Saturday, 24 November 2012

My first time as a parkrun Run Director...part 1

Today was my first time as a parkrun Run Director, so I thought I should let you know what was involved and how it went. Just in case this can tempt one or two of you into having a go sometime. It's really not that hard, I promise.

I have been running at parkrun for 2 and a half years, since starting in April 2010. When I originally started running at parkrun I had no idea how it worked. I really didn't know anything about the people that organised the events or that marshaled each week. In those days, I am ashamed to say, I was of the opinion that it was their job to marshal and mine to run. To be fair though, I wasn't even aware of the parkrun volunteer ethos at that stage and I'm certainly not like that now.

However, even after finding out about volunteering, I do recall once saying to my brother that I would always run and I would never volunteer to marshal. Shameful I know. But I am more happy to say that I didn't maintain that stance for too long. According to the email I received today, I have officially volunteered on 12 occasions in 15 roles. Not a massive amount, but my fair share I'd say.

Back in those early days, had you told me that I would one day be the Run Director of a parkrun event I would have laughed at you. Not a chance! No way! Why would I want to? And why would anyone else want me to? I was not even a runner at that stage. I wasn't part of a running club and I had no real experience of running in events, let alone organising them.

Two and a half years later and I was surprisingly happy to take on the Run Director role for the day. I have actually been looking forward to doing this since being asked a couple of weeks ago. 

Before the day....

Well thanks to the recent heavy downpours, the role actually started a day early. Yesterday lunchtime, thanks to working from home, I was able to head up to the park. I was actually heading there for lunch in the cafe, but on the way we came across the first obstacle of concern. Where there is normally a 4 metre wide path, there was instead a 6 metre wide and 30 metres long puddle. More of a lake than a puddle if the truth be told. Thankfully, the rest of the course was fine.

A quick Facebook exchange with my brother (co-Run Director for the day) and the Event Director and we had a backup route planned, fully expecting it to be required.

So to the parkrun today....

The Run Director role started at 7:45am this morning as my brother and I headed to the park for the course inspection. Thankfully and miraculously the puddle/lake had gone and all that remained was a slippery, muddy, leafy residue. Not enough to re-route the course and a safety announcement before the run would suffice. The rest of the course was slippery but clear of obstacles.

Next was a bit of set-up. Nothing too taxing or strenuous. We set-up a couple of tables, put out a the start sign and finish funnel and marked the start and finish lines with spray paint.

Volunteers started turning up and were ticked off on the volunteer roster and reminded of their roles. The marshals were told where they would be stationed and asked to put out signs where appropriate. Particular attention was paid to 2 marshals to be located near to the now very slippery area where the puddle/lake had been. I suppose this is the one real serious part of the Run Director role. It is very important that the safety of the runners is taken seriously. Making sure that marshals happy to be vocal were located near to this potential danger spot was important. A few of the volunteers for the finish area tasks were asked to stand in front of park signs and benches to make sure no one ran into them at the start.

Runners were arriving in droves by this point. There were a few questions to be answered for first timers. Nothing that any parkrun regular would have any trouble to answer though.

Next up was preparing the timer. The simple instructions were followed to the letter and 30 seconds later the timer was ready to go.

And so we reached 9am. It was time for the start, but before that it was up to me to give the pre-run briefing for the first time. I had spent a few minutes yesterday working out what I would say, so that wasn't a problem. Getting the 350 runners to be quiet was going to be the tricky part. I welcomed everyone, made it very clear that I needed everyone's attention for a safety announcement and told everyone about the slippery part of the course (twice). There was then the usual course route, finish funnel, finish token announcements. The recent arrival of a batch of club T-shirts got a quick mention and then I wished everyone a good run, checked that my brother was ready to start the timer, before sending the runners on their way with a quick "ready and GO!".

A quick check that the timer was running, watch the runners head off into the distance, tell a couple of late-comer first-timers what they had to do and then relax....And that was it for the next 15 minutes. So far so good. Now don't mess up the timekeeping!

I'll follow this up with part 2 a bit later.

Top 10 reasons to do parkrun

In no particular order, these are my top 10 reasons to do parkrun. Please let me know if you have some more of your own:

1) parkrun is a challenge - For most people, 5km is not an easy challenge. And then there is the weekly challenge to improve your PB.

