It’s now seven years since the first Glasgow parkrun Christmas day event. In 2009 the 5k race had to be run on an alternate, out and back route through the snow, ice and slush. Thirty hardy souls braved the winter weather and Luke Traynor and Toni McIntosh won the race, with times of 17:49 and 19:15 respectively, Toni placed second overall and Jim Buick placed third, in a time of 19:43. I made up the numbers, placing 15th, with a time of 22:43. Until last year only the four of us have raced in every Glasgow/Pollok Christmas Day parkrun. Unfortunately Toni didn’t make it last year but the remaining three of us did. However, rather than the 30 who participated in the first event, today there would be an amazing 442!
Despite not being able to run, for months now, there was no way that I was going to miss my Christmas Day parkrun, if I could help it. I had discussed the situation, with my Physio, who had agreed that I could do it, as long as I walked and didn’t run the event.
I didn’t want to hold friends and the volunteers up, so I decided to start my parkrun, prior to the 9:30am official Start. I had arranged to meet up with Fiona Ramsay and exchange presents before the race and it was also great to see that Jim Buick had made it through from Edinburgh to maintain his 100% record. The third member of the ‘ever present’ team Luke Traynor, is studying and training, thanks to a sponsorship deal, in Oklahoma USA, so I wasn’t sure if he would make it this year. I couldn’t hang around long for my usual pre race chatting, so it was a quick ‘Hello’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ with a few friends before I set off on my parkrun walk.
I exchanged festive greetings with the parkrun marshals and other park users, as I made my way through Pollok Country Park. Conditions, this year, were almost perfect for a walk, or a run, a little cold at about 5c but dry and wind free. However, the heavy rain that we’ve been enduring recently had taken its toll and, as well as a number of large puddles, the area of the glade was flooded badly. This meant that the route had to be amended and, as is usual practice, the alternate route tends to be a little longer than 5k.
I had completed my first lap, quicker than I had predicted and the race hadn’t started yet. I could hear Alan making the pre race announcements in the distance, which seemed to be going on longer than usual, and I made my way back along the first lap, towards the Start. I turned around, where the woodpecker scupture used to be, and it wasn’t too long before the first runner sped past me. I was pleased to see that it was Luke and that he would be defending his title, of having won the event on every Christmas Day. It was great to see that Fiona, assisted by her dog, was hot on Luke’s heels.
I shouted encouragement to both of them and to most of the other runners as they overtook me. It was much appreciated that so many runners recognised me from the back and shouted Christmas Greetings and encouragemt to me too.
As I approached the point in the route, which splits for those doing their second lap, I thought that I was too far up the field and, therefore, extended my walk a little more before heading back towards the final strait. This gave me the opportunity to meet and greet Graeme Pert who was using the event to complete his 2015 miles in 2015 for charity. Congratulations Graeme, inspirationalstuff. In the final 200m I kept well into the left of the path, to allow the runners to sprint towards the Finish line, before I crossed it, after walking for more than hour. Job done! I had maintained my record of completing every Christmas Day parkrun. OK I’d maybe bent the rules a bit but heh, I’m forever being told that ‘it’s not a race’.
I exchanged Festive Greetings and mutual congratulations with various running buddies and friends as I made my way back through the puddles to hand in my barcode. There was a wide and varied selection of cakes, mince pies, chocolates and assorted home baking accompanied by hot chocolate, coffee and tea provided by volunteers and runners alike, which added to the community spirit of the day. I had planned to do some baking last night but unfortunately, I didn’t feel in the mood to bake, hopefully next year though.
It was good to catch up with so many friends, including Luke who brought me up to date with his new life in the USA and to congratulate him, Fiona and so many others on there race/run :-). It all made for a great start to Christmas Day 2015. My thanks to everyone involved: runners, organisers, volunteers, photographers and supporters. Merry Christmas to one and all!