Saturday, 3 August 2019

Happy 5th birthday Chichester parkrun!

Those present at the first event, plus the Mayor, at the 5th
anniversary.  Photo by Geoff Summer
Back in the distant past turning up at inaugural parkruns was a thing.  Huge groups of tourists used to seek out the newest parkruns and descend on them to swell the numbers and bag a place on a table listing the number of inaugural parkruns attended by touring parkrunners.  This practice is now discouraged in an attempt to stop new events being overwhelmed by a huge influx of runners which could give the volunteers and landowners a totally unrealistic idea of what would be expected over the following months.  I also think it gives new local parkrunners a warped view of the parkrun community.  This community grows organically week to week as word spreads about 'this 5k run thing in the park on a Saturday... it is free... come along!'

Anyway, five years ago pitching up at a new parkrun was perfectly acceptable and so, when I found myself roughly in the area of the new Chichester parkrun I decided to pop along.  You can read about that visit and my ropey grasp of geography in this blog post.  I enjoyed it - managed to ditch the Fredster with my friend who was tailwalking so I could actually run.  It takes about 45 minutes to get there from home so was never going to be a contender for frequent visits but I was surprised to realise I had never been back since that first visit.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.  An email arrived saying that the 5th birthday was fast approaching and wouldn't it be nice to try to get as many people who had run at the inaugural back to celebrate the 5th birthday.  I did a double take.  It couldn't be five years, it only felt like 2 or 3 at most!  I managed to persuade the Fredster to come along and Husbando was keen to add another parkrun to his tourist tally.

The attendance record was smashed today (360 compared to the previous record of 310), and the run director had to work hard to be heard by all the runners.  As a teacher I find it quite distressing when people behave so disrespectfully and talk throughout the run brief.  There were two men I noticed who were standing very near the front, one in a 100 and the other in a 50 t-shirt, who talked incessantly - just rude behaviour!  Not every run director enjoys public speaking but they all deserve to be listened to!  Today the run director (and new event director) paid tribute to the former event directors, celebrated milestones, and remembered two parkrunners who were at the inaugural but have passed away since then.  I apologise for having to use my 'teacher voice!'  Apparently Husbando was watching me get more and more fed up with the talking and counting down how long it would be before I couldn't keep quiet any longer... The local mayor said a few words, including making an excuse about not being able to run because of the bling (he obviously hasn't seen the medals given out at Phoenix and White Star events!  He also started us off on our run.

My memory of the course was sketchy, to say the least, I did remember a long up hill section that was run three times, but my sketchy memory didn't really matter as the course is totally different now!  I recall starting by the rugby club and running clockwise around Oaklands Park.  Today we started at the bottom of the park, near Chichester Festival Theatre (I still haven't been back to see any of the many excellent productions they put on) and ran anticlockwise up the park.   It was a twisty, turny, zig-zag route up the slope of the park on grass, followed by a lovely long downhill on a tarmac path, for three complete laps.  I wasn't feeling much like running if I'm honest.  I'd been at a BBQ the night before and am fast coming to the conclusion that eating red meat makes me feel absolutely awful the next day, but it was parkrun day so run I must!  I ignored my Garmin and set off - my only aim as that I didn't want to be lapped by the fast runners, co-incidently the Fredster's aim was not to be lapped by me or Husbando.  I wasn't lapped and neither of us managed to catch Fredster!

I am delighted that he is parkrunning again!  He has done 175+ parkruns, but none for a very long time.  It isn't worth pushing children or teenagers if they aren't enjoying it, but I always hoped that he would come back to parkrun one day.  It seems that volunteering at parkrun as part of his Duke of Edinburgh bronze has rekindled his interest, and now he is doing running as his physical activity for his silver award and will use parkrun as a bench mark to show progress.

Sadly we had to dash off after the run, which was a shame as there were cakes and balloons, as Husbando needs to work on a Saturday, but the start/finish area had a really nice party feel as we walked back to the carpark - I hope everyone had a great time and here's to the next 5 years!

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