After finally ticking off my next parkrun milestone, I’m looking back on some of the memorable runs I’ve had along the way, from my first parkrun to my 100th parkrun.
I ran my first ever parkrun at Moors Valley way back in February 2017. I had wanted to try it for a while but felt nervous to go alone, so I convinced my dad to come along with me. We managed to run the whole way slowly together, finishing in around 40 minutes. About a year after my first few tentative parkruns I started to get into a rhythm again, attending more regularly and trying out my new local parkrun in Guildford in April 2018. It was brilliant to be living just a mile away and I’d walk there and back most weeks.
A year after that, in May 2019 I started to visit a few more local courses and got the tourism bug. I ran Queen Elizabeth, Woking, Hogmoor Inclosure and Frimley Lodge in quick succession and enjoyed trying out different events, varying from hilly trail routes to flat three lappers. Somewhere amongst all that tourism I returned to Moors Valley for my 50th parkrun, with my dad joining me for the milestone and my mum taking part in her first ever 5k. It poured with rain, but that couldn’t dampen my mood.
Soon after my 50th run, during the summer of 2019 I started really struggling with my running, often feeling too hot and nauseous. This culminated on a visit to Tilgate parkrun where I truthfully almost failed to cross the finish line. Little did I know I had fallen pregnant with Max. By September 2019 my parkrun journey was on hold.
Then came the pandemic. Having bought a running buggy in early 2020, I was eager to get back to parkrun, this time with my baby boy earth-side. The weeks of lockdown turned into months, and by the time Max turned one, parkrun still hadn’t returned. We ran a few (not)parkruns together in spring 2021, but I was desperate to share the true community of a proper parkrun with Max.
In July 2021 I finally ran my first buggy parkrun at Portsmouth Lakeside, our new local course. It’s actually an almost perfect course for buggies. Later in the year I started getting a bit more adventurous and began to tick off a few more tourist runs, including Southsea, Fareham, Lee-On-The-Solent and Havant, mostly with Max joining me as my co-pilot. It was a special run when we also returned to Moors Valley for our first buggy parkrun there in December last year.
When 2022 began, I set four running goals for the year, one of them being to run my 100th parkrun. As the year went on, I realised the milestone could potentially coincide with my birthday weekend. I carefully calculated to make sure we had enough weeks to spare and planned to make a proper event of it.
The morning of my 100th parkrun on August bank holiday weekend didn’t go exactly to plan, and by about 8.45am it was becoming more stressful than fun. I had arranged to run with a couple of friends and take Max in the buggy, with my parents waiting for us all at the finish line. But Max must have sensed the mixture of stress and excitement, resulting in him refusing to get in the buggy, a pretty rare occurrence at parkrun thankfully. If I’m honest I was, and still am, completely gutted that he didn’t join me for my 100th parkrun. In the end I still had a great run, and my friend Emily stuck by me for the whole 5k, even though she’s usually much speedier than me. The morning finished off with a delicious birthday weekend brunch with some of my oldest friends.
As always, I was extremely thankful to the volunteers who allow parkrun events to go ahead. The brilliant high viz heroes at Moors Valley had even dug out their 100th parkrun sash for me to wear after I contacted them the week before. So it was about time I did my first volunteering stint the following weekend, and I honestly could not have felt more welcome by the core team and everyone wearing pink jackets last Saturday.
A few of my parkrun statistics to finish off with: 5 years, 18 locations, 36 buggy runs, 500 kilometres, 100 parkruns. Now I’m just waiting for my size to come back into stock so I can order my new milestone t-shirt!
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