Many thousands of people take part in, and love, Parkrun each week – sadly, I wasn’t one of them.
I was hoping to write a post about what an inspiring experience I’d had but, actually, it was the opposite. I figured if I was willing to publish a positive story I should also be honest and post a negative one too.
So, here it is.
I will say that this was one event, I was hormonal (tmi?) and it was hot so maybe at a different run, on a different weekend I would have loved it. Who can say?
My running buddy and I started our C25K journey last October and have been consistently running that length (and further) since January. We had been thinking about signing up for Parkrun for months and when we finally took the plunge we were very excited.
It didn’t start well.
We thought we had left plenty of time to get to to the park but the run started in a completely different place to where we expected (we had checked the website for the route but obviously misunderstood), which meant we had to jog to get there. Undeterred, we considered it a good warm up.
We were there about a minute before everyone set off and just joined the back, clutching our codes, hoping we didn’t need to check in or let anyone know we were new.
And we’re off.
It was nice, initially, running as part of a group. There were even people cheering us on (including Mark and Freya) at different points and I know we were running a bit faster than usual as a result, which was great.
There were runners of all different ages and abilities, even people jogging with buggies, and it felt like we were in it together, exactly as I had imagined.
Then came a noise.
It was like the thunder of a thousand hooves, sort of.
Suddenly we were being shouted at to move and “get out of the way” as the front-runners, clearly racing, lapped us for the first time.
It felt intimidating to me as they brushed past us (one of the other slower runners said that we were supposed to keep left but someone else shouted at us to move right). Also, and this is probably more about me and my competitive instinct, it was really demotivating to be lapped so quickly. If I had realised that people were going for Mo Farah times (the winner finished in something like 17 minutes) I would never have entered but it’s called park RUN, not park RACE and I thought it would be like-minded fun runners ambling around together.
Obviously I know someone has to be first but I expected it to be less competitive, which probably sounds ridiculous. I figured RUNNER runners would go to a club or compete in actual races.
And I’m afraid, at roughly 3k, I stopped.
My running buddy carried on and finished (very proud of her) but I knew I was done. I waited with Mark and Freya, cheering her home.
It wasn’t the distance (we’ve even run that route several times since and I’ve been fine) or the pace (my running buddy finished a couple of minutes above our PB), I just really disliked the atmosphere. I’ve been told that other Parkruns are friendlier but I just don’t think I’m cut out for group running.
For now, my running buddy and I will carry on happily plodding around the park at dawn. You can’t really fault the view.
Are you a fan of Parkrun? Have you had a better experience?