Parkrun is a free event, and I bet you there will be one closer than you think.
As you hopefully know by now I am representing Diabetes UK at the Vitality Move event in Windsor on 17th September. In case you missed my last blog about Vitality Move and Me, please do have a read of it ➡ Here Inspired by the amazing runners at the 2017 London Marathon I decided it was about time I actually made the effort and did a proper 5K timed run. I have been training loads lately so I knew the distance was going to be ok. What I didn’t know was what it was like running in a properly timed event with other runners. I didn’t know how it would affect my blood sugars, how I would be at pacing myself or for that matter how much great fun it is.
Parkrun What’s That?
Parkrun is a great innovation. It has taken the simple idea of getting people with a passion for running and exercise and given us the platform to make it happen. Every Saturday at 9 AM people gather in parks, all over the UK and have a run.
How Much Does It Cost?
Zilch, zero, nada it’s all for free. These events are led by volunteers, lots of them. There are sponsors of the events Vitality, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Intersport all back Parkrun. The events are also backed by many organisations, including London Marathon.
Who Can Take Part?
You can! Stop looking for excuses not to do it. Get registered, get your barcode and get running. No matter what your fitness level you can do Parkrun. People walk the route, jog the route and flat-out run the route. It isn’t a race you can do it all at your own pace.
How To Get Involved
Couldn’t be simpler. Just get onto the ➡ Parkrun website and register. Once you have registered you can take part in any of the Parkruns from all over the World. At the one I went to this week there was a family from Australia taking part, over here on holiday. That is a commitment to running right there!
Once registered you can print your barcodes from your account.
This is how the events are timed. All people taking part have a unique barcode. No barcode means no event time for you at the Parkrun. You can print your own and take them along. For a small fee, you can buy proper cards or wristbands too.
I have bought a card, and as a diabetic, it is handy as it has emergency contact details on as well as declaring I have Type 1 Diabetes. Buy your cards or wristbands ➡ Here
My First Run
My first ever Parkrun was on Saturday 29th April. I attended one just outside of London at Dartford. The course, as always, is a 5k route around Dartford Central Park.
I was due to be running this one with my diabuddy Rachel, sadly Rachel couldn’t make it this week, don’t think you have escaped though Rach! I went along, slightly nervous as I didn’t know anybody there. Within minutes my nerves had gone, everybody is really friendly and it is a great little community.
Just before 9 am the race director called over all the first time runners and gave us a quick briefing about Parkrun, explaining how it all works and how we get our times at the end of the event etc.
Then at 9 o’clock, we were on our way. If you have never taken part in a proper run where there is a large crowd starting all together then give this a go. It is a much different experience to going out for a run on your own! The fact that over 200 people took part really did surprise me. The runners varied from some very good athletes, completing the course in well under 20 minutes, right through to people having a gentle jog with their dogs. It really is an event for anybody and everybody. There is no race just a run. The volunteers are all there to encourage and support you on the way round and at the finish line to get your time for you.
As you pass through the finishing funnel you are given a token. Hand that in to a volunteer who will scan it along with your personal barcode. Later in the day, you receive an email with all the results from that day’s event.
I have really enjoyed my first ever Parkrun, and I will definitely be back for many more of these events.
Getting up and about early on a Saturday can’t be a bad thing, right? In the process I get fitter and hopefully make some running buddies then that’s all the better!
Thanks to all the volunteers who make these events happen, without you guys it wouldn’t be possible.
Take care, run all the way there