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The Parkrun Phenomenon!

The Parkrun Phenomenon!

The phenomenon that Parkrun now is came to Colchester in April 2013. Together with about 100 others, I went along to the first event, just to see what it was all about. Essentially, as with most good things, it is quite simple. You turn up at 9.00am on a Saturday morning; no prior entry or cost is involved (other than registering online for a barcode which you bring with you); you run, walk, hop, skip or whatever you like around a 5K course in a nice place, and then you go home. Later that morning you get an email advising you of your time, position, where you came in relation to others in your age group and various other bits of information.

What really impressed me was that, although athletes will always treat it as a race, it is basically a run around the park, and the majority of people, of all shapes, sizes and abilities are there to enjoy a bit of exercise in the fresh air, surrounded by fellow like-minded people. Age is no barrier either - I'm 72 - it's just another Parkrun statistic. Nobody is left out or looked down upon and the support and encouragement of others is a joy to behold.

A word of warning though. Once you get into Parkrun, you could, like me, get hooked. You might find yourself touring the country to try different courses and arranging your holidays around where you can join in a run on the way and on the way back. There are also a myriad of challenges to amuse you - like trying to complete the parkrun alphabet. I took my family to Jersey for the day for one run, only to find another J a few weeks later had started in St Albans. Oh well - it was a nice day out.

Before I finish, I must pay tribute to all the volunteers who make Parkrun happen. Without someone to put the signs up, marshall the course, man the stopwatches and clear up afterwards, whatever the weather, the event would simply just not happen, and everyone should take a turn.

On the subject of weather, it is a little known fact that it rarely rains at 9.00am on a Saturday morning in this part of the world. I can only recall one occasion when I got soaked, before, during and after the event - thank you, Romford.

There we have it. 300+ runs later, it is part of my regular routine and my sons and grandchildren have followed in my footsteps. And my wife, despite her dodgy knees, recently completed her first Parkrun. So get up, get out and keep moving. The saying "use it or lose it" really is true.

This blog was contributed by David Ford, Colchester member and keen runner!

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