Readers in the UK are probably aware of the I Am Team GB celebrations taking place around the country today, but for those elsewhere, or those who may not have come across it, I Am Team GB was created to help get more people active. The entire nation was invited to join our returning Olympic athletes today, 27th August, to say, “I am Team GB” and create the nation’s biggest ever sports day.
The day was brought about by The National Lottery, a main sponsor of Team GB athletes and their training, and ITV, a commercial television broadcaster. One of the most interesting things was that for one hour, at 9:30am, all ITV channels were switched off, to encourage more people to go out and get active. Sports clubs and venues around the country offered free sessions throughout the day for people to go along and try something new. People were also encouraged to do their own thing and get active by taking the dog for a walk or cycling with their kids. It didn’t matter what the activity was, as long as it got you moving.
Quite honestly, this is a fantastic idea, and to make it even more attractive, many events were lucky enough to be visited by an Olympian, something sure to provide further inspiration. And my chosen event was one of them…
Parkruns around the country, while already free, were getting into the spirit and celebrating #IAmTeamGB this weekend. Perth parkrun was one of many lucky enough to be visited by an Olympian, in our case swimmer Stephen Milne who was part of the silver medal-winning 4x200m relay team. Stephen was born in Inverness but has lived and trained in Perth since he was a young child, so he’s our local Olympian. It had been announced in advance that he would be attending so I decided this was a fine time to dust off the replica top I bought in 2012!
I arrived about 10 minutes before the run start and spotted our visitor straight away – the Team GB tracksuit and silver medal adorning his neck was a dead giveaway! He was chatting to people and posing for photos, mainly with children. Obviously, I made sure I got a photo too!
There were a good number of people there and the atmosphere felt different to usual. I find our parkrun, as I’m sure others are, to be very friendly and positive, but today there was even more of a buzz in the air. I spent the time before the run briefing chatting to someone I’d not spoken to before and everyone seemed really upbeat. Of course our visitor was introduced during the run briefing and everyone gathered in closer than ever, especially when we became part of an enormous selfie…
Photo: Stephen Milne on Twitter
After that, it was business as usual. My intention was to run a bit easier this week as I have a 10k race tomorrow, however as soon as we started I realised that my body had other ideas. Fuelled by coffee and inspired by the Olympic spirit, I was gliding along (or at least that’s how it felt to me) with a spring in my step, but when the first mile ticked by in 7:26 I realised I’d better slow down a little! I did, but was still running sub-8 minute miles and ended up crossing the line (which today was marked by some festive bunting) in 23:36 – my fastest time this year and the closest I’ve ever been to that lofty PB of 23:14 I ran around this time last year. Maybe we should have Olympians visit us every week!
Post-race and floating along on a runner’s high, I was able to get another photo, and this time I asked if I could have a wee feel of the weight of the medal. One or two others had done this before the race and had reported that it was really heavy, but I was still surprised by just how weighty it was. Far heavier than any medal I’ve earned so far!
I had to dash off for my Saturday yoga class, but had a fantastic morning, probably one of the most memorable parkruns ever, and couldn’t resist a few bonus jumping shots before I left:
Anyone taking part in #IAmTeamGB today was encouraged to use the hashtag and post their photos on social media. In the afternoon I was delighted to receive the following response from The National Lottery on Twitter:
What a great surprise and a fantastic way to round off what was a brilliant initiative, a brilliant parkrun experience and a brilliant way to spend a Saturday.
Thanks to Stephen Milne for coming along and inspiring everyone, and well done to all our wonderful Team GB athletes.
Did you take part in #IAmTeamGB today?
Any Olympians near you?