‘It is good seeing you in your happy place’
My friend sent me the above message recently; the happy place she was referring to was Lincoln parkrun. I had never really thought of parkrun in that way before, which is quite strange considering it does bring me no end of happiness. I realised she was very right though. No matter what is going on in my life parkrun is always there. If I am having a good week, parkrun makes it better; if things are not so great, then the thought of parkrun motivates me to keep going. I can run well at parkrun with things feeling effortless, or I can feel like I am forcing my legs around in a bit of a struggle, and yet I am still happy. I do not even need to run at parkrun to feel good, since volunteering brings me equal levels of joy.
This Saturday morning I ran my 50th parkrun. It has been a long time coming, however having completed the vast majority of my parkruns at my home event in Lincoln, I wanted my 50th to be here. I also wanted to be able to share reaching this milestone with my friend and running buddy. Careful planning for months in advance had therefore led to this particular Saturday morning, which shows just how important it was to us both.
When parkrun first started in Lincoln I could not make most Saturday mornings. When I did get to go it was a treat, something I really looked forward to and an enjoyable morning with friends. Now I get this boost of happiness on weekly basis. I never imagined reaching 50 parkruns; the first time I ever visited a parkrun, Lincoln on Valentines Day 2015, I was too scared to even print a barcode and had to be heavily encouraged by my friends to join them. I definitely do not need encouraging now! My 50 parkruns have created a lot of memories, there are too many to even begin to list, and I equally love seeing the pleasure and reward it brings to so many others.
For our 50th parkrun my friend and I decided to make some special cakes to share our milestone celebration with our fellow parkrunners (see image). These took us many hours on Friday evening; my friend agonising over whether she had enough icing leaves on her parkrun cake, whilst I stared in disbelief as I iced the parkrun logo onto a seemingly never-ending line of 90 cupcakes. It was all worth it of course, and it was lovely to be able to stand at the finish chatting and handing cakes out to both new and familiar faces; the social and community element is equally what parkrun is about after all.
Cakes aside, running my 50th parkrun felt special too. Obviously it was still the same three loops of Boultham Park I have completed many times before, but it just felt extra meaningful. I didn’t set out for a PB in particular, but I just ran as hard as I could. Lap one was quick and lap two began to hurt, but the volunteer marshals really spurred me on and by lap three I was determined not to slow. The call of ‘there’s only half a mile to cake’ from one marshal on the third loop most definitely gave me an extra boost! By the time I made an attempted sprint for the finish funnel my legs were weary, but I stopped the clock at 21.24, my second fastest time on record - I’ll take that! Stood catching my breath I glanced back at the funnel hoping to see a familiar figure crossing the line; and there indeed was my friend. I knew it had to be a PB for her and it was - an extra success for the morning.
parkrun is a special thing to be a part of regardless of whether you have completed your first parkrun, 50 parkruns or 200 parkruns. I am also biased into thinking that Lincoln parkrun in particular is simply a wonderful community to belong to. Lincoln parkrun has been there when I needed it, and I am extremely thankful for the volunteers who continue to make Lincoln and other parkrun events possible, not just for me, but for the thousands of other parkrunners worldwide. Thank you for giving us all a happy place.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...