Saturday, 22 December 2012

parkrun Volunteering made simple....Numbers

The Numbers role at parkrun is fairly simple, but does require someone with a steady hand and who is calm under pressure.

The Numbers volunteer can spend the first 15 minutes or so at parkrun simply clapping and encouraging parkunners. The Numbers role really comes into effect when the first runners finish their parkrun and continues until the last person finishes.

The Numbers volunteer will be given all the finish position tokens and it is their role to stand at the end of the finish funnel and hand out the finish position tokens, one each to each and every finisher. This sounds a pretty simple task and it is really, so long as you don't panic and can handle the tokens quickly and effectively.
It will not normally be possible to ensure that the finish position tokens are in the correct order whilst they are being handed out, as there simply isn't time. The Numbers role has to rely on the fact that the tokens have already been placed in the correct order.

The Numbers role is not normally responsible for ensuring that runners remain in the correct finishing order. The Funnel Manager would normally do this. Perhaps only at the smallest of parkrun events, where volunteer numbers do not allow a Funnel Manager, the Numbers role may also be asked to keep an eye on runners changing order.

The basics of handing out the finish position tokens is that every finisher that has done the run under their own steam should get a finish position token. They don't have to have run, they may have walked or hopped and skipped. Children and babies in buggies do not get a finish position but wheelchair users obviously do. The most important aspect of this is that the Timekeeper and Numbers roles must both use the same criteria to decide who gets a time and a token. This will ensure that the finish times and positions stay in sync. The Number Checker will be making constant checks to ensure that if and when the two get out of sync it is spotted as early as possible. Neither the Timekeeper or the Numbers role should ever attempt to correct out of sync problems during the run. This will be resolved during results processing by the Results Administrator.

There are often runners who decide that they do not want to take a finish position token. This can be for any number of reasons, perhaps not having their athlete barcode or not wanting the time after a bad run and many more reasons besides. In such cases, rather than dwelling on the fact, the Numbers role should simply pocket the finish position token and carry on to the next person and token. By pocketing the finish position token, it has been kept safe and will not have put the results out of sync as the finisher will still effectively have been given a finish position. If the Numbers role sees or is told of a runner ducking out of the funnel (Funnel Duckers), then the same process of pocketing the relevant finish position token will help to keep positions in sync.

The trickier aspects of this job are:
- readying batches of finish position tokens whilst also handing out earlier tokens (larger events often have a Numbers Assisstant to prepare batches of tokens for the Numbers role).
- coping with the fiddly tokens on cold days. Unfortunately gloves are not normally the answer, as the tokens become tricky to manipulate when wearing gloves. In the winter you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it. Fingerless gloves could be worth a shot.
- coping with the volume of finishers at the peak finish times. I have heard that at the largest parkrun of all (Bushy Park), there is a 10 minute period where they have close to 1 finisher per second. I'm sure you can imagine that handing out 600 tokens in 10 minutes is no mean feat!). Most parkruns do not see anything like this quantity of finishers, nevertheless there are times where the Numbers role has to work flat-out for a short period of time.

The best thing about this role is that you get to be the first to congratulate every single runner immediately after their run.

Friday, 21 December 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 2,661 registrations this week, 130 more than last week.

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations (according to my official source page on the parkrun website) up to 403,691 (up from 401,030). That is a growth of 0.6% on last week.

As far as I am aware, there are no new parkruns starting this weekend or next, with the next two starting on the 5th January. 

Malahide parkrun continues to be top of the charts in the number of new registrations category, this week adding yet another 57 new registrants so far. That is now seven weeks (including before their first event) in a row that Malahide parkrun has added the most new registrations. But the table below shows that they aren't far out in front now. Amazing growth though still at Malahide parkrun.

parkrun events showing notable growth in registrations this week are:
Event   Total   This week   
Malahide parkrun142957
Claisebrook Cove parkrun58450
New Farm parkrun418649
Newy parkrun200747
Nahoon Point parkrun175236
Bushy parkrun2102535
Conkers parkrun, N.W.Leicestershire173135

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still the same top 5:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun21025
Glasgow parkrun12354
Leeds parkrun11163
Brighton & Hove parkrun10050
Wimbledon Common parkrun9648

And at the other end of the spectrum, but just as worthy of a mention we have (just one new entry "Sunrise-on-sea parkrun", this week!):
Event   Total   
Modderfontein Reserve parkrun6
Wimpole Estate parkrun14
Harrow Lodge parkrun15
Sunrise-on-Sea parkrun27
Chelmsford Central parkrun31

The training and family life balancing act

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the trickiest things I will have to contend with whilst trying to train for some PBs in the spring, is finding the time to fit training in.

