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Not Pints & Parkruns: Durham City Junior

A variation on a theme

By Andy PottsPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Pre-run briefing at Durham City Junior Parkrun

There’s nothing more reckless than a parental promise. Daughter has been getting ever more curious about Daddy’s parkrun trips and had a go at a few junior parkruns last year. Then winter came, it got cold and dark, putting the idea safely on the back burner.

Until this week. A combination of pester power and a better than average weather forecast secured a concession: “Yes, of course we can go for a run again. But you’ll have to get up early.”

I can't pretend I was thrilled, initially, to encounter a solo Kubrik tribute early on a Sunday morning

Job done. Early and Sundays don’t really happen in our house. So it was a bit of a shock to be woken at 8 o’clock by daughter, fully dressed in running kit, slipping stealthily into the bedroom with the kind of creepily insistent presence that could get her a role as one of the creepy sisters from The Shining. After all that effort on her part, it seemed unfair not to drag myself out of bed and take her to Durham City Junior Parkrun.

Although it shares the same finishing straight, this has a different vibe from the “grown-up” version on a Saturday. Some runners are seriously keen (and seriously fast – the first finisher on a 2k course was round in 7:30, more than a good effort for a u14 runner). Others are more reluctant, especially when confronting the reality of 2,000 whole metres for perhaps the first time. Parental patience levels vary, but almost all of us were having to find ways of explaining the value of resilience and the importance of “zero quit”, often lying through our teeth as we daydreamed about stopping for coffee.

Crucially, though, there was great encouragement from the volunteers around the course. The faster runners and their families also stuck around to cheer the younger ones over the finish line. Daughter finished towards the back of a field of 62 young athletes, slowed by her tendency to sprint at full pelt then stop and recover. So we worked on interval training, hare and tortoise. Down the home straight, with regularly spaced benches looking over the river, we decided to run the gap between two benches, then walk the gap between the next two. As the finish approached, the call changed. “Cheetah!” was the cry, looking for a sprint finish.

And that’s how we made it round. Not our fastest time, not our longest unbroken stretch of running. But possibly some of our quicker sprints in the middle of it all. And, after completing the course, we could agree that progress is progress and we accomplished more than we would have managed staying at home.

This felt like the first time daughter identified something she wanted to do, then took her own steps to make sure that it happened. The promise of a wristband after completing 11 runs has her motivated for more and I’m hopeful that we’ll see her achieve that ambition in a couple of months. Teaching my little girl that she can set goals and reach them through her own initiative is worth sacrificing a Sunday morning lie-in, don’t you think?

The Pint Pancake

For fairly obvious reasons, running with a seven-year-old won’t end up in the pub. But a Sunday breakfast is always a winner. Leonard’s Coffee House, down in Fowler’s Yard, isn’t the closest spot to the parkrun finish. But with freshly made pancakes – big, fat fluffy affairs – and a proper breakfast stottie for dad with thick-cut rashers of bacon and well-seasoned sausage, it’s always a winner. And getting there by 10 on a Sunday morning puts you ahead of the rush and usually guarantees a table right away.

Post-run pancakes

First visit: Sep. 2023; PB: 14:03, Oct. 2023

Thanks for reading. There’s more traditional Pints & Parkrun content (ie, content that includes refreshments for 18+ readers!) on my website. If you liked the write-up, please considering following my work here on Vocal (creating an account is entirely free and doesn’t oblige you to write anything of your own) or sharing with others.


About the Creator

Andy Potts

Community focused sports fan from Northeast England. Tends to root for the little guy. Look out for Talking Northeast, my new project coming soon.

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Comments (2)

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  • Rachel Deeming19 days ago

    Those pancakes - I might consider running for those...

  • Brilliant story… as always! First finisher was ONLY twice as fast as me, when I have two working feet and can run (which I still can’t at moment). Excellent effort from your daughter ✅🤩… what’s wrong with hare and tortoise style of running? It’s stood me in good stead 🤣 She’ll be nipping at your heels soon! Glad she got a yummy reward!

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