Chalkwell Beach parkrun

If I were still writing my work blog, I would have given you an insightful piece about the thrills of working for the ambulance service during a pandemic, how the reaction of the public, press and government is doing far more damage than the disease itself, how at least twenty people who have no relevant symptoms or risk factors have blamed me for their supposedly impending deaths in the space of one shift, and how nice it would be if people took their health and their responsibility to protect the vulnerable even half as seriously the rest of the time then this world would be a better place.  Sadly we live in a world where people shovel junk food, smoke, drink, sit on their arses, vote Tory, shower once a week, neglect their own mental health, destroy that of others, completely deny their own mortality and think they will never get ill, let alone die, and respond to the threat of an infectious disease by buying a months’ worth of toilet roll and berating people on Facebook for daring to go outside and carry on living their lives.

But I am not writing my work blog any more so instead I will tell you about the lovely trip I had to the seaside with my friends from ViewTube.  Well, I say lovely but actually the weather was a little bit on the trying side and I think this escapade could be repeated during the summer months with greater success.  To be perfectly honest, when I heard a new parkrun was opening in Chalkwell, I just couldn’t wait that long.  This is the most excited I’ve been about a new parkrun since I started parkrun.  Chalkwell is situated between Southend and Leigh-on-Sea, the home towns of my ancestors, and the parkrun course is a simple out-and-back along the seafront promenade they must have walked along over a hundred years ago, starting near Chalkwell station and turning around just before Southend Pier.  The weather today was unpleasant grey drizzle and a gusty wind, although not quite as bad as it was for the Southend 10k.  I get the impression that stretch is almost always windy.

The run couldn’t have been more different to my last parkrun at Stratford Park; there was no mud, no hills (not even a ramp – this could be a contender for “flattest parkrun”) and no trees to collide with.  I enjoyed it very much and can’t wait to go back and enjoy it in the sunshine.  My time was 35:38 which wasn’t bad at all considering the wind and my lack of training recently (also, for the first time in ages it perfectly matched my watch – well done volunteers! I know how easy it is for the timing to get messed up…)  My ankle feels a lot more attached to my leg now.  It’s still sore, but knowing it isn’t about to snap has given me the courage to start training properly again, keeping mileage low and concentrating on weights and core work.   My subscription to “Les Mills on Demand” is getting good use.

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Sadly it may be my last parkrun for a while, because there has been a spate of event cancellations and it seems inevitable parkrun will have joined them by next week.  The football was the first to fall (man next to me at the game last week: “Surely we don’t get a big enough crowd to be a danger?  On the other hand, all our fans are elderly…”) and this was quickly followed by the London, Manchester and Brighton marathons, the Triathlon Show and a genealogy show I was going to (genealogists: “I hope I get to self isolate, that means more time to work on my tree).  The final straw was hearing that Slimelight had decided not to open its doors tonight.  In the twenty-seven years since my first visit to this establishment, it has just plodded on regardless, with no regard to whether anyone is actually there or whether the building is a health hazard about to crumble to dust.   This, to my knowledge, is the only reason it has ever had an unplanned closure.  Do I think this is necessary?  I don’t know, I’m not an expert in contagious diseases.  What I do know is that I haven’t seen much first hand evidence that it is, and that everyone seems very keen to be seen to be doing something and taking no chances because they don’t want to be held accountable for anything bad happening.  It’s here I refer back to my earlier point, if only we could be moderately sensible and look after ourselves and each other all of the time, then perhaps the world wouldn’t come to a screeching halt when a new disease starts to do the rounds.

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