This seasonal period has offered me the chance to take part in some extra parkrun opportunities on both Christmas Day and New Year's Day. I find it mad to think that a couple of years ago I would not have completed either, and yet now parkrun is a predominant feature in my plans. I think if there was any doubt about the impact parkrun is having on peoples’ lives and their physical activity habits, then this time of year demonstrates it more so than ever. Over 62,000 people took part in a parkrun on Christmas Day, and at the Clumber parkrun event I attended on New Year’s Day the attendance on the 1st January 2018 had almost doubled from that of 2017. They are quite simply crazy figures!
In somewhat shocking news it was not even my idea to go to parkrun on Christmas Day - my sister actually suggested it first! I took my sister to her first ever parkrun, and a few years ago she would have seen no point in driving for half an hour, to run for 20 odd minutes, to then drive half an hour home again. She has got the parkrun bug now though! Christmas morning came and I was pleased it was unseasonably quite mild, meaning I could wear my apricot Lincoln parkrun vest with pride (see first image). I was back in my childhood hometown of Stowmarket in Suffolk for Christmas so we headed to the nearby Bury St Edmunds parkrun set in Nowton Park. I had ran here before in the summer when back in Suffolk for a wedding, so knew the course, however had somehow not thought about the change of season and that I may now need trail shoes to combat the winter mud...! The course is clearly set off road and has a few longer gradual climbs set across the two loops. On the first lap I felt I ran round quickly, my Dad had come to watch us (I haven’t quite got my parents running... yet!) and he nearly missed me as was not expecting me to complete the lap so quick - I think after standing for hours waiting to glimpse me in a marathon this was a shock to him! By the second lap the mud had thickened from the hundreds of footsteps and I was slipping all over the place at times! I managed to keep upright, keep going and keep my Santa hat on my head though. I battled through to the finish in some seriously sticky mud, which zapped any form of sprint effort, to a pleasing 22:21 time. I loved the run; it was great to have my sister there running too and also my Dad watching, it felt like a real family morning which was perfect for Christmas, and looking around it seemed we were not alone in embracing the parkrun festive joy as a family/group.
On New Year’s Day I knew I wanted to go to a parkrun, it was just the question of which one! In the end I opted for Clumber parkrun (see second image), I had ran here last New Year’s Day and the event also started at 9am still, which just seemed right to me! Clumber parkrun is another off road route, so this time I remembered to take my trail shoes with me! These clearly helped, as did my memory of the course from last year. It was crazy how the two laps seemed to speed by, I barley remember completing the first - although I am sure I did! It was sticky and slippery underfoot at times but I coped better, although I noticed I did lose a bit of ground on a few other runners during a steeper climb on the route; my confidence pushing up a slippy hill at speed was not quite up there! A gravel path finish was much preferred though, and I injected my sprint kick to stop the clock at 21:27. I was really happy with my time as last year I finished in 22:09 - so this showed some large improvement. Although I didn’t quite place first female as I did last year - a new course PB is something I will gladly take going into 2018, and it felt a good way to mark the first official day of my London Marathon training.
My parkrun aims for 2018 are to hit 100 runs (currently on 72) and edge closer to my 25th volunteering milestone (currently on 15). I would also love to sneak a sub 21 minute time again, which would probably be at my home parkrun in Lincoln. Whatever happens I am sure my Saturday mornings during 2018 will continue to be dominated by barcodes!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...