WHY I RUN | British Invasion: parkrun Edition
By Steph Evans
Five years ago I HATED running. It was 2013 and I had just completed my first super sprint triathlon, tricked by the encouragement of a hometown friend. It wasn't very far and we didn't really train much for it, but... we survived. Naturally, I decided that the most logical thing to do was to run like a maniac until I didn't hate it quite so much. So when a friend told me about parkrun, a free, timed, weekly 5km run/walk/jog event in my local park, I decided that this was the perfect thing for me.
I did my first run (if you want to call it that) in 30 minutes, and went back sporadically over the next two years, trotting up a total of 33 runs, and using any excuse to avoid dragging myself to the park. Then something changed...the excuses evaporated, and I was hooked! Fast forward 5 years, 151 park runs, 20 different courses, and a transcontinental move later, and I can't stay away. On Saturdays when I wasn't running, I found myself foregoing a weekend sleep-in to volunteer, scanning barcodes on 24 separate occasions- that's six months worth of Saturdays! And because running karma is real, I have taken my PR down to 21:20, shaving over 8 minutes in two years. Using parkrun as a springboard, I have completed two marathons, and ran with 4 different clubs, making countless new friends in the process.
By the time I bid farewell to England, all my Saturday mornings belonged to parkrun. I moved to Ann Arbor in February 2018, greeted with predictably bone chilling running conditions. A jetlagged stranger in a strange land, I found myself running around my new 'local' parkrun on a snowy Livonia course, four days after landing stateside. (www.parkrun.us/livonia). I went back week after week, and suddenly I had a whole host of new friends to share coffee, breakfast, and tips on how to tackle a new country, every Saturday morning.
parkrun is a new concept in the U.S., but has quietly sprawled across 25 new cities, all experiencing rapid growth, including the Bicentennial park run in Livonia, the first parkrun on American soil!
We are also working to bring a parkrun to the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area in Lillie Park with the support of Ann Arbor Track Club and Pittsfield Charter Township. November 3rd @9am is our target launch date, but in the meantime we are holding practice runs every Saturday at 8am, meeting at the South Pavilion. All parkrun events involve a 5km run, walk, or jog followed by coffee in a local coffee shop. You can register online for FREE, or find out more about parkrun at www.parkrun.us.
Whether you are a runner or a walker, I strongly recommend getting yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning and giving your local parkrun (especially in Ann Arbor or Livonia) a go.
You can also find the our group “Lets bring parkrun to Ann Arbor” on facebook at www.facebook.com/a2parkrun.