2) parkrun is free - No cost to join. No cost to do any parkrun.

3) parkrun is addictive - But far better for you than most addictions!
4) parkrun gets you out in the fresh air in a lovely park location on a Saturday morning.

5) parkrun helps you meet many new like-minded people.

6) parkrun gives you free T-shirts - Complete 50, 100 and 250 parkruns (and 10 for kids) and you get a very smart free technical t-shirt at each milestone.

7) parkrun stops you drinking (as much) on a Friday night.

8) parkrun will get you fit - Well it can certainly help.

9) parkrun is suitable for people of all ages and abilities - It can be for all the family, kids, adults, grandparents, everyone is welcome.

10) parkrun starts at 9am and by 10am you have done your exercise for the day and you can smugly get on with the rest of your weekend.

Friday, 23 November 2012

parkrun registration stats this week

There is still a little time for new registrations this week, but at the time of writing and compared to the figures in my post this time last week....

Totalling up new registrations across parkrun globally, shows that parkrun has attracted a further 4,041 registrations in the last week.

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations up to 392,325 (from 388,284). That is a growth of 1% since last week. At this rate of growth parkrun should break-through the 400,000 registrations mark in 2 just weeks time.

As far as I am aware Sandgate parkrun (Brisbane, Australia) is the only new event starting this week.

With two weeks now under it's belt, Malahide parkrun continues to be top of the charts in the number of new registrations category, this week adding yet another 187 new registrants so far. That is now three weeks in a row that Malahide parkrun has added the most new registrations.

parkrun events showing notable growth in registrations this week are:
Event   Total   This week   
Malahide parkrun932187
Sandgate parkrun134113
Newy parkrun175255
Leeds parkrun1107052
New Farm parkrun405648
Glasgow parkrun1224047

Good to see a couple of the larger UK events high up the table this week after the southern hemisphere domination of this table recently.

Also of note this week:
Cannon Hill parkrun has broken through the 5000 registrations mark
Harrogate parkrun has broken through the 2000 registrations mark
Burnley parkrun has broken through the 1000 registrations mark

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun20874
Glasgow parkrun12240
Leeds parkrun11070

And at the other end of the spectrum, but just as worthy of a mention we have:
Event   Total   
Torrens parkrun1
Upton Court parkrun16
Kingscliff parkrun43

Torrens parkrun will be the next new parkrun event joining the family. It will be located in Adelaide (Australia) and will be starting next weekend (1st December). parkrun is really growing quickly in Australia at the moment.

So…..the 10k didn’t kill me!

I have been meaning to write this for sometime, mainly because some of you are convinced I had died in the run up to training for a 10k.  If you look through my previous blogs….I was trying very hard to become a runner and this 10k was the first race I had ever entered.

Well the good news (and obvious news I suppose), is that Wakefield 10k didn’t kill me.  I did survive and I managed to get round in one piece.

So…how did it go……

Wakefield 10k

Well first things first, never believe anyone, ever….when they say that races are flat, they are all, every single one of them, lying!  What is it with you runners and your inability to tell the truth about hills?  Mount Everest, just a mere undulation, K2, a little bump!!!??

Wakefield 10k is not flat…’s not hilly either, rather it has those long drawn  out slopes that aren’t really hills, so you can’t walk them, but it is not flat!

I was up bright and early that morning (I have since discovered that there is no lie ins on a weekend any more, it is parkrun on Saturday and racing on Sunday) and we set off with a whole load of people in the passion wagon ready to run and support at the 10k.  When I arrive at Wakefield, I find a whole load  of more people waiting to support me, which would be lovely if I didn’t know that secretly they are waiting to see if I will die on the way round!

A long queue to the toilet, means that we are slightly late to the start line, (something that continues to happen on a lot of my races, even though I now am the lucky owner of a shewee), but as there are quite a few runners at Wakefield, it still takes us five minutes to cross the start line.

Now I am lucky as I am running with the lovely Ellie Smith (also her first 10k) who is girlfriend to super fast Matthew Pierson, a good friend of mine.  So we start at the back and he starts at the front.

