Posted on May 1, 2016. Filed under: edinburgh, parkrun, running, ultra running, Uncategorized |

Yesterday I parkrunned. Or parkran. OK, I may not be fluent in the verb construction but I ran in a park, organised by parkrun. Always one word, lower case. Remember that.

With an ultra a week away, tapering and still wanting to go for a jog I thought I’d pop down to parkrun for the first time in ages.

parkrun is a very British phenomenon. A bunch of people meet in a park on a Saturday morning for a timed 5km run. Dog walkers look on bemused as the lycra clad do their stretches, drink coffee and catch up with virtual strangers as they await the start. Those strangers could as well be an Ironman World Champion as it could be the old lady that sells  you sausage rolls in Greggs. It is inclusive and classless and free.

Quite frankly it is cult like. Numbered t-shirts mark out the elders, everyone is a selfless volunteer and it is free to join. I have prayed at the altar of the cult for several years. Of course, when I say “prayed at the altar of the cult”I mean that I have projectile vomited on my shoes at the finish line. And with that vivid memory in mind I wore my Special Trainers. The ones that, if Asics did paint samples, would be called Corrosive Lime Zing. The ones that could cope with a projectile spinach smoothie and not look sullied.

There is probably a bawhair in distance between my two closest parkruns but as Dunfermline is, quite frankly, Himalayan and I ain’t no sherpa I opted for Edinburgh.

Now, there are two kinds of Edinburgh parkrun. The kind where the dank, grey sky presses down on the grey waves of the Forth topped with white horses galloping to escape the icy, razor rain that strips the flesh from the skin. Or the big sky Edinburgh parkrun where the cobalt waters draw the eye across the islands jagging from the Forth to the snow topped Ochils behind the Forth Bridge.

Yesterday was a big sky day.


Having done only two speed sessions this year as I concentrated on plodding long distances in hills it is fair to say that my parkrun expectations were modest. Pedestrian even. But the great thing about parkrun is that everyone is welcome and no matter how you finish you get great support.

I can’t recall running 5k in under 31 minutes so far this year so in my mind I had a plan that went 5:30 for first three kilometres and then try to finish strongly but be somewhere near 27:30.  It’s always good to have a plan.

As 500 odd people (odd meaning roughly as opposed to strange, although some were) mingled around the start area I found myself in the shade of a tree. There was a slight chill in the shade but I stayed there, warned off by the smell of cooking bacon in the air as the remainder of the field’s Scottish skin was grilled under our re-discovered sun.

It didn’t escape my attention that there were more than five times more people loitering around to run 5k than there would be at my ultra to run 30 miles next week. Next week will see no congestion.

With little fuss the run started. It was so busy that I just went with the crowd with little consideration for my pace.

I heard my watch beep 1km but it was still desperately busy and I didn’t want to clip a heel by looking down.

Sweat was rolling into my eyes. My breathing was progressing through telephone sex pest to asphyxiation.

Beep. Second kilometre done.

I glance down. Lap 2 : 5:12. Bugger, a bit quick.  Cumulative time : 10:24. Double bugger. It had been good to have a plan. A plan to completely disregard.

I could feel the bloody, metallic taste of Too Much Effort Too Soon rising in my mouth. I consciously eased a little.

Beep. Lap 3 : 5:21.

I was right in the hole on lap 4. I couldn’t get air in my mouth fast enough. Ironically my legs felt fine but I couldn’t get the fuel to them quick enough. 5:28. Still faster than The Plan though, but I was fading.

The last 500m of Edinburgh parkrun is a bit off road. A lady overtook me on the grass. I let her go but I though “what the hell” and cranked back up the engine. I ACTUALLY OVERTOOK SOME PEOPLE. Having said that I am not entirely sure if they were doing parkrun or just walking their dogs.

Finish line. Gasp. 5:22. Gasp. 26:47. Gasp. Better than plan. Gasp. No vom.

And that was my first parkrun in ages.

If you’ve never done parkrun – register and go. If you haven’t been for ages – find your barcode and go. If you are a parish council thinking of charging parkrunners to use your park – get a grip and don’t be dicks.

Next week I am running 30 miles in the wild Highlands. If I haven’t blogged by mid week, alert the authorities. (That is a joke, by the way)





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