Man’s best friend gets the boot at Eaton Park and there’s a wolf about.. or is there, wonders Milton Lindsay

Spring is in the air and a middle-aged (56-year-old) man’s thoughts turn to…remembering to put the clock forward, making sure the cricket kit is in order, cutting the lawn, listening out for the first cuckoo….

In fact almost anything but CHRISTMAS!

Yet bizarrely that is what was on my mind at Norwich Parkrun recently.

For while making my way home on the final lap, I was overtaken by that customary wolf in sheep’s clothing – the man running while pushing a young child in a pushchair.

And for some strange reason, the runner and his exuberant son, were singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as they slipstreamed me before sliding past in textbook fashion.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t aimed at me in particular – more a random outburst of premature festive frivolity, to pass the time away and alleviate boredom perhaps.

Nothing wrong with that, it’s a free country after all.

Although such cheery sentiments didn’t make me go any quicker, they certainly brought a smile to my face and made the last lap seem shorter than it would have been otherwise.

It underlined once again what a unique and colourful event the Norwich Parkrun is, attracting runners young and old, of all abilities, shapes and sizes, including those with four legs.

Since the start of the event in 2010 dogs have been a welcome part of the proceedings.

But from early April man’s best friend will no longer be allowed to take part at this particular event, which uses a tight pathway circuit at Eaton Park.

The decision was taken on safety grounds as the event, which attracted turnouts of around 100 in the early days, now regularly pulls in 500-plus.

The dogs have become simply become victims of the race’s success. While I will be sorry to see the dogs go and I feel for their owners, many of whom have have been running with their pets on leads for many years, I tend to feel this is the correct decision.

When the news was announced to runners by the race director, there was a collective sigh of sadness but I feel the majority backed the ruling.

I would add that I have never had a problem with any of the dogs, being much more likely to trip over my own feet. If anything the dogs are much more likely to trip over me!

Dogs are still permitted at Catton and Mulbarton Parkruns , so who knows maybe we will meet again if I decide to opt for a change of scenery.

As for my own form, after reaching the 20-run milestone before Christmas my efforts were stalled by flu and a back injury. Walking not running was the limit of my ambitions.

But on my eagerly-awaited comeback last week, I crept in under the 30-minute mark and improved by another 16 seconds this week.

It was like being back to square one as when I began Parkrunning last June I only just broke the half-hour barrier.

But I am determined, injury permitting, to improve on my personal best of 27 min 40 sec. 

Who knows? I might even get there by Christmas. Perhaps that lad in the pushchair and his dad know something I don’t.

 

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