Now Wakefield 10k course is an out and back on the main (not flat) road.  Us ladies had been challenged by Matthew to make it to the 3km mark by the time he passed us on the way back…’s such a long time ago, that I am not sure if we made it, but as it is my blog, I am pretty sure that we did.  In fact all was going well with the running up until the point that I saw Matthew, in the lead, heading back down the road and started cheering and shouting encouragement, jumping up and down and totally knackering myself for the rest of the race.

To cut a long story short, I managed to run most of the way (a tiny bit of walking…sorry) and finish in a respectable first 10k time of 1:06 (aided by Jonny Cartwright coming back for me and gently beasting me across the line)….and I was pleased with that!
Matthew showed off and finished in 31:23……hmmm! And Super Ellie managed to finish under an hour on her first 10k, awesome!

Of course I was on the runners high for the rest of the day, fuelled by a great pub lunch and beer with the bunnies and was secretly looking forward to the next race.

BTW…..runners high…..awesome, if only they could bottle the stuff!

So….what has been happening since?

The next race I was entered for was by a friend….do friends enter you for races that include mileage over 10 and water crossings and hills that can kill you by looking at them?…..oh it seems they do!  The reluctant bunny Jonny Cartwright decided to up the ante and enter me for Bluebell Challenge, a 10.3m trail race organised by the lovely Stainland Lions RC.

At the time there was a very split camp within my running friends, those who would email and message me and tell me that I was silly and shouldn’t even attempt it as I would surely die and those who told me that I would be okay and it was only a bit of fun… right up until the day, I was unsure what to do…..amazing what peer pressure can still do to you! (to be fair, the doubters had a point, until the week before the race, I hadn’t run anything past 6 miles and certainly not a hilly trail race)

Obviously I did enter and was lucky enough to run this race with a superb bunch of friends, Rich McLeod (who was one of the people who thought I may die….but on the day was one of the most supportive), Chris Smith (also his first race) and the Amazing Amanda Crozier who had me running a pace along the canal that I never thought I had the ability to do! Anyone who is lucky enough to have these kind of friends to run with, will know that they can make a new challenge the most of fun.  I loved every moment of this race and probably laughed most of the way round….I also now know what would happen to me or any other runner who happens to die on a race, courtesy of Mr McLeod, something I will save for another blog, maybe! ;-)

If you are any where near Halifax in early May, you must enter this race, it has woods, canals, roads, Trooper Lane which you need to be pulled up by a donkey, jelly babies, moorland, and a waist height river crossing at the end…..oh and of course an abundance of bluebells to run through, all in all a fabulous race.

I completed this challenge in 2:15, was rewarded by chocolate medals and the biggest hugs from my children ever.  Fabulous!

Oh….and I didn’t die!

SO….what was next…...

Since then, there has be a load more 10k’s, a half marathon, some rather silly off road hilly fell thing (this time with three river crossings), an attempted wine marathon and a lot of parkruns….. (which I will blog about over the coming weeks…..if a race doesn’t kill me in the mean time).

……so what has this to do with parkrun……?

If it hadn’t been for parkrun, then I would have never met this bunch of crazy wonderful madcap people and been introduced to the world of races (and the runners high).  I would have never of attempted any of these challenges, never had the sense of achievement, never succeeded in the things I set out to do.  And certainly never laughed my whole way through a race!

So it has everything to do with parkrun, where friendships are made, challenges set and support given in abundance!   You should all try it!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

How do I join parkrun?

Joining parkrun is very simple.

There is a quick and easy registration form on the parkrun website. You just need to fill that out, which takes a couple of minutes and then you are free to turn up and run at any parkrun. Registration is completely free, and every single parkrun event is completely free to run and always will be!

The registration process and the location of the registration web page is specific to each Country. The best place to start is at the global parkrun events page (click here).

For the UK parkrun registration page click here.

To be able to run at parkrun, all you have to do is pre-register. You simply have to enter a few personal details, including:
- First name(s)
- Last name
- Home run: this is selected from a list of all the existing parkrun events. You would normally choose the location nearest to where you live.
- Gender
- Date of birth (for age-grading purposes)
- Running club (optional)
- Email address
- Postcode

And that is pretty much it, apart from accepting some very basic terms and conditions (nothing serious).

After completing the registration form you will receive an email and you will be given a method to get and print your own personal barcode. It is important that you keep this barcode safe as it becomes your "pass" to run at any parkrun event and receive your own personal result.

