The Wormwood Scrubs parkrun

I’ve been a keen runner since the late ’90s and have competed in marathons, half-marathons and 10km runs all over the place.

I’d always eschewed shorter distances as it didn’t seem worth the travel – and frankly I’m not much of a sprinter.

Sometime last year my brother, a near Olympian by my running standards, tried to get me to go along to my local parkrun event on Wormwood Scrubs.

On discovering that it was a 5km run off-road I quickly dismissed it as not my sort of thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Scrubs and have spent many hours toiling round it in scorching sun and driving rain in training, but racing on it just didn’t appeal.

Many months went by and with some spare time on my hands I decided to hunt out some local voluntary work via the internet.

My search took me by chance to the Wormwood Scrubs parkrun website and an appeal for volunteers to help operate the event on a weekly basis.

A look at their site showed me what a great community event it was with runners of all ages and abilities welcome.

In essence parkrun is a free, timed 5km run in local parks and recreation grounds on Saturday mornings all over the world.

And to top it all, this worldwide phenomenon began life in west London when 13 runners took part in the original event in Bushy Park, Teddington, in 2004.

Running, free, local… I had to get involved.

The first time I went along as a volunteer I helped mark out the course and was given the responsibility of officially assigning finishing positions to runners as they completed the race.

In the month since then, I’ve run three times and volunteered once more.

The camaraderie among participants and social side of things has probably been the most striking part about it.

Although there are some very decent runners, there is no elitism,with everyone  encouraging each other to be the best they can be.

In the month or so I’ve been involved the quickest time has been 16.31 minutes and the slowest 47.07. Ages have ranged from eight to 75, so there really is room for everyone.

With a post-race social gathering in the Thames Valley Harriers clubhouse afterwards, new friendships are quickly formed.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, then the first anniversary event on 9 June would be a great time to get involved.

To mark the occasion, there is a Jubilee theme with runners being encouraged to wear appropriate colours or even fancy dress. There will also be a tea party afterwards in the clubhouse, so bring a snack too.

If you can’t make it along to the Scrubs there are also weekly races in Gunnersbury Park, Old Deer Park, Richmond Park and of course Bushy Park.

Click here for more details

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