Saturday 14th March 2020 – an uneventful muddy morning at Walthamstow parkrun as I plodded around the 5km route in a leisurely time of 34 minutes, not knowing that this would be the last parkrun I would take part in for quite some time! In all honesty, when that first parkrun was cancelled, I was naively unaware of what lay ahead. I think a lot of us expected that we would be closed for a few weeks, a couple of months at most, before it all blew over.
And now here we are, on the 27th February 2021, which makes this the 50th Saturday without a parkrun at Walthamstow or anywhere else in the mainland UK! To mark the occasion, some of us had the idea to do our normal Saturday run wearing a red t-shirt; as a show of solidarity among parkrunners across the UK eagerly awaiting the safe return of their events. Red, as parkrunners well know, is the colour we associate with the number 50, as a runner earns a coveted red milestone t-shirt once they have completed 50 parkruns. This weekend also seemed like ideal timing, as here in the UK the collective mood has recently shifted towards a more optimistic one, as we slowly emerge from our latest winter lockdown. Parkrun HQ on Friday 26th February also announced their plans for the restart of events in England, with April 11th currently penciled in for the restart of Juniors, followed by the return of all events on June 5th if all goes well.
I set out for my usual 5km around Lloyd Park and was lucky enough to spot several other local friends all sporting their red 50 tees , including the stylish classic red adidas t-shirts of our most loyal parkrunners, having earned their 50 shirts back before 2014 when there was a change of merchandise sponsor. Everyone seemed buoyed up by the recent update from parkrun HQ, and looking forward to the summer!
Over on Twitter and Facebook, by mid-morning photos started to come pouring in from all over the UK and further afield. It was incredibly heartwarming to see all these people out running, united by a common passion. I absolutely loved seeing all the photos that people sent me; families running together in the sunshine, injured runners making a comeback, walkers and speedy runners alike. I saw the beautiful scenery, castles, forests and rivers of all the different locations and longed for the day when I can visit a few of them. Some people dug out their long-forgotten 50 tees, and some brought theirs out for their first ever outing, having earned them just before lockdown. Some people had never even run a live parkrun event, having taken up running as a lockdown hobby, diligently logging (not)parkruns instead. In the end, we had over 100 people join in with my little plan, and I know many more local parkrun communities also organised their own similar efforts. It may have been 50 weeks since we were able to run all together, but the parkrun spirit is alive and flourishing, and we are getting through this, TOGETHER! Lots of love until we meet on a start line again sometime xx