Park Run

Running is something bike riders do for many different reasons; Perhaps they are a hardcore cyclocross rider who has to carry their bike up muddy hills, perhaps they are a nervous descender who has to carry it down hills, perhaps they do that thing where you park your bike by a lake and go for a swim in some freezing water before you are allowed to start your ride then just as you’re getting going you have to ditch the bike again and run the rest of the way, perhaps they just forget where they parked their bike or perhaps they remember where they left it but also remember they forgot to bring a lock. These are all perfectly legitimate reasons for running but in every case it seems like more of an ancillery activity and riding the bike is still the main thing.

Although needing a massage and one of those silver blankets at the end if I even try to run up a flight of stairs I was pursuaded to take part in something called Park Run this weekend. I’m not sure if Park Run is a charity, a movement, or a religious faith; to me it seemed a bit like an AA meeting in shorts with the organisers asking first timers to identify themselves to applause from the assembled veterans, but it’s a national thing; all done by volunteers, a phenomenon of which I was blissfully unaware until quite recently. Park run is really a runner’s gig and I was very afraid I might be recognised for the outsider I was, perhaps subtly given away as a bike rider by my tan lines, perhaps by the sound of the visor on my teardrop time trial helmet accidently dropping down during the pre race briefing, and slow hand clapped out of the park. In actual fact everyone was really nice and the only thing that really might have given me away as not being a runner, the fact that I can’t run to save my life, was probably just put down to first time nerves by the regulars, or to having some kind of incontinence problem requiring shorts with a massive pad between my legs.

Anyway, apart from not being unmasked as mostly being inclined to one of those types of sports where you sit down to do it, and finding out that running can be fun even if it isn’t associated with a bike ride, it was lovely to see some things you see less and less nowadays; volunteers for instance; the folks out at 9am on a Saturday with little finish funnel cones, yellow tabards and barcode readers were doing it for nowt but the love of their sport, children out of doors for another; there were children running, and running like the flippin’ clappers in some cases, and last but not least, in the park there were ducks. I can’t remember the last time I saw a duck. Ducks walk like they’re wearing cleats and I’d forgotten how cool ducks are. Ducks could wear sunglasses indoors and nobody would think they looked wrong, and even if anyone did say anything it would just be, well…



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