Through the archway into the courtyard and beyond toward the high viz clad smiley marshal. This is my first Park Run and I’m here on my own.
No one to run alongside or meet up with at the end no one to cheer me across the finish line. I scan through the crowd of runners to see if there is anyone I might know but no one looks familiar. The race marshall calls all new runners to the front for a brief, which is concise and welcoming, I drift towards the back of the entrants as the start is called up. And I start. very quickly I get into my stride and realise I am way quicker than those around me, I chase down the next group and settle into my pace again which matches my own.
Killerton is stunning parkland the trail is clear well marked and marshalled, everyone seems friendly, families running with children, people running with dogs and lots of smiles everywhere. I have settled down now and find myself overtaking and being overtaken by the same people depending on the surface and gradient of the course as it winds through the woods.
I hit the far end of the course and the turn towards the finish feeling quite good, everything was ok, running on farm track the harder surface making my knee twinge again, I slow my pace down to nurse it over the short section as I want to make it to the last section. We turn left towards a Yellow high viz marshal who directs us onto the stately home’s lush green grass which is to be the surface all the way to the finish about a kilometre and a half away. I had looked at the course map before and had made a mental decision about how I was going to run this, and so I stopped to one side and bending down, untied my shoes, removed them and stowed my socks away and broke into a run…..barefoot.
Oh, my, goodness. It felt … strange, a good strange. The grass was cool and springy underfoot and made me smile, I got a few laughs and whoops of encouragement, and I made a few quips about breaking my heels, but I didn’t care, as awkward as it was to run with my inov8’s in my hand it was such a great experience. I only wish I had gone through with my idea of running with my OMM bag so I could have thrown the shoes into that and really enjoyed the freedom.
I came 251st out of 295 runners, 22nd in my age category in a time of 35:51 which is, well, it is what it is, bottom line was I had fun and ran barefoot. The Nation Trust had also come in early to open the coffee shop, which added to the ambience afterwards as runners and families relaxed in the sunshine tucking into really big slices of cake. Must remember to take my wallet next time.