Just under two years ago, I went to an early edition of Nonsuch parkrun. As usual, I arrived stupidly early and wound up talking to a runner called Richard McChesney, also a parkrun tourist, who had been a fast runner when he was young, but had then stopped running for a while and had now traded in speed for distance*.
Since then, Richard has set up the first New Zealand parkrun**, joined the half-Cowell Club***, become the first parkrunner to have run all the events in two different countries**** and written a book.
I say book. It’s more of an illustrated guide to runners’ foibles. There are 40 illustrations in total, and if you don’t recognise a trait in yourself, I have no doubt that you will be able to point a finger at a nearby runner who is a textbook example.
Of course, being a foible-free runner, I didn’t identify with any of them. I’ve never planned a family holiday around my next big race (that romantic getaway to Iceland with my non-running husband just happened to coincide with the inaugural Icelandic parkrun), don’t have a wardrobe which is overflowing with running shoes (they’re all in the hallway, piled haphazardly on top of a far-too-small shoe rack) and have never had chafing in strange and unmentionable places (I’m brazen. I will mention anything. Though I may use the odd euphemism to protect the delicate ears of non-runners).
If you’re looking for an epic blockbuster which will help you kill hours in an airport, then this isn’t the book for you. If you’re looking for a beautifully***** illustrated gift for the runner in your life or another way to assess yourself against a running rival, then this could be just the ticket.
*He ran the parkrun in 20:29. Just saying.
***50 different parkrun venues.
****Ireland and New Zealand.
*****This may not be the best word to describe the snot-rocket picture