40 Before 40: #1 parkrun in 40 different locations

One of my 40 before 40 challenges, listed HERE

Only 39 venues as yet, but more to be added very soon! Love the conversations this t-shirt starts…

As of 27th Saturday I’m pleased to report I have enjoyed the hospitality of 40 different parkrun venues with 40 different parkrun volunteer teams, and I learned a few things along the way…

Every parkrun is the same…you turn up, run and present your barcode. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, the process is universal. That simple fact means there is never any worry or doubt about approaching new parkruns, you can travel with complete confidence.

Every parkrun is different…and that’s what makes tourism such fun! Every briefing is a new experience; some brilliant, some inaudible, some full of laughs and some short and to the point. Then you start running and every course is different; I’ve run along rivers and crossed streams, across open fields and through thick woods, over logs and under bridges, on tarmac, woodchip, sand and snow. Some courses are more scenic than others but every one is special and has something about it that you’ll remember.

Sign of the tourist. Keep an eye out for anyone wearing the infamous “cow cowl”, only available to parkrunners with more than 20 venues to their name.

Touring with friends is ace…because you can enjoy the road trip and post run cake, as well as the excitement of planning your next tour.

Touring on your own is also ace…because it is very easy to make new friends on a Saturday morning. You are all there for one thing so you already have something in common, and I haven’t had anything but the warmest of welcomes at every venue I’ve been too. If you do tour alone, talk to people, it makes the whole experience ten times better.

But parkrun tourism isn’t all good, I have found two distinct downsides to heading out on the road of a Saturday morning…

Missing home… I adore Cheltenham parkrun and all involved with it and recently managed my 100th run around Pittville Park. But thanks to tourism there have been many weekends away from my home run and I have missed celebrating milestones with friends or being there to support my fellow core team members when they needed it. As much fun as tourism is sometimes I wish I wasn’t heading away from a run with 400 friends.

Finding somewhere amazing… I’ve run some beautiful courses and met some amazing people through parkrun tourism (big shout to Poolbeg in Dublin for topping the table in both categories) but I am unlikely to ever go back which is sad. If I’m in Dublin again in future there are several other venues to go explore so chances are I will never enjoy another Poolbeg parkrun and coffee with the friendliest people in the world. I know we should be happy it happened not sad it’s over, but it’s impossible to ignore that some courses are better than others and warrant a second visit…maybe when I’ve completed the other 600+ venues!

So to conclude, as I’m always asked for favourites when I reveal my travels, parkrun tourism is mostly amazing here’s just a few highlights you may wish to explore yourself…

Poolbeg – on a horrible rainy windswept morning I met the most amazing people for a dramatic run around the bay. I wish I could go back regularly.

Bushy Park – the home of parkrun, with over 1,500 runners most weeks. Everyone should go at least once to see where it all began.

Vejen, Denmark – one volunteer with a carrier bag of kit turns up at 8.55am and a parkrun happens. Highlights the brilliance of the concept and how simple it can be.

Medina, Isle of Wight – An overnight trip with ferry rides, dodgy B&B, hunting an ever-changing parkrun course followed by lunch on the seafront, amusement arcades and giant ice creams in the rain. An epic 24 hour tour with good friends, go do it soon!

The brilliant Run Director at Poolbeg on a truly foul freezing day, but still parkrun puts a smile on our faces!

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