Daniel returns to parkrun and ‘beats’ me again

Yesterday, I completed my 99th parkrun and it’s now only 6 days until I reach my milestone of 100 parkruns. It’s taken almost 5 years to get this far and it was great to be at Eastleigh parkrun to complete #99. Not only that but after 68 weeks, my 8 year old, Daniel, joined me for his 27th 5km event.

Daniel’s first parkrun was back on the 15th December 2012 and he completed about 25 parkruns before deciding that 5km was too far for him. The reason for this decision was that Southampton junior parkrun had opened (in November 2013) and he much preferred the shorter 2km course.

In the 26 parkrun events, Daniel has run at 7 different venues including Eastleigh, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Brockenhurst, Winchester, Queen Elizabeth and Bournemouth. Of all of these events, he has a favourite – Eastleigh parkrun. I’m not sure why but suspect it’s due to familiarity of the event and the fact that he’s quite well known amongst the core community there who always give him encouragement – even if he’s one of the last to finish. One thing that is guaranteed each week is that he’ll cross the line ahead of me and this has happened on each of the 27 parkruns he’s completed to date. My street cred (what little there is) has plummeted – as has my RunBritain ranking.

However, given my achy foot of last weekend, I welcomed the opportunity to walk/run the course which is how we take on the 5km.

We start off with the good intention of running most of the way but Daniel’s inner demons and fatigue mean that by the 3rd lap we’re running and walking in equal measure. For those that think that juniors shouldn’t be running 5km, rest assured that the distance is littered with walk breaks and the actual running distance is likely to be less than half of the total distance.

Like his Dad, Daniel has no natural running ability but enjoys the events. It’s our opportunity to do some physical activity together. As parents, our role for our children that do sporty things is to, more often than not, act as chauffeur and then watch from a distance and this is my role each week for Daniel karate, diving and swimming lessons. At parkrun, we get the chance to run(/walk) together.

I’m not a pushy parent. A little positive encouragement goes a long way but there are times when the frustration of having to hold Daniel’s hand the whole way around (I shouldn’t complain) or an unnecessary walk break require a stern word. There have been tears mostly born from a stitch (too much breakfast before the event) but sometimes caused by my insistence that he ‘let go of my hand’, run ahead of him briefly, suggest that we keep up with a group in front or simply the fact that the day has a ‘y’ in it. Ultimately, these minor blips are soon forgotten as Daniel sprints to the finish line in a surge of energy that comes from nowhere to beat me again ( 😉 ). Humph!

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