Saturday, 7 January 2012

New Contributor: Jo Hudson

Name: Joanne Hudson
Home parkrun: Banstead Woods, uk
Date of first parkrun: Sept 2011
Total Number of parkruns: 4
Number of other parkrun locations run: 2 (Banstead Woods and Nonsuch Park)
Number of times volunteered: 0

My love of parkrun is probably a lot different to many other parkrunners. I love the feeling of a 'community', and the positivity from all who volunteer and attend. What probably makes me different, is that Parkrun has been one of many contributors in helping me to go from incredibly unfit, very overweight and very very unhappy, to a healthy, slim and very happy woman. I know, it sounds corny, but believe me. I tried running on my own at first and failed. I went to my first Parkrun with a friend and was hooked from then on.
Managing to knock my time down by over 3 minutes feels like a massive achievement, and I honestly don't think I would have done it without Parkrun.
Anyone involved in parkrun deserves a massive pat on the back for making it the unique event it is.
My favourite Parkrun so far has to be Nonsuch. I attended this one on my own, and was greeted by the most friendly volunteer who made me feel very welcome.
One of my new years resolutions is to get my 5k time down to sub 25. I know Pakrun will play a major part in me achieving this.

THANKS PARKRUN. Don't stop doing what you do, or you will have many angry runners chasing you!


New Contributor: Ruth Mahon

Name: Ruth Mahon
Home Parkrun: Coventry.
Date of first Parkrun: 19 June 2010
Total Number of Parkruns: 59 (as of 7 January 2011)
Number of other Parkrun locations run: 1

Number of times volunteered: 6
My Parkrun history: click here

Here is a very brief overview of my Parkrun journey to date;

A friend told me about the Coventry Parkrun when it first started in February. I looked at the website but decided that getting to the park for a 9am start was not for me! Then another friend mentioned that his wife, Michaela, had signed up and was going to run that Saturday. This spurred me on to signing up and I joined Michaela for our first Parkrun.
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Once I started I found it addictive and have become a regular park runner along with
all those mentioned above and several other work colleagues and friends. After that first run getting up at 8 on a Saturday was no longer a problem.

When I started I spoke only to those people I already knew, however over time I have made many new friends and have recently been inspired to join a local running club. Although I have always done local races, I never used to do the club runs thinking that these were for good runners. Since joining the Parkrun community I have tried to support as many of the club events as I can. I think that the Parkrun has really bought the running community together being supported both by clubs and fun runners alike. Parkrunners do seem to be a very friendly bunch and the support that is given is brilliant.


Friday, 6 January 2012

New Contributor: Paul Slatford

Name: Paul Slatford
Home parkrun: Coventry, UK.
Date of first parkrun: 24 April 2010
Total Number of parkruns: 83 (as of 7 January 2011)
Number of other parkrun locations run: 2 (Brueton park in Solihull and Leamington)
Number of times volunteered: 7
My parkrun history: click here

I first heard about parkrun from a couple of my mates who I play football with. I wasn't sure at first but since I live a 5 min jog from the park I had no excuse not to try it, a decision I have not regretted. Since the summer of 2010 I have done nothing else on a Saturday morning, and why would I want to? The atmosphere is great and I've made many friends among the regulars. Due to parkrun my attitude to running has changed from it being a necessary evil in order to keep fit, to being something I look forward to at the end of the week.

New Contributor: Steven Stockwell

Name: Steven Stockwell
Home parkrun: Riddlesdown, UK.
Date of first parkrun: 28 May 2011
Total Number of parkruns: 32 (as of 6 January 2011)
Number of other parkrun locations run: 2 (Banstead Woods and Roundshaw Downs)
Number of times volunteered: 2
My parkrun history: click here

I was checking my twitter feed recently when I received amessage from Ian (@parkrunfan), author of the parkrunfan blog. As I already write a blog about running, he asked if Iwould like to be a contributor to a new blog he was setting up. I wasvery flattered to be asked and instantly jumped at the chance. Here is a very brief overview of my parkrun journey to date.

