Great Notley parkrun was different, from that first event it had a friendly, welcoming feel where you were made to feel really welcome and I soon changed it to my home run and that's where I have spent most of my Saturday mornings since then.
parkrun for those of you who don't know is a free 5km timed run (in parks all over the country) run entirely by volunteers which take place at 9am every Saturday.
All runners are encouraged to volunteer every so often and parkrun can't go ahead without them. At first I volunteered for easy jobs (turns out they are all easy!) and worried when asked to do timekeeping or something I perceived as difficult. Towards the end of last year Richard, who had been part of the core team since the beginning, mentioned Len was looking to expand the core team and I should join them. My initial reaction was 'no way, couldn't possibly do that' but the seed had been planted and quite quickly I began to think that maybe I could do it...
Now I wonder why I ever had that initial reaction because being part of Great Notley parkrun's core team is one of the most rewarding, fun and fulfilling parts of my life. Richard I will always be grateful to you for getting me involved, thank you. I was immediately made to feel like one of the team, and love my weeks as run director as well as supporting the rest of the team, the volunteers and runners and I still get to run a lot too, making it to my 50th run earlier this year.
So today we celebrated our first birthday, the theme (we love a reason to dress up!) was grass skirts and loud shirts beach party. So early this morning dressed in a sarong and bikini top I headed for the park. It was brilliant, runners and volunteers get awarded points over the year and I was proud to win The Women's Points trophy for 2014/15.
216 runners joined us to celebrate today and I joined the volunteers as tail runner. It was a brilliant morning and just reinforced my love of our event. Happy, smiley people enjoying the sunshine, some new on their running journey, others like myself have been running for a long time. We have a real sense of community which is sometimes missing in other parts of our busy day to day lives. Len asked this morning during the runners brief if anyone had met a new friend at parkrun during the last year. I am lucky to have met lots!
All that is left to say is my heartfelt thanks to all of the core team Len, Rich, John, Dan, Chris, Pete and Jenna (and your families) you are not just core team but friends that I am privileged to have in my life. I am extremely lucky to be involved in an event that brings us together every Saturday morning, in all weathers, to run, support, volunteer and most importantly have fun.
To every runner and volunteer who I have met this year thank you too xx
Have a great week and happy running xx
(Photos by Mike Eldred)