2018 Press coverage

A lot happened at the tail end of last year with the 10th anniversary of parkrun in Scotland, and I realised it wasn’t reflected here.

Interviews are both fun and terrifying. Fun, because it’s great to see things you care about getting coverage; terrifying because that filter process your words go through when a journalist reports them always feel a bit… odd.

A couple of prominent articles linked below. It’s fun seeing your name in lights, but I’m delighted there’s strong recognition of the people who were instrumental in getting parkrun off the ground in Scotland, and have helped make it a success over the years.

BBC – Runners mark 10 years of Scottish parkrun

Runners mark 10 years of Scottish parkrun – a nice wee piece, and a great photograph. Great coverage too of Liz Corbett, who took over as Event Director at Pollok, but now does so much as Scotland regional ambassador to develop parkrun here in Scotland.

I was keen to get my running club, Bellahouston Road Runners, a bit of a plug. Ideas, particularly slightly risky ones like starting a weekly 5k, take time to gestate and you need confidence you’re not entirely mad. Club runs with club colleagues where I muttered away about a “Pollok Park Time Trial”, and them not telling me it was a silly idea, were hugely helpful.

In the space I have here, I’d also add a note about Fetcheveryone – in a pre-facebook day, this was perhaps the main running UK social network, and there was lots of interest, and volunteer offers, there too.

Evening Times – Glasgow’s parkrun founder reflects on 10 years of 5K phenomenon

Making the front page of the 28th December 2018 edition of the Evening Times came as a real surprise: we’d thought, at best, it’d be a bit of filler in the newspaper, but to see club members on our ‘subway run’ feature prominently on the front page was just brilliant.

It’s a great piece too: Glasgow’s parkrun founder reflects on 10 years of 5k phenomenon

I remember talking to Catriona Stewart on the phone during a break at work at the BBC: she was brilliantly supportive of my nerves. It was an absolute delight to read her most recent article, and her recent (November 2019) twitter thread about her experiences at Glasgow’s newest (7th!) edition, the amazing Queen’s parkrun, Glasgow

Seeing parkrun events developing and reaching people 11 years later just shows what an amazing setup a free, weekly, 5k timed run anybody can take part in is brilliant. Looking forward to the next few years.

Why the 9:30am start time for parkrun in Scotland?

I get asked a few questions quite regularly about parkrun in Scotland. One of the main ones is “Why the 9.30am start?“, and it certainly came up in many of the lovely chats I had with people about the course today. It’s also probably the main difference for parkrun in Scotland (and the island of Ireland) compared to the England and Wales.

So, there are two reasons for the 9.30am start time at Glasgow, now Pollok parkrun, which was the first parkrun in Scotland.

Firstly, well, Pollok park is a tree lined park. I was looking to do setup at about 7.30am – cycling from home and putting the signs up (always the reverse of route), before returning to collect my car with the kit (we eventually needed a few traffic cones for our finish area, and they’re heavy).

I went back through my emails to Chris Wright, the first employee of UKTT (now parkrun), who provided critical logistical and moral support in getting us, and many other events, off the ground. I wrote this on 10th October, 2008, as permissions came together and we needed to start planning the detail of the event:

We’re actually considering a later 9.30am start simply because the sun rises 40 minutes later here in the depths of December. Add the heavy tree cover in some parts of Pollok Park, as well as the gorgeous Glasgow weather, we’d been thinking it’d make sense to set a slightly later start time, at least in the winter months. But there’s an argument (for sheer simplicity) to stick to one time all year round.

Chris responded:

Re start time, there is something to be said for a regular start time throughout the year so I’d be tempted to make it 9.30 throughout the year, but it really depends how busy the park gets during summer at about 10.30. I’d say start with it at 9.30 and keep it under review.  If you later decide to say Winter 9:30 GMT, Summer 9:00 BST then that’s always an option.

It was always at the back of my mind how much darker it’d be for any time trial/parkrun that started further north, if another community ever wanted one. I’d not visited anywhere much further north in the winter at that point, but I had a rough idea after a few winters in Glasgow just how dark it can get/feel in the depths of December. I’d also less awareness of what other city parks were like at the time, so figured they’d be at least as dark and foreboding, and fiddly to setup, as Pollok’s North Wood.

