Havant parkrun – 50th milestone

The one with the cornetto cake! So today was all about my home parkrun, where that spark was first ignited, it blossomed and grew into a budding romance and the love was found. You’ll never forget your first time, I was so nervous, there was a sense of anticipation in the air, trepidation, “what if I’m crap!”, “am I too big!”, “what if my time is rubbish!” and all those other anxious thoughts whirled through my head. First timers nerves took hold.

Well I needn’t have worried and you shouldn’t either if you’ve never been to parkrun before. It doesn’t matter, no one cares about your time or what you’re wearing or if you can’t run the whole thing, speed/size/shape is irrelevant, it simply does not matter. What matters is that you are there and you are doing it. It’s not a race, it’s a run. The only person you should be measuring yourself against is you.

Today was my 50th parkrun, my 28th at Havant and even though I’ve strayed from the nest to tour other parkruns the warmth and love shown to me today by my parkrun family was overwhelming. I didn’t want any fuss but, as I was told, these achievements must be celebrated! As I arrived in the carpark I bumped into the lovely Cole family, John, Karen and Leni. They presented me with a helium filled 50 balloon and insisted that I run with this, it is the done thing! So obviously, me being me, I felt a bit of a prat and somewhat self conscious as we walked towards the start, I know I shouldn’t have and these feelings evaporated as soon as we got there. There were so many friendly faces there all congratulating me. They are such a lovely bunch with so many names to mention.

The run brief was given by today’s RD, Ian, as is traditional he ran through the welcomes and got to the milestone announcements, I received an incredibly heartwarming and rowdy cheer when mine was announced and my milestone card handed to me. Again, as is tradition, this was pinned to my back, thanks Darin, and you can see the elation on my face in the picture Martin took of me.

My attendance had been touch and go this morning due to me being ill all week, but I’m so glad I dragged myself out of bed to go. My run itself may not have been the best of times, 2-3 minutes off my usual pace and I did struggle with energy, down to the lack of food the past few days no doubt, but I really enjoyed it. I had people running with me all the way round, oh and that blooming balloon for company! If you’ve ever run 5k with a helium balloon you will know what I’m on about! I was accompanied for the first lap by juniors Louie and Harriet, these guys are great, I see them most weeks when I’m marshalling at junior parkrun on Sundays and they are brilliant runners. It’s so good to see them out running and enjoying themselves, they’ve both already got 50 shirts on so they’ve been doing this longer than me. This is something I love about parkrun, it is so inclusive.

I also ran with John Cole and Rob Hall for a great deal of the second lap. I was flagging and stopped to have a bit of a walk a couple of times, this is rare for me on a 5k, but as I’ve said earlier, it doesn’t matter, it’s not a race. I struggled round in 27.01 today and finished 94th out of 250. It would have been awesome to have scored a personal best today, there were pacers out today running even numbers and the weather was perfect for it, but today was not my day, that’s just the way it goes. Again I have to stress the time you get is not important, parkrun is way more than that.

After the run, again as is tradition, everyone congregated over at the cafe for coffee, cake and cornetto! I had baked a lemon drizzle cake so I grabbed that out of the car and headed over. I was greeted by Darren and Tracey, Louie’s parents, Tracey had baked me a very special cake to commemorate my milestone. I’ve spent all summer touring and after each parkrun buying a cornetto and taking a selfie with it and labelling it #parkruncornetto. The cornetto thing is something that started in 2009 when I ran the GSR with my sister Debbie and I’d been doing it after most races ever since. It’s now become a parkrun thing for me and I jokingly tell people each time “it’s a thing”. Well check this out!

I can’t begin to sum up how touched I am by this gesture, thank you so so much Tracey, you are an absolute star. This for me really does sort of sum up the spirit of parkrun. Such kindness and affection shown by people that you’ve met on a Saturday morning run in a park, people that you otherwise wouldn’t normally have met. I feel so lucky to have met all these lovely people and have them in my life. Oh but it doesn’t stop there!

The lovely Julie made cupcakes and presented me with one adorned with a burning 50 candle. The Coles also presented me with a pack of ice cream cone chewy foam sweets, yum, my favourite (I wish I’d kept them out of Ellie’s sight as she’s now eaten half of them!). There were cakes galore and cookies and ‘Ricky Road’, though this was a special occasion for me there are normally cakes made each week by the wonderful Havant cake club! If you are touring Havant you have to go for coffee and cake after. But wait, it doesn’t stop there…

Rob Hall, the ED from Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun (Havant is still his home run), a great naysayer and fervent denier of the #parkruncornetto being “a thing” joined me in the pleasure of a post run cornetto, admitting “it’s a thing”. The revolution continues! Viva la Cornetto!

I’d seriously like to give some thanks and appreciation to everyone that I’ve met during my parkrun adventures. For being so warm and welcoming and making my experiences, week in, week out, memorable. The Havant cake club deserve a special mention for being all sorts of awesome, as do the Coles and the Stott’s for their part in my journey into tourism and also someone who was AWOL today, Spagetty! She was the one who dragged me along in September last year and introduced me to this amazing world and people. I can’t thank her enough.

Keep an eye out for me in my 50 shirt and sporting a cornetto!

Onwards, the journey to 100 starts next week and I can’t wait to see where that takes me.

Peace out.

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