parkrun is a phenomenon. The free platform is encouraging and allowing thousands of people to take part in physical activity, with last weekend seeing 103,006 people running, walking or jogging a parkrun event and 10,580 volunteering - and that’s just in the UK! One of the things I Iove about parkrun is the fact that you can be almost anywhere in the UK on a Saturday and have a parkrun within reachable distance. A trip to visit my sister in Liverpool over the weekend therefore presented the perfect opportunity for me to try Princes parkrun and become a parkrun tourist for the morning (when you take part in an event at a different location to your home parkrun).
Despite my sister being a runner and living in Liverpool she had never been to Princes parkrun before, in fact her only parkrun experience to date was when she visited me in Lincoln and I took her to Boultham Park on a wet, cold Saturday morning – which she still enjoyed! We were both going to be new to it all. After a reasonable walk to the park (a good warm up!) we were able to locate the starting area by spotting people in the distance sporting the distinct runners uniform – florescent yellow, lycra etc. As soon as we arrived we instantly began chatting to other runners and volunteers, a friendly and warm reception that really epitomises parkrun. The route was explained to us and would see us start at the top of a long path, complete half a lap of the park, followed by two full laps.
Lining up on the start line amongst nearly 250 fellow parkrunners it almost felt like I was back in Lincoln, although unlike when running my home event, I was not sure what my time could be. My aim was to run hard and adapt as I discovered what the Princes Park route would throw at me. We started on a decline which meant I got off well – although I knew a decline meant we would inevitably have to go upwards at some point! The route did prove to have a few short sharp inclines, as well as a slightly gradual ascent; however this was offset by a longer downhill section. Lincoln parkrun is virtually flat, so this route felt a nice test. The park was also beautifully quiet – it seemed like we had almost closed it just for parkrun, and the wide pathways meant it was accommodating for all participants.
I sped through the first mile at seven minute mile pace, I felt I was running well and my breathing was much more in control than when I had returned to running parkrun the previous week after a number of weeks away due to races. I slowed to around 7.20 min/mile pace for the second and third laps, and as I entered the final lap the volunteers’ support spurred me on and comments I was looking strong helped keep me going. It was hard to know when to push towards the end, at Lincoln I almost have an exact spot where I know it is time to get a move on as the finish is near. A female runner overtook me in the latter stages and I was unsure whether to try and go with her or whether it was too soon to kick. I let her go and focussed on my own finish, crossing the line in 22:19. I was very happy with this time, which was consistent with my Lincoln time the previous week, despite this probably being a slightly tougher course. My only slight rue was when I saw the results later and was initially delighted to find I was 4th female, but then regretted not trying to follow the fellow female runner who overtook me and went on to finish third (it is not a race Alice, it is not a race!!) My sister also ran really well and recorded a new PB; I am pretty sure this will not be her last trip to Princes parkrun.
Strolling back from Princes Park were two happy runners, ready to enjoy the rest of the day, and both feeling more connected to the Liverpool running community. If you do find yourself somewhere different on a Saturday morning then I encourage you to seek out your nearest parkrun event; the idea of setting an early alarm on a weekend away or whilst on holiday may seem a bit mad at first, but you will not regret a bit of parkrun tourism.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...