Saturday, 28 January 2012

New contributor: Paul Harrison

Name: Paul Harrison
Home parkrun: Greenwich
Date of first parkrun: 08/10/2011
Total number of parkruns (as at 28/01/12): 8
Number of times volunteered (as at 28/01/12): 2
My parkrun history:

I started doing morning jogs when I was 27. It took me several months to build up to running for 20 minutes without stopping. For the next 16 years I carried on doing short runs 3 or 4 times a week with no particular ambiton to take it further. Then  I was asked to step in at the last minute to make up a relay team for the Prague Half Marathon . With four runners it was just 5k each, so how could I refuse?.  In the bar after the event I committed to a 10k, and one thing led to another. I did my fourth half-marathon at the Great Birmingham Run last year. At the moment I am successfully resisting the irresistible pull of a full marathon...

And parkrun?  I found out about it one Friday, did my first run at Greenwich the following day and was an immediate convert. A timed 5k is surprisingly addictive and I love the mix of volunteer-led informality, brilliant technology and a simple killer concept.

Five Star Leamington Spa

Name: Richard Hill
Home parkrun: Brueton, Solihull
Total Number of parkruns: 34
Parkrun locations so far: Brueton, Cannon Hill, Coventry, Killerton, Bushy, Nonsuch, Riddlesdown, Leamington

I did Leamington parkrun today. This was my 8th parkrun location, and the 3rd that I have done by bike, with the 28k ride from Solihull taking me an hour and 5 mins. I’m on a mission to do all the midland parkruns by bike this year.

There is a leisure centre just a little way from the parkrun start, and so I was able to take advantage of this, and transition from cycling gear to running gear, and after the run, a shower and a second change in to shopping with the Mrs gear. She came later in the car, and so I got my fix, and then clocked up some brownie points too.

I did cut it a bit fine only arriving a minute or two before the off. The run itself is on tracks around the perimeter of Newbold Comyn. It’s a little muddy, but not boggy. At about 2k there is a steep climb, but after another couple of shallow ups and downs, you’re rewarded with a long gentle descent, to about the 4k mark. Then the last kilometre is back on the flat skirting the football pitches.

Great hospitality from the volunteer team, with drinks laid on in the pavilion from where we started and finished. Thank you Leamington volunteers.

I finished the run in 23:37, 47th of 154 runners, over a minute slower than my PB at Brueton last week, but still happy enough with my time. I should have allowed myself a bit more time before the start.  Wasn’t prepared for the hill etc etc. I’m always full of excuses.

As a “parkrun tourist” destination, Leamington gets 5 stars in my book. It has a great course and lovely people. Other pluses being the proximity of the leisure centre and the renowned town centre.  I’m hoping to do it again soon and will hopefully improve my time.
Next stop Conkers!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Stats for first 100 Coventry parkrun Events

Here are some high level stats from the first 100 Coventry Parkrun Events:

Total runs 15,542 of which 37% were in the first 50 events at an average of 115, the second 50 events had an average of 195.5 runners. The current 10 week average is 185.

On average there has been 60 % Males and 40% Female runners.

There have been 90 winners with the fastest male recording 14:59 and the fastest female recording 18:01.

The average run time is 26:51 with an average of 6.3 runs per runner.

Key milestones recorded:
The 1000th runner finished in 39th position at the 10th event: Adam Baugh in a time of 23:42.

The 5000th runner finished in 6th position at the 46th event which was on Xmas Day 2010: Paul Slatford in a time of 19:40.

The 10,000th runner finished in 102nd position at event 71: Narinder Bains in a time of 26:30.

The 15,000th runner finished in 34th position at the 98th event which was on Xmas Day 2011: Laura Tough in a time of 23:42.

Posted on behalf of Coventry parkrunner Sarj Singh.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Australia's Newest Parkrun

Saturday 21st January was a significant day in the history of parkrun. It saw the launch of Australia's 4th event & the 1st in New South Wales.

St Peters parkrun has been several months in the planning & it was great to be there the day it kicked off.

Event Director Paul Wilcock has done a great job setting up the event, organising a 'lively' course, and attracting plenty of local interest. 64 runners completed the first event.

Under cloudy skies, runners & volunteers gathered around the start/finish area near the iconic, now-redundant chimney stacks of Sydney Park, St Peters.

A warm-up session was led by Assistant Race Director & massage therapist Aaron Pidgeon, who also provided the wheelie-bin ice bath for finishers.

