Park Run

Monday 3 February 2014 09.30 AM

New Year's resolutions, and a certain amount of peer pressure (I was recently referred to as "the least outdoorsy individual in the team"), have conspired to get me doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff at the moment.

New Year's resolutions, and a certain amount of peer pressure (I was recently referred to as "the least outdoorsy individual in the team"), have conspired to get me doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff at the moment. 

So in addition to my usual cycling commute and my weekly football, I took up running just after Christmas - I'm quite fit, but the last time I actually did any proper running for fun was at school cross-country, which I really hated!

And…I did my first ever Park Run this weekend.

If you're not familiar with Park Run, it's a free weekly 5K run that takes place in parks all over the land on Saturday mornings. It is one of those life-affirming, community-enhancing, all-round good news enterprises run by volunteers that restores one's faith in society and humanity. Maybe I'm getting slightly carried away here, but, honestly, what's not to like? You register on their website, print out your personal barcode, turn up with it at your local park at the allotted time - and then run. That's it.

The organisers log your time, and later that day (or maybe the following day) you can see all the results online: not just your time and where you came in the race, but also your age-category position (5-year increments). All your past results/times are there, too, so you can keep track of your (hopefully) improving performances. The kind of thing the internet is so brilliant at!

There were 79 runners. It's not a race as such: the age range runs from about 12 to 70-something, so the ethos is that you are running against the clock, rather than your fellow runners. The course was three laps around the park, with a fairly long shallow hill to contend with - and with all the recent storms, small rivers running across the paths and a massive fallen tree in the way.

The first lap was the hardest, particularly that hill. I was surprised at how fast the front-runners were going - I was immediately near the back. But every time I run, I start slowly and build up, and sure enough I got into my stride after a while and the final lap was my fastest (I did something like 8:40, 8:30: 8:25 for laps 1, 2, and 3).

So my time was 24:37. My age-related score was 59.77%: I'm not sure how that works (does 100% mean you have run the fastest time for your age group that is biologically possible?), but am told that 60% is good. So I was very very nearly good. I'll be back next week hopefully breaking that 60%!

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