Digested read: back at Bushy parkrun this week to meet up with Tralee parkrunners on Tour. It was jolly nice.
I wasn’t going to do another blog post about Bushy parkrun, because, well you know, maybe cyberspace is already awash with enough parkrun accounts, and then I went and you know how it is. The fabulousness of the morning unfolded and it just seems a shame to let it pass undocumented. Reading this account is optional after all, and I like the idea that I can capture my fond memories of the morning before they fade away entirely. Also, I really, really wanted to share this picture. I don’t know who drew it unfortunately, but apparently a GP, presumably from Durham as Durham parkun originally shared. So many truths within, perhaps not quite all universal ones – personally I’ve abandoned any aspiration to a new pb, and my alarm goes off way earlier than 8.10 – but the other aspects of the parkrun emotional rollercoaster I can completely relate to. Particularly the axis (can’t remember if it’s x or y) that charts the shift from being ‘bitter and resentful’ to ‘loving life’! So true! Thank you J Stutchbury(?). Great name by the way. When I’m a best selling author I’m going to name a character after you.
Where was I? Oh yes, heading off to Bushy parkrun. The reason for this particular sojourn was to coincide with the pathologically lovely TpoT people! That’s Tralee parkrunners on Tour for the uninitiated. I have the extreme good fortune to have become an honorary member of this group that oozes parkrun love and general all-round fabulousness. It was they who invited me to join them for my first bit of international parkrun tourism at Hasenheide parkrun last year. The Tralee Troupe have tourism down to a fine art, cheap flights from Kerry airport mean they seem to relatively frequently take flight en masse and descend on parkruns the world over. I wasn’t sure if they should be more accurately described as a troop or a troupe. According to the interweb, troop apparently usually refers to a group of soldiers or people more generally, whereas a troupe implies a traveling contingent of theatrical performers. I rest my case. Any parkrun contingent including a juggler in their midst surely qualifies as the latter? A toupee is something entirely different, and arises from either a typo or a spelling error, so hope we’ve cleared that up.
The real miracle is how they can literally remove 100 parkrunner regulars who head off on these trips, but still leave behind a fully operational parkrun with 200 plus people running the parkrun show. Awesome!
Hooray. I have the official orange beanie that marks me out as such. Not going to lie, it isn’t the most flattering item in my running wardrobe, but it is among my most valued ones, who doesn’t like glory by association? I’m super chuffed to get to be an acknowledged part of such an awesome parkrun troupe. Strictly speaking I think I must be on probation at the moment, as I’ve not actually yet got to run at Tralee parkrun itself. One day I hope to actually go and run on their hallowed course at Tralee, and that will make my membership truly official. They haven’t actually said it out loud, but I know in my heart of hearts I can only ever be considered to be on probation until I’ve joined the Tralee parkrunners in all their glory in their native habitat. It’s little wonder that Tralee parkrun is most definitely at the top of my parkrun tourism destinations for the future. I’ll need to renew my passport first mind
Oh, here is the picture of me modelling my TpoT hat. ‘nuf said. When I’m a best selling author I’m not using this shot to illustrate my author’s bio, but I can still be weirdly fond of the beanie all the same. After all, who wouldn’t experience a little puff of pride and pleasure and a frisson of joy for being able to sport such a beacon of shared identity and gain glory by association with surely the most famed of parkrun tourists anywhere! If I’d given it a bit more forethought, I’d have adopted a t-pot pose for the picture as well, but not quite sure how that would work doing a selfie, which is not my area of expertise at the best of times, maybe the world has had a lucky escape on all counts! I’m not saying I won’t try some other time, but some things are best not shared aren’t they. We can take social media too far…
Where was I. Oh yes, staying in Teddington, up early to allow sufficient time to get into my new sports bra – which I’m testing out for Brooks – it’s a juno, and doing ok. Having wrestled into this, I headed off to Bushy park via my mum’s. She was taking her honorary marshaling duties very seriously, and had all her kit laid out in readiness, including a bespoke sign for the TpoTs and her fine orange beanie, also gifted to her by the lovely folk of Tralee, partly as a ninetieth birthday present and partly to allow her to demonstrate support to the parkrunners on the move. Hurrah!
It was blooming cold in the park, but really beautiful. I’d been really worried about the ice and forecast of arctic conditions, but in fact, although there was some ice around, it was limited to patches and the roads were clear. Mum would be making it through the magic gateway…
The sun was popping through the trees, and all looking fabulous as always. I love this park. It’s extraordinary how it continues given the amount of people and dog walkers and everything else that use it every day. Even so, you can feel like you have the whole expanse to yourself if you time your arrival right in the early mornings.