Before the pre-race briefing led by the 2 Tims (Oberg & Gordon) from parkrun Australia HQ (who had travelled down from the Gold Coast), and Paul who then started us off.

There had been plenty of chat beforehand about 'the hill'. While it is a good pinch that comes at the half-way point, it's over and done with pretty quickly.
Also some great views of the city skyline can be enjoyed from the top making it all worthwhile.

The course takes in paths around the perimeter and through the park with a few ups and downs plus plenty of turns to keep it interesting.

Hopefully word will spread locally about the event and I'm guessing it won't be long before St Peters parkrun is regularly hosting over 100 runners at 8am each Saturday.

The eventual winner and current course record holder was Sato Ashida (17:12).

I look forward to hearing how this event progresses & watching the parkrun wave continue to spread across the country.

Next stop Kirra parkrun on the southern Gold Coast, Queensland.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

My name is James and I am a parkrun Event Director

In my previous post, I detailed the journey I had from being a non-runner to becoming the Event Director at Eastleigh parkrun. Had you asked me whether I'd have that role 18 months ago, I'd have said no but the truth is that it's a role I love and wouldn't want to give up. I fully expect to be as involved in my 70s as I am today. Or, at least, hope to be!!

Many people probably wonder what an Event Director does. I suspect that the role is different for each event and it also evolves over time. At some events, the Event Director also acts as Run Director. The best I can do is describe the role from my perspective.

In a nutshell, I'm a project manager. The project being ensuring that participants get to enjoy a free, weekly timed 5K run every week come rain or shine. However, this is not something that I, as the Event Director, can do alone. To achieve the goal, I need the support for all at parkrun HQ and a strong event team and I'm very fortunate at the Eastleigh parkrun to have, what I consider to be, one of the best teams I've ever worked with.

Firstly, I have a team of 5 Run Directors (Henry, Dave, Neil, Berni and Deb). These individuals are passionate about parkrun and are the public-face of the event each week. They are the ones that do the pre-run brief and organise the event from ensuring the volunteers have arrived and are aware of their role to uploading the results once the event is over. Behind the scenes, they are involved each week in helping make decisions about the smooth running of the event both at the time and for the future. Without these incredible people, our parkrun wouldn't be the great event it is. We're also blessed to have a very dedicated core team of volunteers including the 'A team' who set up the course every week (Gareth, Dave and Trevor). Their job is made more difficult during the winter at our event as we need to modify our course regularly to ensure the sports fields we use don't suffer unduly due to the weather conditions and 290+ runners trampling around the fields.

We also have the weekly volunteers who give up their runs to record finishing times, scan barcodes, take photos etc etc. All of the roles are pretty simple but vital to ensuring the event runs like clockwork under the direction of the Run Director.

As I've said, making a parkrun really work week in, week out is a team effort. My role is simply to ensure that team work effectively together to deliver the best experience. That involves keeping a careful eye on any issues that may arise, feeding in information from 3rd parties which might affect the event as a whole or on an individual week and 'managing' the project.

Each week, new challenges arise. At Eastleigh, we've grown incredibly over the last 18 months or so from about 50 runners at the inaugural event to almost 300 last Saturday. Unlike many other event, we operate a 'summer' and 'winter' course and both suffer due to weather conditions. Often this involves considered discussion with the managers of the venues and looking into the future to ensure the longevity of the event whilst taking into account issues such as health and safety, ensuring we don't cause any damage. One concern we currently have is whether either venue can support the growth of the event and, due to this, I'm actively involved in discussions with the local council to identify additional or alternate venues. We're very lucky that Eastleigh Borough Council are very supportive of running events, including the excellent Eastleigh 10K road race, and supportive of parkrun.

As well as these 'bigger picture' issues, I'm involved day-to-day with things like dealing with incoming emails, building the volunteer rota for each event, making sure the Run Director for the forthcoming event is aware of any issues and liaising with parkrun HQ.

A vital aspect of any parkrun is its community both at the event where many friendships and some friendly rivalries are formed but also via Facebook and Twitter. The latter two social networks are my responsibility too. We have a very strong Facebook presence with almost 500 'fans'. This community is very enthusiastic and it's great to really interact with fellow parkrunners via this medium outside the event.

At Eastleigh, we're very well supported by a number of local running clubs and groups including Eastleigh Running Club, Southampton Athletics Club, Winchester & District Running Club, Southampton Running Sisters, Lordshill Road Runners, Stubbington Green Running & Athletics Club and Southampton's LA Fitness Running Club. As well as fostering these strong relationships in order to gain support for the event in terms of encouraging the clubs to provide regular teams of volunteers, we also ensure that we promote the benefits of membership of these clubs and also promote their races and other events.

