8 Aug

“I Am A parkrunner...

Maidstone parkrun start

...but I am not Spartacus writes runABC reporter Alan Newman. Much has been written about removing all barriers to participation for beginners but what about experienced club athletes who are just thinking of taking their first, tentative steps in the diverse world of parkrun?

I am a veteran of 65 parkruns – a drop in the ocean compared to many – with more than 100 contributions as a volunteer in a dozen different capacities. I've also embraced parkrun tourism, with over 20 venues on my passport. But it was not always this way as I played hard to get in my slow-burning love affair with parkrun...
I was slow, almost reluctant to join the parkrun community. It was not for me, an old school club runner used to entering 'proper' races competing at distances from 1500m on the track to marathon.
My breakthrough was the first parkrun held in Kent on an irresistibly beautiful coastal course at Whitstable. My personal record shows a parkrun debut at Reading in 2009 and an educational visit alongside experienced parkrun enthusiasts to Coventry in 2010, but it was Whitstable in 2011 when the penny finally dropped. This was fun running, pure and simple and the volunteers were outstanding ambassadors for parkrun. 
Prior to this revelation, I considered the words fun and run to be mutually exclusive, although I did once win a 10k race in Poulton-le-Fylde dressed as a fairy! The following year, wearing even less as a Tarzan lookalike, I lost my trophy to a more conventionally-clad opponent and that was the end of my costume dramas!
I can only marvel at people carrying fridges or dressed as rhinos, running marathons for charity. That's still not for me but I am a parkrun convert now and recommend all club runners to take a test run. It costs you nowt, takes little out of your weekend and less-experienced runners will learn from watching you warm up/warm down and run. And if it's good enough for Sir Mo Farah and a host of other internationals, then its certainly ok for an average club runner like me.
Find your nearest event from 463 locations here and join the 1.4 million UK parkrunners.