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