Secondly, the proposed event was to take place in the North Wood of Pollok park, which is just behind the Burrell collection, so there was a perfect post-run coffee venue to hand. But it opened at 10am. I was very worried about how – or even if – the community/atmosphere of the events I’d enjoyed (Bushy park time trial (now Bushy parkrun), and Richmond park time trial (now Richmond parkrun)) would develop if we had a 9am start, with most runners finishing about 30 minutes before the cafe opened. They’d simply go home rather than hang about. So, we’d have no easy post-run natter spot, and the event wouldn’t flourish. We’d then struggle for volunteers. It’d be hard work.

So, a 9.30am start would fit perfectly with the venue schedule, and would help foster the community.

It’s just important – certainly after parkrun grew beyond the 10 UK events it had at the end of 2008 – to remind Scots travelling south so that they don’t miss the local parkrun. Tourists who visit Scotland over the summer, or people who catch national publicity, do sometimes arrive for an earlier start. Alas the difference in start times doesn’t get spotted (assuming it’s stated!).

But that’s it really. We stuck with it, and didn’t really ever consider revisiting it. Dark parks in winter, and the need for coffee and cake, that was important to build the community, and it all just fitted. It felt right, and works well with other park venue opening times around Scotland.

Pictures from the inaugural Scottish/Glasgow parkrun

As flickr seems to be about to kill off its free service (at least in a way that is useful to me), I figured it was time to move the pictures I have from the first Glasgow/Scottish parkrun, somewhere else

The full set of pictures are available via this shared album link to Google Photos. A selection of my favourites[1] below.

Pictures were taken by Paul Flood. Alas Paul was the first Scot to discover that taking pictures of fast moving runners, in a tree lined park, was a lot trickier than we expected. It was also very cold.

 

[1] – By favourite, I mean representative of the event[2] and my memories. I cringe a bit at me-in-the-orange-vest
[2] – A couple are from after the first event (The C3 car and Burrell picture). Let’s call it artistic license.

Revisiting the early history of Glasgow parkrun

 

I’ve been doing some work recently to gather my various notes and thoughts together about the start of parkrun in Glasgow and Scotland.

In the pre-social media days, I used to maintain this website as a full on blog. Alas it got to become a bit too onerous, and I took it offline around 2011. Whilst it’s back again in this form, I always knew I’d want to pull some of the old content through again at some point.

I posted them as a series of tweets, which are available as a Twitter moment here:

Picture by Paul Flood, used with permission.

Glasgow parkrun’s course

I ran my 28th parkrun today, my 18th at Glasgow, and for some reason felt rather nostalgic to the whole process that led to the course we use in Glasgow. Perhaps it was a refreshed appreciation of the beautiful park that we get to run in every week: It took a horrific pounding in the storms at the end of the week, and lost a few trees. The course was quite heavily littered with twigs, branches and leaves, as if to let us know what it had gone through.

Plus it was the first time I’d run the normal course in a quite a few months – 23rd October according my athlete history – The events I ran in December and January were all on our alternative winter conditions off-road courses.

Anyway, the Glasgow parkrun course (here’s a link to the course map). Curious history, and I feel motivated enough to write a few notes down on it whilst it occurs to me. It’s also wrapped up in a bit of nostalgia about the journey Glasgow parkrun has been through since starting. I’d wanted to write something around our 2nd anniversary, but events intervened.

When I first sat down to think about likely courses, options were limited: There aren’t that many ways to fit in a 5k around Pollok park that’s easy to manage on a regular basis. Try playing about with walking directions on Google maps to see what I mean. There were also logistical considerations: Iain and I wanted to keep the number of marshals to a minimum, and didn’t want to use (if we could help it) the access roads in the park (more marshalling required). So that ruled out a circular route near Pollok House. Also the lovely riverside path just gets too narrow, and the Old Stable Courtyard has blind corners.

