During my tenth anniversary year my friend, Emma Pugh, promised to visit my ”new” (by then three years old) home having still not made it.  We struck a deal that if she didn’t make it by 30 September 2011 she’d have to run a 5K race.  Emma is happy on a bike but I wouldn’t be persuaded to barter to two wheels as that wasn’t out of the comfort zone and had been bargained down from 10K.  Of course, all Emma had to do to ensure she didn’t have to run anywhere was travel along the M62 from the Wirral to Kingston upon Hull.  Despite the “threat” of a run she failed to turn up and her training was required to commence.
It took some time to actually get Emma and my diaries together and sort a date for the event.  I had earmarked the Liverpool parkrun in Princes Park one Saturday morning.  With 52 dates in a year to select it shouldn’t be that hard!!  15 June 2013 was finally agreed – and this wasn’t due to rearrangements but down just not getting our acts together (oddly enough Emma wasn’t chasing me!)

In fairness to Emma, I had never been to her new house either but I had tried but she’d been unwell on the day of my visit. (I still got to freeze watching Everton and Norwich City draw 1-1 at Goodison Park though).  Emma took the challenge seriously though and set about on the couch to 5k programme which I have had several friends try. Emma is not a natural runner but worked out the distance of a nearby playing field and then did laps of the field – whether it be jogging or walking - and built up the distance.  Emma admits it didn’t go as planned but she also refused to cave in. A date was set and Emma wasn’t planning on rescheduling – she’s too stubborn!

I navigated us to the park for the 9am Saturday morning run; having ensured Emma had registered herself before the 6pm cut off on the Friday as a virgin park runner.  (I navigated as, despite Emma being local, she didn’t know the way!)  Parked up, we headed for the start.  Park runners don’t tend to arrive much before the start as it’s a reasonably informal event and it’s free as part of the build up to and legacy of London 2012.  You can run a parkrun at any age, with your dog, walk it, push your baby round in a pram and more.  Many a toddler is seen doing them!  (And I was nearly beaten by a wheelchair pusher in my first ever parkrun!)  So at 8:45 we were early arrivals (Note Lucas was early!!)  

I had checked out details and knew we had 3.5 laps of the park ahead of us starting in the middle.  All started fine as I made various observations about other runners and set our self a goal of someone we would beat.  As we set off most the field swiftly passed us, but that was no concern.  This wasn’t about racing but about taking part and facing the challenge.  Part way into our first lap Emma pulled up and said she couldn’t do it – there were reasons but we stopped and stepped aside as we discussed them.  Other participants passed and a few checked all was ok. After some discussion Emma decided to carry on – I would emphasise this was her decision – I know I am known for not giving in and being persistent at times but I also know when it’s not appropriate and this was one of those times.  

We headed round the park – I kept the mood light as we jogged/walked – I became the donkey as Emma de-layered.  I set us some targets – points to reach before a walk, people to catch – we were still ahead of the lady I had set as the likely back marker!  Emma had in fact never reached 5K before the day and had hardly told a soul about her challenge.  The front runners, as they lapped us, were encouraging and this helped keep Emma focused.  This 5K was to Emma, and I quote Emma, like my first marathon.  In put into context how much of a challenge different activities are for so many.  But Emma’s stubbornness paid off and, having overtaken a few people in the process (something Emma found hugely rewarding) we finished in just over 39 minutes.  (The official results state Emma finished two minutes before me so Emma took the 37 minutes time!)  Emma was chuffed to bits to have completed the parkrun, 5k and stated she would do it again with better preparation. (Still not persuaded to up it to 10k though!).  

The good news story on the back of a very proud Emma and her hugely proud family and friends was around the confusion which had been causing the upset part way round.  Emma’s partner, Ritchie, had not been able to join us, understandably Emma was disappointed.  However, it turned out Ritchie had planned to propose to her that date and he needed to rearrange things!!  A week later Emma text me to let me know the good news and it explained why things had been as they were.  (Emma said yes!).   However, Emma still hasn’t visited my house as I type.......!

If you’d like to do a run challenge of any distance or type then let me know – be delighted to help you along in some way.  (You don’t have to make a deal with me and visiting me isn’t compulsory – but you’re always welcome!)

Emma runs Parkrun
Emma after her first Parkrun in Liverpool