Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my last post, and bigged up my 5K race result! I really couldn't decide whether or not to be pleased with my time, but you all convinced me that it was a good result after 6 months of injury, and I'm grateful for the confidence booster. The race I ran was a Parkrun event, which is such a good event, I thought I'd say a bit about it here.
A few years ago, a man called Paul Sinton-Hewitt had a brilliant idea. It was to set up a weekly 5k race at the same time, in the same place every Saturday morning. The first race was held near London in 2004, but over the next few years, Parkrun spread until there were races all over the UK.
The most ingenious part of Parkrun is the fact that it is completely free to enter. Before you participate, you register online, where you are given an ID number and a printable barcode. You only need to register once, and then you can race as little or often as you like. The race isn't chip-timed, but a timer starts as runners cross the start line, and when you finish, someone records your time, and gives you a tag with another barcode on it. After the race, your ID barcode and finish tag are scanned. Later that day, you will be emailed your official time.
All the race officials and marshalls are volunteers, so runners are encouraged to sometimes give up the chance to run in order to help out - the whole scheme depends on the volunteer spirit. This, along with sponsorship from some large companies, keeps Parkrun free.
The first Edinburgh parkrun was held on 17th October 2009. I took part, and it was quite busy, with just over 200 runners. The course is completely flat, (in stark contrast to my usual routes from my house), and I got my 5K PB that day. I thought it was a brilliant event, and resolved to go as often as I could. As is so often the way, I never quite managed to go again, until last weekend.
The Edinburgh course
I expected it to be much quieter this time, but in fact there were 287 runners, so it seems to be thriving. There was a great atmosphere, with lots of family groups cheering on a parent or spouse.
Apart from the fact that it's free and so easy to register, what I also love about Parkrun is the detailed statistics they provide after each run. When you log on to the website, you can see your time, position in the race, position in your sex-and-age-group category, your Parkrun PB and the details of all previous Parkruns you've done. For a stats-freak like me (and I think most other runners love their statistics too), it's a joy!
I would definitely encourage any UK based runners to seek out their nearest Parkrun, but I wonder whether there are any similar schemes in other countries?