Saturday, 26 January 2013

Olympians at parkrun

parkrun is for everyone. From Olympians to beginners and everyone in between. But that said, how many Olympians have done parkrun, how often and what are their PBs.

Well here is a list of just some of the Olympians that have run at parkrun. I have concentrated on runners and I am sure that there must be many ex-Olympians from other sports that have since run at parkrun. So I doubt this is anything like an exhaustive list:

Andrew (Andy) Baddeley, 1500m runner, (9th place 2008), 4 runs, parkrun PB = 13:48
Craig Mottram, 5000m runner, (Olympics 2000, 2004 8th), 1 run, parkrun PB = 14:00
Jonathan Brownlee, Triathlete (Olympic Bronze 2012), 1 run, parkrun PB = 14:43
Anthony Whiteman, 800, and 1500m (Olympics 1996, 2000), 1 run, parkrun PB = 14:52
Mo Farah, 5000m and 10000m runner (Olympic Champion in both 2012), 1 run, parkrun PB = 15:06
Alastair Brownlee, Triathlete (Olympic Champion 2012),1 run, parkrun PB = 15:36
Lisa Dobriskey, 800m and 15000m runner, (Olympics 2008, 2012), 3 runs, parkrun PB = 16:15
Helen Jenkins, Triathlete (Olympics 2008 21st, 2012 5th) 2 runs, parkrun PB = 16:20
Liz Yelling, Marathon, (Olympics 2004 25th, 2008 26th), 21 runs, parkrun PB = 16:29
Hayley Haining, Marathon (Olympic reserve 2008), 1 run, parkrun PB =  16:49
Iwan Thomas, 400m runner (5th place 1996), 20 runs, parkrun PB = 19:18
David Moorcroft, middle distance runner (Olympics 1976,1980, 1984), 2 runs, parkrun PB = 20:14

If you know of any more Olympians that have run at parkrun, then please look up their times and add them in a comment.

Happy parkrunning whether you are an Olympian, beginner or anywhere in between.

Friday, 25 January 2013

parkrun events to be "Born in the USA"

In the UK we are blessed with parkrun events in most corners of the country. I can't put my finger on the precise number, but if my memory serves me correctly, it must be in the region of 170 events.

In Australia there are also a significant number. It's 18 and counting if I remember rightly.

However, over in the USA at present it is just the one parkrun event. Livonia parkrun currently stands alone as the only active parkrun event in the USA. But there is great news for parkrun in the USA as recent announcements and new parkrun event facebook pages are popping up all over the place.

I believe that the current intentions are for new parkrun events to start in each of these locations at some point during 2013:
Orlando - great for many parkrunners for their holidays!
Walnut Creek (I don't know where this is)

I have also read that several more are possible this year and that a total of over 45 US cities have shown interest in starting a parkrun. So the signs are good and parkrun USA could soon show a similar growth pattern to parkrun in the UK and Australia. I think it is fair to say that jumping from 1 event to 46 in one year would be tough going. But from 1 to 6 sounds reasonable. Then next year from 6 to who knows where once the process of starting a new event becomes established.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the amazing growth of parkrun and how one day everywhere in the world could have one (a bit of a stretch I admit) and that if the USA took to parkrun then we would soon be talking about hundreds of thousands of parkrunners each week rather than tens of thousands. Just maybe this is the start of that growth in the USA.

Knowing the size of many US cities I think it would be safe to say that each city could evetually house a number of parkrun events (given suitable venues) and that each event could become huge one day.

So if you are lucky enough to have friends living in the USA and near to one of these new parkrun locations, then why not tell them about parkrun and help parkrun USA grow into the huge family that it is no doubt destined to one day become.

I think that this is a subject we will have to revisit again sometime in the future.

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 3,749 registrations this week, 1,817 less than at the same time last week.

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations (according to my official source page on the parkrun website) up to 429,813 (up from 426,064). That is a growth in total registrations of nearly 0.9% in a week.

