One of the most peculiar things about being a parkrun tourist is the number of times you come across people that you know. St Helens parkrun is about 200 miles from my normal stomping ground and just under two months old. The chances that I’d know anyone there were slim to non-existent…
…and yet almost as soon as I arrived, I spotted Cowell Club member Dave Williamson and his daughter Hannah who were there to do a little bit of running and volunteer tourism.
The parkrun is run entirely on tarmac and is gently undulating at worst. You run three large triangular laps around the outside of the park (with one side that is flat, one side that rises up and one side that is a gloriously runnable down) and then a smaller rectangular lap on some of the inner paths, and it starts and finishes within sight of the bandstand, which is a great blessing if you’re there on a day when the parkrun weather fairies are on strike. Which I was.
After chatting for a while at the finish, I took up the invitation to the café and headed over to The Mansion House. As I walked in the door, a vaguely familiar face asked whether I was on twitter. It turned out to be ‘athoner, @grumpy_runner, who is obviously far better than I am at recognising people from their avatars. We caught up over a cup of coffee, and then whiled away another half hour with Megan and Matthew Crehan*, parkrun volunteers extraordinaire, who have been on the core events teams at both Leeds and St Helens parkruns.
It’s a sociable place, is parkrun.
*One of those fast athletic types who has been running since before he could walk, writes the newly revived Alf Tupper: Tough of the Track comic for Athletics Weekly, and who is currently writing a graphic novel about Steve Prefontaine (see http://www.steveprefontaine-comic.com/)