Monthly Archives: August 2019

Beyond the Fringe: Edinburgh ParkRun

An intimate affair for 796.

Running is really not my thing and yet… And yet it’s Saturday morning and here I am on the promenade at Cramond. This wee village tucked into the shore betwixt Leith and the Forth Bridges is bathed in glorious sunshine and the is nary a breath of wind: distinctly un-Scottish weather. Glorious.

If your not familiar with ParkRun, then a) where TF have you been and b) allow me to explain. Saturday mornings across the globe, 5K on foot, not a race (but you do get a time). I’ve done a few of these now and they are a lovely – free – volunteer run run. (Volunteering is particularly lovely too if you don’t/can’t/won’t/shouldn’t exercise.) You’re alongside auld and young, dogs (on leads), kids – running and being pushed in buggies – walkers and the elite runners.

(IMHO the latter should – big smiles and hugs all round – buggah off to an athletics club because instead of providing a goal/aspiration/inspiration/role modelling and what not, they just piss this shambling stumbler off. Fun is a word barely tenuously associated with running at the best of times. I find any residual good cheer evaporates instantaneously when being lapped by a gazelle.)

Anyhoo, pre-run there’s a sensible H&S briefing for “tourists and first timers”. A friendly welcome, but also a reading of the rules. [Serious face.] We are <4 miles from the annual global centre for comedy – aka The Edinburgh Fringe 2019 – but on another planet. Yet, I am party to a “show” which is surely a contender for an award (I have just invented): Best Instructional Comedy.

Our host is local legend Dave – yes, like the TV channel – and he is awesome.

In case the fun police are reading: in less than 5 minutes we get the full health and safety briefing, the rules, the emergency procedures. What we get in addition are brutal piss takes out of the “soap dodgers” – hello readers from Glasgae! – ribbing of runners with “hydration vessels” – aka water bottles. YOu’re out there “fae twuntae sex minoots! THROW THUM AHhhh-WAAYYYY.” [Pauses proceedings – awkward silence – until assembled bottle holders shamefacedly throw – no, really – their bottles over the barbed wire fence* into the pasture. Definite pause to underline the error of their ways. Briefing restarts.] I get given a pearl necklace. (Yes, you read that right.) We also get strict – “STRUCT!” – instruction on how to make the event flow smoothly.

It’s a deep fried slice of instructional masterclass served with a breakfast pint o’heavy sarcasm.


The volunteers give their time every Saturday and every event is free. Whilst it’s oh-so-British and polite when you get to a certain mass – even of the middle classes – then the notion of crowd control becomes mission critical. Dave smashes a Venn of information, having “a wee banter” and yelling at us to do exactly as we’re told. I’m an immediate member of his fan club. Sadly, for his next gig – 09.15, every Saturday, venue Cramond promenade – I’m in Wiltshire.

So if you’re in Edinburgh, drop by and get berated: you might even get to try the handcuffs and be recipient of a pearl necklace.

*individual audience members were seeded with props – quietly and expertly – seconds before the briefing. So the wanton littering** of plastic bottles was a stunt to harmlessly and comedically shame fun-runners with water bottles. 5K does not equal Iron Man. Get a grip.

**They were retrieved as were all the props.

Here are some Parkrun stats (as of 29th August 2019):

Number of events: 147,805
Number of runners: 2,152,621
Number of runs: 30,368,572
Number of locations: 647
Average runs per event: 205.5
Average number of runs per runner: 14.1
Average run time: 00:28:43
Total hours run: 1,659Years 81Days 12Hrs 30Min 31Secs
Total distance run: 151,842,860km
Female record holder: Charlotte ARTER – 15:50 – Event 578 (05/01/19)
Male record holder: Andrew BADDELEY – 13:48 – Event 422 (11/08/12)
Age graded record holder: Fauja SINGH – 179.04 % – 38:34 – Event 59 (31/03/12)

From this we can distill that I am 1 minute below average pace but 6 runs above runs/runner run. Run. Runner. Running. Ugh.

