parkrun on a Sunday!? 2017 started slightly unconventionally for me with a New Year’s Day trip to Clumber parkrun. Thanks to the wonderful commitment of hundreds of volunteers across the UK, many parkrun events were held outside of the usual Saturday morning routine in order to kick start the year. My friend and I headed to Clumber parkrun, our first visit to the event which is held on a National Trust country park. When we planned the trip we probably didn’t envisage the weather being quite so soggy; the rain was lashing, the skies were grey, and it was crisply chilly - but skin is waterproof after all!
Being a parkrun tourist always fills me a little nervous excitement. You are not really sure what the course will throw at you, unlike when you run the more familiar route of your hometown event. As the Clumber parkrun director gave us a warm welcome he cheerily pre-warned us to expect mud, bumps, tree stumps and puddles. He was not wrong!
Despite the dampness and a number of runners undoubtedly suffering from lack of sleep and slightly raised alcohol intake levels, a crowd of over 200 hardly souls lined the start. Not knowing what to expect, I ran hard from the start; the course was two laps, so I thought if I struggled on the first I could adapt my strategy for the second. The route was as perfectly described by the run director; I splashed through puddles like a child, squelched across mud desperately trying to remain upright, and tried to skilfully navigate the unpredictable terrain. It was a wonderful challenge.
As the first lap neared its finished, I felt I was running well and that I would be able to maintain my pace into the final loop. However, as I began my second circuit I was informed from the side-lines I was actually currently running as first female. On hearing this news I was a mixture of shocked, horrified and happy all at the same time! One of my goals had been to one day finish a parkrun as first lady, and the prospect that this could be today suddenly dawned on me. What had been intended to be a steady second lap, sticking to my current pace suddenly turned into a do or die run! I risked the muddy corners and pushed hard up the inclines, I had a no idea how close any females were behind me and couldn’t risk taking my foot off the gas.
Despite hitting the final few metres still in the lead, the finish just did not seem to get any closer. However, as I turned the final corner and finally saw the finish funnel, there was no way I was going to let myself be pipped to the post now. A last spurt and I did it – first female in a time of 22:09!
parkrun is not a race, and part of me feels a little unsporting for being so happy at finishing as in first place; but I could not hide the fact I was very pleased as I scanned my barcode in and the volunteer confirmed my first lady placing. Legs covered in mud, my purple running trainers nearly unrecognisable, and soaked to the skin, I felt a little proud of myself.
My running adventures of 2017 have started well; let’s hope this is a good sign for the year to come!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...