There's no stopping parkrun David as he hits his 300th milestone

A SEPTUAGENARIAN who once struggled to run half a mile is set to complete his 300th parkrun this weekend. The milestone for David Ford will mean he is the first person in Colchester to complete the feat, which involves running 5kms - just over three miles - against the clock. And joining David, who lives in Langham, will be eldest son Paul, 42, who will be undertaking his 250th parkrun on the same day.

It will be a mere 200 runs on the Castle Park course for Paul compared to David's 221 there but still cause for a family celebration. The Ford family's enthusiasm for parkruns, free weekly runs around the world, has even seen them jet off to Jersey for a day to complete the event. David, 71, said: "My first parkrun was on the 6th April 2013.

I was just stopping playing badminton and tennis and a few of us went out weekly for a little run at the gym. The first time I ran half a mile and that was it. "I read about parkrun and had never heard of it before.

"I looked it up and the Colchester Castle[1] Park one was starting up the next Saturday. "I had no running gear or anything - I went running in my old shell suit. "I was totally exhausted and I think the time was about 28 minutes.

For the next few weeks I think it was a Personal Best every time." David was hooked and took part in the first ten at Colchester Castle Park, having to miss the eleventh because he was on holiday. At that time there was a 'parkrunner of the month' award - a pair of trainers - of which David was the first recipient having completed the first ten consecutively.

In all, David, who is married to Lesley, has completed parkruns at 37 different locations. "That's nothing. Some people have done 200," he said.

"Sometimes I have been on holiday and made a point of going to the local parkrun but the week before last I went to Thetford because we haven't done that one. It is just nice to go somewhere different." David was joined at Thetford by younger son Simon, also a keen runner for Colchester Harriers.

The family's even managed to get Lesley on board with her debuting at David's favourite parkrun venue at Clare Castle, Suffolk, a fortnight ago. The Jersey excursion last year included David's two grandchildren. "They have never been on a plane.

Some of the core team at Castle Park had said how good it was so all the family went. We caught the 7'o'clock flight from Southend and we were back by half past five and had a lovely day out." As for this weekend, while David admits it will be "competitive" between Paul, from Kelvedon, and himself, they will relish the achievement.

Parkrunners earn t-shirts for reaching milestone runs of 50, 100, 250 and 500 - but not 300. David's had to complete 300 in under six years - so he's had a running top customised to let everyone know. He heaped praise on the benefits of parkrun and especially its volunteers and race directors who make it happen each Saturday at 9am.

"It is easy, you don't have to enter beforehand.

You just turn up on the day, it is free.

You just get there and there is no hanging about."

References

  1. ^ Colchester Castle (www.halsteadgazette.co.uk)

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