On 24th July, my dream (and the dream of many other people) finally came true – parkrun came back. There had been no parkruns in England since 14th March 2020. That was 70 whole weeks without parkrun!
I was pleased that my family had a good turnout on the first day back. My daughter wasn’t sure whether she would do it, as she does sprint training on a Saturday morning. But on that first day back we had my husband, my daughter, me, my dad, my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew – ranging in age from 6 to 76. My daughter surprised us all by getting a pretty good time, and my husband and I both placed first in our age category.
The course had been altered a bit to avoid overcrowding on the paths, so it felt like we were doing a bit of parkrun tourism. It was just a wonderful feeling to be out there again. I couldn’t stop smiling as I ran.
The next week, we had an even better turnout – with my eldest and mum joining us. My eldest only did one parkrun in 2019 and two in 2018, so this was a very rare occurrence. He is training for a half marathon, although his training is a bit unconventional compared to how adults train. But his pace and distance have improved very quickly, so he must be doing something right. He actually beat me and equalled his own PB. My daughter finally got a PB and my dad knocked three minutes off his time for the previous week – not bad for someone who was on a ventilator with Covid in December!
The following week, we were on holiday in Padstow. We had hoped to make a return to Eden Project parkrun, which we loved doing in 2019, but it wasn’t on. So we opted for Lanhydrock, at a National Trust property near Bodmin. We’d heard it was a very hilly one and my daughter definitely wasn’t keen! She was even less keen when we arrived in torrential rain.
The rain eased off a bit, then came down more heavily. My daughter decided to stay in the car and I thought she would regret it. You never regret doing a parkrun, but you do regret not doing them. She regretted not doing Killerton in 2018. But my younger son joined us for his first parkrun in a long time.
Lanhydrock actually had a lot in common with Killerton, and it also slightly reminded me of Worcester parkrun.
My husband said he was going to take it easy, but then he and my son were off like a rocket. The course started downhill and I was running pretty fast too. There were lots of fast women and fast kids around.
The rain got heavier and heavier. It felt pleasant running under the trees, but then it got too much even for the trees.
At the bottom of the hill was a two lap bit, which was also quite downhill and only slightly uphill. You didn’t even realise you were on the lap bit until you’d done the first one. Although not running through thick mud, we were running along woodland trails, which were coated in mud and puddles. Everyone’s legs were thick with black mud.
At the end of the second lap came the uphill. And it was LONG.
I looked at my watch and was horrified to see it was only on 2.25 miles. I saw my son walking ahead of me. He started running just as I caught him up, but then we both had to walk. Nearly everyone was walking.
I had no idea how long the hill was going to last and whether, once we started going downhill, that it would be downhill all the way. Although apparently the marshal actually told my son ‘No more uphill after this bit’, so he had the confidence to sprint.
When I saw the Lanhydrock building at last, I knew it was nearly over, so I sprinted downhill and towards the finish line.
I was soaked to the skin. We all were.
It was the hilliest parkrun I’d ever done, beating Ashton Court (Bristol). It was the second wettest ever – beaten only by the Rugby World Cup (final or semi-final, I’m not sure) day, when that and torrential rain formed a literal perfect storm of the lowest attendance at our home parkrun ever.
In a strange way, I loved it. But I was absolutely confident that my daughter wouldn’t have regretted missing it. Especially when we had to drive all the way back to Padstow with no shoes or socks, and the men actually drove back with no tops on.