Two things surprise me: 1. That I haven’t yet extolled the virtues and what a great thing Parkrun is and 2. That I haven’t actually run one for myself yet. So taking the first point as read, I can tell you that today I ticked off the second point as well. Why does that warrant an entire blog post? Two letters:

P and B.

My 5km PB – sorry, my former 5km PB – was set at a Serpentine AC Last Friday 5km in Hyde Park back in 2004 so it has been 11 years since I last ran that distance for speed. Admittedly, a lot has happened in that 11 years, not least the arrival of my 2 kids, turning 40, taking up obstacle running, adventure racing, mountain marathon-ing, ultrarunning and so on but there was always, at the back of my mind, a little bit of me wondering if I could improve on that time.

I did. It hurt. I don’t know if I want to do it again.

I was at Aylesbury ParkRun this morning. It’s mostly flat with a loop, some wooden bridges and a nasty little slope in the last 400m but flat was a good thing. I definitely set off too fast but then reasoned that I might as well see how long I can hold it for. I completed the first half in a sub 20 minute pace (and, according to Strava, somewhere in that first half I managed a 70s 400m – but that’s another story). The second half was unsurprisingly slower but I finished in a lung-bursting 21:02, nearly a minute faster than my previous best, came 11th out of 139 people and finished 2nd in my age category.

I am delighted. Over the moon! I don’t think I’ll ever get results like that again! Admittedly, I had to slow to a walk with only 800m to go so I could possibly have gone under 21 minutes – but hey, it gives me something to work towards should I choose to do it again.

As an aside, I recently had a conversation about ParkRun where someone said that it wasn’t a race. I disagree: ParkRun has times, places, age and gender positions, PBs, age gradings and all the stats you could possibly want from a race. The only thing you don’t get is a medal (although if you complete enough of them, you do get t-shirts). So yeah, ParkRun is a race – don’t let anyone tell you different. 😉