As far as I am aware, there are 2 new parkruns starting this weekend:
Walthamstow parkrun and Temple Newsam parkrun

Malahide parkrun is no longer top of the charts in the number of new registrations category this week, dropping to second place. Newy parkrun in Australia is the fastest growing parkrun event by registration this week. Newy parkrun has added another 125 new registrants so far!

7 different parkrun events have added 50 or more new registrants this week!

The parkrun events showing (the most) notable growth in registrations this week are:
Event   Total   This week   
Newy parkrun2522125
Malahide parkrun2325119
Nahoon Point parkrun221293
South Bank parkrun75277
Carlisle parkrun28964
New Farm parkrun448659
Glasgow parkrun1269753

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still the same top 5:
Event   Total   This week   
Bushy parkrun2138225
Glasgow parkrun1269753
Leeds parkrun1147029
Brighton & Hove parkrun1027924
Wimbledon Common parkrun993733

It looks as though Wimbledon Common parkrun is only about 2 weeks away from becoming the 5th parkrun with over 10,000 registered runners.

And at the other end of the spectrum, but just as worthy of a mention we have:
Event   Total   
Hillsborough parkrun19
Walthamstow parkrun27
Telford parkrun30
Wolverhampton parkrun46
Temple Newsam parkrun72

Another new parkrun event in the pipeline there with Hillsborough parkrun showing up in the new registrations page for the first time.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

parkrun Volunteering made simple....the Barcode Operator

Barcode Operator (also know as Registration)

So the parkrunners have turned up with thair barcodes and run their parkrun. The Timekeeper has started the timing device and recorded times for each finish position. The Numbers role has handed out the finish position tokens in turn.

Now, if all goes to plan, the parkrunners will make their way to the results registration desk, where the Barcode Operator role will be carried out. This role is the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle to link runners, finish positions and finish times together ready for results processing.

Depending on the size of the parkrun event there may be more than one person in the barcode scanning role (at Coventry parkrun we typically have 3). When there are more than one Barcode Operator, any runner can go to any Barcode Operator without causing problems.

The Barcode Operator role will take both an athlete barcode (the personal barcode that each runner brings with them to each event) and the finish position token. The Barcode Operator should only scan where both of these barcodes are available. Where a runner has forgotten their own personal athlete barcode, their position cannot be properly recorded. The premice being "No barcode, no result!". However, it is fine to remind these runners of their finish position and tell them to look at that position in the results to get their time.

To scan a barcode, the button on the barcode scanner should be pressed (causing the red scanning laser to come on) and held until the scanner beeps and the red scanning laser switches off. The brightest of sunny conditions can interfere with the scanners and in these conditions it is wise to shelter from direct sunlight.

Where an event has multiple Barcode Operators, it is wise to position them a little way away from each other so that each can hear the beep of their own scanner, without being confused by any others.
The athlete barcode should always be scanned before the finish position barcode. The athlete barcode should be handed back to the parkrunner for  reuse on subsequent weeks. The finish position token should be kept. There will usually be a container to put these into.

Some athlete barcodes do not scan properly, the paper may be damp or creased or the ink may have run. In this case, neither barcode should be scanned and the runner should be sent with both barcodes to the Results Adminstrator who will note down the athlete barcode number, the runner's name and their finish position.

The Barcode Operator role can get quite busy shortly after the most common finish times and at the larger parkrun events. But there is very little pressure on the Barcode Operator as there is no real great rush to scan the barcodes. Most parkrunners are happy to chat to other runners whilst waiting in the queue.

I hope this has helped to convince you that this role is not difficult and hopefully you will be happy to volunteer for this role at you home parkrun event some time soon.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Kingscliff parkun will be "open" as usual on Australia Day. If your parkrun is "shut" please come and run with us.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

parkrun stats of the week...19th January 2013

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:

155 parkrun events run (down 41 on last week)
12,651 runners (down 16,469 on last week)
The cold and snow got the better of a lot of parkrun events and runners this week in the UK.

The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 81.6 (down 67 on last week!).

