Saturday, 1 December 2012

The average parkrunner this year

Back on the 13th January 2012 parkrun was preparing for it's 1 millionth completed run, which was achieved the following day. At that time, I calculated the average time taken for all completed runs to date. I didn't know it at the time, but that was parkrun Pat's time. Back then, the average was 26 minutes and 14 seconds. Not bad for the average parkrunner.

I have repeated the same calculation today and have found that parkrun Pat has slowed. Has it been the weather? Do we have some harder parkrun courses these days? Has parkrun attracted more slow(er) (or shall I say less fast) runners over the last year? Have parkrunners been taking it easy for the last year? Have faster runners moved on to other things? I really don't know the answer. But what I do know, is that parkrun Pat's average time is now 26 minutes and 36 seconds, slowing by a whole 18 seconds per runner per run over the last 11 months or so.

And as we haven't yet reached the 2 million completed runs mark, what this actually means is that Pat's average parkrun this year has been slower than that, very close to 27 minutes in fact.

So if you see an average (or shall we say "typical") parkrunner out there running in the coming weeks, remember to give them as much encouragement as you can, as we all have a shared responsibility to help parkrun Pat to improve that average again. Pat can't do it without you. Well that's a lie really, if everyone else speeds up, you could crawl on your belly and parkrun Pat would still get faster. But you know what I mean, we can all help make parkrun Pat's average time a bit faster.

Myself and my son are going to be making parkrun Pat's average a little slower for the next few weekends, so I need at least 2 of you to commit to counter-balance those with sub-20 minute times each week. Any takers?

Happy parkrunning!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Introducing parkrun Pat (just an average stat!)

I'd like to introduce you to parkrun Pat by way of a little ditty (please bear with me, I think I must have eaten something strange!):

parkrun Pat is just a stat,
Pat could be man or a woman at that,
Pat might be thin or could be fat,
But Pat is just an average stat.

Pat could be an adult or child you know,
Pat isn't particularly fast or slow,
Pat can run the whole way though,
And Pat is never a no-show.

parkrun Pat will always be,
A parkrun regular like you and me,
The parkrun sort you'll often see,
Going for a parkrun PB.

To parkrun, Pat will always go,
Pat listens to the parkrun show,
Pat is the parkrun average Joe,
And could be anyone you know.

So that is parkrun Pat.

Pat is a parkrun regular. Ever present. Male or female. Adult or child. Fast or slow.

Pat is not a real person, Pat is the parkrun average. And through statistics I will try to keep you up to date with how Pat (the average parkrunner) progresses over the weeks and months. As parkrun grows, how will Pat's average performance change? How many times will Pat have run? How will Pat run each week.

I will try to keep you posted every now and again.

Pat = parkrunner average time

I might recover from this (hopefully temporary) spell of insanity fairly quickly and we may never hear of Pat again, but you never know!

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 3,666 registrations this week.

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations (according to the official source page on the parkrun website) up to 395,991 (up from 392,325). That is a growth of 0.9% on last week. However, a parkrun Facebook status earlier today suggested that the figure was over 399,000, so it seems the official stats page is not 100% up to date.

It would therefore appear that parkrun should break-through the 400,000 registrations mark sometime in the next few days.

This weekend sees the addition of Torrens parkrun (Adelaide, Australia) to the parkrun family.

Three runs in and Malahide parkrun continues to be top of the charts in the number of new registrations category, this week adding yet another 137 new registrants so far. That is now four 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 parkrun1133137
Newy parkrun183271
Brighton & Hove parkrun994151
Torrens parkrun6451

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun20912
Glasgow parkrun12288
Leeds parkrun11125

And at the other end of the spectrum, but just as worthy of a mention we have (including a new entry):
Event   Total   
Congleton parkrun13
Upton Court parkrun28
Kingscliff parkrun52

How does parkrun work?

parkrun is a free, weekly, timed 5km run. For more information read my previous article "What is parkrun?"

To be able to run at parkrun, all you have to do is pre-register. Click here for more information on the parkrun registration process.

Once you have registered you are free to run at your local parkrun whenever you like. You do not need to tell anyone you are going to be there on any given week. Just turn up, run and have fun.

Better than this, you can actually turn up and run at any of the parkrun locations all over the country and in fact all over the world. Again, you don't need to give any warning that you are going, just turn up at any parkrun location anywhere and run the parkrun. Amazing isn't it!

