Ever since I was a toddler I have enjoyed walking in the countryside. We have the moors and coast on our doorstep with the Dales and the Lakes not very far away.I work as a Conductor on local trains and I have enjoyed many walks with colleagues including Bishop Auckland to Saltburn, for Macmillan and from Middlesbrough to Whitby, for Mind. Two years ago in May two fellow Conductors invited me to join them at Tees Barrage Parkrun. I confess to being a tad suspicious when they said “you’ll enjoy it”.The following Saturday saw the three of us lined up alongside the river Tees along with another three hundred runners of all ages. Not wanting to be a hindrance we started towards the back but as the field spread out I found myself surprised how I was getting drawn along without losing my breath and I was passing people and enjoying myself. Twenty five minutes later saw me finish in 70thplace, just ahead of a poodle and 4thin my age category.
I was back two weeks later to improve my time and proud to call myself a Park runner. Parkruns are whatever you want them to be. They can be a 3.2 mile walk, a training run or a competition. Whether you run jog, walk or hobble, either alone or with friends, children, prams or dogs everyone is made to feel welcome and cheered by fellow runners or volunteers who make it happen.At work we started an informal running club where 3 or 4 of us would jog to another station and get the train back. Several colleagues have run the Great North Run and other races, often earning money for good causes.
To begin with I was improving my parkrun time by minutes and every run was a personal best. I visited different Parkruns and set myself a target of less than 20 minutes. In October 2017 managed a 19.56 at Albert Park, my Pb is 19.28 at York. A year later I finished first at Flatts Lane.With friends from work I have ran the Tees Pride 10k twice and the Ali Brownlee 5k. I also ran Durham 10k last year. Last summer I was jogging along Skelton bypass and caught up with a lady who told me about this Skelton Running Club on Monday nights. August Bank Holiday I met Sue and Carol along with another half dozen ladies for a most enjoyable training session. Whenever I can I attend along with 20 to 30 others of both sexes. I am not the only guy in the village after all!
December 16thsaw me at Loftus Poultry Run along with my new running friends, I intended to set off slowly as it was such a long race but felt comfortable at a fast pa ce despite the first half being uphill. Again everyone was so friendly and I was disappointed I had to rush off to work. The addiction now had a firm hold and my wardrobe rail was creaking due to the extra T-shirts. On New Year’s Day I bit the bullet and joined Loftus & Whitby Athletics Club. I ran Stewarts parkrun then off to Great Ayton to run Captain Cook’s Race.
I have run a few Cross Country races including the National Championships at Harewood House. My toughest challenge to date has been Bilsdale Fell Race, a 15 mile race with four thousand feet of climbing. This took me just over 3 hours but I was delighted with second in age category.
Years ago as a walker I didn’t see the attraction of running but my latest obsession has introduced me to many opportunities and new friends. Running is not just for the super fit, at every event I have attended every participant has been supported and encouraged whatever ability. However I run on the day, I am always proud to wear the vest that tells everyone I run for such a friendly club.
If Carlsberg did Athletics Clubs they would call it Loftus & Whitby.
“Probably the best in the world”
A big thank you to every single member who has made me so welcome. You have all made a middle-aged man very happy; however the Tuesday night training makes a happy man feel very old!
Graham D Palmer