9 events recorded a new record attendance this week, as follows:
Event  Record Attendance  
Chelmsford Central82
Main Beach232
St Peters187

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

And in the UK it's:
Gorleston    156    19/03/2011

The highest attendance this week was 502 at Bushy Park.

The lowest attendance this week was 2 at Summerfields parkrun.

5 new male course records set this week (2 less than last week):

Athlete  Time  
CarlisleJon FLETCHER16:18
Chelmsford CentralMalcolm MUIR17:50
PlymvalleyJason PASCOE16:47
Sunrise-on-SeaSimon KUMM21:47
WynnumWerner BOTHA16:51

5 new female course records set this week (3 less than last week). A draw between the men and women this week:

Event  Athlete  Time  
CarlisleJoasia ZAKRZEWSKI19:07
Chelmsford CentralSophie RICHES20:29
Harrow LodgeCaroline TUCK23:45
BarnstapleSarah Elizabeth MAY20:28
LauncestonDeborah PAUNA20:28

26 runners (down 19 on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week.

Just 1 of these 26 runners (down 1 on last week) ran under 16 minutes!
The fastest parkrunner in the World was Steve Way running 15:58 at Poole parkrun.
The top age grade performance this week was by Jani Martin who ran 21:09 in the JM14 category at Sangate parkrun, recording a 93.46% Age Grade in the process. A future Olympian maybe!

The fastest freedom run recorded was 20:39 by Jason Marlow at Conkers parkrun on 17th January 2013.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Risk Assessments. Can anyone beat snakes?

When starting parkrun, we had to do a Risk Assessment, usual ones might be, path slippery in the wet... Sharing path with other users...Hot weather...Cold weather.
One of ours is "be aware of snakes on the path"  Brown Snakes, and Pythons are indigenous to the area, so although unlikely, I thought I should include.
So far no sightings, but that would be my bad luck to be the first event organiser to have to deal with snake bite!
Anyone got anything weirder???

parkrun course description: Sandgate, Brisbane

Sandgate - Photo by Michael Zimmer. Used under the Creative Commons license.

I got up slightly earlier than usual last Saturday in order to drive north to participate in Sandgate parkrun.

Sandgate, nestled in Brisbane’s northern suburbs against the chin of Moreton Bay, seems like a pretty chilled out place. Those who run or cycle along the beach foreshore get treated to unobstructed views of the ocean as well as the Redcliffe Peninsula, which sits to the north. Cycling seems popular around these parts, and I pass numerous pelotons as I drive to Arthur Davis Park, the starting area for Sandgate parkrun.

Sandgate parkrun is a relatively new addition to the Brisbane parkrun fellowship, having started in November 2011. It’s quickly become a popular event, and on the day I attended (January 19th 2013), the event had witnessed is second consecutive attendance record with 141, which included 46 first timers.

Summer wasn’t going to make it easy for us though. Brisbane was in for a hot day with a forecasted maximum sitting around 35 degrees including very high humidity, meaning runners were going to get very hot, very quickly. Today’s event was certainly going to be a personal challenge.

The Course

Sandgate parkrun starts off in Arthur Davis Park, which sits on the Sandgate foreshore and overlooks Moreton Bay. Runners run north for 2.5kms along Flinders Parade before turning and heading back towards the course origin. Of course this means you can say ‘hey’ to your other friends as you loop back towards the finish. On one side you have the ocean, and on the other is a park. There looks to be a handy swimming pool nearly the start and end zone as well.

Sandgate parkrun course

While my Garmin says otherwise, the course seems nearly pancake flat, and wide enough to accommodate comfortable numbers of runners and cyclists in both directions. It does narrow slightly in the mid-section and runners may have to be wary of cyclists.  For this reason, perhaps leaving the iPod at home is a good idea. Safety should always trump the beats.