Once you have your own barcode you are free to run parkrun whenever and wherever you want. There is no commitment required, just turn up at any parkrun event (not just your home event!), bring your barcode with you and then just run. You can do this on any Saturday morning of the year that suits you, you don't ever need to tell anyone you are coming!

So it's free, it's simple to join and there is no comittment! What more could you possibly ask for?

Go on, why wait when you can join parkrun today and be ready to run this or any future Saturday!

Click here for the global parkrun registration page.

Run Director first timer

This coming Saturday will be my first time as a parkrun Run Director.

I have been running at Coventry parkrun regularly for the last two and a half years. I have volunteered a fair number of times too (roughly 10 or 12 at a guess), having taken on each of the following roles on one or more occasions: Marshal, Numbers, Barcode Operator, Funnel Management and Results Administrator (website results uploads).

This coming weekend I will be taking on the Run Director role at Coventry parkrun for the very first time. I will actually be sharing the role with my brother, but as he has done it before, I will attempt to take on as much as I can. In fact I am also taking on another parkrun volunteer role for the first time this weekend, having never been the Timekeeper before. Good luck everybody!

We have been blessed with an Amazing Event Director (ED) at Coventry parkrun. Jason Douglas has not only been the ED, but also, on almost every single parkrunday since February 2010, he has been the Run Director as well. This is an incredible commitment and I don't think it can be praised highly enough. I believe (but may be wrong) that only 3 others have taken on the Run Director role at Coventry, and certainly less than 10 times in total between them. I am hoping that Jason will take the opportunity to run Coventry parkrun for just the second time. No least because he is in the Sphinx Coombe 8 the next day (like me) and it will make him a little easier to beat with a parkrun in his legs!

I think I know most of what I need to know about what is expected from the Run Director, and I'm sure all the blanks will quickly be filled in once we get started. I'm planning to be ready to start at 8am so that I have a full hour in case any unexpected things crop up. I think it's going to be fun.

As for the Timekeeper role, I'll get Andy to press he start button as I set the runners off on the run. And then, as I understand it, the tricky part comes from 15 minutes later onwards and is making sure that I get the right number of button presses to go with runners crossing the line. It's all in the timing I suppose!

Possibly I could (or should?) be daunted by the prospect of taking on these two roles for the first time, but I am really looking forward to it. I may suffer from a few nerves leading up to it, but I think it is just going to be a buzz knowing that for once I have really given something back to parkrun. After all, parkrun has given me so much over the last couple of years. And with a bit of luck we will allow Jason to have a proper parkrunday off!

I'm really looking forward to it. What could possibly go wrong?!

As long as I don't ruin everything and have to head off into hiding, I will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

You know you're a parkrunner when...

... 10, 50, 100 and 250 don't need an explanation can use "easy" and 5 in the same sentence
...your shoes have more miles on them than your car does go to a golf course to run schedule dates around your training've been to a golf course in every city but not to play golf find yourself saying, "it's not really a hill..."'re running and you don't know why
...more than half the people you know don't know what XC is
... you keep shoes and running clothes in your car so that if you're ever on a trip and drive by a place thinking "it'd be great to run here..." you can get out and go for a run
... you sleep in your running shorts because they're more comfortable than pyjamas, not to mention you don't need to change for your morning training session
... you can correctly pronounce names like "Hicham El Guerrouj" "Kennesia Bekele" and "Haile Gebresilassie"
... you've found yourself running around an airport departure hall thinking, "if I can just get in three more miles, I'll meet my mileage target this week"
... you wear sandals despite having the ugliest feet in the world, along with several black toe nails
... you get upset and impatient when results from the race you ran aren't posted on-line by the time you get home
... you find a magnifying glass to see your name in the paper.
... you have chafing in strange places.
... you spend more on training clothes than working clothes.
... you get hit by a car and you don't bother to get the number plate of the person who hit you because you still have several miles left to go
... your cabin-luggage is a shoe bag
... You say things like "long and hard" to your female friends and it is not a sexual innuendo
... you are used to the sound of a gun
... you make hundreds of left turns each week
... you have running shoes in varying degrees of decomposition: used, well-worn, spent but still good, and useless "but-I-still-wear-them-because-they-still-feel-good"

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

What does a parkrunner want for Christmas?

