Despite a serious running and race entry habit, I've yet to do a parkrun. Until yesterday, that is, when I made my debut. Well, OK, technically I was merely a pacer: it was the junior parkrun, and my five-year-old who got the chip at the end and the official time.
The junior version of the massively popular event is for children between four and 14. And it really is uplifting to see so many kids excited about a run. There were a hundred or so in my local park, enthusiastically twirling their ankles and doing star jumps in the warm up on a sunny Sunday morning. The younger kids ran with their parents, the older ones – some of whom looked pretty darn speedy – alone, chasing down their own PBs. I heard one girl afterwards bemoaning the fact she'd beaten hers by too much: "Now I'll have to go even faster next week!"
What a great way to get kids into running, though. For all the talk of Olympic legacy, access to athletics for most kids is pretty meagre, so it's both important, and cheering, to see volunteer-staffed events like this filling the gap.
When I wasn't being beaten in a sprint finish by my daughter, I also had some fun myself, with sprint relays at the track on Saturday with my club and a split run on Sunday. Time constraints (and, I confess, legs of jelly from those sprints the day before) meant I couldn't do it all in one go, so I did a 10-mile warm up before the junior parkrun then five miles in the evening. Which by some people's standards is probably a light day: if you haven't read it already, do read the amazing story of Steve Way, who has gone from overweight smoker to representing England in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games.