Sunday, 20 January 2013

Challenge 6: Parklife

Woke up early yesterday morning, wondering if the weather would allow me to complete my aim of running the 5K Wimpole Estate Parkrun for the first time. We'd had sprinklings of snow on friday, with more forecast for the weekend; I wasn't sure if I'd make it there.

I'm a huge fan of the whole concept of parkrun which organises free weekly 5 km timed runs in the UK and abroad that are open to everyone. It is an inclusive volunteer led initiative with runners who take turns in supporting the weekly runs through a variety of volunteering roles. Working with volunteers has been a huge part of my life on and off for most of the last 10-15 years, so I am thrilled by any community volunteering initiative!

Transplanted hearts are brilliant but don't work to the same capacity as healthy first edition hearts and whilst running is something that I love the idea of, for me it is incredibly hard work. This is because all the nerves to my "not so new now" heart were cut when I had the operation and whilst there is the possibility that there may have been some nerve re-growth, it takes a while for my heart to get going. This inevitably leads to a slow start and lots of huffing and puffing type behaviour, especially after short bursts of activity. 

Parkrunners are early birds and by 9am, 144 assorted runners gathered in front of the stable block, rubbing their hands to keep warm against the sub zero temperatures of the morning.  It was fabulous to see such an array of different runners in assorted lyrcra, glove and hat combos; those in their club vests, the tough ones with short sleeved tops; parents with their children; runners with their dogs; all doing their best to keep warm whilst waiting for the race to start.  This is the part of the race that I get to "hang" with other runners!

Fortunately for me the first part of the race was on the flat ground along to the old gate, so I could settle into a steady pace ready for the hills and get my heart beating a little faster before heading up onto the snowy parkland.  Those runners with the more conventional cardio-vascular set up disappeared into the distance within half a kilometre, waymarking my route through the snow. This is the hard bit; the bit where my heart hasn't really got going properly;  eveyone else is way off in front and I have to remind myself that I'm not racing anyone. 

If I was on my own at the back, then I'm not sure that I'd complete the course and in the past I've sometimes cut runs short because that day its just been too hard to keep going. But I wasn't on my own because parkruns have a tail runner and yesterdays tail runner was Steve, a friendly and encouraging companion, who only started running last November.  I used a combination of running, power-walking and plain old walking to get round the course and Steve didn't seem too bothered by the fact I was doubling his run time. We were joined after a while by a lady in wellies trialing the route in anticipation of running it properly next week; I hope she does.

At each of the waymarking points the volunteers were friendly and pleased to see us;  partly because that marked the point where they could stop standing around in a field at -1 and return to base for a warm drink! ;-) 

In the final part of the run there is a bit called the funnel where runners go through in single file and collect their running place ticket. The funnel is kind of unecessary by the time I get there as there isn't so much of a scrum for last place!  Mine said 143; at least I beat Steve!

Race times came through later in the day: 48mins and 48 seconds.

Thank you to all the volunteers who make parkrun possible and all those who were so friendly and encouraging on the day!
6 out of 20 challenges complete:

  1. Climbed my first mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned how to punt
  3. Learned how to hula hoop
  4. First road bike ride;
  5. Taken up tap dancing
  6. First 5K trail run at Wimpole Hall Parkrun


I'm doing this to help raise funds for these two fantastic charities:

Please make a donation to Papworth Hospital Charity at

Please make a donation to The Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association, at

None of this would be possible without the kindness of my donor's family and this challenge is part of acknowledging the significance of that gift.  Your support means the world to me! 

Click here to find out more about organ donation and join the register
#202heartchallenge #lifegiven @angie_ridley


  1. That's a lovely description of what parkrun is about. Thank you for writing it.


  2. I agree with Richard, lovely blog. Well done for completing your 6th challenge. It wasn't the easiest of days to choose to do it, but it was lovely. Will you be doing the Wimpole Estate parkrun regularly?

  3. Thanks very much for your kind comments Kris and Richard. I will certainly come and run at Wimpole Estate again as it is a place that I love, but it takes a lot out of me so not sure that I can manage it regularly.

    Your support is very much appreciated.


  4. What a winner, Angie. You are what parkrun is all about. Keep healthy and go for your 50 tee shirt.Fantastic blog.

  5. Thanks very much Stan; keeping healthy is my main aim.