As you know, I’m a big fan of parkrun. I’ve done 144 (officially… though actually 149 but those five don’t count because they were on a different old account which I can’t transfer over; this will never stop annoying me). I’ve done 28 different ones: 27 from the UK and one from the States (Clermont Waterfront, Orlando). I’ve done most of the ones around me but still there are a few within a 30-40 minute radius I need to get done.
The best time I’ve ever done is 20:06 (my 5k PB – I rarely ever run actual 5k races), but that was from back in 2015. I feel like when I’m in the 21’s I’m in good shape and in the 20s in really good shape (and probably about to get injured…).
But I digress. I’ve got onto the cool parkrun tourism list (you have to have done at least 20 parkruns within the UK to appear on the list) and now I’m ready for another challenge: the parkrun alphabet challenge.The parkrun alphabet challenge is a popular one. But it’s also really tricky. Well, actually I guess it’s tricky for some more than others depending on where you live and how accessible different parkruns are to you.I worked out I have 12 left to do (‘X’ doesn’t count apparently as there are none at the moment). The tricky ones I think for most people (again, depending on where you live) are ”I, ‘J’ and ‘Z’. The only ‘I’ I’m aware of is Ipswich. ‘Z’ is Zary in Poland. And ‘J’ is Jersey. So it’s not going to be easy! I plan to do ‘Q’ (Queen Elizabeth Country Park) next month… but I still have ‘D’ (Didcot?), ‘J’, ‘K’, ‘O’ (Oxford?), ‘T’, ‘U’ (Upton House in Bournemouth?), ‘V’, ‘Y’.
There are some bucket list parkruns I’d like to get done eventually as well, like Bushy Park (the first ever parkrun) which I’ve never done. I’m annoyed I missed the Paris one when I was there for the marathon as it didn’t exist then… and the one in San Francisco. Hopefully I can go and do the one in Berlin though when it’s set up as one of my best friends has family there and I love going to Berlin (think I’ve been six times now).
I’ve just had a look to see what parkruns are available now in America (I think the first one was the Orlando one I’ve done) and I’ve spotted Leakin Park in Baltimore… is that the same one from the Serial Podcast? It would be interesting one I guess!These sorts of parkrun challenges encompass everything I love about running in general: seeing new places, meeting new people, ticking off something from a list and the whole parkrun ethos and “happy vibes”. I don’t particularly care about times – and this is true for most of my running. Yes it’s nice to get a PB or be in the ballpark for “being in good shape” but most of the time I just want to run it and enjoy it. Each parkrun is unique and lovely. The course, the people and the individual quirks.
My next five weekends are doing different parkruns than my usual Netley. Not all will be new ones but will involve meeting up with friends and then going for coffee or whatever after – it’s my perfect Saturday morning. I just love doing this sort of thing.By the end of the year I’ll have gotten ‘Q’ done, which will leave 11 letters left, but then I’ll need to do a bit more organising to get the others done. I definitely foresee some day trips to other parts of the UK, and hopefully a trip to Poland eventually! I feel very excited about things to come 😊
Do you have any running challenges?
How many letters of the parkrun alphabet do you have left to do?