One of the wonderful things about running is that when you first start out the milestones come thick and fast. There are the positive milestones: the first time you run a whole lap of the park, the first time you run a race, the first time you run double digit mileage; and there are the less positive ones: the first time you get injured, the first time you hit the wall hard, the first time you have to DNS or DNF. But the longer that running is part of your life, the less frequent those milestones become, and that’s kind of where I am now. I’ve had my share of injuries, I’ve had to DNS a few races and the only way to hit a distance milestone now would be to run an ultra! Thank goodness, then, for parkrun and their system of milestone runs.
I became part of the parkrun family at the beginning of 2015. At this time there had been a parkrun in my city for a little over a year, but I had not yet tried it out. I did, however, know that it was a wonderfully welcoming commmunity and as soon as I finished my first event I was hooked, something I’ve written about in more detail before.
The wonderful thing about parkrun is that their ethos always remains “it is a run not a race”. Sure it’s timed and points are awarded, but it’s always done in a friendly spirit with the faster runners cheering on those finishing later. It’s a place where you are welcomed with open arms and can strike up easy conversation with a complete stranger, and where it’s perfectly OK to run eyeballs out one week and take it easy on a social run the next. While finish times might be important to an individual looking for a PB, as a community simply turning up to run on a Saturday morning is celebrated.
Which brings me to the milestones. In the parkrun community, that commitment to running regularly is a big deal, with the opportunity to earn the coveted milestone Tshirts to mark your achievement. Adults earn their Tshirts after 50, 100, 250 and 500 runs (that’s as far as anyone has gone so far, so who knows what comes next!). When you complete your milestone run then you are able to order your milestone Tshirt thanks to the generosity of the event sponsors. Steve achieved his 50 before we went on holiday in the summer, but thanks to my injury-prone nature, it’s taken me a bit longer than I would have liked to get there. But I’ve finally done it.
That’s right, at the beginning of the month – the 5th of November to be precise – I competed my 50th parkrun. I got my spotlight moment in the run briefing (those going for milestone runs are always highlighted) and a round of applause from the other runners. I then made sure to run at a pace that I could just enjoy the experience. What made it even more special was that another runner I had previously only interacted with via a social media running group was visiting our parkrun so we were able to meet up and have a chat. I even persuaded her to join me in my trademark “jumping shot” to celebrate the day.
The only downside is that due to low stock levels, I’ve not yet been able to order my milestone Tshirt, but am hoping to get it soon. In the meantime, I’m underway with my “second 50” and the road to that 100 Tshirt has begun. I”d love to get there before the end of next year, so hopefully my body will cooperate and I’ll be able to keep running well. Keep your fingers crossed!
Are you a parkrun regular? Any milestone tees?
Have you recently reached a running milestone?