It’s fair to say that this year has been all about parkrun for me, I went from being an occasional parkrunner in 2015 to full blown fanatic in 2016. I started blogging about it regularly and it has become part of my Saturday routine. Saturday wouldn’t be Saturday without either running or volunteering at a parkrun somewhere. Come New Years Eve I will have run 46 parkruns throughout the course of the year. In that time I’ve reached two official parkrun Milestones and can now sport either the aubergine 25 volunteer shirt or the red 50 runs shirt, both supplied for free courtesy of Tribesports. I have also made it onto the Most Events table on the parkrun website having run in more than 20 different locations. As a result of this I became eligible to join the unofficial ‘UK parkrun tourist’ group and can sport a cow cowl identifying me as a member.
2016 is the year I spread my wings and started touring. Since April I will have run in 25 new locations outside of my home run, including 1 international course twice. Some, like the Mrs for example, may think it’s crazy to spend all that time on the road to go run a free 5k event when there are two less than five miles from my doorstep. They could be right, but I think it’s mad not exploring this amazing country when you have the opportunity to. I’ve been to so many wonderful places I would never have dreamt of visiting before.
2016 is also the year I started getting more involved with volunteering having not done so before. I have performed 38 volunteer stints at parkrun this year. This breaks down as 17 occasions at junior parkrun on a Sunday with the rest at senior parkrun, spread over more than 10 different locations. It is an amazingly rewarding thing to do and opens up a whole different side to parkrun that you don’t experience as solely a runner.
I also paid a visit, nay pilgrimage, to Bushy parkrun this year, the motherland, the birthplace of parkrun and happened to bump into this chap whilst there, the parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE. The man responsible for this amazing phenomenon that is parkrun. He started all this back in 2004 and has changed the game permanently, what he started has changed the face of organised running and made it accessible and welcoming to everyone.
2016 has been a wonderful year of being a part of something special and I can’t wait to get started on 2017. I think it’s safe to say that I love parkrun and simply can’t recommend it enough to anyone willing to listen. Get involved, run it, walk it, if you can’t do that then volunteer, you will meet lots of people and forge new friendships. If you let it, you will be inspired and touched by other people’s journeys and embark on your very own. Get involved.