Edinburgh specifics:
Number of events: 510
Number of runners: 29,448
Number of runs: 206,806
Number of first finishers: 381
Average number of runners per week: 405.5
Average number of runs per runner: 7.0
Biggest Attendance: 867
Average run time: 00:26:32 – that’s FAST!
Total hours run: 10Years 162Days 6Hrs 24Min 29Secs
Total distance run: 1,034,030km
Female record holder: Lauren REID – 16:17 – Event 510 (24/08/19) – I saw her… she was a blur
Male record holder: Ross TOOLE – 14:31 – Event 17 (13/02/10)
Age graded record holder: Fiona MATHESON – 100.93 % – 17:56 – Event 413 (23/09/17)

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Keys? Found them. In a tent in Wales.

The title is something of a spoiler for this post I’m afraid.

With respect to some of the gentler readers who don’t need stress, shock and, er, more stress this entry is classified as sub-nerve jangling. (Hat Tip to Douglas Adams.)

That said, f you are able to keep a bucket of empathy nearby it may be useful to dip in as the story unfolds, if only to get a sense of the roller-coaster traveled. However, keep a wee lifeguard on duty to dive in and pull you to the shores of the pail as I go beyond it.

Regular readers – Mum – will recall the lost key (mini) drama from late July: where are my keys. One avid reader even suggested that I would find them, perhaps in a infrequently worn shoe some months hence. I smiled politely, nodded and made a note to look up the website of the local home for those of dumbass ideas.

Three weeks later… I may need to check in myself.

Scene: we are at the magnificent Hillend campsite on the peerless Gower peninsula. (You’d hate it, never go. IE: We like it to ourselves.) The youngest offspring is having a camping festival for his birthday and us parents are camped at a distance. Natch the youngsters have the festival marquee whilst the oldies get the pop-up bivvy bag.

Proceedings have been excellent and on the final morn in the absence of life at the teen-big-top I pack away everything I can ready for the migration back across the Severn Bridge. Kit from the par-tay tent has been surreptitiously gathered over the previous period and assorted detritus has already been square away. (I do so enjoy the 3D jigsaw challenge of packing metric tonnes of crap into a VW Up! No, I do. That exclamation mark belongs to VW by the way, yet is strangely relevant to the excitement I derive from a good pack.)

[Aside: Does anything else have this kind of built it exclamation? Aside from the diminutive VeeDub, I can only think of Westward Ho!]

Back to scene, zoom in: an unused by me – crucial plot detail – cagoule is one of a number of clothing items retrieved from the blast zone of the rave area. I have an Ikea bag filling with neatly rolled/folded household weather gear/footwear. Cagoule close up: It’s midnight blue, unbranded, a flimsy shower cheater of a garment, the contradictory kind of coat that makes you instantly sweaty if you have a pulse. I fold an arm, the other, the hood and roll tightly. Hmm, that’s not right: it has a slightly spiky, unbending feel at odds with the precision executed.

[Aren’t you glad you know what’s coming next? Now locate your empathy bucket and scoop out a handful.]

I reach into the pocket and there they are.


[Now I don’t want to be overly dramatic here, but I’ll call upon the following clip – worth 2 minutes of your time – and the bit that’s relevant is from 1.19: Wide angle: panning up and back. Picture Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes. The intensity of feeling and personal weightiness is spot on only it’s a pudgy bald Welshman in a tiny tent who’s found a front door key.]

Damn you, Damn you all to hell.

Learning points:

  • Keys are not found in shoes. (That’d be ridonculous.)
  • Keys are found in tents in West Wales.
  • They are magic keys because no one in the house has ever worn that cagoule so how could they have ever have like ever got there?
  • They are extra special magical keys because when everyone in the house searched for them and looked through every pocket of every garment – whilst Dad frantically turned over his own office in the hunt – they “weren’t there”.
  • Don’t lose your $hit over lost keys. They’ll turn up eventually. (Either that or you change all the locks as a precaution at great expense.)



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