Walking with others has so many great benefits
How 5K Your Way can be a great addition to your exercise plans
By Sophie Gasson
December 5KYW was scheduled for the very last day of the year – holiday and family time for many, either visiting or hosting. On top of this there were many horrible bugs doing the rounds…coughs, colds, flu and of course the dreaded Covid. The weather was set to ‘absolutely dreadful’ with wind and rain forecast for the whole weekend. I really wasn’t expecting anyone to make the effort to turn up!
Before leaving the house (in full wet weather gear) I checked the Alice Holt Park Run Facebook page just in case it had been cancelled – the forest had been closed the day before due to high winds. But no, it was still on – Hurrah!
Helen and I arrived first and battled to get the flag up in the wind. We bagged a bench under the café shelter and tried to secure the unwieldy flag to a post using several straps (No risk assessment carried out!) Wary Park runners were arriving in dribs and drabs, most huddling under the shelter, unwilling to ditch warm layers until the last possible moment.
Then to our surprise, people began arriving for 5K Your Way! Eventually there were eleven of us in total. Some of the group had been many times before and were established 5K Your Way-ers. Some had joined us tentatively once or twice and were returning with more confidence. One was trying it for the first time.
The Park Run Director welcomed us all and invited us to the bench in the rain to give ourselves a shout out. Alice Holt Park Run Team have always been super welcoming and supportive, listening to our shout out and applauding our ethos. Huge thanks to them.
Then we set off – some ran, some walked, some were late arriving (!) but still walked the whole course. One sat in the car sheltering from the rain, emerging to cheer us on as we finished the first lap! One whole family turned up after the walking/running was done, giving a late night the night before as their excuse! So lovely they still came along to hug and wish everyone a Happy New Year 😊
After the walking/running/cheering the socialising continued over drinks under the shelter. Chatter about Christmas, plans for that evening’s New Year celebrations along with more serious discussion about treatments, side effects and getting on with life during and after treatment. Such a rich mix of empathy, advice, serious talk and a lot of laughter.
For me this was one of our best ever meets. Everyone was doing exactly what 5KYW sets out to do – take part in the Park Run in whatever way suited them. There was no judgement, no competition (other than those trying to get themselves a PB!), plenty of support, sharing of experiences and an amazing amount of kindness and love.
5K Your Way has seriously become the highlight of my month.