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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Coventry parkrun: The 1st Anniversary

Coventry parkrun celebrated its first anniversary/birthday today in fine style with a record attendance and parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt there to share it with us. A total of 202 runners took us beyond the 200 mark for the first time, a perfect tribute for the anniversary run. 25 first timers (yet again in the 20's), only goes to show that the parkrun message is still spreading its way around Coventry and the local area and suggests that the attendance figures may continue to build for some time to come.

Fortunately the runners only had to suffer strong winds as the predicted rain didn't turn up. A few had put some real effort into their outfits for the occasion, running dressed as: presents, a birthday cake, a champagne bottle and scooby doo amongst others. Many more were wearing party hats. And many more than that had answered the call to bring and share party food. It looked as though there would be plenty left over!

The atmosphere at and after every Coventry parkrun event is always positive and friendly, but today that was even more obvious, with many parkrunners hanging around to enjoy the food and chat with new friends and friendly rivals made over the past year.

Personally, I had been ill (completely wiped out really) for the previous day and a half, with what can be more pleasantly described as "stomach flu". But such is the drag of parkrun, that there was never any doubt in my mind that I would turn up today. In the end it was only as a supporter, even though, only hours before the start I was still adamant that I would be able to run, even after no food and with severe dehydration. Well, quite sensibly in the end, I realised that it was best that I didn't run this week. I actually surprised myself at how much I enjoyed the event without taking part. Probably just because I was glad to be there and not missing out. I still got a similar buzz seeing everyone else taking part and enjoying themselves and I certainly felt part of the celebrations and was as pleased as ever when I heard that we had set the new attendance record.

I also had the fortune of having a couple of conversations with parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt. Its clear to see how much parkrun means to him and the buzz he gets from running with and chatting to all the parkrunners about their park run experiences. The odd casual glance saw him enjoying many conversations of how much parkrun means to many of the people that wanted share their story with him. I hope he realises how much parkrun means to all us regular parkrunners.

I was very pleased to hear that Paul thinks we should easily see parkrun grow by another 70 or 80 events this year, especially if many of the international projects take off. Having only ever attended the Coventry event, I sometimes find myself wondering why this growth is so important to me, but I think its purely and simply because I love parkrun so much that I think everyone should have one. Can you imagine not having a parkrun event on your doorstep each week, I certainly can't. The thought of being able to attend another event on a weekend away one day also fills me with great excitement.

Hopefully my stomach will allow me to get back to full fitness and out running again in the next few days. With any luck I will be back to have a go at the PB (I had planned for today) next Saturday.

So Coventry parkrun is 1 year old. I can only hope that it continues to be the success that it has been so far and that we can celebrate many more Coventry parkrun birthdays in the comming years.

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