Well I don't know about other runners, but being relatively new to running myself, there are still plenty of running related items going on my Christmas list this year. In fact, I'm not sure if there will be many (or even any) non-running related items. There is still so much that I don't have or which I "need".

Of course, "need" is really the wrong word to use here, as one of the great things about running is just how little you really "need" to get started. I'm about 2 and a half years into focusing on running (and parkrun in particular) as my only sport, so I have now reached the stage where I no longer want to make do with what I had and now want some good kit.

So here goes with my generic list of what parkrunners really want for Christmas (leaving out the obvious parkrun PB, as Santa can't help you there):

- Hi-Vis kit - I absolutely need this. I have none and I am fully convinced that running at night without it is a really bad idea. For starters I certainly want:
       - a hi-vis zip up jacket
       - a hi-vis long sleeve technical top
       - a hi-vis mesh over vest tabbard - These are a great idea as they are breathable and can be worn over the top of your existing running tops. I'm a lucky boy as Santa (my brother) dropped one off for me just yesterday!

- A new running watch - Ideally I'd love a Garmin watch, but I am not sure I can justify over £100 on a watch. Especially as I understand there is the hassle as they need to be charged quite frequently. I think I'll have to make do with a standard digital stopwatch for a while yet.

- Short sleeve running tops - To be honest, this is one area where I have really been making do. My normal training kit is a football top and these really aren't ideal for running - they are far too heavy, are not breathable and mine are too big too. I have a few long sleeve running tops, but no short sleeve running tops.

- Running shorts - I have been swapping back and forth between the 2 pairs that I have around 3 or 4 times a week for the last two years. And I have to admit that they are (just) starting to show signs of wear and tear.

- New running shoes - Personally I think I am fully equipped here, these days I have so many pairs of expensive "gardening shoes" its untrue. It makes me feel even worse about how little gardening I actually do!

- Running socks - Running socks are very important. What you must avoid as a runner is blisters. Get a blister and it can hamper training for days or even weeks. So for me it has to be twin skin ankle socklets. The three pairs I had a couple of years ago, which started out as twin skin, are looking more and more like single skin plus the tattered remnants of the original outer skin. It's probably time to get a new pair or two.

- Running tights - Skin tight running trousers are an absolute must for me. Luckily this is one part of my kit that I do not need this Christmas, as my pair of Nike running tights are still doing me proud. With all my history of muscle injuries, these are very important to me when running in the cold weather. They may be quite revealing in the gentleman's area, but in the cold there isn't too much to reveal anyway and they make a huge difference in keeping my legs warm.

- Calf guards - These aren't necessary for most runners, but once you have had a calf injury (like me) these are another good preventative measure, particularly in cold weather. Some decent athletes even swear by these as aids to performance and recovery.

- Running vests - It may not be ideal running vest season (though I'd still wear one when attempting a parkrun PB), but unfortunately Christmas doesn't fall in spring time in the UK, so its still a good time to invest in a vest. The only decision is whether to be optimistic about the size with winter training about to compete with the excesses of Christmas!

- Running spikes - I am considering these myself. I am not sure that I need them, but if last week's cross-country is anything to go by, then it might be a good idea. I understand that you can buy these cheaper than normal running shoes, which surprised me.

- Wrist pocket - I am not sure what these are really called, but I have a wrist strap thing with a pocket and a zip and this is the perfect place to store a key when I go running.

- iPod/iPhone (or other brand) arm holder thing - Yes, I don't know what they are called! I have only ever tried to run with music on one occasion and I think my ears must be a strange shape as there was no way the earphones were going to stay in. But if running with music is your thing, then I guess that one of these arm straps for your iPod/iPhone is essential. I would encourage you to run without music and listen to your body instead and just enjoy the sights and sounds of the park.

So, what else have I missed? I'm sure there is plenty of other running related kit that I could ask Santa to spend his well earned cash on for me. There are probably running related items that I have never even heard of, but which are a "must have" on other people's Christmas lists. If you can think of any, then please add a comment to let me know.

