Back in 2008 one of Helen’s work colleagues told her about a “Time Trial” which was a timed 5K run at Woodhouse Moor Park in Leeds each Saturday morning. It was free to take part but you had to register in advance on a website. The website was called “parkrun.org.uk”.
Back then there were no barcodes, finish tokens were little metal disks and your position was entered there and then by the volunteers into a laptop. I remember that instead of the stopwatches we have today, timing was done on what looked like a large desktop calculator. In the important ways however parkrun was the same then as it is now; you still were able to run, walk jog as you fancied, you still got your results by email, it was free and you got milestone t-shirts at 50 and 100 parkruns.
Back then, parkrun meant going to Leeds Woodhouse Moor and that was where I ran my first 100 or so times. Since then my parkrun journey has taken me to Pontefract and then to Temple Newsam. I was really excited when Temple Newsam parkrun opened because it’s a beautiful place and is really local for me. I felt really welcome at Temple Newsam and it became my home parkrun. I always remember a time when I couldn’t complete the run due to not feeling well and the kindness shown to me by Ronnie Bray and the team. There, I was able to learn so many new volunteering skills and I have met lots of wonderful new friends and so when I was asked to join the Rothwell parkrun core team I was torn because I felt Temple Newsam was my home. However, for parkrun to grow, some experienced volunteers need to get involved in and shape new events and it has been wonderful to see so many people new to parkrun come to Rothwell over the last few weeks. It would have been unbelievable back in 2008 that there would be so many local parkruns to choose from!
In the early days, milestone t-shirts were delivered to parkrun event directors and given out at the run briefing once a month and at this point the milestones were publicly recognised. It’s a shame that isn’t done today but with the sheer number of milestones being achieved it’s not practical. Today at Temple Newsam, they have these brilliant “I’m running my 50/100/250th” bibs and I proudly wore one of those today at my 250th parkrun. I have some lovely friends who came especially to Temple Newsam to celebrate this milestone and people who saw my bib shouted encouragement as I went round. This reminded me of how fortunate I am to be part of the parkrun community.
How long it will take for my 250 t-shirt to come I don’t know, but I don’t care because it feels great to be part of the exclusive “250 Club” and even better, to be part of the wonderful parkrun community.
I read yesterday about Ramona Thevenet, the first woman in the world to enter the even more exclusive “500 club”. When I reached 100, the 250 looked a very distant goal and I feel now, the same way about 500. But the great thing about the parkrun milestones is that all you have to do to achieve them is to keep going, and keep going I shall for as long as I’m able. Bring on the 500!
But the noble make noble plans,
and by noble deeds they stand.