On Oct 2nd 2004, Paul Sinton-Hewitt launched the idea of a 5k run in Bushy Park, near Hampton Court with a meeting time of 0900 am every Saturday. It was a free run but Paul said he would send you an email with your time. It was initially called the Bushy Park Time Trial (BPTT).
Entirely by chance, I was on one of those early runs. I had bought a pair of running shoes in Teddington at The Sweat Shop where they told me there was a run on the Saturday to try them out. I didn't even own a pair of running shorts at that time, so I turned up in tracksuit bottoms. As a result of that my parkrun number is A0190.
And today, as of April 2018, there have been over 2.9 million individual parkrunners. In those early days, Mo Farah lived nearby and turned up as did anyone who heeded Paul's ethos - it was not a race, it was about you and your most personal goals, a most inclusive community event for which the many volunteers have been core from beginning to end. It was all about getting out in the open air. Starting the weekend in a wonderful way. Forgetting about work.
Soon there were wild dad's, entrusted by their wives to look after the children on Saturday morning, pushing twins in buggies; dog-owners with yelping animals tugging at leashes, then there were amazing survivors of cancer, wounded service people, refugees with prosthetic limbs, children towing their rather creakier parents - and then there was Mary. Mary was middle-aged and slow. She walked round as best she could and took a very long time - but no one packed up until she came in - and her personal victory was celebrated by us all as much as anyone else's.
There are now 1400 events in 23 countries and, wonderfully, we now have one in our nearest town - Street - led by another group of selfless wonderful people. It started last year and if you have never heard of a parkrun let me tell you it is a most welcoming place.
If you want to participate and have your time recorded:
1. Obtain a unique number and barcode by going to the parkrun website and printing it off your computer. With that, you are all set.
2. Just turn up at Strode College football pitches in time for the 0900 am start!
3. Though do make sure you go through the funnel at the end, or you won't be getting a time.
These days you will usually find a number of Shapwick Runners either taking part or volunteering and you can be one of them.