Andover Park Run

Yesterday I did the Andover Park Run for the nth time with a fabulous array of people. I don’t do it as much as I used to but still appreciate this movement.

There are a handful of elite lunatics who sprint round in 16-18 minutes then a score or so of good runners at 18-22.

Then ~275 others including me, we vary from 23-61 minutes.

My best ever was 23:53, today was 27:42 (excuses = gin, a bottleneck in 3rd Km, an injured ankle and not being all that bothered about fast anymore).

Families.

People with dogs (actually, not on the winter course we did yesterday)

Obsessed people (I do the occasional event, go to the occasional fitness class, I always see these people, briefly in 2014 I think I was one, that’s when 23:53 happened).

Sociable people.

Lonely people.

Quiet people. (Where I think I am).

Show offs. (Where I probably am really).

Helpful people.

Probably 2-3 psychopaths.

Old people.

Injured people who can’t stay away and should probably volunteer while they get better.

And lots of other overlapping pigeon holes because it is full of ordinary people.

Most run, some jog, a few walk.  A handful are athletes.

When I first went I was blown away by the diversity and the openness.

I still am.

There are fuss pots and busy bodies. Cake and coffee. There’s a lunatic who runs in flip flops and the man who set it up and who is always there whatever the weather, to whom I am silently grateful.

For me, there is a car park, some people watching and a bit of love for how awesome and varied people are. I occasionally do Newbury, once did Winchester and I particularly like the Christmas Day event in Leeds.

I used to be self conscious. Now I turn up, nod at a few people, smile at a few others, sometimes randomly chat to one or two more, but otherwise just run.

Then I go shopping in my silly knee length socks, drenched in sweat, with steamed up glasses, to buy mountains of vegetables from Kenyons a family run green grocers where it is impossible to spend more than £25. I have tried.

Park Run is an accessible 5K, fabulously diverse, simple and well organised. The bloke who invented it, who I think got a CBE or MBE, and who is stubborn by some accounts, ought to get a knighthood.  As well as getting people fit,  it gets them together in a way that is easy, it gets people into volunteering (even I have) and makes you feel great for the rest of Saturday.

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