Parkrun: running 52, volunteering 24

I was up north, so I thought I’d run parkrun for a change. Ever since I did my leg in, I’ve been volunteering, mainly giving out finish tokens. I’ve been struggling to run 5k without having to walk parts of it.

Where is everyone?

The alarm went off, and I got ready. I thought I was going to be late, but the car park was almost empty, there were no runners milling about and there were no parkrun flags up. Had it been cancelled? I should’ve checked on Facebook before I left. I’d check on Facebook now.

I got my phone out and, as I unlocked it, I noticed the time: it wasn’t even eight o’clock yet. I’d forgotten to turn off parkrun-volunteering alarm and turn on my parkrun-running alarm, and had been too not-with-it to notice.

What to do for an hour? I could go back home and come back later, which would be silly. I could wait around in the car or wander through the park, looking at art installations. I could see if they needed any help setting up.

An art installation in the park: a matching dog and bench

Volunteering at a different parkrun

The last option seemed the most productive, although I felt a bit sheepish asking. The fellow was glad to have me, although by the time he’d explained where to put the direction signs, he could probably have done it himself. I also put two teardrop flags up: one at the finish line and one where the barcode scanners would be.

I was really glad I helped out, not only because it got me an unexpected volunteer credit, but also because I got to talk to some lovely people, and find out more about that particular parkrun from behind the scenes.

I also found out that the route had had to be changed at the last minute: the council had told them on Thursday that they were closing part of the riverside path to resurface it.

The course

The new course had us run along a grassy path to a steep slope down to the still-open part of the riverside path. An extra bit up to the playground was added to make up for any distance lost by the shorter grassy route.

The orange line shows the new route.
The purple line shows the normal route, where different.
Map from Strava

How did I get on?

I heard complaints about the grassy part, but I found it no worse than my home parkrun. The worst bit for me was the really steep path down to the river: I was too fearful of falling to run, so I had to walk it. Luckily, it was very short.

The steep bit wasn’t the only time I had to walk it: I’d set off optimistically fast (by my standards), and I tired not long after the half-way point. I alternated between walking and running after that. At the end, I sprinted (again, by my standards) past two ladies in front of me – both first timers – to finish what turned out to be a slightly longer course in bang on forty-one minutes.

This is my slowest ever parkrun. I’m ambivalent about this: on the one hand, I want to be able to run the whole 5k without having to stop; on the other hand, I’ve been resting my leg, so I’ve lost fitness. I’m disappointed, but I’m not having a go at myself.

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