Saturday, 6 April 2013

Old Deer parkrun

Check the spelling... 'Old Deer parkrun' is not an event organised just for aged runners!  Runners of all ages gathered at Old Deer Park today for the final run in the adidas BOOST tour.

Last week, at Pymmes parkrun, I was one of 14 runners, and to be fair Old Deer parkrun normally has between 30 and 40 runners.  This week, as you can see by the photo (thanks to Martin Yelling for getting a picture of me) was slightly different.  Adidas have been touring various parkruns over the last few week with their new Boost trainers and for the last run in the series something special had been planned!  I would name all the athletes who were there as part of the adidas team - but I will leave someone out by mistake and risk upsetting them.

I persuaded a friend, who normally runs at Alice Holt parkrun, to join me in today's outing.  Two of my partners in crime from last weekend were meeting me there, as I was taking two of my boys with me as well as a friend it made sense to take my own car.  Our final partner in crime was not allowed out to play as it was his younger son's first birthday party and naming ceremony this afternoon and his assistance was required closer to home*.

Soon after parking the car I was reminded that, despite having many thousands of registered runners, parkrun is a very friendly community.  I saw an Andover parkrunner (who I first met at Killerton parkrun) and said a very quick hello as we both looked for the nearest toilets!  After we crossed the A316 using the foot bridge (which thrilled the boys and terrified me) I bumped in to the best marathon support duo ever!  Hugs and squeals all round!  There were lots of people standing around in the sunshine.  It should be mentioned that sunshine has a novelty value this year.  Normally by the beginning of April most runners would be in shorts and vests/t-shirts.  This year they were still very much in the minority, but it was sunny and the sun did actually have some warmth in it!

After a run briefing that I have to admit to not really listening to as I was refereeing between my two boys we proceeded down to the start.  There were hundreds of us!  The only bit of the run brief that I had heard was that we were running two laps rather than the normal three.  The start saw us running up a very gentle slope for about a quarter of a mile, having spotted the finish funnel (which you couldn't really miss because it was huge!) I worked out that we would have to run up it 3 times in total, thankfully it was a very gentle slope!

The course was entirely on grass, the sort of grass that makes me very glad I gave up playing hockey!  It was hard packed, but ever so slightly uneven.  Just the sort of ground that I fell on last summer and injured my foot.  I was glad that I had worn my road shoes rather than my trail ones, as I think the cushioning was more useful than the grip of trail shoes given the mud free state of the route.  One gentleman had decided against shoes altogether, running barefoot.  The mother (aka worry wart) in me does hope that he didn't step in, or on, anything nasty!  The route, rich in 90º turns, was well marshalled by cheerful and cheering volunteers.  Danny Norman, host of the parkrun show podcast, made my boys' day by recognising them as he carried out his marshalling duties.

I ran quite conservatively.  I almost matched my pace for the first 2 miles of Pymmes parkrun, but in the absence of a smack down between me and another runner I carried on chatting to fellow runners and failed to pick up the pace for the final mile.  I didn't think I'd run fast, because I don't like grass, but I do think I could have worked a bit harder!  I finished in 24min44secs.   After filtering through the finish funnel and collecting my token, I set off back around the course, clockwise this time running alongside the runners but in the opposite direction, to find the boys.  I shouted words of encouragement to people I knew, and to anyone who looked like they were about to give up.  I passed my older boy and ran on to find the younger one, meeting up with him about half a mile back down the route.  He graciously allowed me to carry his water bottle and tracksuit top and begged to borrow my sunglasses (knew I should have gone for a pink pair) and we jogged on to the end.

It was lovely to be able to stand around after the run, rather than dashing off to avoid frostbite/getting even more drenched!  And a lot of the 553 runners (a new attendance record) did stand around and wait.  Prizes were on offer - and runners seem to like prizes almost as much as they like running!  Prizes included adidas trainers and clothing, personal training plans from Liz Yelling, places in the Bupa 10,000m this year and the Silverstone Half and VLM Marathon for next year.   Although I wasn't among the lucky few we all had a very good morning, culminating in coffee and chat at the cafe in the adjacent sports' centre.  My boys had scampi and chips for breakfast and seemed to think that this was the high point of the day!

