• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Park Run: What’s Not to Love? 

ByJemima Hawkins

Nov 10, 2023
Runners at Parkrun

Saturday morning. 9am. Headache. Bleary eyes. The magnetic pull back to bed is overwhelming. 

And yet, here I am approaching Newington with trainers already soggy and air pods rapidly running out of charge, on my way to collect your beloved sports editor, Callum, for another fun-filled morning of Parkrun in the rain. 

The paper-thin promises of eight keen runners in the pub yesterday have rapidly dissipated to three dedicated Strava enthusiasts, now complaining of the early start as they jog their merry way through Holyrood Park to the start line. 

Who would put themselves through this arduous task, you may ask? Well, hundreds of enthusiastic individuals are congregated by the lake in the park, dodging the aggressive swans and bouncing from left to right, avoiding hypothermia, and awaiting the inevitable toll that signals it’s time to engage the leg muscles.

At 9.30 a.m., a mass surge signals the start of the event. A gruelling 2km uphill slog begins the run, in which you will be firmly humbled by the sixteen-year-old runners who seemingly defy gravity. As panting intensifies, all rational thoughts go out the window, and life becomes a question of: keep running and reach the top of this deathly hill, or stop and sacrifice the possibility of a 5-kilometre personal best?

After what feels like an age, the hill flattens out, the breathing becomes steadier, and it is time to make up lost ground. I can recommend the song ‘Animals’ by Nickelback to get your spurt on and overtake all those who burnt themselves out on the hill. Rounding Arthur’s Seat, you are greeted with beautiful sea views and a fresh breeze as the second, and much more enjoyable, half of the dash begins. 

With people thoroughly in their groove by now, the unspoken comradery of runners who choose to spend their Saturday like this begins to shine through. I’m gifted with a wry smile from a woman who previously overtook me, as the downhill increases my cadence and the pains of the uphill are forgotten. 

Barrelling down the long hill in front of the crags is, and this is not hyperbole, euphoric. Feeling like you might take off, the knowledge that the finish line is close keeps the legs moving, and the promise of a little card with your ranked position is like gold dust as you overtake a final Parkrun soldier. 

With that, you are in the finishing pen, scanning your QR code, and collecting your jumper in the all-too-sudden realisation that it is, in fact, a very cold day. Well-deserved French toast awaits, and bragging rights for the rest of the weekend, as those who promised to accompany you are only just rising from their beds. 

Photo via Callum Couto.