Hello, my friends. I’m writing this during week six (I think) of lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. How are you doing?
(**pauses to listen to answer**)
How am I? Thanks for asking. Well, apart from having imaginary conversations with my blog readers, I’m safe and well, thanks, but somewhat emotionally turbulent. I read this fluctuation described yesterday as “riding the coronacoaster” and think that’s particularly apt. Today is a good day, though.
But don’t worry. This isn’t going to be yet another blog on how to cope with the pandemic. It’s actually about income generation in response to crisis. But one of the reasons for my emotional ups and downs is at the heart of it, which is why I began there.
You see, anybody who knows me – or has read a portion of my writing and social media “output” – will know how important parkrun is to me. I’ve written about it here (“Part of who I am!”), here (“This is one of my taps!”) and here (Running, volunteering, and my sense of place), for example.
For me, parkrun has been a particular source of joy. It’s been great for my physical as well as mental health, it has given this hyper-social extrovert (“hello!”) a weekly social fix, and it’s helped me to feel rooted in my community (St Albans parkrun).
But of course, like practically everything else, parkrun events stopped at the end of March. On most Saturdays, I’ll know 100+ people if I go to my local parkrun. In the last six weeks, I can count the number of people I know who I’ve spoken to in real life, face to face, on one hand.
What to do? How to replace it?
On the first cancelled Saturday, I decided to try and run the parkrun distance in my back garden, wearing my apricot St Albans parkrun top …
Dear reader, I managed to complete the distance, but… lost count of laps in the seventies about the time I started to feel dizzy, and my knees complained for days.
So, I realised I’d need a bigger area to run around next time. Ever conscious of social distancing and the narrowness of the payments where I live, I ‘discovered’ a little field practically opposite my house, no bigger than a kids football pitch.
I started running round and round that instead, and my own lockdown parkrun was born.
But I clearly wasn’t the only one missing my parkrun and recreating it in lockdown. The parkrun team spotted a trend and responded.
We’ve seen parkrunners creating new “home” parkruns 🏡— parkrun UK (@parkrunUK) April 24, 2020
So we gave our apricot tees a little makeover 🎨
You can now customise with your text of choice 📝
We’ve also added a special patch on the sleeve 🧡
Available via @ProD_Running
🌳 #loveparkrun pic.twitter.com/gDYTKtGmkT
What a brilliant idea to invite parkrunners to personalise their own tops! I was of course straight in there, and ordered my “Lockdown Laps parkrun” top.
Delighted with my personalised Apricot Lockdown Laps @parkrunUK T-shirt for while I’m unable to run @stalbansparkrun and other events.— Richard Sved (@richardsved) April 20, 2020
We’ll get through this together.#loveparkrun pic.twitter.com/Naz6ayZZHe
So, why do I think this is particularly pertinent for charities and their fundraising?
They listened to their audience and understood their needs – the parkrun team are particularly rooted in their community, listen carefully to and communicate well with their audience. They know very well how important a part it plays in so many people’s lives. So it’s not a surprise that they spotted the trend of people creating their own “home” parkruns.
How well are you listening to your supporters? Do you know what they need? How can you respond to that?
They acted quickly – I don’t know about you, but I tired of the word “pivot” almost immediately, when used to describe how charities are having to adapt quickly to survive. But parkrun made these tops available remarkably swiftly, by early April.
What “handbrake turns” can you do? What is working already that you can act quickly on?
They understand the part they play in their community – it’s about more than physical, or even mental health, this. One of the key aspects of parkrun is that it is a community event. And while the physical events have halted, the community remains. They understood that people want to demonstrate their allegiance in these times. It’s part of who they are. And nothing says this better than the special “We’ll get through this together” motif on the sleeve of the top.
What do you have that demonstrates allegiance to your community? How can you embrace your group of supporters and let them know how important they are?
And the tops have clearly been a huge seller, if social media is anything to go by, generating much needed income for parkrun in these difficult times.
I’ve loved trawling the internet for examples of other parkrunners’ personalised tops, and have included about a dozen of them below, for your enjoyment. There’s humour, poignancy, and love in these names. Every one of them is deeply personal.
That’s it from me for now. I’m just about to get back on the Coronacoaster, but am at least reassured a little bit that I’ll be able to do another Lockdown Laps parkrun this weekend.
Take care of yourselves in the highs and the lows.
“At the inaugural Emma’s back garden parkrun, a PB was achieved by both parkrunners, Emma & Mark.— parkrun 🌳 (@parkrun) April 28, 2020
The course took in scenery such as Hydrangea Corner, Washing Line Bend and The Birdtable Straight.
Charlie the cat remained asleep throughout!”
💬 Emma McCarthy
🌳 #loveparkrun pic.twitter.com/Of7xfKHXPb
My very own personalised @parkrunUK T-shirt has arrived! We can still support everything Parkrun stands for and cheer each other on virtually – I know I work my ass off from my doorstep at 9am every Saturday morning! 🤗🏃♀️☀️#loveparkrun #parkrun #parkrunuk pic.twitter.com/ag3z1aGvEk— Rachel Ann Cullen (@writtenbyrach) April 25, 2020
When the scars have faded I’ll have my t-shirt to remind me of the short but perilous trail section round the back of the conservatory. Thankfully the lawn was ahead for a soft landing @parkrunUK #loveparkrun #hatebrambles pic.twitter.com/Fgehx0F0w4— Liz Chantler (@lizc72) April 20, 2020
I customised a @parkrunUK tee to support my favourite community and to spread some positivity. Used my favourite quote of lockdown so far, thanks Queenie 👑 #ukrunchat #loveparkrun pic.twitter.com/IIPuvBghNb— Dr Pond 🇪🇺🐝🦀🦆🌹🦋 (@MissPond) April 24, 2020
Took my new @parkrunUK t- shirt for a non- parkrun on a Sunday #cunning @NickPearsonRuns @WithMeNowPod @freeweeklytimed @tomwilliams1974 Love the shirt and being able to support parkrun at this time – fab idea! #loveparkrun pic.twitter.com/7leWJo49Sb— Gabriele Neher (@GabrieleNeher) April 19, 2020
Managed a wee course PB in our Free Weekly Timed 5k today 😁 Tailwind for the second half made life a bit easier 🙌🏻 Pleased to give the new tshirt a good debut! Not quite the same as our usual parkrun fix but it does the job 👍🏻 #LoveParkrun #NotParkrunDay #BuggyRunning 🧡 pic.twitter.com/G6ZsG7j39I— Jennifer Wetton (@jwetton28) April 18, 2020
And breathe in for the photo! Got my @parkrunUK apricot tee this morning.— Danny Norman (@normal_danny) April 23, 2020
Some may say the bespoke part breaks trading standards, I say it does what it says on the tin.
Love it. pic.twitter.com/gigBq4827l
💛 Episode 95 – ‘Desiderata’ is now available! 📜— With Me Now (@WithMeNowPod) April 29, 2020
In this week’s episode we have all sorts including HQ chats and the present mindset of all our things. 🤗
Pic (Christine Imbert): ‘it is still a beautiful world’ – one of the final lines from Desiderata. 🧡🌍 pic.twitter.com/B2w0pZX0IC