PASSING THE LOVE DOWN
by Michelle Carnegie
07 September 2017
There is nothing more wonderful than the love and guidance a grandparent can give his or her grandchild (Eward Fays).
These wise words precisely describe the parkrun journey of a UK granddad and his grandson, whose special bond has - through running - grown stronger each passing year.
At the tender age of 7 Oscar Lecore ran his very first parkrun alongside his proud granddad, George Nicholson. The two of them finished the 5km run in a very respectable time of 31.55. Fast forward 7 years, and George is still running, but this time without his former “running buddy”, who now has progressed from a teeny tiny tot to a young teenager blitzing around a parkrun course in under 20 minutes.
George, an avid 69-year-old runner from Durham in the UK, sometimes still does a double take when seeing photos of Oscar as a tiny tot in a red T-shirt dashing alongside him at their very first parkrun on 17 July 2010 in Sunderland, England. Seven years on and another picture taken on 29 July 2017 at the Hazlehead parkrun shows Oscar as an athletic teenager racing along and clearly loving the sport of running!
George could not have been prouder when Oscar recently set a PB of 19:49 at a parkrun, finishing 3rd overall, and in the process bagging 29 completed parkruns. Not bad for a 14-year-old teenager! But with a grandfather like George, who has done over 272 parkruns, and who has run continuously for over 60 years, Oscar was bound to run.
George is thrilled to see Oscar's younger brother, Jasper also follow in the family tradition. "He too did his first parkrun with me at the age of 5. He is 12 years old now and has a PB of 24:08. I am so privileged to be able to encourage all of my grandchildren to enjoy running and sport, and to watch them develop and mature."
George remembers their first parkrun together as if it happened yesterday. He fondly recalls the cheering, clapping and encouragement from all the other runners and marshals given to Oscar, especially at the finish. “I was as proud as punch!” To George it was obvious that Oscar was destined to be a good runner; a week later he finished his second parkrun 3 minutes quicker in a time of 28:40. Within a year he was close to breaking the 23 minute- mark and his Age Grading was well over the 70% mark. By the time Oscar was 8 years old George realised he could not keep up with his speedy grandson. “I loved it,” says George, who lovingly encouraged and guided Oscar right through his running journey.
“It was my granddad that really started me off at running and motivated me to run more. I only did parkruns while staying at my grandparent’s house, as parkruns hadn’t started near where I live in Aberdeen, Scotland. Every time I visited my grandparent’s house, I would want to do a parkrun. Also, as parkrun wasn’t as big as it is now, my granddad knew quite a few people there and they would always cheer us on at the end.”
Oscar’s love for parkrunning grew and his aim was to complete 10 parkruns in order to get a T-shirt. “I was also motivated to beat my PB each time I ran. I always wanted to go better,” says Oscar, who is a pupil at Albyn School in Aberdeen. He runs competitively for his school and participates in a lot of local and cross-country races. “Once a year, since the age of 9, I have run the Scottish schools cross-country championships which is a big Scottish cross- country race.” Oscar is hoping to reach the goal of 50 and 100 parkruns.
Oscar clearly gets his running genes from George, who himself started his running career at the age of 7. He has since run continually for over 60 years. “In June 1981 (at the age of 32) I completed the first Great North Run (now the largest half marathon in the world). Since then I have been lucky enough to have completed every single one and number 37 is this weekend.”
George is a regular parkrunner and since 2007 he has completed 272 parkruns. He is aiming to run at least 500. “From the beginning I loved the concept of parkrun. Runners of all ages and abilities are made to feel welcome, to take part in a healthy activity, and to encourage others to do the same. Runners also contribute to the success of these events by doing their fair share of volunteering whilst at the same time forming friendships. It is basically about building a good community spirit.”
Even though George is a remarkable sportsman himself, he is more proud of Oscar’s progression and achievements. “I am very, very proud indeed, even more proud of him with the way he has matured and progressed, not only in his ability to run faster and faster but in the way he is now encouraging and inspiring others.” When George looks at Oscar running he feels absolute joy. “He is such a graceful runner and has the ability to run at great speed and stay relaxed, thus making it look effortless.”
George believes running teaches youngsters self-discipline, the determination to ‘keep on going’ and the ability to enjoy exercise whether they set out to win or just to take part.
Granddad and grandson unfortunately don’t see each other as often as they would like to because of the 300mile distance between their respective homes. But when they do meet up, they are sure to join their local parkrun. “I am really happy to run with my granddad as he was the one who got me into it. He and my parents have motivated me a lot,” says Oscar.
George is hoping that parkrun has taught Oscar about:
· How to get the most out of running, and how to give it your best and continually strive to improve
· How to be competitive and try to be a winner, but learning how to ‘lose’ when beaten by a faster runner
· Having fun and giving something back to parkrun
· Appreciating the merit of volunteering
· Encouraging and inspiring other runners
· Forming long lasting friendships
· Having lots of good memories to look back on when he is a granddad.
Granddad and grandson are hoping to soon run the Great North Run together. “When Oscar is 17 he will be eligible to do the Great North Run. That could be either 2019 (it needs to be after September 25th) or 2020. That will be such a huge thrill to have him alongside me on the start line of my 39th (or 40th) Great North Run. I will not be able to keep up with him though for the remaining 13.1 miles!”
“I hope to do this race with my granddad when I am old enough and continue the tradition,” says Oscar.
IMAGES: DAVID LECORE
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