I registered for parkrun on 22 November 2010. It took me another six months to actually get up early enough on a Saturday morning to run atmy first event (I blame the long cold winter). The closest parkrun to me is approximately 25 miles away and involves a stint on the M25, which can be quite unpredictable at the best of times.

My home parkrun has a very strong family feel to it, and I always have support in the shape of my wife and daughter. At first that is all theydid - support me. But before long they started to volunteer while I ran. To date my wife has volunteered twelve times, including seven occasions as the official photographer. As time went on we began tojoin the volunteer team for the post-run coffee and we slowly got to know people. We now count many of these people as friends, and often to refer to them as our parkrun family.

My own volunteering record is still pretty small. I have written two event reports for Riddlesdown, which is stressful but rewarding. The other report writers have set the standard pretty high and I never feel thatI can match their quality! To date I have run at every Riddlesdown parkrun since the inaugural event back in July 2011. I hope to continue this streak until the 50th event. After that I have a few volunteering roles on my to-do list that I'd like to complete. Then who knows, maybe I'll become a part-time parkrun tourist!


What have parkruns done for me?

Well there’s the fitness. I used to be an unfit, overweight, couch potato. But a free 5km timed race round my local park at 9am every Saturday morning is doing wonders for my health. I not only feel good, I’m getting quicker despite getting older, and it’s all recorded on the parkrun website. And there are all the new friends. With a couple of hundred regulars turning up each week you soon get to know a lot of them and they’re a really friendly bunch. And you can win stuff courtesy of the sponsors – like the running shoes I got from Sweatshop for being a parkrunner of the month. And you get a snazzy exclusive Adidas parkrun t-shirt when you’ve done a few runs and I’m now the proud owner of a red 50 t-shirt and a black 100 t-shirt and jacket. And sometimes Lucozade turn up with free samples for everyone to rehydrate and aid recovery. And it’s all free. I just had to register on the web, print off my barcode and turn up.

Well apart from the fitness, the wonderful new friends, the community, the running shoes, the exclusive t-shirts, the nutrition, and the perfect start to every weekend, what have parkruns done for me?!

New Contributor: Ken Fox

Name: Ken Fox
Home parkrun: Leeds, Hyde Park, UK
Date of first parkrun: 25/07/2009
Total Number of parkruns: 108 + 269 Freedoms = 377 (at the time of posting)
Number of other parkrun locations run: 2 (at the time of posting)
Number of times volunteered: 61 (at the time of posting)
My parkrun history:

I've come to running late in life. Apart from cross country runs at school and doing the Bob Geldof "I Ran the World" Sport Aid run in London in May 1986 I had done no running at all until I was asked to take part at the age of 49 in a 5K sponsored Santa Fun Run in my home town (Boston, Lincs) in 2007. To get fit enough to complete the run in a respectable time I began running round my local park (Hyde Park in Leeds) two or three times each week. I didn't die and it was fun, so I went on to do a few more sponsored runs in Leeds – the Jane Tomlinson 10K Run for All and the Leeds Abbey Dash 10K. Then in July 2009 I was going into Leeds on the bus on a Saturday morning when I spotted a diverse bunch of runners going round Hyde Park. They looked like they were having fun, so when I got home I did a bit of Googling to find out what it was all about. It's the best bit of Googling I've ever done as I found Leeds parkrun. I registered online and the next Saturday morning I dug out my old “I Ran the World” t-shirt and headed off to Hyde Park.

Now I thought I was just getting a free timed 5K race that would help me produce respectable times in my sponsored runs, but it's a lot more than that. I've been welcomed into a wonderful community of runners. The regulars at Leeds are a really friendly bunch of characters that make doing a parkrun on a Saturday morning the best way to start the weekend. My running has also improved so I've joined the Hyde Park Harriers running club to try to take my running to a higher level – something I never would have considered if I hadn't found parkrun.

