IT entices thousands of Scots out of their beds every Saturday morning, so it must have something going for it. And it’s not James Martin or Matt Tebbutt on telly, showing you how to whip up a mean lemon posset.

I'm talking, of course, of Parkrun – that weekly 5k walk, jog or run that someone you know bangs on about relentlessly.

The 14th of August is a special day for Scotland’s thousands of parkrunners. Three weeks after it returned in England, the Saturday morning 5k is set to resume in Scotland too – if all goes according to plan.

I for one canny wait.

So what do I love about it? Why do parkrunners have such a devotional following to a weekly masochistic slog? Why do we leap out of bed of a Saturday morning to worship at the feet of the Parkrun gods (granted, it’s more of a groan, alarm clock whack and graceless roll-thud, but let’s go with the leap)?

The main thing for me, is the inclusive culture. Runners and walkers of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities are welcome. There are runners who wouldn’t have the confidence to go out on their own, runners who have an array of health issues, runners who are trying to tackle obesity and get themselves into shape.

There are parents pushing buggies, dogs on leads, blind runners with guide runners, wheelchair users and clusters of friends cheerfully chat-walk-running their way round. There are kids running alongside Mum or Dad, and nonagenarians. It’s not just for the racerback-vested club runners – there’s no shame in walking – and it’s free and accessible to anyone, regardless of means.

In short, there’s nothing else like it – no other regular sporting or social event that unites young and old, fit and wanting-to-get-fit, able-bodied and disabled that is quite so widespread and popular.

Everyone cheers and claps as you finish. Friendly banter abounds. It’s one of the most consistently feel-good events of the week – even if it’s chucking it down with rain – and couldn’t we all use something feel-good as we emerge from lockdowns and restrictions?

It’s played its part in marriages, babies, people overcoming depression and long-term illness, those getting back into exercise after giving birth or after cancer, and participants using it as bereavement therapy or to help overcome alcohol dependency. There are even a handful of prison Parkruns.

The average time gets slower as Parkrun matures – a sign not that folk are getting less fit by running, but that the event is attracting the folk who most need the exercise.

And it saves the NHS “a fortune”, according to Southport GP Dr Simon Tobin, who prescribes Parkrun to patients with a raft of chronic illnesses and says he’s seen it turn lives around. “It’s the best and the cheapest medicine there is.” A 2018 Glasgow Caledonian University study found parkrunners report as happier than the general population and believe Parkrun has boosted their mental health.

You register, get a barcode and your time is logged. It’s non-competitive, though you can of course race if you wish. And you gradually get to know the other faces at the starting line, and those whose pace is similar to your own – one week you’ll sail past the bald bloke with the braided beard and the Iron Maiden T-shirt; another week he’ll sail past you, and you’ll holler at him to go for it. Another week you might cheer on from the sidelines as a marshal (many parkrunners volunteer every so often).

Hats off to the volunteers – smiling faces, encouraging you, every week. When I run on my own, laziness or a particularly good passage of audiobook can win over. When I do the Parkrun, I’m more likely to keep going – though there’s no shame in stopping for a breather.

I’m no speed merchant, but I’m loyal and keen – the hallmark of parkrunners everywhere. You’re home by 10.30 on a Saturday morning having run a 5k, smugly feeling you’ve earned your lunch, your tea and your first pint.

Now I see distances as multiples of Parkruns. I used to think 5k was quite far. It still is, but I’ve come to realise, being a bear of little brain, that 10k is only two Parkruns – and therefore manageable. And 15k is only three Parkruns (told you I was a bear of little brain).

Of Scotland’s 59 Parkruns, Edinburgh is the busiest, and also one of the fastest and flattest, along with Strathclyde, Troon, Greenock and Aberdeen. At the other end of the spectrum, Drumchapel possibly trumps Queen’s, Tollcross, Camperdown and Crathes Castle, all vying for kudos as the toughest – each convinced theirs is the chieftain of the monster Parkrun.

And surely Pollok – Scotland’s oldest Parkrun, due to become a teenager in December this year – deserves a special mention as the place to thank for our starting time of 9.30am compared to 9am in England and 8am in Australia (spare a thought for the poor folk of Cairns who do theirs at 7am to avoid the blistering heat). Rumours abound that our later start was to coincide with the opening hours of the café. Tremendous. (Nothing to do with national appreciation of a Saturday lie-in or making it viable during the dark depths of winter.)

The good folks at Parkrun HQ deserve a sainthood (the founder has already been awarded a CBE, once word reached Lizzie’s palacio that this whole running round a park malarkey was catching on) – and an ovation for the army of volunteers.

It’s the people, said one veteran parkrunner, speaking for the rest of us. Exactly. It is. All the people, so many people.

From Shetland to Stranraer, it’s two weeks and two days for parkrunners old and new to dust down the trainers, stretch those hamstrings and roll up, barcodes at the ready.

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