Other relationships that need managing include the relationship with our local, recently opened, Sweatshop. We have a good relationship with the store management and work together to cross promote parkrun and Sweatshop's in-store and online promotions.

Each parkrun relies on technology whether it's the stopwatches, barcode scanners or web-based results processing system. Given my many years of applicable IT and software development experience, I've been actively involved in testing the latter and provided a fair amount of feedback on usability hopefully resulting in the improvement of the system.

It's incredible to think that not only does parkrun provide a free event every week across the UK and abroad but it does so because of the dedication of volunteers. I'm a volunteer and do as much as I can to make Eastleigh parkrun the best it can be. I certainly couldn't do that without the team of Run Directors mentioned earlier or the support of Paul, Jo, Tom and the rest of the team at parkrun HQ. Thanks all.

Being an Event Director is incredibly rewarding. It's an ideal opportunity for me to use my skills (both project management and technical) to good use in conjunction with my love of running.

If you've not volunteered, I truly believe that you aren't getting all you can from parkrun. parkrun is about so much more than the run. Email your local team and unlock a much fuller experience.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New contributor: James Saunders

New Contributor: James Saunders

Name: James Saunders
Home parkrun: Eastleigh
Date of first parkrun: 22/05/2010
Total Number of parkruns: 22
Number of other parkrun locations run: None so far
Number of times volunteered: 71
My parkrun history:

About me:

By day, I'm a Technical Director for an ecommerce company. I'm also a husband and father to two boys aged 3 and 5. 

Like many parkrunners, I hated running in my teens. This was primarily due to running involving cross-country on wet and miserable days. It wasn't until over 20 years later when I was 39 years old (back in mid-2009) and on the way back from a company board meeting and post-meeting drinks that I saw a poster for a Cancer Research charity 10K run that I decided that I wanted to train to complete the event (the alcohol had some influence on my decision and I'd signed up before sobering up!) I needed a challenge in my life (as if the challenge of being a parent of two wasn't enough!) and the charity run was my ideal opportunity.

With about 12 weeks to go, it meant going from almost zero fitness to being able to run for an hour or more ideally non-stop!

When I started training, I followed the C25K training programme and could run for about 30 seconds before needing a walk-break. Fortunately, the programme was tailor-made to couch potatoes (which I'd become!) and gradually eased me from not being able to run to being able to run for 30 minutes (about 3 miles or almost 5K).

After completing the Couch to 5K (C25K) programme, I extended it to get me running 10K. It was a real achievement to be able to gradually run further and further each week.

Having completed the CR 10K, I kept running on and off for the rest of the year and decided that I loved doing it. However, I knew that if I didn't have a challenge, I'd struggle to find the motivation to continue. With this in mimd, I set myself the goal of running 875 miles (roughly the distance between Land's End and John O'Groats) in 2010 for CLIC Sargent. To keep me on schedule, I set myself the challenge of completing a number of races throughout the year. 

It was either late in 2009 or early in 2010 that I discovered parkrun. The concept of a free, weekly timed run seemed very appealing indeed. A chance to 'race' each week with no need to register each time or pay an entry fee

Unfortunately, at the time, there were none in the local area and, in reality, although I'd love to have set one up, the time constraints of a busy job and family meant that was unlikely. I did contact parkrun HQ though to express an interest.

It was with great excitement that in April 2010, parkrun HQ contacted me to say that a parkrun was due to start in Eastleigh and ask whether I'd like to be involved. At the time, I really couldn't commit to anything but instead made it to the 2nd parkrun at Eastleigh on the 22nd May 2010.
I was instantly hooked. However, somehow, I had to persuade my wife to let me participate regularly.

After running at about 8 parkruns, in late October 2010, the future of the Eastleigh event looked in jeopardy as the existing Event Director's other commitments meant that he had to take a break from the role. As the ED was also the main Run Director, this meant that more Run Directors were needed. Rachael Elliott was also a key member of the team and was instrumental to setting up the event. Rachael was also the main factor to ensuring the event happened each week. (Rachael is the Event Director for Newbury parkrun which has its first event on the 11th February. I'll be making my first trip as a parkrun 'tourist' to that event to support her and her team as a way of thanking her for all the support she gave myself and the other RDs at Eastleigh).

