It’s now been three weeks since parkrun returned in England, and in that time, (unsurprisingly) Cathy and I have each chalked up the same number of parkruns. Three...Real…parkruns; and I am still pinching myself to make sure I am not experiencing some sort of group Matrix-style hallucination.
As my reader will know, the Tring parkrun community has not (yet?) been given permission to recommence its event in Tring Country Park, and so, for the last three weeks, it has been a case of goodbye “Tring (virtual) parkruns” and hello “Tring on Tour”! The Tring parkrun community are in Nomad mode, making home wherever we individually happen to find ourselves each Saturday morning just before 9am.
24th July 2021 found us at Graves Park parkrun (Sheffield) for their event #400. We had our grandson with us as we were oop north visiting family. This was to be his very first attendance at a parkrun, not as a participant, but as a buggy passenger.
I had won the toss before setting out to parkrun that morning, and so it was that I had the privilege of being my grandson’s buggy driver for this Sheffield-flat course. As I reached the first slope (downwards through a wooded section) a passing a runner noticed that I was having difficulty with steering my grandson’s buggy. So she stopped to show me how to lock the leading wheel of the running buggy. I was a little embarrassed at showing that I was a rookie buggy runner, but nonetheless pleased to be on the receiving end of this random act of kindness from a
perfect stranger fellow parkrunner. Et voila: l’esprit de parkrun!
On my second lap, a Marshall, seeing me labouring up a hill (well, more of a slight incline really) quipped “I bet you thought it was a good idea to run with the buggy”. (Don’t you just love Yorkshire humour!?)
My impressions were that the atmosphere was a little lower-key that I had anticipated that it might have been. Of course, we didn’t know anyone there personally so, for us, there was not the sense of friends re-united, at least not on a personal level. There were no brass bands (metaphorical or otherwise), no fanfares or tickertapes…just the briefest of (Covid safety compliant) RD briefs, and we then we were off without further ado….as if we had done the same thing last week, and the week before that; as if we’d never been away. (Actually, the fact that the resumption of activities was so seamless is testament to the hard work of the core team at Graves, along with similar groups up and down England and not forgetting the wise direction of the unsung heroes at parkrun HQ)
And in a way that was reassuring…. parkrun is back, and it feels as ordinary and natural as breathing in and breathing out. A sort of anti-climax…although in a good way, if that makes sense. Bit like the time when my daughter spontaneously took her very first steps, unaided, as she walked across the living room to where I was seated, blissfully unaware of the milestone that she had just literally stepped her way past and puzzled by the look of astonishment on her Daddy’s face.
Fast forward a week later, and we found ourselves back dahn south in the BBC (Bucks Beautiful County) town of High Wycombe at Wycombe Rye parkrun. Now this happens to be Cathy’s parkrun alma mater: where her parkrun experience all started. High Wycombe almost rivals Sheffield as to the number of hills and valleys that it is located on and in. The course of Wycombe Rye parkrun is, however, nice and (almost entirely) flat, so scope for a PB. Happy to report that a PB was duly bagged by Cathy and, as this was a first time at WR for me, I gained another step towards my quarter-Cowell. Just three more to go. Some consolation for not being able to be back in Tring Country Park.
And then last Saturday, we visited Wendover Woods parkrun – the next nearest parkrun to Tring, and where we have done NYD doubles in past years. It was good to see a few familiar faces (from the Tring diaspora) and, as we have both ran at Wendover previously, we each bagged another PB. Tring and Wendover are similar. Both located in parkland and wooded areas, and both are severely undulating. (Good training for RSR). If things re the Tring venue do not pan out as we all wish them to, then Wendover Woods would be at the top of our list for our new “home” parkrun.