Being a novice when it comes to sourcing running kit, I will be doing some in-depth research (a few quick popularity searches on Amazon!) and if I find anything that catches my eye, I may add links onto this blog to get some feedback from the rest of you (more experienced) runners. In the mean time, any product suggestions welcome!

Singing and running in the rain...

What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again!

Well, I wasn't so much singing in the rain, but I was certainly humming that tune to myself on my round my parkrun freedom run today. I was certainly in the right mood for a run and nothing was going to dampen my parkrun spirits. Even the blustery wind and driving rain were no match for my determination to enjoy my run.

I honestly don't think I stopped smiling throughout the whole duration of my run. The conditions certainly weren't ideal, but that really didn't bother me at all. After all, it's a work from home day today and if it rains tomorrow I could be destined to spend my lunch hour in the office, reading about yet another England sport team that has failed to live up to the high standards set by our Olympians and Paralympians this summer.

Better out than in (doors) as it were!

I started out with no aims for my freedom run, no aims other than enjoyment that is, but I suspected it would take me around 25 to 27 minutes. I quickly settled into a comfortable pace and did my best to ignore the wind, rain and flying leaves.

I headed round the normal course, smiling and saying hello to all the other fools braving the tricky Autumnal conditions. The weather may not have been great, but it was still a lovely day to spend time in the park.

As it turned out, the speed that felt comfortable was a fairly decent pace. I eased round in just under 22 minutes and I honestly hadn't  taken a single deep breath. Running within yourself is a really nice feeling. The time had just flown by. There were none of the disappointed feelings of failing to meet my targets like last week. So I didn't even hesitate and just carried straight on into a second parkrun freedom run.

The weather even eased up on me a bit during the second freedom run. The wind died down a touch and I think it just about stopped raining. I carried on a at very similar pace, finishing my second freedom run just over 10 seconds quicker than the first in 21:43. That gave me a combined (double parkrun) 10km run of 43:38. Not bad for taking it easy!

That is now 199 parkrun freedom runs completed around the Coventry parkrun course!

All in all a very satisfying run in the rain.

Top 5 feelings at parkrun

I'm sure every parkrunner would have their own opinions about this, but here are my suggestions for the top 5 feelings at parkrun:

1) Getting a parkrun PB - That sense of achievement just can't be beaten. The longer your old parkrun PB has stood for, the better the feeling. There is something very special about being better than you have ever been at parkrun before.

2) Pacing a friend to a parkrun PB - It may not be your own PB, but helping someone else to get theirs feels almost as good as getting a PB yourself. And maybe someone else will repay the favour to help you to a PB one day.

3) Volunteering - You may not get to run yourself, but knowing that you have still been part of parkrun and have enabled everyone else to run is still a great feeling. It really is the next best thing to running at parkrun and is a great way to stay involved when injured or resting for another event.

4) Joining the 50 or 100 club - It's a great feeling to get that brand new 50 or 100 (or 250 club I imagine) club t-shirt, especially when you cast your mind back over all those runs and the commitment it has taken to reach that landmark. Then you can show everyone that you are part of the club.

5) Community spirit - That great feeling of being part of something as special as parkrun. Sharing the experience, being cheered on by (and cheering on in return) your new-found parkrun friends.

Monday, 19 November 2012

parkrun stats of the week...17th November 2012

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:
188 parkrun events run
22,695 runners
The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 120 (down 3 on last week).

12 events recorded a new record attendance, as follows:
EventRecord Attendance  
Albert Melbourne170
Alice Holt157
Claisebrook Cove84
Cornwall Park59
Nahoon Point266
North Lakes53

Alice Holt parkrun there showing an impressive 157 runners for its inaugural event!

The longest standing parkrun attandance record is:
Amager Faelled  146 28/08/2010

And in the UK its:
Old Deer Park  83 15/01/2011

The highest attandance this week was 809 at Bushy Park. No surprise there. Bushy parkrun still holds the global attendance record for a single event of 1000.

The lowest attandance this week was 6 at  Hillerød.