By this time, I was addicted to the Eastleigh parkrun and had started the Facebook page for the event much to the surprise of the existing event team who'd not received my email asking if I could start the page ( and signed up alongside 2 or 3 others to become Run Directors. As the existing Event Director was going on holiday, I produced a Race Director's Manual to help train the other.  Rachael freely shared her experience of many parkruns (both as a participant and volunteer as well as her knowledge of helping set up the Basingstoke and Eastleigh events) to ensure we all had the necessary knowledge to run the event every week.

For the rest of 2010, I stood in for the Event Director and made sure that everything ran smoothly behind the scenes of the event in terms of dealing with the many emails, managing volunteers, making sure Run Directors knew when they were needed and what they needed to do.

In early January 2011, the existing Event Director sent me a text message to offer me the position formally. With agreement from parkrun HQ, I accepted the role and haven't looked back since. parkrun is a truly great idea, very well executed weekly at over 100 locations around the world and an event that's changed my life. I could enthuse about it for hours but will save that for other posts!

However, I will summarise that parkrun isn't just about running. In fact, the real magic of parkrun are the people and the community spirit. I've made some good friends from being involved, and met some great and inspirational people and plan to be involved in the parkrun community for decades to come!

Monday, 23 January 2012


Hi.. Thanks to my great pals Lisa and Becka, I began to run in summer time in 2011. The aim was to give myself a boost after a turbulent time.
So having not ran since my school days ( a loooong time ago!) I started literally doing a 5 min very slow jog.  Finding it difficult was an understatement! took my a while to get going.  a few times out on my own I partnered up with Lisa and slowly did a little further each time.
Dont get me wrong, I wanted to give up and that was before Id started! Never realised how unfit I was!
Anyway, Im still not great, not by all means. However I have completed 6 park runs now and have gone from 41 mins to 33 over that time. Also for my sins, I completed the Tadley Cross Country in 1hr 9mins.  To many that is rubbish, but.... I didnt stop and the main thing was I did it!!
I find it a challenge regardless of the distance I am up for but do find that its a good time waster which is great for your mind :)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

New Contributor: Kevin Tomkinson

Name: Kevin Tomkinson
Home parkrun: Brueton Park,Solihull
Date of first parkrun:01/10/2011
Total Number of parkruns: 14
Number of other parkrunlocations run: 0
Number of times volunteered: 0(yet)
My parkrun history:

Me, I’m 31 years and I must admit I didn’t like the idea ofdistance running at school, 200 metres in games was enough for me at school (howeverthrow a football in and I will try and run all day!) A few years ago whilst ona Boys Brigade holiday, which I was helping to run 3 or 4 of us decided 1 nightto make an effort to raise some money and take on a half marathon! This seemedlike a great idea at the time and we all signed up for the Great North Run in2005. Not knowing much about distance running or how to train, 4 of us steppedover the start line and got to South Shields eventually (2:38:56). As soon asthe run was over, we all decided to do it again the next year as we werehooked!

The next year we all promised to train more and go again andin 2006 I took part again chopping 12 minutes off my previous years’ time. A coupleof weeks later (which included a week’s all inclusive holiday) I ran the StroudHalf marathon with a few colleagues from work and recorded 2:11 which remainsmy best half marathon time to date! In total I have run 10 half marathons (including1 dressed as a thunderbird) and 1 full marathon (in Disney World, Florida) runningand mainly walking round the course in 7:02:25 in the freezing cold in 2010.This year, I’m planning to run 4 half marathons including Blackpool, Stratfordand the Great North Run.

Although football will always be my 1st sportinglove (both watching Birmingham City and playing the game with good friends),since that 1st Great North Run experience I have been hooked onrunning and I’m always looking out for the next chance to challenge myself torun!

And so to parkrun and what it means to me......

I had read about parkrun around a year ago but decided togive it a go after a period of non running due to the recurrence of an old kneeinjury in October 2011. When I arrived on for my 1st parkrun I wasvery impressed with the setup with marshals and a finisher’s marquee. I wasalso very impressed by the fast club runners and everyone was very friendly andI felt welcome to parkrun. My 1st run for 8 weeks was quite painfuland after 2 miles I had to walk for about 100 metres and then I started runningagain to the finish! A couple of weeks after this 1st parkrun I ranthe Birmingham Half marathon running in the park the day before which I thinkhelped me on the day. This Saturday (21.1.12) I broke the 27 minute mark whichwas my target for 2012. I was very shocked with the time as I think this is thefastest I have run for years!

