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The power of parkrun...

...discover how a weekly 5k ignited my love for running.


I first signed up for parkrun in February 2017 after hearing about its ethos a few months earlier. I had run distances around 5k before but would hardly have called myself a runner – those previous running attempts were few and far between and mostly spent trying to figure out the quickest way home. Little did I know that two years on I’d be approaching my 50th parkrun and embarking on a marathon training plan!


Moors Valley Parkrun - April 2019

A crucial aspect of the parkrun philosophy that helped me take my first steps over the starting line was the fact that nobody finishes last; a volunteer tail walker sweeps the course and ensures that everybody crosses the line before they do. This appealed to me (a self identified non-runner) as it reinforced the idea that parkrun really is for everyone - walkers, joggers and runners alike are warmly welcomed, as well as children, buggies and dogs! I dragged my dad along to our first parkrun on a freezing February morning and we agreed that we would try to run the whole way round, no matter how slowly that might be. We crossed the line together and I was so proud of our achievement.


Our first parkrun - February 2017

Once I’d been to one parkrun I was immediately hooked. I was eager to return, not just to beat my previous time, but also to experience the community spirit, evidently a significant feature of every parkrun. The congregation of chatter at the start line and the friendly competition at the finish were a world away from my lonely self-imposed runs of the past. I still find it hard to comprehend the impressive scale of the parkrun community; it astounds me to think that every Saturday morning I can be part of a goal-sharing group not just at my local parkrun but around the UK and even beyond. It feels fantastic to be running alongside not only the few hundred people gathering at the Moors Valley totem pole but with many thousands of people attending parkruns occurring simultaneously.


Parkrun prides itself on being free forever which only adds to the welcoming feel – if you can get yourself there at 9am on a Saturday you can become part of the parkrun population. What better way to kick-start your weekend than with the endorphin boost of accomplishing the convivial five kilometres that make up a parkrun course?


Chasing those endorphins

Within the parkrun community that I was newly immersed, I also loved being able to help fellow runners celebrate their varied achievements - from a tenth junior parkrun to a 250th participation award - all the while knowing that they would in turn be there to help me celebrate my own milestones. And that community becomes a support network when the going gets tough; running side by side unites people undergoing a huge diversity of experiences. I felt so honoured to recently take part in what would have been Glenys Waters’ (a woman I didn’t even personally know) 250th parkrun when cancer had prevented her from getting there herself.


Running a race that is eight times the distance of a parkrun 5k still seems incredibly daunting, but I know through my parkrun involvement that the running community is an incredibly supportive one – I am certain that my fellow aspiring marathon runners will help me cross that finish line!


Although I absolutely love my home parkrun, my next venture will be some parkrun tourism. First up is Queen Elizabeth Parkrun near Petersfield in Hampshire – hope to see you there!



If you are interested in experiencing a parkrun for yourself, go to https://www.parkrun.org.uk/ for more information.


Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date with my journey to Paris – just enter your email at the bottom of the page. You can also follow me on Instagram (@the_uphill_runner). More posts and pictures to come soon!

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