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The end

Hi! I’m Ian!

Welcome to my parkrun tourism blog!

Big boy

My story begins in 2019, when, I think it’s fair to say, I was a big boy. I had brought an end to my previous hobby of weightlifting without reducing how much I ate anywhere near enough, and those calories decided that they needed to live somewhere.

My accumulated chonk was often becoming the limiting factor in many things I wanted to do, and so wanting to get back in some sort of non-wobbly shape, I thought to myself, “...running’s a thing!”

Ian relaxing, leaning on a fence

First steps

My very first run was a very exhausting half mile. I was so out of breath from such a short distance that I remember being so frustrated with myself for allowing the chonk to grow unchecked. Needless to say, my determination to become less of a big boy went through the roof!

I continued running, slowly increasing the distance until I could manage the occasional 10k long-run. The challenge began to shift though! For 6 months, I had largely been running the same few routes, and I knew that I needed to do something different if I wanted to stay engaged with running.

A new challenge

Not wanting to push the risk of burnout too far, I began researching possible running events I could take part in for a change of scenery. I quickly found lots of one-off races, but I wanted more - I just didn’t quite know what yet...

It took several days of soul-searching until I understood what my ideal solution looked like. I wanted something where the same/similar group of people take part in a multi-stage run over several different courses, probably one stage per week.

  • Same/similar group of people: friendships, comradery.
  • Multi-stage: sense of progression and achievement.
  • Run: not really fussed about finish times, positions, etc.
  • Several different courses: different scenery.
  • One stage per week: frequent enough to become a habit, without taking over.

The closest comparisons would probably be the Tour de France, or WRC, only weekly and non-elite, rather than daily and elite.

Multi-day ultras

The closest concept I could find in the running world was multi-day ultra-marathons, which were both too frequent (daily stages), and a little beyond my ability!

No out of the box solution then, but what if the emphasis was different? It was at this point that I found a blog post about completing the parkrun alphabet challenge, and there were mentions of other challenges too! I realised that I could complete the challenge with a lot less travel than the post suggested, and it was at this point my old Saturday morning routine came to an end forever!

Chasing the ideal

I do still occasionally wonder whether there is appetite for my “ideal solution” out there. parkrun ticks a lot of the boxes, especially when accompanied by the various challenges, but not all of them. Perhaps it’s something to explore in more detail in the future…

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