I borrowed some pictures from the Bushy parkrun facebook page, well they were quite fabulous. Some are mine, general rule of thumb is where a shot is blurry and erm, idiosyncratic, it’s probably mine, if it looks like a vision of heaven and is perfectly focused and composed, then it probably isn’t. You’ll work it out.
I was distracted by squawking parakeets and silhouettes of stags in the park and the sight of seagulls standing around on ice and swans thrusting through it like ice breakers. Eventually though, I saw a beacon approaching. A fellow TpoTer. These hats may not flatter, but my they do mean you can spot a fellow sporter of one at a thousand paces. Very handy.
I always get a little frisson of excitement arriving at Bushy parkrun. The set up is so impressive. A team was putting the finish funnel up – it is a thing of beauty, and elsewhere token sorter tables were being erected and other bits of purposeful blustering about were going on. It’s the same but not at every parkrun. Familiar elements but writ large here.
I dumped my backpack on a handy tree railing:
and then I soon found myself meeting and greeting my Tralee buddies, not seen since Berlin Hasenheide parkrun yet I feel like I know them, it was a grand reunion. There were so many of them. I don’t know what the collective noun is for a group of Tralee parkrunners but it’s probably a magnificence of parkrunners I think. That will serve for now at least.
Everything about Bushy parkrun is epic. Today, there was (obviously) a flash mob, singing and dancing to celebrate a fellow runner’s 500th run. They were wearing face masks and everything, which sounds a bit weird and stalkery when I write it down, but in context was both appropriate and brilliant.
I don’t know why I was surprised. This is the parkrun that once had a fly past for someones milestone tee! I’m sure I’ve seen a video clip somewhere, though I’m darned if I can find it just now… maybe one day.
It was a busy morning, what with various people trying to rendezvous with each other. One of my Tralee buddies was lamenting that he couldn’t spot a friend he was trying to find, as although he’d promised to wear his 250 milestone tee in order to be distinctive, but frankly, here at Bushy parkrun they honestly aren’t that much of a rarity! In better news, I was able to reassure that yep, mum was coming. The cold wouldn’t stop her, but ice would have, but I’d checked her route from the nursing home and astonishingly it was clear. Hooray. It actually turned into the most unexpectedly glorious of mornings. At least one errant parkrunner is known to have come to regret rolling over in bed and going back to sleep on parkrun morning…
I suppose as long as you learn from your mistakes, that is the important thing… Like the running cup from lidl, and are those the Kingston phone boxes I see. That’s pretty cool actually, but not as cool as parkrun obviously. Fortunately there is always next Saturday. Unless you live in Durham and a forest has been planted over your usual Durham parkrun route whilst you were sleeping. I mean trees are good, and planting them is excellent, but a bit of communication might have helped all round…
Mr S-H was present, which was a surprise, as I’d have thought he’d be much too busy with his contra range right now. I understand he personally supervises every item produced, with some enthusiasm, if the photos are to be believed. I reckon he might even iron on those spots himself you know, bet that bit is quite rewarding. I have one of the sage base layer tops, it’s roasty toasty. It’s official colour is ‘green marl’ by the way, but I have no idea what that actually means, except it probably means sage, just so you know.
Maybe he was there because his better half was part of the fame-inspired flash mob. (Cheery wave, I would have said hello, but you were mid star-jump at the time) wearing the face mask didn’t fool me. Or maybe they were both there, with dog, because, well you know, parkrun is fun.
I was distracted by so many people to talk to, and such a hubbub. The ground was declared to be icy in parts, so after the first timer’s briefing
marshals were dispatched to their marshal points, and
then we were all shooed a bit further over than usual for the Run Director’s briefing. They had slightly shifted the start to avoid a HUGE icy patch just before the ant hills. This made the pre run understandably but uncharacteristically chaotic and I couldn’t honestly hear properly. I improvised and clapped along when it seemed as if audience participation was expected and then joined the mass scamper of the start when the parkrun was declared underway.
Considering how many runners there are, it was a good natured start. I started a bit further forward than intended, so it seemed as if pretty much the entire field got to overtake me. Oh well, one day I’ll cause a sensation by overtaking someone, even if it is only because they have to stop to rescue a puppy from up a tree or something.
Being in among so many runners is uplifting though. I love that you get to hear the chit-chat of other runners, putting the world to rights, comparing running goals or injuries or good-naturedly trying to shove their 500 milestone running friend into an icy bog. What larks eh?
She survived the support of her friends and made it through to the finish funnel and reviving prosseco though, so don’t feel too sorry for her…
On the way round were excellent marshals, including mini marshals with bells, warning of ice, and wearing their own special hi-vis for the occasion.
