I confess. My first thought whenever something appears in my diary on a Saturday is “How do I fit in a parkrun first?”. So before buying my ticket for ResearchED2013, I looked at the map, considered the logistics and decided that it was perfectly feasible to run at Dulwich parkrun at 9am and be at Dulwich College by 10am.
Then I noticed that Southwark parkrun’s inaugural run was the same day. Could I run a parkrun in Surrey Quays and then cycle to Dulwich for 10am? Probably not, but if I went all out, then I wouldn’t be too late.
Then, my injury persisted. An all out parkrun would be out of the question, the best I could hope for was to walk one in around 40 mins. Dulwich it would have to be, and my progress towards 100 different parkruns would have to be put on hold for yet another week.
But then, the calculation changed. I could repeat Dulwich parkrun and be on time for my conference, or I could go to Southwark inaugural, join Zoe for her 50th parkrun and be late for the conference. A quick check online revealed that the first session was being recorded, so I’d be able to catch up with anything I missed, and a decision was made. Southwark parkrun it was.
I’ll leave others, or rather blot7t, to describe the course in all its flat, tarmacked, 3-lapped, trees-and-a-lake glory, because I want to focus on the people.
On the volunteers, too many to mention, who were enthusiastic, encouraging and efficient.
And Danny Norman, running his 334th parkrun at his 100th different venue, the 6th most prolific parkrunner of all time and the 8th to join the Cowell Club.
And the Williamson family, who have clocked up 757 parkruns between them, have visited over 70 different venues and who can provide a bike tool to a cyclist in need (thank you, thank you, thank you).
And Becky Thurtell, who I first met at Alice Holt inaugural, who is only a hop, skip and a jump away from joining the 250 club.
And Ian, Tony and Pete, whose meticulous parkrun tourism schedule takes into account the away games of their football team and whose spreadsheet of local (ish) parkruns puts all others to shame (though I know of an odd parkrunning accountant or two who may have spreadsheets to rival it).
And Nicola and Rosemary, proud back-of-the-pack runners who have shepherded many a nervous first-timer around to a successful completion.
And Timothy and Rick, familiar faces at many North East London parkruns, who epitomise parkrun hospitality and always know the way to the post-run coffee.
And Steven Stockwell, parkrun passionista turned parkrun tourist who writes the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated parkrun reports I’ve ever encountered.
And Windmilers Norman and Chiara, regulars at Wimbledon parkrun who have decided to spend the summer sampling some of the parkrun variety on offer within London.
And Mike, a tourist with a plan, who is working his way alphabetically through the Greater London parkruns, with inaugurals thrown in for good measure, and whose cheery encouragement made the tedium of a walked parkrun seem just a little less tedious.
And, of course, Zoe Wright and her gang of well-wishers, there to celebrate her 50th parkrun. I like to think that I have persuaded one or two people to dip their toes in the waters of parkrun. Zoe has probably persuaded 50, most of whom were there on Saturday. Congratulations, and I’m only sorry I couldn’t stay for a cupcake.