Friday, 10 February 2012

New Contributor: Martin Harris

Name: Martin Harris
Home parkrun: Nonsuch
Date of first parkrun: 28/08/2010
Total Number of parkruns: 8
Number of other parkrun locations run: 3 - Wimbledon, Banstead, Bushy Park
Number of times volunteered: 1
Twitter: @MPHinLondon

Bio: Used to run a fair bit about 4 years ago when I was out living in Sydney, doing marathons and a few ultras (Six Foot and Kepler Track), but since arriving back in the UK, I seem to have caught the Heathrow seems to have taken over and running shoved firmly in to the boot!

There's been some form of come backs on and off the past few years with no real success to due injury..or or more honestly apathy. But I've found that Parkruns are really helping me meet other runners, which I find is pretty important to consistent training, which I've found to be working. So this year I'll do more volunteering to help keep Parkrun going from strength to strength, the more events that get put on, the likelihood more of the country will get off their backsides and run hard for 30 minutes! :)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Course Description: Durham parkrun - A Course For All

It's fair to say that Durham parkrun is now more than well established, the first having being ran on Saturday, August 13th 2011 and this Saturday will see everyone once again lining up on the start line at Maiden Castle for Durham parkrun #27

I am going to attempt to write an unbiased account of the 5km route (3.1 miles in old money) but of course you already know that I am going to fail in doing so, as Durham is such a fabulous course that offers everthing which one could ask for in a run.

Everyone can feel like an Olympian....if they don't, well they should as I can't imagine many Parkruns will start on a tartan athletics track, lined up on the back straight of Durham University's Graham Sports Centre, Maiden Castle and on the word GO! from Race Director, Alister Robson, parkrunners of all abilities, complete 300m of the track and head to the grassed area skirting the tennis courts and all weather pitches. Carefully, the runners negotiate a sign and a volunteer, turning 180 degrees to snake along the banks of the River Wear which is key throughout the route and head towards and across the timber slatted bridge, causing a none obtrussive but rather pleasant cacophony of echoing foosteps before hitting the softer surface of the playing fields This section, I must admit can be challenging as the course follows the perimeter of the football and rugby pitches. No chance of getting lost as you simply follow the leaders, the slower runners may look across the fields and see the 'fast lads & lasses' legging it, but don't worry let them get on with it, parkrun is for everybody don't forget. On leaving playfield pastures you're welcomed by a pleasing stretch of what can be described as ash path, perhaps the time or speed you may have lost tackling the fields you can stretch your legs and make up for it on this path. Continuing along past the end of the aforementioned slatted timber bridge (can I heck recall the correct name of this bridge) runners pass the 3km sign and can now prepare for the final 2km and take in a view that never fails to impress.

Under an old brick railway bridge, across the recently built Kingfisher Bridge, you proceed along the towpath, turn a corner and there it is the most scenic view one could possibly wish for. An expanse of river often littered with University rowing crews, coxless fours, coach and eight, sculls you name it, they are there training hard under the guidance of their cycling coaches, raise your eyes from the river and your spirits are lifted, your tiredness totally forgotten as you witness, Norman architecture in all of it's stunning glory, Durham Cathedral adjacent to the equally impressive Castle, I am swooning right now as I type and recollect this breathtaking vision.

Talking of breath taking, back to the running, continue along the towpath, taking care to avoid collisions with any pedestrian, dog walkers and of course those cyclists barking out orders, advice, encouragement and tactics to their budding Sir Steve Redgraves, usually they and parkrunners have an understanding and respect for one another and steer well clear of each other.

If you glance left across the river, you will see the finish, this can of course work both ways, it can either inspire or tire, the choice is yours hopefully it's the former as you head for the third bridge of the course, known as Baths Bridge. This is where you encounter probably the only wee incline of the route so tackle it with confidence and with a smile as it has been known for Digital Dougie to have his camera set up here. Once you've crossed the bridge it's a sharp left and you can now think of the big finish, go for glory. You started on the athletics track like an Olympian let's finish like one, open those legs and show your class, so to speak and gobble up that block paving with river now on your left and Durham University Race Course on your right, the band stand is ahead and so are those runners you've kept in touch with all the way, now is the time to strike and take them just before the finish line. Awaiting your arrival is a gathering of cheering spectators, hard working volunteers and also a rather fetching Durham Ox statue who I'm sure makes sure you have your position and time recorded correctly by handing your finish tag and barcode to a volunteer for scanning!