Running the course, I’m reminded a lot of Wynnum parkrun in Brisbane’s east. Both are on the shores of Moreton Bay and both don’t offer a huge amount of shade. Without going into elevation profiles, both seem mostly flat, although I suspect Sandgate may be slightly more even in terms of terrain. Furthermore, I’ll expect Sandgate to be slightly faster than Wynnum due to only having one turnaround. Both are quick, but perhaps Sandgate has the edge.

The event directors at Sandgate parkrun are a husband and wife team who seemed very friendly and approachable. When I was there, they had a laptop ready for new registrations, and also plenty of drinking water and fluids. Someone even brought oranges! 

My experience

I’ve been a pretty keen parkrun tourist in January, having done my first South Bank run last weekend. Keeping up this burgeoning tradition, I was inspired to get up slightly earlier than usual on the Saturday and drive the 40 minutes to Sandgate from my home in the inner southern suburbs. With so many parkruns in Brisbane, I can indulge in different courses and take in new surroundings at a whim.

Sandgate parkrun meeting area - photo by Darragh Murray
It seemed to be low tide when I was running the Sandgate event, and that meant the occasional whiff of that low tide smell. It’s not bad or anything, actually it might keep you from drifting off into that internal dreamlike place that happens to me when running, and keep my mind on the prize.

I’ve been running 5ks fairly consistently over the past few weeks but hadn’t yet got near enough to being fit enough to break my parkrun PB. Last week I ran a 27 minute parkrun time on a hot South Bank course (26:30 watch), and while I didn’t go out to run super-fast or anything at Sandgate, I did notice that I completed my first few kilometres in sub 5 minute/kilometre pace which is fast for me. I felt fine as I reached the turnaround part of the course.

Post turnaround was a bit of a nightmare as I suddenly began to feel super-hot and super tired. It seemed the sun was bearing right into my soul and evaporating all my energy, and I quickly dialed back my pace and many started to pass me out. In honesty, I’d probably started out too quickly and was paying the price. Around the 4 kilometre mark, I’d found my steady pace again and finished strongly with a parkrun time of 25 minutes (watch time was 24m 48s).

Sandgate parkrun - near the finish line - Photo by Darragh Murray

I was wrecked at the end, but thankfully the organisers had put on plenty of fluids and oranges (as I had mentioned) which made recovery so much easier. It looked like a few people did suffer in the heat, so I didn’t feel left out! As always, much kudos to the organisers and all the volunteers.

I’m rarely disappointed by parkrun events, and Sandgate has proven to be a great addition to the parkrun family. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to run it again, but I’m thinking I may wait for slightly cooler weather before I’ll make the journey up again. 

Snow+sledge+kids+hill+me = hill reps!

So this afternoon the kids wanted to be dragged up and down the road on the sledge. And I mean the road as it was the most compact area of snow for sledging.

I hadn't been out for my Sunday run. We had been out on a 3 mile walk and sledge pull to go sledging this morning, but that wasn't like the effort of a normal Sunday long run.

Our road is about 300 metres long and on a fair incline. 250 metres to avoid the ends and steer clear of cars.

So, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to combine kids fun and my training.

I added an extra long rope to the sledge string and harnessed myself up as if I was their reindeer. I then set about dragging them up and down the hill at a pretty decent speed.

I only took one child at a time (i'm not insane!) but I knew all three would want a go, and none of them would settle for less of a go than the others.

I was jogging down the hill and sprinting back up (as much as you can sprint in the snow dragging a child laden sledge!).

4 reps in (4 down and 4 up that is) and the first child was cold enough and happy enough to stop. On that basis I knew I had 8 more reps to go.

Luckily the kids were disorganised enough to allow me to get my breath back whilst taking off coats and wellies and then getting the next passenger prepared.

A few adults asked the price for a ride up, I could have made a killing.

One fellow fool (another dad) tried one hills worth near my pace. Then he was gone. One was enough for him!

I have to say that I am an idiot. But it was good fun, the kids loved it, I enjoyed it in a way only a runner could, and it was a really good training session.

All in all it was 12 hard hills dragging a sledge for 250 metres.

I must be mad! No, I was just making the most of being a pretty fit Dad!