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Pitsea RC – The big Bushy parkrun pilgrimage

Our pilgrimage to the home of parkrun started some months ago.

For those of us with young daughters or granddaughters, you will undoubtably have sat and watched Tangled at some point, and much like the scene in the Snuggly Duckling tavern with the ogres who sing, “I have a dream”, our very own Michael Gould had one such dream where he said he would like to go to Bushy parkrun and see how our regular 9am Saturday run came to be.

It’s been a tough few years and some people are still finding their way back to normality, but he knew the one thing that united us all at the club was our love and passion for running and with that in mind he shared his vision with the committee and before he knew it his idea was put out to the club members.

It didn’t take long and over 50 members of the black and white army had said they wanted to join him! Not long after, a coach was booked and all of the runners were greeted with the awful news that the coach will be picking them up at 6:15am!

Undeterred by the early start, in the weeks that followed the excitement grew as everyone eagerly waited for that Saturday morning when Pitsea RC would be whisked off to Bushy. Thankfully everyone had set their alarms correctly and arrived at the pick up points ready to be met by our friendly driver, Frank.

The drive down from Essex was livened up with a quiz from our resident covid lockdown quiz master, Steve Mac. Through lockdown he kept our grey matter alive with his regular Zoom quizzes and for one final time he entertained us on our journey.

We arrived in good time at Bushy park, which was great news because as I’m sure all regular runners know, this is when the real panic starts to set in. Not run nerves, or wondering what the course is like, but the hysteria of “where is the toilet!?”

Once we’d sorted ourselves out, and we’d each taken more than one selfie of the same park with the same tree (why do we do this!?), we managed to form a chaotic line and got a picture of us altogether

Photo session over and we headed to the start area, listened to the run briefings and then waited patiently for the start. A quick scan of the start area and we soon realised just how many people have embraced the parkrun movement. It was quite a spectacle, people of all abilities, all ages, brought together through running. Who’d have thought from such humble beginnings back in October 2004, that same park would now see a 1000 or more people a week turning up every Saturday morning for a 5k run!?

The horn sounded and after the weeks and months of waiting, we were off! In a cloud of dust the faster runners disappeared off into the distance and everyone else followed suit, albeit at a much gentler pace.

Over the next hour, one by one, we each passed the 60+ fantastic volunteers who gave up a small part of their day and made it possible for us all to cross the finish line and get handed our finish tokens. Every now and then a finisher was handed a piece of laminated paper with a cake printed on it. I was reliably informed after that this wasn’t a spot prize for a muffin!

Sadly, having all scanned our barcodes and finish tokens it now meant our spot of parkrun tourism was over, but as with most parkruns this simply means we start a new journey and head to the nearest café to polish off a well-earned tea or coffee and maybe a pastry or bacon roll and talk about our next parkrun!

Pitsea Running Club would like to thank each and every volunteer who made our trip to Bushy a truly memorable experience and one that we will all cherish for a long time to come.

Mike Woodward

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