So North Wood it was. Two laps too, as an out-and-back didn’t really fit the paths, or what we wanted (we’d take over the main paths). So as anybody who’s run the course knows, we have is a properly “undulating” two lap (ish) course. I remember – before we started – being very worried that people would feel it was too difficult for a weekly event. So I worried that people would just run it once, and think ‘sod that’. Particularly as this was the first Scottish parkrun, with zero awareness of what parkrun was: I real worries that the concept wouldn’t stick.

But precisely the opposite has happened. Runners seem to love the course, and the challenge it offers. So Glasgow parkrun’s numbers keep climbing (We’ve staged the third biggest parkrun). The feedback I get is that the course actually one of the main attractions (alongside everything else that’s super about Glasgow parkrun, Pollok park and the Burrell). So much so that when asked, I encourage new events to ‘think different’ when plotting a parkrun course if they can and their park offers a choice: Flat courses are all very well (and sometimes necessary), but undulating 5k’s are a bit of a rarity.

It’s also good because it offers something for everybody, and presents a fresh challenge every week. My thoughts about what those challenges are, as I was running (perhaps why I didn’t get a PB!), went along the lines of this:

  • Start-1km – Slightly downhill at first, to ease you in to things. But if you’re not careful you’re tempted to set off too fast. This, as any runner who’s done a few races will know, a classic route to a bad run. Consistency is key, and a fast start can blow that apart and sap your energy. A 5k is a short and intense event, but the undulating course at Glasgow will properly punish an overcooked start. Resisting the temptation to run a fast first km is very, very hard. So the challenge Glasgow parkrun’s first kilometer offers is about not getting carried away, and finding a good position in the crowd. 
  • 1km-2km – This is the ‘main drag’ from the crossroads all the way, past the pond, to the bottom of the Glade (“the muddy bit”). It’s ever so slightly uphill for most of it, with a rapid descent soon after the pond. The incline is sapping, so important to find a comfortable pace. Nice and wide to let you pass (or be passed). Lovely woodland all around you. Still early in the event, so it’s important not to overcook it. You’ll be doing this section again in a bit. Do you ease off or push hard?
  • 2km-3km – This is the uphill section along the Glade, behind the Burrell, to the halfway point, and around back to the crossroads again. About 50% is climb, and 50% level or descent. Dig deep territory. Remembering it’s a two-lap course on the tough ’s’ bend (you know the one)! Hill training helps considerably here, as does trying to keep something in reserve for your next trip up these paths. This is where your PB is made or lost. So easy to slip into a dispiriting frame of mind and ease back completely (or is that just me?) when thinking of the next time around!
  • 3km-4km – See 1km-2km (roughly). Same as before, just with your legs starting to feel it. Those decisions from the first lap about the strategy for the second lap don’t seem so clever now. Why did I think I’d have any energy to ‘push hard’ second time around?
  • 4km-5km – Roughly from the bottom of the glade (‘the muddy bit’), to the finish. Repeating much of the 2k-3k section, apart from that delicious (there’s no other word for it) downhill stretch right to the finish, which appears out of nowhere with the enthusiastic finish area volunteers. The second time up those hills is the killer, the Glasgow parkrun test, and it really tests your legs, but also – more importantly – your mental resolve to keep pushing. But once you’re up to the top, the feeling of level course, and downhill to come, are just the spur you need to (perhaps) push hard for that PB, or to savour the relief and enjoy the descent.

And even if the challenge of running the course to the best of your ability isn’t enough, the weekly nature of parkrun allows you to experiment with strategies. Or deal with different conditions (puddles, mud, number of other runners and so on). I love to hear comments from runners about how they tackle the course. Do you “Push hard on the hills”, or “Push hard downhill”, or “keep it as consistent as possible”. Or do you “Take it easy on the first lap, push hard on the second”, or “Run a fast first km, then just hang on”. So many ways to slice and dice it. As many answers (or attempts at answers 😉 as there have been runs.