Even though I’m relatively new to parkrun, the weekly eventshave helped me get my love of running back which was waning towards the midpart of last year as I was training on the roads. I’m inspired to keep on runningand training to improve my overall fitness.
Is it an obsession now? Absolutely! I have neverreally enjoyed training for events but parkrun offers a regular training run ina great setting.

Rhodri Evans - My 1st ParkRun blogpost

My name is Rhodri Evans, and I am a keen runner of the ParkRun in Cardiff. I have been running since 1981, when I saw the first ever New York City marathon on TV. However, I did not learn about ParkRun until May of last year (2011). To date, I have done 12 ParkRuns. Until October of last year, I was only doing them when I felt like racing, but after Cardiff's ParkRun was threatened with closure by Cardiff City Council, I decided to turn up most weeks to show my support, and only really race it on the odd occasion, other times I would use it as a paced training run in the middle of a longer (8 mile) run.

My hope is to manage 50 by the end of 2012, so I have another 38 to go. It will be the hardest earned T-shirt I have ever had.

Newcastle parkrun celebrates its 2nd birthday

We've had a number of causes for celebration at Newcastle parkrun just recently, from our 100th run to festive fancy dress over the Christmas season. But this was really something special.

Mark Allison, Run Geordie Run
Thanks to the persuasive talents of one of our race directors, Ian Kirkley and regular parkrun volunteer and runner Tove Elander, after the run we were invited back to the nearby Royal Grammar School for hot drinks, food (provided by the parkrunners) and presentations from Mark Allison, also known as Run Geordie Run.

For anyone who doesn't know, Mark is something of a local hero. In 2011, he ran an epic 3,100 miles across America in 100 days, and raised over £100,000 for two North East charities - St Benedict's Hospice and the Children's Foundation. In 2013 he's taking on the even tougher challenge of running across Australia.

On Saturday, after his first ever parkrun,  he spoke with much humour about the challenges, highs and lows of his amazing achievement. It was inspirational stuff and the parkrun crew were hanging on his every word. It wouldn't surprise me if he's put some thoughts in some heads. And I hope he comes back for another run soon.

It's not usual for there to be prizes at parkrun, but it was a tradition started by our first race director Niyc Pidgeon and it's great to see it continue. There are prizes for the highest points scorers and some more light-hearted awards, nominated by parkrun regulars. I discovered we had a duathlon champion - someone who takes on the role of lead bike around the course and then runs parkrun in an impressive 36 minutes.

Parkrun regulars also showed their support to the volunteers who make our runs possible. There's a hardcore team of volunteers at Newcastle who really are the backbone of this community and make sure a growing number of people can enjoy a weekly timed run on the Town Moor.

So what about the run? Well conditions were a little challenging, with gusty winds providing added resistance to hard working runners. But 355 made it round the course, with 68 trying it out for the first time and 39 scoring a PB.

For me, it was one of my most enjoyable runs. I'd offered to pace Danielle, a runner I've made friends with on Twitter at sub 30 pace for a new PB. It was great to finally meet her and it gave me a chance to run, but at a sensible pace.

It's quite a responsibility to pace another runner, especially one you don't know very well, but following Danielle's updates on her training and seeing her positive attitude to the task ahead I was confident she could do it and didn't really need me.

After quite a tough start into a headwind across the moor, I actually pushed the pace a bit too hard towards the middle of the run, but Danielle stuck with it and was running really well. I kept offering little nudges of encouragement and positive messages.

As we approached the last corner I reassured her that she had it in the bag and we powered for the line. It was a brilliant run in far from ideal conditions and I felt really proud that Danielle had done what she set out to do.

Parkrun isn't always about racing or beating your best time, but it's great to see so many people enjoying it and growing in confidence as they do something better than lying in bed on a Saturday morning.

Would you like to contribute to this blog?

I would like every parkrunner to have the chance to share their own parkrun thoughts and experiences with the parkrun community by posting on the parkrunfans blog.

Everyone is welcome, whether you want to post something every day, on Saturdays or just the once. You are even welcome just to read what other contributors write. As I say, everyone is welcome.

I have been writing my own parkrunfan blog for the last year or so and I must say that I find it very rewarding.

If you would like to contribute by writing about your own thoughts and experiences of parkrun then please contact me in one of the following ways:

Twitter: @parkrunfan
Facebook: parkrunfans blog page
Alternatively add a comment against this post leaving some method by which you can be contacted.

If you are unsure about contributing please feel free to contact me by any of the means above. I can assure you that you will not be committing yourself to anything and you can contribute as much or as little as you like.