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Wardown parkrun #158

By May 15, 2018Parkrun

Wardown parkrun #158 – the one with the RUN Harpenden volunteers

~ Run report by Elisabeth Grover ~

This week’s run report is a collaborative effort from the members of the RUN Harpenden group offering a taste of how parkrun has touched our lives in different ways. This week we offered our services as volunteer supporters and, I think I can speak on behalf of the members when I say that we all really enjoyed the experience.

Marshalling offers a different way of looking at the run and it’s a great opportunity to see it as a whole rather than the small fragment I see each week as a runner. As a participant, I take note of the faces around me and have a quick chat with some of the marshals but standing on a corner of the park with 336 people running towards you gives you a unique oversight. I can honestly say that I had a lump in my throat and it made my heart beat a little faster. It also demonstrated to me the amount of volunteer time and effort that goes into making Luton Wardown parkrun such a lovely place to run.

“Signing up to volunteer was much easier than I thought, it was extremely well organised, and you could choose which job you wanted to do from marshalling and clapping round the course to the chip scanner which I got to do. This was great fun and it was nice to meet people who perhaps it was their first time doing a parkrun and they were so pleased to have completed it. Our running group only started out last year and we were all total beginners, but we love to have cake afterwards and all brought cake to share in the pavilion afterwards which was great fun” ~ Tracy

You’ll see that cake features heavily during parkrun conversations! Mandy agreed about the warmth and friendliness at Luton Wardown parkrun:

“I loved my first marshalling experience today at the friendliest, most welcoming parkrun around. Love the runners, the surroundings & especially always love the tea & cake afterwards! “ ~ Mandy

….and yes, more cake – an important part of the Luton Wardown tradition.

But it’s not just about cake. It’s about companionship and sharing goals. Yes, our goals are all varied, and you can see that from the different times and levels of fitness of the Saturday morning runners, but we are all there, standing by the Boathouse at 9am on a Saturday morning when the warm, fluffy duvet pleads with us to remain in bed. I feel that it’s the drive and willingness to get outside with others that is something special and maybe something intangible that bonds us all together.

“I was itching to run but standing applauding the technique of the elites and voicing motivation to runners young and old was inspiring. Seeing the smiling faces and playing a small part to motivate runners up that hill was heart-warming” ~ Deborah

“What impressed me even more as a marshal was the range of ability, age and goals of the people taking part in the Luton parkrun. It is amazingly inclusive and friendly.” ~ Lyn

Lyn and Deborah have talked about the diversity at Luton Wardown, but it was something that touched me too. Running is such a great leveller and the parkrun ethos epitomises that. Tracey agrees:

“Why do I love Luton Wardown parkrun? It was my first ever parkrun and the first time I had ever tried to run that far . It was such a positive experience that I have continued to return and even had my first experience volunteering this week.

Everyone is very welcoming and friendly and helpful. There is always a real mixture of people taking part (people with double buggies / dogs / children ) that being slower than everyone else is never a worry and there is always someone encouraging you up the little hill (4 times !!)

But definitely the best bit for me is the tea and cake in the cricket pavilion afterwards !!” ~ Tracy

We often talk about running and runners and, at times, forget to mention the walkers. I’d like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to all the people who walk the course every Saturday, including the wonderful tail walkers. Everyone has a story to tell about why they are there and that’s often where the magic happens.

Walking may appear to take a backseat to running – we do it as an activity every day to get from A to B, and so it may not feel as challenging. I’d like to say that it’s the intention behind the ‘parkrun walk’ that makes this walk a little special.

We are looking again at the effort required to get to the starting point and this is the same amount of effort regardless of whether you are a 20-minute runner or a 60-minute walker. We tend not to see the difficulties people face in their day-to-day lives and we may mistake the walker smiling as he passes us by as one who is happy and content in his life. Behind that smile, he may be struggling with problems too difficult to share and parkrun is his social time, interacting with others on a simple level while offering a little warmth and companionship in his life.

Teresa also noticed the walkers on Saturday:

“I like Luton parkrun because it’s friendly, warm and welcoming to runners and walkers of all shapes, sizes, abilities and backgrounds. It is a fantastic community, and everyone is made to feel welcome” ~ Teresa

Some of our group have been running at Luton Wardown for a while but volunteering offered a different outlook on the event. Pippa speaks about her experiences:

“My first ever parkrun was at Luton Wardown. The day provided torrential rain, Luton Wardown parkrun provided fabulous Volunteer Marshals whose encouragement and enthusiasm kept me going. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to marshal for the first time and hopefully return a little enthusiasm and encouragement to the runners.

I love the camaraderie and enthusiasm of those at Wardown on a Saturday morning, what a way to start the day! “ ~ Pippa

I hope you have felt a little warm glow of pride for taking part in parkrun this week. Whether you are a runner, a walker, a buggy-driver, dog-chaser or a volunteer in one of the many different roles, I feel that we all shared a love of being involved in something that is bigger that ourselves and is happening throughout the world at 9am on a Saturday morning.

I’ll leave my final quote to our coach Andy who introduced a lot of the members of our running group to the pleasures of parkrun:

“Visiting us at you’ll see RUN Harpenden claims to be “Fun, Friendly, Inclusive & Supportive”. Although we certainly aspire to these goals, I’m not sure we always succeed.

Wardown parkrun though, has managed to pull it off! It’s the most fun, friendly and supportive parkrun for many miles around. And Wardown has cracked that very difficult of tasks – to make us all feel equally included, whether we run or walk, near the front or back, with family, friends or alone, with dogs or buggies.

That “welcoming vibe” comes from all the runners and volunteers, and we wouldn’t dream of taking our beginners or first time parkrunners anywhere else. For us it remains our “home parkrun” and firm favourite!” Andy Jordan ~ RUN Harpenden, Founder & Coach

See you next Saturday!

~ Run report by Elisabeth Grover ~

See you next Saturday!

RUN Harpenden