Gemma Rathbone has been in touch with her experience of Cross Flatts parkrun:
Most Saturday mornings I am out of bed by 8am, and out of the house 30 minutes later, heading to one of four parkrun events in Leeds. The 5k time trials – a race against the clock for each individual, rather than a race between all participants – have become an important part of the week for myself and hundreds of thousands of runners across the country.
Our parkruns across the city – Woodhouse Moor, Temple Newsam, Roundhay Park and here at Cross Flatts Park in the south – attract all kinds of people week in, week out. No matter what the weather the runners, joggers and walkers, kids and pensioners alike come together to cover 5k (3.1 miles). Some bring dogs or push the baby; some fly past in a blur; some jog a bit then walk a bit; some chat; some listen to music and run off into their own world. The point is, that whether it takes them 20 minutes or 40 minutes to complete the distance, they are outside and active.
The parkrun community is not just about running, but also about people. Each event requires a number of volunteers to make sure things go smoothly, and indeed to ensure they can go ahead at all. Marshals on corners, someone with a stopwatch, someone to hand out finish tokens, someone to scan the barcodes etc are all a vital part of each and every parkrun.
Whichever side of parkrun you experience, and I hope you take up both, it is fun and rewarding.
There are times when I can’t run because of injury, or when I’m feeling really low and don’t want to go out. But I still get myself up and out there and parkrun works wonders for cheering me up, resetting my system and getting me lots of hugs from friends. And of course, when I can run I make the most of the opportunity to try to go a little bit quicker than before and set a new personal best. It doesn’t happen very often, but shaving a few seconds off a PB is my version of winning gold at the Olympics!
By getting up and out first thing, to do something active, or help others, I then go through the rest of the day with a greater sense of happiness and enthusiasm. I crack on with the weekend, safe in the knowledge that I have done something good for my mind and body.
It is free to take part in parkrun, and once you are registered you can just turn up at any event around the country at 9am on a Saturday morning. Visit www.parkrun.org.uk/crossflatts page for details on how to sign up and print off your barcode. Make sure you have this on you when you run and when you finish you get this scanned, along with the position token you are handed as you cross the line. A text and/or email is then sent later that day to confirm your time.
The Cross Flatts parkrun takes place in Cross Flatts Park, Beeston LS11 7BQ. The course starts on the central path by the Watsonian Pavilion and runners are directed around two-and-a-half laps of the park.
More than 600 people have taken part in this parkrun, and on Saturday 29 March Cross Flatts parkrun celebrates its first birthday. If you’ve never been before this is the perfect time to go along and see what it is all about. There will be refreshments, so just turn up and run, or if you’d like to help out get in touch via the link above.