With a wife and three kids to spend time with, keep happy and play my part in all that goes on, this will not be easy. I am going to have to be quite flexible and pretty inventive with when I fit training in to make sure I don't annoy my family.

If I can't find a way to fit in my training I will not be content. But if fitting in training comes at the expense of my family time then neither my family or myself will be happy. It's a balancing act for sure.

I will need to make use of every part of the day and the week to make this work:
- before work.
- lunchtimes on work from home days.
- evenings.
- weekends.
All these need to be part of my plan, but with plenty of flexibility so that training sessions can be dropped or replaced where family needs require it.

If I can find a way to balance all of that and not annoy my family, I will be doing very well  and I may achieve my PB targets.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The average parkrunner this week

Well what kind of week did parkrun Pat (the average parkrunner) have this week?

The average parkrunner (parkrun Pat) ran 26:56 this week.
parkrun Pat's all-time parkrun average remains at 26:36.
parkrun Pat ran 20 seconds slower than his/her all-time average this week, but 8 seconds quicker than a fortnight ago.

Other weekly global parkrun stats that might be of interest:
  • 10 new clubs were represented at parkrun for the first time.
  • 2 new parkrun events took place for the very first time.
  • 1,435 new runners ran at parkrun for the first time.
  • Between us we ran 90,040 km last weekend.
  • The total cumulative distance covered by all parkrunners at all parkrun events is now: 9,637,870 km!
  • At this week's rate, it is likely that we will pass the 10 million kilometre (2 million runs) mark on the 12th January 2013, almost a year to the day of passing the 5 million kilometre mark.

On this day in parkrun history...20th December

On this day in parkrun history, on Saturday 20th December 2008, just 11 parkrun events took place. 1,091 parkunners completed their parkrun that day.

Just 4 years later and this last weekend saw a new record of 192 parkrun events take place and 18,007 parkrunners take part. Yet more evidence of the impressive growth of parkrun over the last few years.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A First ( old ) Timer.

A little history..

I am Stan Cottier,
65 years young,
First race..local scouts sports day 1961..I won the mile.( The highlight of 50 years!!)
Joined Waterloo Harriers, in Liverpool, 1968.
I have been running, racing ever since. Although, because of work/family commitments a fair amount to that time has just been running. No training or racing.
My P.B. for 5k, which will remain my lifetime best, is 16.20.

My first parkrun was at Princes, Christmas eve last year-2011.
So, parkrun  anniversary on Saturday..married 40 years on Sunday!
My parkrun P.B. is 24.30.

Why do I love parkrun?
It is always there. I don't have to think about entering races weeks in advance and spending money and then not go!
I know parkrun is supposed to be just a timed run but I still race as hard as I can and want to beat those in front of me.

I am not in the fastest 500, BUT, at the moment, I am 31st in the points table and 327th in the age graded league!!
I have volunteered 7 times and really get a buzz from it.I have given out barcode tokens at the finish and marshalled as well. I love clapping and cheering on all the runners.The feedback from other parkrunners is fantastic. ( So remember to volunteer. )

And so to 2013...
I want Santa to bring me a parkrun P.B.
I want to run over 70% (68.40% at the moment) for the age graded league.

Parkrun rocks..

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

parkrun stats of the week - 15th December 2012

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:
191 parkrun events run (up 10 on last week)
17,966 runners (down 538 on last week)
The colder weather in the UK is certainly having an effect on attendance fugures.

The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 94 (down 8 on last week).
7 events recorded a new record attendance this week, as follows:

Event  Record Attendance  
Cornwall Park82
Darlington South Park137
North Beach81
Richmond Park451

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 attendance this week was 714 at Bushy Park. No surprise there. Bushy parkrun still holds the global attendance record for a single event of 1000.

The lowest attendance this week was 4 at Nibe parkrun.

6 new male course records set this week (1 more than last week):
Athlete  Time  
Ashton CourtDan RODGERS16:37
CongletonRoger ALSOP17:13
CoomeraJason GERAGHTY15:48
Cornwall ParkHayden Lloyd SHEARMAN17:09
Darlington South ParkDean NEWTON16:47
North LakesGreg WEBSTER16:57

10 new female course records set this week (4 more than last week, the women won yet again this week!):
Event  Athlete  Time  
CongletonKatie SAMUELSON21:03
Cornwall ParkKatrin GOTTSCHALK20:39
Darlington South ParkKatie NOBLE20:32
North LakesHelen STANTON18:39
SandgateLucy CARVALHO21:39
South BankBritney MCMULLEN18:07
MalahideAngela MCCANN18:17
RushcliffeLou COLLINS19:16
BexleyHolly PAGE19:53
GuildfordJoanna KLAPTOCZ19:28

An impressive 71 runners (up 18 on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week.
11 of these (up 7 on last week) run under 16 minutes! 5 of those fastest 11 coming at Poole parkrun.