Then a couple of years ago parkrun Freedoms began. I think parkrun Freedoms are brilliant! They provide a familiar, accurately measured, traffic and hazard free (apart from the occasional lunatic on a bike) run. They are very useful to have as part of my midweek training runs and they are in my local park. I can set goals and check my pace every km and compare with previous runs (which can be conveniently logged on the parkrun web site). So I can easily see if I'm getting better or worse on a consistent course where there are no hold ups to muddy the statistical waters. I can even string a few together if I fancy doing some longer runs and try for some fabled negative splits. I've also used the course to do some interval training by taking advantage of 200m markers used for the annual Leeds Red Welly Relay parkrun challenge.

I did start getting a bit obsessive though! Towards the end of last year I realised that if I did 4 to 5 Freedoms a week for a couple of months then I'd hit 250 Freedoms in the same week I joined the 100 club. So I ended up doing a few more than I had been doing and hit both targets on schedule.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Wormwood Scrubs parkrun

I recently moved to west London, so I went on the parkrun website to find the nearest event to my new address. O, happy day - there was one within a ten-minute walk: Wormwood Scrubs. It's well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Wormwood Scrubs is a comparatively recent addition to the parkrun canon (29 events as of the end of 2011, with a highest attendance of 34 runners). The course is all off road (ie. grass / mud) and trail shoes or spikes can be handy if there's been bad weather.

Although the fields have been fairly modest to date, there's the usual parkrun vibe: a good atmosphere, a fair mix of abilities and the runners and marshals seem to know each other by name. On the occasions I've attended, the event has been marshalled efficiently and enthusiastically and (as promised) you can get the cheapest cup of tea in London after the run.

The 'two-and-a-bit' lap course begins in the shadow of the prison building. "Fresh fish! Fresh fish!" shout the lags, banging on the bars. "I want lanky!" yells one. I wish I wasn't wearing such short shorts.

Ok, the bawling jailbirds are made up. Perhaps it would be better if I said the run begins close to the Linford Christie Stadium, home of Thames Valley Harriers. The course winds up a gentle slope, then straightens out alongside the sports pitches. At the end of the pitches, you turn left into a muddy corridor which takes you to the north-western corner of the park.

If conditions are bad, this is where a smart footwear choice will really pay off - I've seen people in road shoes go through this bit like ducks landing on a frozen pond. After you exit the corridor, you take another left and wind around back down to the beginning of the course.

At the end of your second completed lap, you continue from the beginning of the course up to the sports pitches and turn right for a short downhill to the line.

Personally, I like the grassy course as I'm trying to do more cross-country running this year, but there are benefits for everyone: although a soft surface can mean more effort, grass is much more forgiving on joints and muscles than tarmac, so there's less chance of shipping an injury (unless you stick your foot directly in a rabbit hole and snap your femur, I suppose). The Scrubs parkrun is on fairly reliable turf though and not too hilly either, so should suit runners of all abilities.

DO: Go for a cup of tea and a flapjack in the TVH clubhouse after the run.

DON'T: Go for a shower in the prison.

Wormwood Scrubs parkrun links
Run Jog Blog

New contributor: Daniel McKeown

Name: Daniel McKeown (see above)
Twit: @dangmckeown
Home parkrun: Coventry
Date of first parkrun: 29/05/10
Total Number of parkruns to date: 27
Number of other parkrun locations run to date: 2
Number of times volunteered to date: 2-and-a-half (ish)
My parkrun history: click here

Although my nominal home parkrun is Coventry, I've done most of my runs at Finsbury Park, which is a hilly mother of a course but definitely one to have a crack at if you're in the neighbourhood.

Since I moved to west London (and with the continual 'maintenance' work on the tube) I've been forced to look elsewhere. Fortunately, there are tonnes of events around (that's the joy of parkrun!) I'm dead close to the Wormwood Scrubs event and it's an absolute goodie, so I look forward to attending that more in future.

Apart from running, my hobbies include blogging ( breeding pedigree dolphins and telling terrible fibs.

My name is Jason and I am an addict...

parkrun addict of course! I have started to tell my story in the form of a blog which you are welcome to read at

I also host a page on Facebook called "Leeds parkrunners on tour" which should have the "Leeds" dropped from the title!! Originally created to arrange the odd bit of parkrun tourism for the many friends I have made at Hyde Park parkrun but has ended up being for anyone who wants to talk about or advertise a trip or arrange to visit us in Leeds!!

