Battle of the Buggies
I wouldn’t normally write about Parkrun as we all know it’s not a race (more on that later). However, hopefully, you’ll agree that maybe this one was maybe a little different.
Katy and I don’t overtly set out to do Parkrun tourism but over the years we’ve sneaked a cheeky one in here and there (although admittedly restricted to the UK so far – something I grumble about to this day as we flew into San Fransico a few years ago on a Saturday but alas not until the afternoon therefore too late to do Parkrun). Anyway, we were travelling south for a wedding reception and ended up staying at Bishops Stortford on Friday before. I had permission to find a local Parkrun and that turned out to be Castle Park about 4 miles away. For this one, Katy was running and I would run with Zach in the buggy.
Onto the Saturday and I did receive some gentle verbal chastisement from Katy on the drive there as I wasn’t sure where to park or how to get to the start. In my defence, I had checked it was buggy friendly!
Anyway, we arrived in plenty of time and with little fanfare. I was pleased to see it was an expansive start area allowing me to position myself relatively close to the front but hopefully not get in the way. It was a little disconcerting not to see any other buggies but just before the start I did spot one other runner with a buggy.
After the pre-race briefing (which everybody listened to which was a refreshing change), we were off, I flew out of blocks (metaphorically speaking) but even this close to the front I had to take my foot off the gas slightly to avoid running anybody over.
Now, I know Parkrun isn’t a race but let’s be honest we all use it to gauge where we are at, beat our previous times and compete with other runners, therefore, I’m always going to push it as hard as possible. So on that note, I caught sight of the other buggy runner in my peripheral vision who had taken the narrower curve that leads to a path through the wooded area whereas I was taking the wide curve, that gave me the impetus to push on a bit as I wanted to be first to the “chicane” leading to the aforementioned path.
After the path, you go around some fields before going back past the start field. Halfway in and it was definitely feeling like hard work. The other buggy runner was nowhere to be seen and as far as I was concerned a distant memory …… wow wrong was I!
Back through the woods for the second lap and once again onto the fields. It was at this point around the 2-mile point I caught a flash of a menacing black Nipper Sports stroller …. hmm it looks like he’s gaining just as I’m starting to fade. We may have a battle on our hands.
At the end fields, there’s a fairly sharp right turn which in the heat of battle I may have taken too fast ending up on two wheels and only just keeping control of the buggy (Katy did later tell me she had visions of coming round a corner with me comforting Zach and the buggy on its side). However, thankfully carnage avoided and the “race” was still on.
It was just after here I lost the lead with less than half a mile to go. A part of me was happy to let them go and sprint from behind. Back onto the starting field with the pace gradually increasing. With the final 200/300m to go I started my all out spring and had almost got back onto level terms but in hindsight, I may have let too much of a gap as Adam (as I later found out) was able to also kick and in the end beat me by 4 seconds as I slowed towards the line.
It’s not every day that you run 19:37 for 5k and yet are still not the first runner with a buggy, I was also knocked out of the top 10 (finishing 11th) and 2nd in my age category (to you know who). I may have grumbled a few times over the weekend.