took longer to order a coffee than it did to complete the parkrun. No matter - it was great to be able to spend a little more time with such an inspiring bunch of people. Somebody, I think it was Dave H, had supplied a cake in my honour and I was suitably touched! I shall give you a quote from the poet Hilaire Belloc to ponder. “From quiet homes and first beginning, out to the undiscovered ends, there's nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends.”
I shall give you a few photos. You might have seen these, or some similar, on Facebook.
I shall finish with some statistics because you know I love my stats!
That was parkrun number 200 which equates to 1,000 km of parkrunning at an average pace of about 4 minutes per kilometre.
My fastest parkrun was 18:01 at Burgess Park. My slowest was my time today.
My best position was 1st. My lowest position was 296th (one Christmas Day at Bushy)
My biggest parkrun in terms of numbers was the Bushy tenth anniversary when 1705 runners finished. My smallest was Bevendean Down with just 19 finishers.
The nearest to home was Hogmoor Inclosure which is about 10 km from my door. The furthest away was Rhodes in Sydney which is 17,000 km away.
My next target will be to get myself up to 250 parkruns which will entitle me to a dark green t-shirt with 250 on the back! I’d also like to get my number of parkrun venues up over 200 (currently on 177) At the current rate I might have achieved this by this time next year. Perhaps we could all meet again for that! See you next year in St Albans!
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