I woke up this morning to gusty winds but, thankfully, no rain. A few weeks ago I had put out an email to all my colleagues in the Loughborough Schools Foundation asking them to volunteer at the Dishley parkrun on March 16th. We were planning a parkrun takeover as a well-being initiative to encourage runners and volunteers alike to come together and support this fantastic event. Lovely bunch that they are, the replies came flooding in and very soon I found that there were just about enough people to fill the roster. I was praying for a fine day so having watched the weather forecast all week, I was thankful that we would at least stay dry!
Everyone showed up on time and were briefed on their roles. Some were old-timers but for others it was their first parkrun experience. To add to the proceedings a bell was donated by the Foundation to be rung by any runner once over the line as a celebration if they felt inspired! Marshals in place, first-timer briefing done, timers at the ready, Jo, our run director, addressed the assembled runners and then they were off. I had been placed on the first marshalling point to steer everyone around the cone and down the side of the pitches to the bridge. Battling against the elements, that next stretch brought welcome relief for the runners in the shape of a strong tailwind – well at least until they turned the next corner! In addition to the strong winds, the runners had to contend with sticky conditions underfoot along the canal stretch. Having greeted the tail walkers for the second time as they passed by, I went across to join Garry, another colleague and marshal, to cheer on the runners as they went into the home straight and directly into the wind. We managed to change a few grimaces to smiles as they passed us and encouraged them to grab the ‘Happy Bell’ and ring it loudly once over the finish line!
A special mention must go to Shayan who was running this week for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY). He pledged to break 30 minutes for the first time and did so in style, coming through the funnel in 27.38 and raising over £1200. He quite rightly gave the bell a good ring!
As always, a warm, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere prevailed and we, at the Loughborough Schools Foundation, are extremely grateful to Jenny and Andy and other members of the team for granting us the opportunity to stage this takeover. Well done to the 272 runners who turned out on a day when the preferred option would probably have been to stay tucked up in bed!
Lastly, thank you to all my friends and colleagues who stepped up this morning and helped make our first takeover a success.