Since 2004, the phenomenon that is ‘parkrun’ has been spreading across the country: volunteer-led, free-for-all 5K runs, every week, on a Saturday morning. Edinburgh of course, is no exception. In fact there are now two Edinburgh parkruns – the original at Cramond and a newer one in Portobello.
Although my attendance could be a little better (particularly through the winter months), I’m a huge fan so thought I’d share my reasons why:
1. “Parkrun is not a race – it’s a run.”
Although I like the challenge of beating my ‘personal best’ sometimes I just go out and plod round the course. People right at the front might be competing but I’m happy to just admire them! To me, it’s always just been about getting out there and getting a little exercise to start my weekend.
2. The community around Parkrun is just incredible.
Parkrun costs NOTHING to enter and yet the team at Cramond (my home run) are so professional. Run entirely by volunteers – they turn out week after week and organise an amazing event. People running are really encouraging to each other and I’ve always found someone to chat to at the start. Stewards are posted around the course and often shout encouragement and there’s always a team of people to cheer you to the end. It’s hard not to feel included by it all – even with sporadic attendance!
3. It’s not an insurmountable distance!
5K may seem like a really long way when you’re just starting out but most people could at least walk/run that distance. There’s no time limit on Parkrun and even if you had to walk the whole thing – you’d have the company of the tail runner. Parkrun doesn’t leave people out or exclude anyone! Wheelchairs and buggies are often seen in the pack of runners on a Saturday.
4. The way it makes me feel.
There was one occasion – back in 2013 – when failed to finish a Parkrun. I was running with Katie in the buggy but it was so icy it was more like a husky run. In the company of my friend Megan, after about 3.5K we just decided it was too cold and that we’d just go home! But even then, it’s a memory that I can look back on with fondness. I’ve completed that run in some pretty horrific weather but looking out across the water just centres me somehow. I can breathe and just focus on being in that moment.