Everyone remembers their first time. For me it was wet, dirty and at the end I was absolutely knackered. I am of course talking about parkrun where back in March 2018, Huntingdon parkrun took my parkrun virginity.

I’ve written about all my parkrun tourism before but back when I headed to Hinchingbrooke Park I didn’t have a clue what was happening.

I’d started running again in 2016 and as I had started to do a few races, I had heard about parkrun. I’d even gone so far as signing up for my barcode but at the time I couldn’t see the point of driving 20mins away just to run 5k when I could just go for a run. But on this date it was a special occasion.

My friend was turning 40 and wanted to make a proper celebration of it. The day was going to culminate in a big fancy party but to start, she wanted to get as many people to what was at the time, our closest parkrun. I was all up for that so for the first time we packed up the car and drove to the park.

I had never visited Hinchingbrooke Park before this date and although I have been back a few times since (although not yet for another run), on this first day what I was heading into was an unknown.

It had been raining all week but after a warning to be careful, it was time for us to head off. My main goal for the day was to be the first from our group but beyond that I wasn’t quite sure what my 5k speed was. Not that it would have mattered that much as the wide first stretch was full of very saturated parts and shoes were soaked in seconds.

We were on the winter course which consists of two loops of the park with a short stretch from and back into the middle at the start and finish. As we moved on to the first lap water was rushing down the hill and we were soon into the wooded section which, given the conditions was a bit of a mud bath. It had been years since I had last run Cross Country and it brought back a lot of memories! The marshals were extremely motivating and as we passed the cafe I got to see my wife and kids who had decided to play in the play-park instead.

About halfway round the 2nd lap I felt I was far enough of the closest in our group to be confident of being the first finished here and having gone back across the saturated field, I finished in an aesthetically pleasing 24:42 (which today means I have already knocked off the palindrome challenge on the 5k app!)

After the event I was talking to some other runners and this was the first time I heard of a parkrun coming soon to St Neots. To be honest, if it wasn’t for Pocket parkrun starting up on my doorstep a few months later, I doubt I’d have ever got into parkrun in the same way. To this day this was my only trip to Huntingdon. In the main this has been driven by the fact that if I am able to run on Saturday morning, I’ll choose the one on my doorstep rather than drive up. But I would like to give it another go. My son has on several occasions played football matches on the fields that back on to part of the course and I see the runners heading past. I just haven’t managed to get the timing to work yet for me to run as well!

However, Huntingdon will always be my first. What was yours and have you been back? Leave a comment below!

(Image from the Huntingdon parkrun webpage as I don’t have any of my own, another reason to return!)

By Mike

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