However, a special mention should go to the especially heroic paramedic ice marshal, who, disappointingly, wasn’t actually made of ice, but who put himself in harm’s way, by standing on a huge skiddy patch of treacherous ice, just before you turn sharp left beside the cricket pitch, shooing people away. That’s parkrun dedication. And I thought standing in a line of human cones at the start of Graves junior parkrun was scary! I’ve never seen a braver marshal than this top man today. Hurrah to you my friend. There should be a special chrome extension badge for your profile for brave parkrun duties ‘above and beyond’ if I had anything to do with it. I think something like this would be appropriate:
I trotted on through the cold, admiring my fellow runners legging choices and taking in the views:
As I approached the half way point, I was wondering if my mum would have made it out in the cold as planned. Good news, I could see her bright orange hat like pulsing outwards like a radioactive beacon. I was very pleased. Even more pleased to find as I approached she already had a Tralee parkrun acolyte with her, and what’s more, she was successfully brandishing the signage I’d supplied for this purpose. Nicely tooled up. Result! 🙂 The bikes aren’t hers by the way, in case you were wondering…
Though no, I still don’t know why the Irish flag has those colours. Note to self, must google this…
Obviously I paused for the first of many photo shots!
It was fun. There was quite a party atmosphere, so I elected to hang on and wait for others to get their photo ops and for further Tralee parkrunners to rock on up
There was quite a multitude!
I feel I’ve really missed a marketing opportunity here! It was a fair old pop up party going on at Elisabeth’s Corner today. Eventually I saw a huge Tralee contingent, festooned with flags, weighed down with cards and coming round just ahead of the tail walker. It was lovely. They presented cards, posed with photos, said lovely things. All very touching to behold.
Don’t worry though dear reader, she did her best not to neglect her regular runners, there were high-fives and waves a-plenty. It really is the best thing ever about parkrun, the feel good waves that radiate outwards. Good will doesn’t weaken as it disperses, it magnifies.
‘In a world where you can be anything be kind’ is a good motto, and for me at least, parkrun personifies that ethos. Kindness cubed and magnified in all directions. Excellent multi-tasking going on there though, I’m sure you’ll agree, with waving at oncoming runners happening whilst simultaneously greeting those already present. Look on in wonder and learn dear reader. Impressive eh?
So, I’d pretty much ground to a halt now, and the tail runners were coming round. Now, I’ve been wanting to meet some of this fine cohort for a while now, as I keep seeing them in photos with my mum, and feel therefore like I know them even though we’ve never met. I decided today was the day, and ended up walking round with the tails, which are multiple here at Bushy parkrun and all the better for it. The back of the pack is often the fun factory of any event in my experience, and Bushy parkrun is no exception. It was really grand to walk and talk and share some laughs along the way too. Love parkrun!
Said farewell to the marshals at Elisabeth’s corner as they dispersed once the tail walkers had come through
and then I sort of split my time between trotting ahead with the Tralee parkrunners for a bit, and then dropping back to chit-chat with the tails. Busy, busy, busy. The sun was out, the park looked gorgeous, as it always does to be fair, but I was so pleased that the weather smiled on tourists and home runners alike.
Yes, of course we posed for photos along the way:
and I stopped to snap a few marshals, not sure I got the full set, but my I-spy book of parkrun marshals sticker book is pretty full:
and on we romped
Until finally the finish funnel was in sight
and I stormed(ish) through, feeling like a winner, because everyone’s a winner at parkrun right? Having a personal worst just means I got best value for time out on the course. It was an emotional run, so much positivity, so much parkrun love, so much all round awesomeness.
and then ‘suddenly’ it ends. Only it doesn’t really, post parkrun celebrations were everywhere, cakes being doled out, prosecco poured, and cheery laughter permeating the park.
As one poster said, if Carlsberg did mornings…
Until finally, we dispersed, and I headed back to my mum’s to admire her latest lot of cards, birthday cards this time, to complement the Christmas stash, all of which absolutely delighted her, as they did me. Thank you lovely parkrun people.
and that was that. Job done, til next time. Which pleasingly, would be tomorrow, with the monthly Bushy junior parkrun. Hurrah! Two days on the trot with my lovely TpoTers. Life is good. 🙂
Miss it. Miss out. Just sayin!
Oh, and there is an official run report for Bushy parkrun event 774 2 feb 2019 here.
and an even lovelier one for the following week giving details of all the Bushy parkrun marshal points including Elisabeth’s corner for the 9th Feb report. Love this.
For all my parkrun related posts click here. Or don’t. It’s up to you. You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though