So what is involved on the day? And how do I find out how I did?

On the day you do not need to tell anyone you are there before the run. Simply line up at the start line ready to go at the start time (typically 9am in the UK, but different in some other countries). If it is your first time, it is well worth listening to any "first-timer" and "pre-run" briefings for details of the route, course safety and other announcements.

And then you just do the run at your own pace. You do not need to be fast, you don't even need to run.

Now, the bit that makes all the results work and ensures that you know how you did, all happens at the end of the run.

Firstly, you must make sure that you have done the correct number of laps. Then, as you reach the finish area, enter the finish funnel and keep running across the line and on into the finish funnel as it narrows. Get well clear of the line (but remain in the order you crossed the line), so that others can complete their run.

At the end of the funnel you will be given a finish position token. Take the finish position token and your own personal "athlete" barcode and queue up at the results/registration table (where they will have barcode scanners).

Your personal barcode and the finish position bacode will be scanned and this will associate you with the finish position. You MUST hand the finish position token in - DO NOT take it home with you as it is needed every week. A separate process will already have associated your finish position with your finish time, and I will explain that another time. So at this point you, your time and your position are all linked together ready to be processed with everyone else's results.

You can then chat with other parkrunners or head to the cafe (all parkruns have a local cafe or refreshments area) and rewards yourself for all your hard work.

Later in the day you will receive a text and/or email telling you your result, or you can check this on the parkrun website.

Then all you have to do is turn up any (or every) week you like and enjoy it all over again.

Happy parkrunning!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

200 Up!

Today I finally ran my 200th parkrun freedom run around the Coventry parkrun course. I believe that I am only the second person to have recorded 200 freedom parkruns, after Ken Fox. Not that anybody other than Ken and myself would care less!

I ran my first parkrun freedom run on the 16th September 2010, so it has taken a little over 2 years, with 106 run this year already.

I know, this is very sad! Not only am I admitting to running the same Coventry parkrun route a couple of times every week (on average), but also to counting them. The parkrun website does help with the counting if I am honest.

To be fair to myself though, my running has mosly been around War Memorial park in Coventry over the last decade or so, so once I knew about parkrun and started running more regularly, it was no great change to switch to the parkrun course rather than the park perimeter path.

I also have to say that, like most parks, War Memorial park in Coventry is a lovely place to go for a run.

Part of my original aim in running parkrun freedom runs was to get to know the Coventry parkrun course a bit better, so as to help improve my times. I know the course so well now that there is no great need for that any more. However, it is still useful to know exactly how far I have run and to be able to compare like for like runs from the present with similar runs in the past.

Looking at trends today I see that I used to run my parkrun freedom runs much harder than I do now. Often trying to get within 30 seconds of my real parkrun PB. My fastest freedom run this year is about 2 minutes 30 seconds off my parkrun PB. I think this shows that I have finally learned not to push it in every training session these days.

Another change to my freedom runs this year has been to use them as interval sessions. My favourite being 500 metres fast, then 500 meres slow, followed by 1 km fast then 500 metres slow. That perfectly fits into the 2.5km parkrun lap and I know exactly where the 500 metres marks are, so it is a simple session for me to stick to. I tend to do that lap 4 times for a double parkrun (10km).

So, even though I know it is repetitive, I am sure that I will continue to run parkrun freedom runs for a while to come, both because it makes my training so simple and because I love being in Memorial park whenever I can be.

Monday, 26 November 2012

parkrun stats of the week...24th November 2012

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:
185 parkrun events run
21,882 runners (813 less than last week)
The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 118 (down 2 on last week).

10 events recorded a new record attendance, as follows:
Event  Record Attendance  
Ally Pally55
Claisebrook Cove90
Highbury Fields74
Nahoon Point295
Upton Court92
Walsall Arboretum93

Sandgate parkrun there showing an impressive 119 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 816at 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 Roodeport.