In addition to breaking the attendance records, I note from a brief perusal of the results page that both the male and female course records fell today too!  No doubt several new age graded records were set too - but it is Saturday evening and my head will explode if I look at too many numbers on a Saturday evening!

So what's next?  Well, a gauntlet was thrown down when my fellow Basingstoke parkrunner said 'You could do 5 different parkruns in 5 weeks if you tried a bit.'  Next week I'll be back 'home' at Basingstoke, I'm on report writing duty so that was an easy decision to make.  I have plans in place for the next two weeks, but I'm not going to commit them to pixels yet just in case I need to change my plans!

*The naming ceremony and first birthday party was lovely too!  I feel very honoured to have been invited!  I just need to remember to take the birthday present with me to the next parkrun!  

This blog post, along other general wittering about running, teaching, life and food, is also posted on:

Friday, 5 April 2013

parkrun performance stats of the week...30th March 2013

New records set at parkrun last week:

14 new male course records set this week:
Athlete  Time  
BarnstapleDan MCGRATH16:06
Camp BastionLee ATHERSMITH16:31
Cross FlattsRichard ALLEN19:51
DeltaIshmael MOLELE16:42
LauncestonJosh HARRIS15:32
Llyn Llech OwainJoshua GRIFFITHS16:23
MansfieldStuart KING15:35
MarlayTony CARTER16:03
MulbartonBen F RUSSELL16:47
North BeachHeinrich Johan KAMFFER17:13
RiverwayStuart JONES20:42
Shorne WoodsRichard TOMLINSON17:48
TelfordChris DAVIES15:33
Wimpole EstateKieran Matthew WOOD17:12

11 new female course records set this week:
Event  Athlete  Time  
Cross FlattsHannah OLDROYD20:21
Llyn Llech OwainSharon LEECH20:05
RiverwayLaken CURREY23:45
Shorne WoodsAnnabelle STEARNS19:33
Wimpole EstateClaire WILSON20:05
EglintonNatalie STEVENSON21:33
Brandon Country ParkDebi CHAPMAN23:02
MalahideKate O' NEILL17:46
WolverhamptonTessa PARKINSON17:51
PoznanPatrycja TALAR19:56
PrincesMaria BARRETT17:37

117 (86 more than last week!) runners ran times under 17 minutes this week. 21 (up 17 on last week)of these runners ran under 16 minutes.

The fastest parkrunner in the World this Week was Joe Bailey, running 15:13 at Heaton parkrun.

The fastest 5 were as follows:
Event  Athlete  Time  Club  
Heaton ParkJoe BAILEY15:13   Salford Harriers and AC
South ManchesterAndi JONES15:16   Unattached
PooleFrank BAILEY15:20   Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers
PooleJacek CIELUSZECKI15:23   Bournemouth AC
LauncestonJosh HARRIS15:32   North Launceston AC

360 new age-grade category records were set across all parkrun events this weekend. Very impressive!

The top age grade performance this week was:
Event  Athlete  Time  Age Group  Age Grade  Club  
KingstonJane DAVIES21:35    VW60-6493.90%Epsom & Ewell Harriers

The fastest freedom run on the "most recent 100" list at the moment is:
Runner  Date  Location  Run Time  
Paul GRANGE25/03/2013Barking16:35      

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Course Description: Southampton parkrun

Southampton parkrun takes place on Southampton Common, which is 1.6 miles from the city centre. It is approximately a 20 minute walk from Southampton Central Station and can easily be reached by bus. Free parking is available in bays on Cemetery Road and at the side of the road on Hill Lane. If you are using Sat Nav the post code for this area is SO15 7NN.