Of course, mix in with this the beauty that is parkrun. A free, weekly, 5km timed run. For runners of all abilities. The sociable atmosphere, the wonderful volunteers, the post-run coffee. The friendships made. The personal triumphs and achievements that are being discussed in detail in the beautiful setting we have.

parkrun: It’s properly good. I know every event director will say this about their event, and it might seem I’m being a bit self-congratulatory, but Glasgow parkrun – 108 events and two years on – really is everything I’d hoped it’d be, and so much more, because of the course, the park, the runners and every one of the hundreds of volunteers who’ve helped stage the event, week after week.

Edinburgh parkrun launch, and a new PB

I took part in the inaugural Edinburgh parkrun on Saturday, an event that was special in very many ways. The weather was absolutely perfect, the course was beautifully flat, it was exceptionally well organised, there was a huge turnout, I got a new 5k PB, and – best of all – it really felt like parkrun had properly arrived in Scotland.

It did require rather an early start to get over (never popular in our household), not least because I wanted to have a chat with the guys who were behind the event. I was also determined to keep my distance from them when things were getting under way, I know all too well how busy it can be being in charge of a parkrun event, and how much more stressful it can feel when it’s the first, and distractions don’t help.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the man who started parkrun five years ago, was along, so it was great to have an opportunity to have the first of many catch-up chats with him whilst we waited for the event to get underway. Sadly my warmup wasn’t quite as long as it should have been, but I was keen to join the start crowd for the announcements, and quite touched to get a mention in their acknowledgements.

I was feeling good for a PB, having been pushing myself in training recently, and am feeling increasingly comfortable running with the fastest group in my training set. The last 12-18 months have felt a bit ‘flat’ on PB’s. My 5k hasn’t improved at all, and my 10k has just settled into the low 44’s. Perhaps half-marathon and marathon training have taken a bit of the focus away, but mostly I think I’ve settled into a comfort zone and have been reluctant to push myself a bit harder, so I was feeling it was time to try that little bit harder, on a course that was conducive to a PB.

I set off and settled into what felt like a comfortable pace. It’s an out and back course, so great for being able to mentally break up the sections even without a GPS device giving me splits. There were also km markers at this first event, which was helpful to be able to lock on to targets. I was delighted to get a 3:57 split for the first km, but conscious that was perhaps a bit optimistic to maintain, so eased off slightly for the next km, which I managed in 4:10. A tough session on Wednesday ensured my mind was in the right place: I knew I could maintain this sort of pace for over 5k, all be it with recovery breaks, so it was all mind over body.

The half way point was naturally enough the turn back point, which is an immense boost; Really enables you to focus on the work ahead, and keep the effort up. My 3k split was 4:12, so pace was looking consistent, as I focused on what I find the toughest section of the race – the 3-4km where you’re really beginning to feel things, and need to dig in and battle those demons niggling away. 4km went by at 4:18, so slightly down, but easy now to focus on the end: It was in sight! A few supporters in the last stretch said I didn’t look like I was working too hard, but I knew I was, and somehow managed to find a tiny bit extra to cross the line with a 4:08 split, and a 20:43 overall time, a PB by 16 seconds from over a year ago, and the first PB of any sort for quite a while.

I’ve always felt it’s important not to push so hard that you’re sick at the end: I’m determined to enjoy my running first and foremost, times come after that! This time I pushed it a bit harder than I had done before, and kept my dignity (just!), and even remembered to take a token at the end of the funnel (the shame I’d have felt if I’d forgotten!).

Naturally chuffed to find myself with a spangly new PB, and feel there’s much more to come where that came from. I’ve a real sense of determination to push my times, particularly in the short-medium distance events, over the next six months, and a sub-20 5k and a low-40’s 10k time feels like it’s not all that ridiculous now.

The post-run parkrun chat went on for a long time – we finally headed back towards Glasgow around 2pm, having stayed for coffee and cake whilst the Edinburgh team did their results, and discussing various parkrun plans and ideas. The Edinburgh team did spectacularly well, and blew apart the first-event attendance record, with 204 participants. With Glasgow parkrun having 193 runners, that meant that almost 400 runners were taking part in parkrun events in Scotland on Saturday.