12 new male course records set this week:
Alice HoltMark GREENWOOD17:48
Frimley LodgeLaurence COX15:45
Fritton LakeDominic David Neil OLIVER16:50
KawanaDavid SCROOPE18:04
LauncestonJohn CLARIDGE17:22
MalahideDavy BYRNE16:24
Nahoon PointCraig ALERS21:59
PortrushChris DENTON18:01
SandgatePatrick FRANKS18:16
SummerfieldsGerhard DE BRUIN17:55
TilgateNeil Robert BONIFACE16:09
Upton CourtJames REPPER17:14

6 new female course records set this week:
Event  Athlete  Time  
PortrushGemma TURLEY20:46
SandgateMelinda DENTON22:53
Upton CourtHelen CROSS19:21
PrestonLouise WIKER18:51
South BankBritney MCMULLEN18:34
NewburySandra BOWERS15:48

A total of 62 runners (down 4 on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week.
8 of these (down 4 on last week) run under 16 minutes!

The fastest parkrunner in the World this week was James P E Poole (I suspect this may be a pseudonym) running 15:03 at Braunstone parkrun.

The top age grade performance this week was by Sandra Bowers who ran 15:48 in the VW35-39 category at Newbury parkrun, recording a 95.78% age grade in the process. This is an increblie age-grade and time, but I must add that Sandra did take this last chance to run for the last parkrun permitted time assissted by two dogs (her amazing huskies). Nonetheless, you can't run that kind of time without being a pretty darn good runner.

14 parkrunners joined the 100 club this week (including Louise Ayling who has previously contributed to the parkrunfans blog).

The fastest freedom run recorded the week was:
21:43 by Ian Wilkinson (that's me!) at Coventry parkrun on 20/11/12 (I also had the second fastest, just 12 seconds slower, run back-to-back with the fastest one - get me!).

Sunday, 25 November 2012

My first time as a parkrun Run Director...part 2

Following on from part 1 written earlier today...

And then I was the timekeeper....

A couple of minutes before the first runner was expected, the final set-up of the timer was done by plugging in the finish button. I then headed over to the finish funnel and took my place beside the finish line. The numbers guy was in place...check. The numbers checker was in place...check. I was in place...check. And then the first runner arrived, I pressed the button, I heard the beep and the timer showed number 2 (number 1 is the start time). Runner 2 quickly followed and then more and more runners crossed the finish line.

I concentrated hard to make sure every runner had a button press and a beep and therefore a finish time recorded. At the busiest of times there were 5 or 6 runners in the space of a second or two. But often there were then breaks of a few seconds to collect my composure. Heaven only knows how they cope at the biggest events like Bushy park where they regularly exceed 800 finishers.

Knowing that I had the results administration to look forward to later I was very keen that there were no mistakes, so I was very pleased as the number checker confirmed we remained in sync as we passed 50 then 100 and on to 200 runners. Unfortunately, around the 260 mark there was one blip, but the cause was soon identified and it would be no great problem to resolve during the results administration.

The worst part of the timer role was coping with cold hands. It wasn't a warm morning and by the time the last arrivals were crossing the finish line my hands were quite painful, even with two layers of gloves (I even had a third pair just in case!).

I was very grateful that the final finishers told us they were the back markers and then leaving the timer running just in case there were any stragglers, the tidy up began. We packed up the finish funnel, packed away course markers and signs and folded away tables. Again, really simple tasks.

All that remained was the timer, barcode scanners, laptop, cables, names of un-scanned barcode holders and the volunteer roster. All those being required for the final part of the jigsaw puzzle, the results upload.

A quick run around the course to pick up any remaining signs and that was that part of the task over.

So next it was time for the results upload....

Andy (my brother) took charge of the laptop here as we worked through the process with me reading through the instructions. Nothing too complicated as long as you read the information provided.

Barcode scanners plugged into USB ports and barcode records downloaded. The timer plugged in and times and positions downloaded. Next on to filling in some gaps in the results. We took the sheet of un-scanned barcodes and added names to positions via athlete barcode numbers. A quick results change was needed to handle the earlier finish position problem. Then there were some updates to the event volunteers list to add those that turned up and asked to volunteer on the day. And then the results were sent to parkrun HQ for processing. And that was it.

It really wasn't hard at all. I'm really pleased that I have done it and that it all went well. There are potential pitfalls I'm sure, but everything went well and I am sure that I will do it again in the future.

I really hope that after reading this you will consider putting yourself forward as a parkrun volunteer. I know that being the Run Director for the day isn't right for everyone. But it really isn't as hard as you might think, especially when you have such a good team of volunteers making it easy for you. And if I haven't been able to convince you to try your hand as a Run Director, then there are plenty of other worthy volunteer positions that may suit you better.

parkrun volunteering, go on, give it a go!