Katie Hamer continues her A–Z series with an exploration of Cardiff’s ever-growing running community.
How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions? What do you hope to achieve in 2015?
Whatever you have planned, make getting out in the fresh air and exercising a priority. As I’ve discovered, there’s nothing better for blowing away those winter cobwebs. It helps to eliminate the gloom of long dark evenings, and may also have prevented me from catching a cold so far.
What’s so special about parkrun?
Parkrun events are free. All you have to do to take part, is register online and turn up with a printout of your barcode (scans from mobile phones don’t work, for some reason). They take place at many venues, both UK-wide and internationally. Local running clubs organize them and people of all abilities are welcome to take part.
At the end of the run your time appears online for all to see, provided you have brought your barcode. It’s not a race, but from my own personal experience, I’ve gained a lot of satisfaction from smashing my Personal Best.
So, it it’s nationwide, what makes the Cardiff parkrun special?
Well, this I couldn’t initially answer, as I am in fact a veteran of another parkrun venue, the one at Bryn Bach, Ebbw Vale. So I decided to set out to investigate. This is what I discovered:
Cardiff parkrun is huge
Four hundred runners on average turn up every week to participate. The most they’ve had is a staggering seven hundred, now that makes for crowded footpaths!
Cardiff parkrun has a vibrant community
They have a very lively Facebook group with 2,000 plus registered members. They’re adding more people all the time. All members are encouraged to post, and there’s almost always a vibrant conversation going on. Which got me thinking…
How could I play an active role in that community?
I had to think about this. I could turn up to the Cardiff parkrun to take part, but what would that teach me? Then, it occurred to me that what I should do is sign up to volunteer.
What happened next?
I found signing up to volunteer very easy. A few days after signing up, I received an email requesting that I marshal at the crossroads. So, on a wet and windy Saturday at the beginning of January, I turned up at the Taff’s Trail next to the big Tesco Extra, donned a high-vis bib, and stood at the side of the course to cheer the runners on.
How did I rate the experience?
Never having been to this particular course before, and not knowing anyone there, I did feel daunted. But that daunted feeling soon dissipated as I got chatting to the other volunteers. I quickly realized how passionate the people who marshal the event are. They are members of running clubs who have taken part in elite races, and yet go out of their way on a Saturday to give support and encouragement to aspiring runners of all abilities. What really impressed me is that they have a volunteer to ensure the slowest participants cross the finishing line and gain their time.
Parkrun changes lives
Parkrun has changed my life. When I turned up for my first event, I did so as a casual runner. I’m now a member of a running club, registered with the Welsh Athletics Association and training to take part in the Berlin 25km race. If you ask around at any parkrun event, you will hear many similar stories, and ones that are even more remarkable.
Cardiff – a great city for running
Cardiff is an amazing city to be a runner. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this list of forthcoming races:
1st March 2015 St. David’s Day Run
4th May 2015 Cardiff Bay 5 mile
28th June 2015 Cardiff Triathlon
6th September 2015 Cardiff 10k
4th October 2015 Cardiff Half-Marathon
If you’re new to running or it’s been a while since you last did any running, you can find some great training tips here, to help you get prepared: Runner’s World Website.
So, what are you waiting for? Put your trainers on and get down to Cardiff parkrun this Saturday!
You can find more information on Cardiff Parkrun here:
Thanks for reading.