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The pause

Reflection

As with most people, the world being on pause has given me more opportunity than normal to reflect on what I'm doing with parkrun. The outcome of that reflection is that I'm mostly happy with touring, and more so than ever, I really appreciate the time I can spend outdoors exploring, but there are some adjustments I want to make too.

I've continued running during the pause, but as happened prior to starting touring, it did get a little stale running the same landscape. One good thing is that I am now running further than I was at the point of initially starting touring, so I was seeing more scenery which in turn reduced how stale things were getting.

Exploring

Perhaps the biggest change I want to make is to take more advantage of the fact that I am visiting these other places. I want to explore the area around the event more and record those explorations, and thanks to the inspiration of blog7t.com, record it - hence this blog. It won't always be possible, but I will be taking time to explore the surroundings and local area after events more frequently going forwards.

Future challenges

I have also been getting close to the end of my alphabet challenge, and so I needed to decide what challenge I wanted to pick up next (if any).

One of the things I have found talking to tourists in the past is the challenge posed by selecting events based on closest event, and eventually getting further, especially when weather can be unpredictable and cancellations a factor. I haven't repeated any events so far, so if I want to continue this pattern, the fact I've already done some of the local events means I'm less flexible in the event of cancellations, which also means unnecessary stress that can be avoided.

The UK doesn't have an event beginning with Z, and so my original plan was to visit one of the European events to tick that box. I don't know what travel restrictions are likely to be in place going forwards, but I don't feel that a trip to Europe primarily around parkrun is something I want to do at the moment. Limiting myself to just the UK alphabet seems like a reasonable concession for the time being.

Another factor is that thanks to Queen Elizabeth parkrun before the break started, I was able to join the UK Tourist group on facebook. While I haven't been particularly active there, it has allowed me to see how other tourists approach it and learn from them, and the tools and resources they've already created. Through the group, I also found the With Me Now podcast, which (along with The parkrun show podcast) I consumed over the break. Alongside the banter and comradery oozing from the podcast, two of the biggest things I want to account for are the fact that actually, the community around parkrun is more important than the run itself, and also that even though a course may look uninspiring from an aerial view, it can be incredibly important for its community, and those communities are usually extremely welcoming of tourists.

With all of the above in mind, once I have finished the rest of the UK alphabet, I'll switch to focusing on running every event in the East of England. There are currently around 80 events in this area, but I've already done some, so all being well, this challenge could take the next 18 months to complete. I did consider other regions too, but my main reasoning for focusing on the East of England is that it's the region that I actually know least about of my local regions.

As a B goal, I'll also try to complete most of the alphabet within the region, and I'll generally look to do events from east to west (which is out to in for me). After the alphabet, I'll put more emphasis on just completing the most easterly event I can until the region is fully explored.

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