I’m really disappointed to read that an absolute minority of runners at Portobello Parkrun have engaged in anti-social behaviour. It’s easy to joke about people peeing in public, but it is disgusting and rightly an offence.
For those that don’t know, Parkrun is a completely free 5km (3.2 miles) run held in parks across the UK every Saturday, and often also Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. These are inclusive events which welcome elite runners alongside couch potatoes, children and people with disabilities. Recent weeks saw everything at Parkrun from an octogenarian completing her 250th run to the total distance now covered by all runners exceeding 149,597,870 kilometres.
Edinburgh is blessed with two Parkruns (Portobello and Cramond), plus a third nearby at Vogrie Country Park. On a typical Saturday morning well over 1,000 people will complete these courses. That’s 1,000 children and adults taking part in a community organised event where all that’s needed to take part is a pair of trainers.
I have now completed 152 runs, 141 of them at Cramond where I also try to volunteer once per month. Parkrun has helped me hugely – after I had my cardiac pacemaker fitted in December 2015 it was a key part of how I recovered my health and confidence. Others use it to lose weight, spend time with friends or simply build up their fitness.
The people taking part in Portobello Parkrun are no different. Each of the 5 times I have completed that Parkrun with my son I have been amazed by the range of people taking part. Alongside grannies there are elite runners. Alongside people running with their dogs there are mums running with the babies in buggies. This diversity is what makes Parkrun so special.
The pride I have in being a Parkrunner is why I am so angry with those that undermine what it stands for with their behaviour. Before every single Parkrun we are reminded that we must respect other park users and the local community. Portobello Parkrun specifically tells runners to “use the toilet before you leave home in the morning” and makes them aware that public toilets are nearby.
I don’t speak for Parkrun, but I’m sure I speak for all Parkrunners when I say that people that disrespect Parkrun, park users or the local community are simply not welcome at Parkrun.