Huge congratulations to the Edinburgh team for staging a great event on Saturday, the first of many. And as the awareness of parkrun continues to grow in Scotland, we’ll surely see more events starting wherever there are determined individuals who fancy stepping up to make it happen. Sterling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness are surely only a matter of time. Perhaps even a second event in Glasgow before too long (largely we just need an event director who wants to drive it forward). With coverage such as this piece in the Sunday Herald featuring parkrun rather prominently, awareness is growing all the time 🙂

parkrun is growing in Scotland

It’s been almost two years since I started making noises about starting a “Glasgow Time Trial” (parkrun, as they’re now known). And what a journey it’s been. A lot of time and effort by myself and others, but that work is offset many times over by the immensely rewarding experience being involved with parkrun almost every weekend since then has been.

parkrun’s principles of a fun, sociable, inclusive, free, weekly timed run are a wonderful, and it’s so good the idea just spreads – an ideal example of a meme.

When I ran the 3rd Richmond parkrun nearly two years ago (you can read my race report here), I was so struck by the light weight and relaxed system (Bushy parkrun is so big, it’s not quite as obvious it’s as simple). Compared to a lot of races, it just feels so relaxed. A handful of volunteers are needed to make the event happen. And then, the best bit, was how welcome I was made to feel by the other runners, and at the post-run coffee. I was so enthused, I got to thinking about an event in Glasgow, and so started the year-long journey that culminated in Glasgow staging the first Scottish parkrun. Together with Iain,the support of my wife Frances, the parkrun HQ team, all the other race directors I spoke too, we soon had the groundwork in place to start the ball rolling in Scotland.

The growth of Glasgow parkrun has been spectacular. From our first event with 44 runners, we’re now regularly topping 200 participants, and our attendance record is a whopping 250 runners. Over 2,000 individual runners have now taken part so far, and we have well over 3,000 people registered with it as their home run. Regular participants have made new friends, and involvement spreads

So when I heard that some runners who’d come over from Edinburgh to take part were looking to start a parkrun there, I was absolutely delighted. parkrun is such a flexible, fun and sociable way to get involved in running, I had hoped it was only a matter of time before we’d see another event in Scotland, but I’d not rated the chances of one starting within a year of Glasgow! I knew there was a lot of work behind the scenes to get the paperwork in place, and councils can be slow organisations to work with. Of course it transpired that Gary, one of the Event Directors, worked for Edinburgh council… But it’s the enthusiasm of the whole team that’s been the big driver.

The event’s starting with a bang tomorrow, and I’m excited to be going over to take part (it’ll be my 6th event, but just the 8th time I’ve run at a parkrun event!). Seeing the idea growing in my adoptive neck of the woods makes me burst with pride, and gives me just a tiny glimpse of what parkrun’s founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, must be feeling as he sees new parkrun events starting around the country/world, and the success of attendance of 3,000 runners every week taking part across the country.

For me though, whilst running is very much at the core of what parkrun is about, by far the best thing is the community and support it engenders. It’s really about the journey, and who you meet along the way, than the destination itself. Runners at the front of the pack are always great to see, but I get so much more from seeing participants from across the speed spectrum returning, growing and improving each time, learning from their experience, and pushing their own targets. It’s that determination to improve and to challenge, to have fun, to be supportive to others, and together to build something special that really unites parkrunners, and makes the event such a wonderful idea and privilege to be associated with.

The Edinburgh team have put in a lot of effort to get to this point. On the eve of the event’s launch I can’t help but be genuinely excited for them and the journey they have ahead. They’ll see and experience highs, and lows, along the way, but the sense of pride they’ll feel, as they watch runners tackle their challenges, will serve as it’s own reward. The participants, tomorrow and every week, will soon get a sense of that, and how parkrun is a wonderful addition to the local community.