Southampton Common is a 326 acre site that is a haven for flora and fauna and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It includes woodland, parkland, rough grassland, ponds, wetlands, nature trails, a paddling pool, a children’s play area, a model yachting pond and a fishing lake. The event starts and finishes near to the Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre which gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the local ecology and wildlife.

The Common has been host to many large scale events including Race For Life, Sport Relief, Wrap Up and Run 10k and regular holiday fairs and markets; there are two different routes so that the event can still take place when the main area of The Common (The Flats) is in use.

Southampton parkrun is still in its infancy (with the first anniversary in July), but it is a popular local event, with the turnout regularly topping 300. This is particularly impressive considering its proximity to Eastleigh and Netley Abbey parkruns. The Event Director and Run Directors are all from Lordshill Road Runners, a local running club that provides many of the volunteers each week – they can easily be spotted by their vibrant blue hoodies!

The course has been accurately measured with a professional measuring wheel and is mostly run on wide tarmac paths. Some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain. Dependent on availability, marshals will be at key sections of the course, and signs will be in place. We also usually have a lead bike and a tail-runner.

Route A starts outside the Hawthorns Centre and follows the path north-west across the open area of the Common and on into the trees. Runners head north up the hill past The Lake, following the path clockwise round the northern end of the Common. As you head south again, turn right at the crossroads, passing the south side of the Lake to complete the loop. Turn left to begin an anti-clockwise loop, heading across The Flats before going round the Paddling Pool, heading back north and left at the crossroads onto the path again passing the south side of the Lake. Turn left and head south east for a final time back to the finish.

Route B starts on Coronation Avenue near to The Cowherds and heads up to the crossroads before turning left and taking the downhill path on the south side of the lake. Turn right at the bottom of the path and head up the hill past The Lake, following the path clockwise round the northern end of the Common. As you head south again, turn right at the crossroads, passing the south side of the Lake to complete the loop. Runners complete the loop twice before heading down the hill, past the model boating lake to the finish.

The course record (15:40) was recently set on Route B, which is considered by many to be the tougher route, so it will be interesting to see what happens when we are able to return to route A (our main route that is used when it is relatively dry and there are no events on).

The first Saturday of every month is a special event, alternating between odd numbered pacing, even numbered pacing and junior volunteering events. Other special events also happen, such as a takeover event where all of the volunteers were provided by University of Southampton Athletics club. A first-timer brief takes place at 8:40/8:45.

After the event, many volunteers and runners head to The Hawthorns café for hot drinks and breakfast/cake. It’s £2.90 for a cuppa and a bacon sandwich.

Written by Tamsyn Smith (Event Director, Southampton parkrun)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

parkrun stats of the week...30th March 2013

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:

220 parkrun events run - up 24 on last week and a new record number of events on a single parkrunday!

29,567 runners, up a whopping 13,473 on last week! Another new global record attendance and so close to breaking the 30,000 mark for the first time - maybe next weekend!

The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 134.4 (up 52.3 on last week).

23 events recorded new record attendances this week, as follows:
Event  Record Attendance  
Chelmsford Central103
Cross Flatts69
Kings Lynn118
Llyn Llech Owain68
Main Beach242
Shorne Woods78

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

And in the UK it's shared by:
Banstead Woods22023/04/2011

The highest attendance this week was 860 at Bushy Park.

The lowest attendance this week was just 11 at Nibe.

We now have 20 parkrun events with a record attendance of over 400. Amazingly 19 of those still haven't yet reached an attendance of 500 or over, with Bushy park Parkrun still the only such parkrun event, with their current record attendance standing at 1051 (5th Jan 2013).

So firstly, which will be the next parkrun event to reach the mark of 400 parkrunners for the first time and which event will be the second to break the fantastic 500 mark?

I'm going to split the time and age-grade performances summary into another blog post this week to stop this one from becoming too long.

Happy parkrunning!