9 new male course records set this week:
Alice HoltDanny NORMAN17:59
CityparkConnor MAGILL15:48
Cornwall ParkJacson KLUTS17:20
GinninderraMartin DENT14:42
GunnersburyRobert WILSON15:54
HanleyChris DAVIES15:36
Little StokePhilip PARRY16:51
MalahideDavy BYRNE16:30
RoodepoortLuvuyo SILWANA17:04

6 new female course records set this week:

Alice HoltKaren HAZLITT20:47
MalahideMaura KEARNS19:26
RoodepoortAnn BONIWELL21:06
NewyCelia SULLOHERN17:04
GravesStephanie BURNS19:33
Southwick Country ParkOlivia WALWYN17:27

A total of 66 runners (up 6 on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week.
12 of these (up 2 on last week) run under 16 minutes!

The fastest parkrunner in the World this week was by Martin Dent running 14:42 at Ginninderra parkrun.

The top age grade performance this week was by Ian Reade who ran 15:53 in the VM45-49 category at Swindow parkrun, recording a 91.40% age grade in the process. Very impressive!

The fastest freedom run recorded the week was by:
Olivier Thuong running 20:32 at Black Park parkrun

Also noticed this week, is that one male runner currently holds 6 parkrun course records:
KingstonKevin QUINN15:19:00
NonsuchKevin QUINN15:25:00
RiddlesdownKevin QUINN15:31:00
Roundshaw DownsKevin QUINN15:41:00
BrockwellKevin QUINN15:16:00
Banstead WoodsKevin QUINN15:25:00

And on a similar note, we have a female runner who curently holds 5 course records:
GreenwichClare ELMS17:57:00
OrpingtonClare ELMS18:28:00
RiddlesdownClare ELMS18:20:00
Roundshaw DownsClare ELMS19:00:00
LloydClare ELMS18:56:00

There are a few ohers hot on their tails, so I will try to keep an eye on this now and again.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bushy Park parkrun

Conditions before today's run
We  awoke on parkrun day to monsoon conditions. This was to be my 7-year old daughter, Martha's, third run round the Bushy Park parkrun course. She has yet to finish the course, but the time spent on my shoulders is reducing and hence she is on a PB-streak of two and we were hoping to make it three today.
Bushy parkrun director, Ray Coward, starts us off
At the start
The run starts in the natural bowl just to the north of the Princess Diana fountain, near to the Hampton Court gate. There are three car parks in Bushy Park. One near the Diana Fountain and the other two near the Pheasantry Cafe, where many parkrunners meet to for a post mortem of the day's run. Before Martha started coming, I usually run to the start from my home in Twickenham. But we didn't think it was a good idea to put a 7-year old through that. So we take the car and park in the Pheasantry Car Park.
At 9am we were all huddled together in a big seething mass, waiting for run director, Ray Coward, to start us off. As there are between 800-900 runners, he needs and uses a megaphone to make himself heard.

And we're off, up Chestnut Avenue

Martha running
When Ray had delivered his preliminaries, he asked if we were ready, 809 of us confirmed that we were and he let us go.
Basking in the light of a 3rd consecutive PB
We were situated at the start of the pack, so all of the Speedy Gonzales' hurtled off past us, while Martha ran as fast as her little legs would carry her up a very muddy stretch of Chestnut Avenue and I chased after her. This first kilometer is along grass, which in today's conditions was very muddy. This section runs parallel to the road travelling north up to the gate onto Park Road, Teddington. When we get to the gate, we take a sharp right onto a gravel path, taking care to avoid the bollard. We then travel easterly along the cinder track-- a cinder track it may have been, but they were still lots of puddles for 7-year old girls to splash in. It's at this point where Martha's initial head of steam runs out and she needs a carry. So onto the shoulders she pops for a few hundred meters where we practice her times tables. By the time we get to the Sandy Lane pedestrian entrance to the park, Martha has spotted a couple of girls a little older than her and is running with them. And in no time at all we arrive at Hampton Wick Cricket club and are 3km into the run (more than half way Martha).
A second stint on the shoulders and we meet a young mum and her daughter in a buggy. She is not enjoying it, but Martha makes her daughter, Ella, laugh and by the time we head west towards the children's playground, Martha has got that PB in her head. The more you run, I tell her, the quicker your time will be.
We pass the playground and the tarmac paths end. The last km is run on grass, south along the river, cross the bridge, and north around the Princess Diana roundabout and a sprint to the finish.
We made it in 42:40, a third successive PB for Martha. We're getting closer to her running the whole course herself, which for a 7-year old is not at all bad.