Event  Athlete  Time  
PooleChris POWNER14:58
PooleMatthew FAYERS15:03
EdinburghAndrew DOUGLAS15:25
Bushy ParkBradley GOATER15:29
AlbertWondiye Fikre INDELBU15:33
Bushy ParkNathan WHITE15:40
PooleMatthew BENNETT15:44
PooleAlan MURCHISON15:46
CoomeraJason GERAGHTY15:48
HuddersfieldRichard ANDERSON15:54
PooleJacek CIELUSZECKI15:56

The fastest parkrunner in the World this week was by Chris Powner running 14:58 at Poole parkrun.

The top age grade performance this week was by Lucy Elliott who ran 17:30 in the VW45-49 category at Poole parkrun, recording a 91.62% Age Grade in the process. Very impressive!

42 parkrun freedom runs were recorded this week. The fastest freedom run recorded the week was 18:38 by Ian Wilkinson (that's me!) at Coventry parkrun on 13th December 2012.

Other facts and figures:
- 10 new clubs were represented at parkrun for the first time this week.
- 250,393 different people have now completed at least one parkrun. Breaking through the 250,000 mark at the weekend!
- 195 different parkrun venues have been run. The 200th should happen early in the new year.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Volunteering at parkrun....the Funnel Manager

The Funnel Manager is basically in charge of overseeing everything that goes on in the finishing area.

This is very much an organisational role to ensure the smooth running of the finish area.

The main responsibilities of the Funnel Manager are:

- to ensure that finishers continue along the finish funnel, keeping the finish line clear for the next finishers. Some finishers may be exhausted, but all must be encouraged along the finish funnel as efficently as possible. The finish line must not be blocked.

- to ensure that finishers remain in the same order until the end of the finish funnel, where the finish position tokens will be handed out. The Funnel Manager will usually leave the runners to agree the order in which they finished, remembering that parkrun is a run and not a race and that those in a close finish will normally be given the same or similar time anyway.

- to ensure that every runner that crosses the finish line within the funnel is then kept inside the funnel until the end and takes a finish position token. Anyone ducking out of the finish funnel (known as "funnel duckers" - don't try saying that fast a few times in a row) and not taking a finish position token, could cause problems in the results. Runners should be encouraged to remain in the correct position in the funnel and take a finish position token. Should it not be possible to prevent a funnel ducker, the Funnel Manager can pocket the relevant finish position token for safekeeping.

Where the Numbers Assisstant role is not fullfilled, the Funnel Ducker can offer help to the Numbers role at busy periods. This could be to provide the next batch of finish position tokens. This help is particularly welcome during the colder winter months when the effect of the cold on the hands and fingers of the person in the Numbers role can make fiddly jobs quite tricky.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Is parkrun for me?

parkrun is for everyone. Anyone can go along to parkrun.

But if your question is more along the lines of "Will parkrun suit me?", then that of course depends more on you than parkrun.

It is fair to say that parkrun can be pretty much anything you want it to be. It can be a walk, a jog, a run, even a race. It can be training, it can be fun, you can even take it seriously. It really can be anything you want it to be.

Oh, except it can't be a 10km run. But even that isn't true as you can easily make it the start, middle or end of a longer run.

These days, parkrun (the organisation) themselves repeatedly say that parkrun is not a race. They are right to say this, as it is not what parkrun is really about. But in truth, if you and your friends want to make it a race, then you can. The only proviso being that it is a fun race and not a deadly serious, win at all costs race. Don't expect parkrun to decide who wins a photo finish. Not taking it too seriously, and fun and enjoyment are the key here.

If you are looking to get fit, or lose weight, parkrun can be part of the solution.
If you are new to running, parkrun is perfect.
If you haven't run for years and want to get back into it, parkrun is perfect.
If you are looking to make friends, parkrun can help.
If you just want en excuse to get out in the fresh air on a Saturday morning for a bit of exercise, look no further, parkrun is ideal.
If you want to get faster, sure parkrun can help you do that.
If you want to run with or against people of similar abilities, there are bound to be people of a similar ability to you at parkrun.
If you have been a runner for a while and now want to join a club, there will be plenty of clubs with runners at your local parkrun and they will be more than happy to talk to you about joining their club.

parkrun is for everyone!