In the past I’ve taken part in the Cardiff half marathon, the Sport Relief Mile in Cardiff Bay and numerous Cancer Research UK Race for Life events, but still, I would never call myself a ‘runner’. I find it hard to motivate myself and when I do go out for a run, I inevitably find myself walking after 15 minutes. So when someone told me about Park Run, I thought it might be the perfect way to get myself running again.
Park Run is a free 5k timed course which takes place all over the UK. In Cardiff, the run starts on the Taff Trail, next to Tesco Western Avenue and follows a 5k loop running alongside the River Taff and taking in Bute Park. It’s a free event, run by volunteers and funded by sponsors.
Last Saturday’s run saw 207 runners taking part – ranging from serious club competitors to younger children running with their dogs and even one man pushing a buggy around the course. It’s well organised, with a dedicated start, markers along the route and volunteers cheering you along the way.
It’s not a race, but you are being timed, which really gave me the incentive to keep going and not walk. I was in good company, gold medal runner Jamie Baulch took part on Saturday, although he wasn’t the fastest! The quickest time was 16 minutes, while the walkers came in at 55minutes for the course. 37 of the runners were first time Park Runners (including myself) – not suprising considering last Saturday was such a beautiful day. Luckily a large part of the course was shaded so it wasn’t too warm, but even in the open sunny areas, it was early enough not to feel too uncomfortable in the heat.
When you cross the line, you’re handed a token recording your time, which is then logged by the Park Run team and emailed to you, marking you against your previous stats, other runners in your age group and so on. On Saturday, the volunteers only had one computer working so logging your time took a while, but noone seemed to mind. Many runners seem to use the run as a social event and were happy to chat and compare times while waiting.
I would really recommend the Park Run event as a good incentive to get running, and a great way to kick off your weekend. Surely a jog along the beautiful river Taff is better than half an hour going nowhere on a treadmill at the gym?
For more information, the Park Run website is www.parkrun.org.uk/cardiff