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Meet the Member – Ian Watson completes 50 parkruns

A couple of weeks ago Ian Watson reached a parkrun milestone and completed his 50th. He’ll soon be the owner of a red T shirt and in the meantime we’ll find out more about him and his running…

Q) For members who don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself? 

A) I am Scottish but having lived in the area since 1984 have totally lost my accent (😂😂). I’m married to Nicki and we’ve now shown mutual tolerance for 30yrs. She is English so we have two culturally confused children in their 20s, Callum who’s an osteopath and Beanie who is in marketing. After 29 years of thoughtful consideration since Nicki first said she wanted one, I relented and we got a dog (big decisions mustn’t be rushed). I worked for Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft and have been sort-of-retired (long story) for four years.  

Apart from running, I also play golf and have now taken up orienteering which I love, but doesn’t seem to love me back. I went in for British National Champs in September and after the first event (ignoring the DNFs, the DSQs and anyone who is still out there wondering where the hell they are on the map), I was, according to the National ranking points, the Worst Orienteer in Britain. So if I lead a run, be very, very afraid. I can, however, unerringly find my way to places selling Häagen-Dazs, shortbread or Toblerone.

Q) How and when did you get into running? 

A) My wife was cajoled by our daughter into doing a Race For Life. Against her expectation, she enjoyed it and after joining SJ, got me to join too. This was about 8 yrs ago. Before, I had never considered running as a real sport as it didn’t involve a ball. I enjoyed the Tuesday runs, then Rob & Ann Hewison persuaded us to also try the XC events and that was when I found, even though I enjoy running anywhere, any distance, any weather, that off-road is my preference. 

Q) What do you enjoy most about being a member of Sandhurst Joggers?

A) It’s opened up new possibilities, whether that’s finding huge amounts of countryside you’d never see from a car, taking part in national events like the English XC Champs where you can line up shoulder to shoulder with elite athletes facing the same challenge, eating cake guilt-free (if you’re a runner, it’s not “eating junk food”, it’s “vital carb loading”) or having the privilege of marshalling at the finish line at the London Marathon.  Above all though, it’s the sociability, being able to share all this with 400 other like-minded people knowing they’re not thinking “Oh no, is this him talking all about running AGAIN?” 

Q) On which of the weekly runs are we most likely to bump into you? 

A) Sunday LookOut runs in Swinley Forest and on the Barossa heathland. Unless there’s another running event I’m doing or we’re away, it’s a solid fixture. Love being off-road and then taking time for a coffee and chat after (even though we’ve already been chatting for an hour and a half by then). Through the winter it has the bonus of being the only daylight club run. A crisp sunny morning looking at the 360 degree views from Saddleback Hill is hard to beat. 

Q) You’ve ran 34 of your parkruns at Bracknell, tell us what you like about that event?

A) It’s a good mix of open grass and woodland trail which I like. It’s run over 2.5 pretty flat laps but apart from the start, not very congested unless you’re caring about every second of your time. To be frank though, I go there because it’s the most accessible parkrun for me and as I’m unable to drive, that matters. I can cycle to it easily or if I want the miles, run. 

Q) Of the 4 other parkruns you’ve run, which was your favourite and why?

A) Bushy Park was special. There was a good SJ turnout for what is a pilgrimage to where parkrun started. The course is wide, one lap and with only a few turns so despite a massive field of runners, its is a fast one and was even more so with the hard ground of the summer when we were there. All this and plenty of pacers meant it was time to really give it everything and I got a PB which I can’t (yet?) see me beating. 

Q) What other events are on your programme for 2018 and 2019?

A) The inter-club cross-country events resume in the New Year so I’ll do those. I’ve a place for the London Marathon in April via the marshals’ ballot and that obviously means proper training to be able to enjoy that. Then I’m all booked up for what are probably my three favourite events – the Grizzly, the Green Belt Relay and Endure24. All involve extended time socialising with SJs and other runners which is a big part of the enjoyment.  I may do the Farnham Pilgrim again in the Autumn, ignoring what my time is and take some moments to take in the countryside views and the very frequent… errr…. carb-loading stops. 

Ian ran his first Parkrun on 27th October 2012 at Frimley Lodge, here’s some more achievements for the statos taken from the ‘Parkrun Challenges’ Chrome Extension:-

50 x Parkruns in Total

34 of those at Bracknell

6 x Personal Bests (fastest ever is 21:40 set at Bushy Park in July 2018 )

5 x Different venues

Bushy Park Pilgrimage completed on 21st July 2018

Most parkruns in a single year is 18 in 2018

32/60 scored in Stopwatch Bingo

2 x Christmas Day parkruns completed in 2015 and 2016

Ian has completed the All Weather Runner (complete at least one parkrun in each month of the year) once and his most active month is December.

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