Saturday morning’s just aren’t the same any more

Almost two years ago now, I took part in the third Richmond Park Time Trial (now Richmond parkrun). It’s funny to think that in taking part in that, my second time trial, the seeds of what would become Glasgow parkrun were sown. I was catching up with my friends David and Sharon Rowe, and taking in a free running event that had become a big part of their lives. I was incredibly struck by how simple the format was. A few folk taking their turn to help out, everybody else getting a great sociable run in. Go for coffee and cake afterwards.

‘When were they going to come to Glasgow?’, I asked the organisers. ‘Whenever you want, if you’re offering to start it’ was (essentially) the reply.

At that point came one of those moments when a decision is required. Not quite of the order of choosing a university (I still remember the moment I chose my University, at the foot of my parents stairs, deciding that a work-placement year was important, and therefore Oxford Poly (now Oxford Brookes) would be my choice. Thus perhaps the single biggest life changing and affecting moment in my life to date, and with such profound consequences. Boy did I get that one right). But certainly ‘up there’ with notable decisions. Did I take time out to work on persuading the council and runners in Glasgow that this was a good thing. Chase the paperwork through. Put something in to creating what – I hoped – would be a success. But faced with the blank expressions when talking to people even the famous Bushy Park Time Trial (now Bushy parkrun), knew there was perhaps a bit more of an uphill task ahead of me.

What followed did take a bit longer than I’d hoped. After an initial surge of interest from Glasgow council, things went quiet. Wrong avenues, wrong dates, wrong people. Oh, and getting married was something of a focus for the first few months of 2008. Getting put in touch with Iain from Sweatshop was just what was needed to get things going. Turned out that Iain had been making noises and enquiries himself, and together we developed the momentum to get things moving forward.

Glasgow council required a fair bit of paperwork, and think it’s fair to say there were probably a bit sceptical views on what we were proposing. But once over the initial hump, and through a couple of meetings, don’t think we could have asked for better support. With the paperwork sorted out, it was just a case of setting a date, and getting on with it. Oh, and choosing a specific course and getting the word out. Would have been horrible to have turned up and found nobody else there.

We needn’t have bothered. The course pretty much selected itself given some of the constraints we needed to work to, and when we had a launch date set interest picked up. Our trial run went well, and the first event – despite my forgetting the tokens to dish out to runners – went really well. We’d chosen to start in early December, so it was certainly cold, and with Christmas shopping a priority for many too, our numbers were low. But all the better for getting used to the format and system. Heck, I even managed to run myself on 27th December, and have done two other times since.

Forward fast a few months and Saturday mornings really have changed, not just from those first few small Glasgow parkrun events, but from a year ago when ‘lie in’ was something that happened. Followed perhaps by a stroll around the farmers market, and maybe some Saturday Kitchen. Goodness knows I’ve not seen a live broadcast of that programme in a while, but I certainly miss the lovely eggs and interesting produce from the farmers market.

The big worry I had with the prospect was, in bringing parkrun to Glasgow, that the system would come, but would the atmosphere? I’d been struck by the friendliness at both Bushy and Richmond. Bringing a system wouldn’t necessarily bring that though. But I needn’t have worried. The registration queue, the free and weekly nature of the event, and the post-run coffee and cake, brings a special atmosphere with it because folk are more relaxed, and if they mess up can either come back next week, or console themselves with cake. Contrast with a local race, where runners are so much more serious. I suspect it’s a combination of having paid (sometimes quite substantial amounts) to enter the event; It’s probably an annual event, so no room for messing, and most importantly, there are reputations at stake, so there’s a little less banter and chatting.

Glasgow parkrun: 4 months on

It’s quite hard to believe that it’s over four months since Glasgow parkrun started, and I thought it was perhaps time to write a bit of a personal reflection on how things have gone.

Quite simply, it’s been stunning. We’ve been completely taken aback by the enthusiasm and uptake of the event since starting. We always knew it’d be quiet in December, and would pick up a bit more as the spring kicked in (and Glasgow’s spring 10k’s approached), but it’s surpassed even our most optimistic projections.

