I’ve been a regular Parkrun runner on and off for around eight years, with Cardiff Parkrun at Blackweir being my usual Saturday morning 5k.
A lot of people might not realise that the events are completely volunteer-run; the people marshalling the course are all unpaid and doing it for no other reason than to support the event to take place.
It was so simple to become a Parkrun volunteer.
I knew I wanted to lend a hand at some point so ages ago signed up for the Cardiff helpers emails, through the website. There are also details on the Facebook page.
Then, when I had a Saturday free I let them know I was available by emailing my name and barcode number.
It was really that simple to arrange, the organiser emailed me back with my role for the next day (I was to be a marshal along the route at Bute Park) and I just had to turn up at 8.30, don a hi-vis jacket and go to my appointed spot.
The other volunteers were really helpful and I got chatting to some of them as we walked to our stations, they were a mix of first time volunteers like me and people who give their time to help out almost weekly.
There are plenty of roles available, mostly course marshals like I was, also flying marshals who run along with the pack, people scanning your tag at the end and organising the finishing funnel. I really didn’t want to do this, it looks so hectic! Luckily I was given a much easier job.
So I wandered down to my place in Bute Park and waited.
The spot I was supervising was quite an important one, the route is a loop so the front runners start coming back when the slower end of the pack (this is usually where I am!) are still heading up. So there’s a lot of reminding people to keep right so they don’t crash with another runner (the front ones are so fast!).
Apart from reminding the runners to keep right I found it a bit awkward to know what to do or say. I really don’t like aggressive shouting from the volunteers when I’m doing the run, (“COME ON! YOUR PB IS IN SIGHT! STEP IT UP!” – this is the kind of thing I HATE) but I know some find it a good motivator.
Many of the runners were calling ‘thank you marshal!’ as they went past, which was really nice, so I took to saying “good morning” back and generally trying to be happy!
As the end of the pack started coming back along the route there was a lot more humour and camaraderie, lots of people joking to me about how slow they were, but obviously enjoying themselves and not taking it too seriously.
Volunteering really made me appreciate the role of the marshals, and when I next ran the route I was sure to thank them all!
Being a marshal isn’t the easiest of jobs, ensuring that the runners stay safe and that non-runners can still enjoy the park is tricky at times. But I really enjoyed seeing it from the other side and had a lovely warm glow for the rest of the day.
Some of the regular volunteers go for coffee afterwards, but there’s no pressure to join them, and I really appreciated the fact you could give as much or as little time as you wanted.
If you’re a regular Parkrunner you should definitely give volunteering a go.
Parkrun organisers were not aware I’d be writing this blog post.
There’s a bit of a change to the blog this week. As you probably know, I’ve recently had a baby girl. Life with a baby and a four-year-old is busy! As I’m on maternity leave, baby F and I have been getting out and about in Cardiff most days, but I’m too knackered to properly blog about what we’ve been doing.
So instead I’m going to start doing weekly roundups, with quick snippets of what we’ve been up to. I’m also planning to make the blog a bit more personal. Please let me know what you think. Here goes….
I met up with a friend who’s also on maternity leave this week and we took our babies for lunch at Wyndham Tea in town. Pictured above is my sticky Asian chicken salad. Yum! Their lunches are always healthy and delicious. I’m also loving Waterloo Tea’s loyalty cards – do pick one up if you’re in any of their shops. I’m one visit away from a free slice of cake. Result!
Baby F and I have been going to Rhymetime at Radyr Library in Tuesdays from 2.15pm. The free class starts with a story, then songs and rhymes and there’s always a craft and toys for older children. Most of Cardiff’s local libraries run Rhymetime classes. I’d definitely recommend going along if you have a pre-school child.
My lovely Mum looked after F for a few hours so I could sort myself out and get my eyebrows and hair done at Salon Nia. You can read more about their HD brows treatments here. I’m too embarrassed to do a before/after selfie. But believe me, there’s a huge improvement!
I’ve been trying to get back into fitness after giving birth. I’m *thinking* of running the Cardiff Half in October, but time will tell if I’m really up to it! Luckily the weather was good enough on Friday morning to take the buggy for a gentle jog along the Taff Trail after the school run. I always stop at the bridge at Gelynis Fruit Farm to take in one of my favourite views of Castell Coch.