I managed to complete my 50th parkrun on New Years Eve- finally in a club!! To date I have been to 6 different parkruns with plans for 7 more so far this year!! I have a 6 year old son who loves to run, though not in the winter so he will have to wait for his 10 T-shirt, and my wife suddenly got addicted last summer and is currently on 25 runs. A proud mention of this on the parkrun show for the family!!!

There are a lot of great people around the country with many interesting tales to tell- I would like to see any of those who blog contribute to this collection of musings on the parkrun soul!! Great idea parkrunfan- love it!

Update 07/12/12 - I have now done 85 parkruns in total at 20 different venues! The Facebook page now has the more practical title "Discussion Group for parkrunners on Tour" and has 68 followers, 15 of which have arranged through it a trip to Malahide parkrun near Dublin in January! Feel free to add and use to organise your own trips, provide any feedback on any of our wonderful venues or to organise car-sharing when travelling away!!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A parkrun freedom and a half!

Not quite as dramatic as it sounds, it really was just one and a half parkruns. Andy (my brother and fellow contributor to this blog) and I were intending to do two freedom runs back-to-back, but we were running so slowly and chatting and time got the better of us, so 1.5 freedom runs it was.

I am very lucky having the park and the parkrun route so close to home. Even luckier to work from home a couple of days a week to allow me to get out and do freedom runs in the light during the week.

I love freedom parkruns. I must have done 70 or 80 or maybe more. I expect there aren't many parkrunners that have done more of them than me or Andy.

If you didn't know already, a freedom parkrun is just a 5km run on any parkrun course at some time other than a Saturday at 9am. By yourself or with a group of friends would do. The parkrun website even lets you record them so you can keep track of them, just visit your own profile page (there is a link to this in each email you get from parkrun).

Today's run also counts as run 2 for me for Marathon Talks Jantastic challenge. On schedule for my three run target for week one. I may even try and squeeze another freedom run (or 2) in on Friday before the parkrun on Saturday.

Happy freedom parkrunning everyone!

New Contributor: Andy Wilkinson

Hi, my name is Andy Wilkinson. Here are a few more details about me and my parkrun history:

Name: Andy Wilkinson
Home parkrun: Coventry, UK
Date of first parkrun: 22/05/10
Total Number of parkruns: 70 (at the time of posting)
Number of other parkrun locations run: 4 (at the time of posting)
Number of times volunteered: 7 I think (at the time of posting)
My parkrun history: click here

I first heard about parkrun when my brother suggested we register on the website and turn up to give it a go.

I can’t imagine doing anything else at 9am on a Saturday now. I’ve always enjoyed running but after I broke my ankle playing football a few years ago and then had it pinned for 18 months I thought I would never be able to run again, let alone be competing for parkrun wins. I’m looking forward to the road race season beginning with the Leamington Regency 10K in April.

New Contributor: Ian Wilkinson

My name is Ian Wilkinson and I will be a regular contributor to the parkrunfans blog over the coming months. Here are a few more details about me and my parkrun history:

Name: Ian Wilkinson aka parkrunfan
Home parkrun: Coventry, UK
Date of first parkrun: 17/04/10
Total Number of parkruns: 50 (at the time of posting)
Number of other parkrun locations run: 1 (at the time of posting)
Number of times volunteered: 9 I think (at the time of posting)
My parkrun history: click here

I first heard about parkrun when I saw a smallish group of runners heading around my local park whilst I was out for a run on my own. I did a little research, enrolled and eventually did my first parkrun. I have been hooked ever since. Before you hear about parkrun you can't imagine something so well organised, enjoyable and totally addictive could possibly be free.

parkrun is now a significant part of my life, it has transformed me into a runner. I was a semi-pro footballer in my prime (those days are long gone). I consider myself a runner and running is certainly my main sport now. I am a parkrun fanatic as shown by my own personal parkrunfan blog.

I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say about parkrun over the coming months and come back to this blog regularly to read what myself and the other contributors have to say.