Some stats illustrate this: Our first event had 44 runners, but the proximity to christmas meant numbers dropped until January: Event #2 had 24 runners, #3 22 and #4 25. I look back at those events with a strange fondness, as we were learning so much about running the event, but the numbers feel almost, er, pedestrian. You see, since January, we’ve not really slowed down. 10th January say 81 runners, 28th February 114 runners, and the 28th March 153 took part. So with 18 events under our belts, we’ve had 644 runners take part, with 1490 separate runs totalling 7450 km. An average attendance of 83 participants each week, with the average run taking 24:11, and the average runner taking 38 seconds off of their course time over the duration of the event.

We’ve had a our fair share of problems. We had to adjust the course twice, first to move the start/finish away from a persistent puddle (ironically it’s not made much of an appearance since then!), and secondly to take account of a formal course measurement one of our runners did for us. But the new course has a much wider, downhill start section, and better accommodates the larger numbers we’re now seeing Our ‘best’ problem was actually only last week, when our timing device had a problem that meant we didn’t record the first 11 participant times. Thanks to the quick thinking of Frances, we soon got back on track. Best of all, everybody affected understood and wasn’t too bothered by the inaccuracy.

Glasgow council, and in particular the management at Pollok Park, have also been incredibly supportive. I recall our first meeting, and was worried there was some concern about what we were proposing. Perhaps they found it difficult to understand what motivated a couple of chaps to want to put on a free 5k race every week. I recall a few frowns, and certainly was a bit concerned they weren’t ‘getting’ it. We had a good few hoops to jump through to get the permits, and it was certainly quite a difficult process, but we got there in the end, and all the better for it. All the risk assessments came good, and covered us. The managers are enthusiastic, and we’ve been delighted to report to them that as a result of our event, many participants are coming back to enjoy the entire park and the Burrell Museum. Plus they’ve got a regular event taking place at a quiet time of the day.

Speaking to other park users I see when out and about putting up or taking down the signs, almost everybody is supportive of what we’re doing. The park is, after all, very quiet at 9.30am on Saturday mornings. Dog walkers are probably the only ones who are adjusting their habits, but all our participants know to respect other park users and yield to them. So far, so good. We take our respectful use of the park very seriously.

But by far the best part is the sense of fun and community that is building up around the event. I think it’s a bit of a puzzle to people when they first hear of it. They perhaps think of more ‘formal’ races, with their pinned on numbers, serious athletes, and entry fees. Once you get in on the running scene, they’re friendly enough of course, but new comers are often put off by them (I know I was). They’re just a tiny bit intimidating, at least until you start to enjoy them. But with parkrun it’s different. Here we have a free event that you can just turn up to once you’ve registered. It’s deliberately sociable and enjoyable, and it’s run by runners, taking their turn to volunteer on the day.

Somehow, there’s a real ‘magic’ to parkrun that brings participants together, and enables previous strangers to start chatting to each other in the post-run registration queue, or coming along for the post-run coffee. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen as much chatter at a local race, from and between elite runners and newcomers.

Announcing the Glasgow parkrun

I’m delighted to finally be able to announce the launch date of the Glasgow parkrun: A free, weekly timed 5k around Pollok Park. This joins the 10 other parkrun events that take place around the UK, and is the first parkrun event in Scotland. 

The provisional start date we’ve agreed with Pollok park management is Saturday, 6th December at 9.30am, outside the Burrell museum. The all important sociable coffee and chat follows in the Burrell cafe. The parkrun occurs every week at the same time. Plenty more at: 

http://www.parkrun.com/glasgow_home.aspx 

If you want to take part in this, or any of the other parkrun events, you just need to register with parkrun before your first event: http://register.parkrun.com/ – It’s a one-off process. No need to repeat each week. 

parkrun’s are run entirely by volunteers, so please get in touch if you’d like to help. You might be racing later in the day, want to give something back to the running community, or be recovering from injury and want to stay in touch with running friends. 

We’re particularly keen to get names down for the first few weeks as the event establishes itself. See the Volunteer tab, drop me an e-mail, post a comment, or speak to me in person. 

A bit more on the parkrun idea follows below.

Regards, 

Richard Leyton and Iain Brown, Event Directors 
Continue reading “Announcing the Glasgow parkrun”