I’ve also been going back to Hot Yoga at Elite Fitness in Fairwater. I’m loving Diana’s classes on a Saturday morning.
The four-year-old has been a bit poorly this week but he was well enough on Saturday afternoon to take a trip to Caerphilly Castle to see The Dragon/Y Ddraig. You can see a video of The Dragon here. Please do click the link as we couldn’t get close enough to take a decent picture. The queue to get up-close was ridiculous. Look at it!
The Dragon moves inside the castle this week and will be there until the summer so we’re planning to go back in the Easter holidays for a proper look.
It was my sister’s birthday this week so on Saturday night we went for a family meal at the Happy Gathering Cantonese restaurant in Canton. I’ve been going there for around 20 Years. I don’t think the decor or menu have changed at all during that time. The service certainly leaves a lot to be desired but the food was great as usual and the place was packed with families. The children’s menu is really reasonable and J enjoyed his first ever BBQ spare ribs!
So today is Mothers Day. G joined 1,500 other people to run the Newport half marathon this morning and got a pretty stunning medal for his efforts, but the little ones and I stayed home and had a relaxing morning with coffee, croissants and cuddles.
Parkrun is an amazingly simple concept; Weekly, free, timed 5k runs around parks across the UK. Perfect for people who want to beat their PB, are looking for a social run with like-minded people or just need a reason to get out of bed and get their trainers on at the weekend.
Parkrun is a not for profit event, run by fantastic volunteers and it’s completely free to take part, just register online. Print off a barcode (you have to print it, they can’t scan smart phones) and they’ll log your time and email it to you. Simple.
Cardiff Parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am, starting on the Taff Trail at Blackweir (next to the giant Tesco on Western Avenue) and running along the River Taff, looping back through Bute Park.
After eating my homemade energy ball and downing a smoothie, I turned up ready to race alone with a podcast to keep me company. But while standing at the start line, trying my best to keep warm, I bumped into two of my old work colleagues, Nicola and Beth and Beth’s sister.
Hooray! It meant that my solo run became a lot more sociable and we jogged round the course in 34 mins, while managing to catch up on a good bit of gossip. And that’s really what Park Run is about. Not gossiping (unless that helps motivate you, in which case gossip away) But Parkrun is about taking on a challenge with other runners, feeling that comraderie, with perhaps a dash of competitiveness thrown in. It would’ve been a huge mistake to do it alone with my iPod!
So to the course itself. The Taff Trail is absolutely beautiful anyway so to run around there is always lovely, no matter the weather. With more than 650 runners taking part, the path is a bit tight at the start, but it soon opens up with plenty of room for all speeds and levels. I do think there’s an opportunity here for another park run in Cardiff though – further along the Taff Trail at Forest Farm or around Pontcanna and Llandaff for example. The demand is certainly there.
I didn’t record a PB at this weeks race, but I wasn’t far off and a surprise catch up with friends while enjoying a scenic run made for a lovely morning.
The timing of Parkrun meant I was home by 10am, plenty of time to enjoy a well-deserved breakfast of spinach, avocado and poached eggs on toast with an Americano. Heaven!
We’ve been doing a lot more cycling lately, especially since we got a toddler seat for my husband’s bike, and the weather perked up enough for us to take the bikes out without fear of freezing to death.
We’re so lucky that we live close to the Taff Trail, a lovely, flat scenic route along the River Taff from Brecon to Cardiff Bay. It really is gorgeous.
On a lovely sunny Sunday recently we joined the Taff Trail at Radyr and cycled away from Cardiff. We turned right off the Taff Trail at the Lewis Arms in Tongwynlais, cycling up the steep road leading to the entrance to Castell Coch.
I couldn’t carry on cycling once we got inside the castle grounds – it really is steep and even pushing my bike was exhausting. Plenty of people were cycling up though, hats off to them! But not long and we reached the castle itself and had a lovely picnic on the lawn in front. (For those less energetically minded, you can drive up there too).
Coming back was far easier – mostly downhill – and we stopped off at Gelynis Farm in Morganstown for an ice cream on the way back (I highly recommend the peanut butter flavour – yum!) The farm entrance is well signposted over a little bridge off the Taff Trail.