Active Families, Running, ThisGirlCan

My Parkrun journey

Guest Blog from Alice Carter

Ahead of The This Girl Can International Women’s Day parkrun on Saturday 5th March, we’re sharing a blog from regular parkrunner and parkrun volunteer Alice Carter. Alice describes how from a nervous beginning in 2015, the weekly 5km run has become an integral part of her life. She also writes about how gaining a new running buddy (seven year old Lincoln), has made parkrun even more meaningful for her.

I refer to Lincoln parkrun as ‘my happy place.’ No matter what is going on in my life, parkrun is always there, and it is a joy to be part of a community of people walking, jogging, or running a weekly 5k and seeing Boultham Park filled with friends.

When parkrun first started in Lincoln, I could not make Saturday mornings as at the time I was volunteering as a football coach. My first visit eventually came in February 2015, where I was too scared to even print a barcode and had to be heavily encouraged by my friends to attend. It is safe to say I do not need encouraging now! parkrun is a part of my life, and there is no conscious decision about whether to go each week or not. I often joke if I am not at Boultham Park at 9am on a Saturday morning then someone needs to start a search party!

From a nervous first outing I am now closing in on my 200th parkrun, 170 of these being at Lincoln, alongside several tourist trips completed, including running a parkrun in the Blue Mountains whilst on holiday in Australia, and 37 stints in the high viz vest volunteering.

I know I am fairly recognisable for always running parkrun in my shorts (it’s always shorts weather in my book!) but in recent months you may have noticed (or heard!) I have gained a little parkrun buddy who has been enjoying laps of Boultham Park by my side.

My friend’s seven-year-old son – the aptly named Lincoln – was inspired when I ran Peterborough Marathon in 2021 and told me quite confidently, he wanted to run a marathon with me. This filled me instantly with joy, but I realistically suggested we try some Lincoln parkruns together first once they returned following the Covid imposed break. When parkrun did re-enter our lives again (finally!), I was nursing Achilles tendinosis, so running with a little buddy was a great way for me to connect with a community I had missed so dearly during the pandemic, but also at a pace which suited my recovery. I had no idea what to expect on our first parkrun together – both for myself and Lincoln – or if Lincoln would want to come back again, however the smiles on both our faces from that first parkrun tell you just how much we enjoyed running together.

Lincoln now loves parkrun, a bit like me, he never wants to miss a week. He takes on the 5k with enthusiasm, joy, and embracing those around him. Yes, some weeks he does get distracted by dogs, trees, chatting to others, or telling me about some mythical creature which lives on Boultham Park, but every week he completes the 5k. I still feel so proud each time he finishes, and if he did not talk to me so much on the way around, I am convinced he has much more speed to give! But as we all know, speed is not the point of parkrun, it’s most definitely not all about finish times.

parkrun has taken a new meaning for me having Lincoln to accompany around the course and it has also allowed me to run with and meet even more people from the Lincoln parkrun community. I feel I have achieved more parkrunning with Lincoln than I could ever do on my own, and gaining my little running companion has undoubtedly been the biggest highlight of my parkrun journey.

This will be Lincoln’s 25th parkrun – I look forward to achieving more milestones together and hopefully continuing to play a part in instilling a lifelong love of running within him. 

Inspired to try parkrun? – Take a look where the nearest parkrun to you in Lincolnshire is here, or visit the parkrun website.