Back to Earth with a Parkrun

Posted: 15th April 2014 by mockjogger in Training Runs
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For the last year I have been looking for an opportunity to try out my local Parkrun. Normally, Saturday mornings are reserved for activities with the Junior Mockjoggers, but as they have gone to Tokyo for a while, I have the time.

So, 6 days after the majesty and scale of the Paris Marathon, at 8am on the Saturday morning I struggled out of the duvet and looked out of the window. Gale force winds, horizontal rain and a temperature that looked like about minus 10. Do I really want to do this? (I asked myself). After all, I am a marathoner now. Is it worth getting out of bed for a 5k?

The answer was yes. I got my shit together, which meant a huge bundle. I have lived in Edinburgh long enough to know that the weather can change instantaneously and accommodate all 4 seasons in a day. I made the 20 minute drive to Crammond, on the North Edge of Civilisation as we know it and parked my car. With impeccable timing the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shone through. I smiled to myself, as only someone who secretly wants to show off their Paris Marathon finishers shirt can.

Edinburgh Parkrun c/o Scottish Running Guide

Edinburgh Parkrun c/o Scottish Running Guide

I exited the car and made my way to the start line. I got there at about 9.15, 15 minutes before the off. Almost immediately, a dude called Dave used the PA system to call all virgins to the tree. He didn’t use those exact terms, but he made it known that he wanted all first timers to go over there. About 30 of us self-consciously shuffled across, to be treated to the best speech I have had the opportunity to hear for a long time, Dave stressed the friendliness, history and culture of Parkrun, and imparted the rules at the same time. It was an animated presentation and I was glad of the opportunity to move around as the sun had gone home again and the wind was turning my non-gloved hands to ice. Basically, the rules are: be friendly, respect non-runners, and present your barcode at the end.

After Dave’s speech I headed over to the start. Nearly 500 folks were lining up – I’ve run several official races with less people there. I made my way to the back. The Director called 3-2-1 and we were off….

3.1 miles – no problem, I thought. Let’s GO! Initially the crowd made it difficult to get going with a reasonable pace. I found myself running on the grass verge alongside and passing lots of folks.

About a mile in I checked the Garmin to see 7.55 pace. No residual fall-out from Paris then – everything back in good order. I could feel the wind pushing me on though, and knew I was going to face payback time later.

The Edinburgh Parkrun course is shaped like a lollypop. You run straight along the esplanade from Crammond towards Silverknowes, arrive and circumnavigate a large roundabout, and run straight back. I exited the roundabout, as expected, straight into a gale force headwind. I had to exert all available energy to keep moving. I pushed a bit harder to compensate, passed a few people and the Garmin reported that I was still under 8m/mile pace.

As we approached the finish I gave my best impersonation of a sprinter to keep a following runner at bay. Across the line and I was presented with a token, which I duly presented to the volunteer scanner together with a printout of my barcode. A couple of hours later, a text message and an email informed me that I had finished in 162nd place in 24:54.

Great atmosphere and a nice run despite the weather. I’ll be back.

edinburgh parkrun course