The last parkrun before lockdown took place on 14th March. And we still don’t know when the next one will be. I’ve missed it all along, but somehow I’m missing it more than ever now.
Right from the start, we’ve done our family non-parkruns, which became official (not)parkrun a few weeks ago. Doing that little run around the streets near home is one of the absolute highlights of my week. And it breaks up the monotony of a life which still, for us, feels very much like lockdown.
But I really, really want to do a proper parkrun now!
It’s the summer, when we often do different parkruns (ie parkrun tourism) as we go on holiday, go out for the day or go to visit friends. Parkrun tourism to me is a real joy. We love discovering different places to run – some with hills, some without, some only one lap, some three or four laps. Every parkrun is different, yet every parkrun is strangely the same.
Recently, on a whim, we decided to go and run (not)parkrun at the actual parkrun course. This is something people are advised not to do – well, they certainly shouldn’t do it at 9am on a Saturday. Clearly if people are all congregating at their parkrun course at 9am on Saturday, it would be breaching social distancing guidelines. But our start times have been slipping, so it was nearly 10am when we arrived.
There was a handful of people running, but none I recognised as parkrunners. People always run in parks anyway. There were far more dog walkers than there were parkrunners.
Running round that park again felt like an absolute dream. I loved every second of it. It was strange not having the marshals and the occasional bollard to keep us on track. And it was definitely strange not having hundreds of other runners there. It was hard to believe it had been over four months since we last ran round the park because it was all so familiar.
And while I loved it so much, it also made me sad.
Because while gyms and swimming pools are open, kids are going to gymnastics classes and people are playing cricket, none of the things we love are available yet.
Technically, my daughter could go to ballet classes, but her teacher has decided not to reopen until September. This is understandable because she doesn’t usually run classes in the school holidays. But it makes it hard to see kids on social media enjoying their classes.
Technically, the kids could be back at athletics. But the stadium has suffered some damage and it can’t be used. They can run in the park with their coach, they can even book a session at a track in a different town, but my son can’t find a sandpit to train in.
And me? I just want to run parkrun and half marathons. People can play football in the park, but we’re not allowed to run or race in large groups.
It feels like my family is being left behind, that we’re the only ones who aren’t able to get back to doing the things we love.
And I really don’t know when we will be able to.