To recap, this course is a MUST for any runner, what more can a parkrunner ask for? Enjoy, certainly not endure, this picturesque, varied mix of terrain, relatively flat run, all under the watchful eye of the majestic and monumental Cathedral and Castle!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

My first parkrun

It was with some apprehension that I headed up to Mile End Park to take part in the first parkrun on Saturday. My first proper parkrun on possibly the coldest day this winter and with snow forecast for later in the day, what on earth was I thinking.

I had gone up for the test run the previous Saturday and had been made very welcome, but this was the real deal, and as a relative novice at running I was  convinced I was going to look foolish. I hadn’t even heard of parkruns until a few weeks ago but spurred on by securing a place in the National Lottery Olympic Park run on March 31st I had decided this could be one way of ensuring that I kept up my training.

When I arrived, the hardy volunteers were already there setting out the course, and there was also quite a crowd of runners. It was lovely to be greeted by name by people who had been there the previous week and I was immediately struck by the camaraderie and friendship displayed.

Carole introduced me to Cathie who had volunteered to be the tail runner and we agreed to run together. After a slight delay, so that we could use the centre facilities before the run, we all lined up and then Carole blew the whistle and we were on our way.

Cathie and I let everyone else go and then we set off with Cathie matching her pace to mine.

It was a lovely morning, but bitterly cold. It was great to see the line of runners stretching out ahead, but gradually more and more of them disappeared from view.
The volunteer marshalls were standing in the cold to point the correct route to us as we carried on. The course was two laps and obviously we were eventually lapped by the fast club runners; but strangely, I didn’t mind. I knew I was going to get round however long it took. There are a couple of hills on the route and they really tested my determination but I felt ok about walking for a few metres when necessary.

As we were the last runners, Cathie was able to tell the marshalls they could head back to the start when we completed the second lap. They must have been so cold but they all encouraged us with a cheerful shout out. Cathie made me up my game as we neared the finish line and grabbed my hand as we crossed it. It was great that all the runners were there to cheer us over the line and Carole had a huge box of jelly babies to share out.

It turns out there were 63 runners, which was impressive for such a bitter morning. Thanks to Craigie Lee and Carole for all their hard work and to all the volunteers who turned out. Nobody fell in the canal or frightened the wildlife. It turns out I was first in my age group. However I was also the only runner in my age group!

I am going to volunteer next week and probably run as the tail runner which won’t be hard. Even better there may be coffee next week. Can’t wait.

New Contributor

Name: Annie Walker
Home parkrun: Mile End
Date of first parkrun: 4 Feb 2012
Total number of parkruns 1

Run casually in the past usually training for a Race For Life but always found a reason where I couldn't do more. Then had muscle injury which meant I didn't run for ages.
Now newly retired and back living in London I applied and was accepted for The National Lottery Olympic Park Run on March 31st .
Therefore training in earnest as it is going to be a very special event I think

Monday, 6 February 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Coventry Parkrun

Up earlier than normal on a Saturday, needed to get into my fancy dress and up to the park ready for the birthday award ceremony. Fancy dress theme was Countries of the World, had gone for a grass skirt with flower garlands hopefully not too hard to run in.

Even though I live literally round the corner from the park decided to drive as I had bought a cake to take up for the birthday party. De-iced the car not an enjoyable task rather wished I could walk as normal.

Love fancy dress Parkruns so many people put a lot of effort in to their outfits, the three cricketers from two weeks ago turned up as Arabs, there was a Mexican, a lady with a basket on her head and yes she did run round with it, more Arabs, South Africans and Aussies to name but a few.

Then came the big moment Jason called everyone together for the award ceremonies. The feeling of pride when I was announced as the winner of the ladies point league was fantastic, it was a hard fought battle with much friendly rivalry developing between myself and my nearest rival. Yet another example of what the Parkrun does for people, a year ago you didn’t even know these people now you are competing with each other shaking each hands at the end of each week irrespective of who came first.

The male trophy went to Andy Wilkinson who again had a tough battle for the award. Looking forward to my next year of Parkruns and wish everyone good luck in the competition. Think it will be even tougher this year.