Saturday, 3 March 2012

Everybody Needs a parkrun in Their Life

Name: Sue Holdsworth               

Home parkrun: Newcastle
Date of first parkrun: 22 May 2010
Total Number of parkruns: 20
Number of other parkrun locations run: I’ve volunteered at Gateshead once but have never ran another course
Number of times volunteered: 46
My parkrun history:


I was never the sporty one in my family, my PE teacher hated me and I had every excuse going not to do games lessons.  My idea of hell was cross country running in the cold and wet so I would run with the group till we were out of sight of the teacher and then hang around till they all came back, then join the back of the pack and jog back to school.  I didn’t do any exercise after finishing school till I started work after university.  A new life sitting on my bum in an office meant I started to gain weight and I decided I needed to do some exercise.  I went along with a friend to an aqua aerobics class once a week.  This had no effect on my weight – possibly because all we did was gossip at the back of the class.  I made several half hearted attempts over the years to join gyms and ‘get fit’ but never really lost that feeling of being ‘unsporty’.  10 years ago I moved house and joined the gym close to our new home.  The owners are triathletes and started a beginners running group one night after work.  I gave it a go and quite enjoyed it.  But after a few weeks, the group gradually reduced in numbers and eventually stopped happening.  So I went back to visiting the gym once every month or so.  I was roped into running a few race for life events through work and always enjoyed the atmosphere of the run.  I still hated the training though ;)


Three years ago, I was in hospital with a kidney infection and on IV antibiotics and felt worse than I ever had in my life.  I was overweight, unfit and unhappy.  I decided there and then to grow up, take responsibility and start looking after myself.  So I lost some weight, entered another race for life, bought a treadmill and started out on a beginners running plan.  The day I ran 1 mile without stopping for the first time, I was so happy and proud of what I achieved.  I had well and truly caught the running bug.  I started searching the internet for other races I could enter and stumbled across parkrun.  My nearest was Middlesbrough – about 40 miles from home.  Needless to say I never made it there by 9am on a Saturday morning.  And then one day, I heard that there was a new one, starting on the Town Moor, just 7 miles from home.  I got in touch with the race director and offered my services as a volunteer (because I was struck down with my first running injury – ITBS).  But I had to be a part of it so I turned up one dark, cold, wet, windy Saturday morning in January to join the team of volunteers.  Despite the weather we had a great time and the whole thing went smoothly.


I volunteered on and off for the next few months and finally, in May 2010, I lined up on the start line with 82 fellow runners.  I ran/walked the course because my injury still wasn’t quite fixed, but I still remember the sense of achievement as I crossed the line.  It made it more special to be greeted at the finish by the sight of the smiley, supportive volunteers who knew my name and clapped as I crossed the line.


Parkrun has become such an important part of my life.  I’ve made great friends there and it’s the best way to start the weekend.  I volunteer more than I run and that’s helped my get to know people and feel part of the community.  Even when I race at different events across the region, there’s always a parkrunner there with a smile and an encouraging word.  Nobody cares that I don’t run fast, they just care that I run and that I enjoy it.  And that’s how I feel about all the other runners.  I stand on the town moor on a Saturday morning and get a burst of pride.  We make this happen every week.  We don’t get paid and we don’t do it for the thanks.  Being part of the parkrun family is reward enough.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Setting up a parkrun

As somebody who has set up a parkrun from scratch, I thought that it would be worthwhile to give an insight into this and it will hopefully help others who are thinking about setting one up.

The first thing I would suggest that you do is to go to a parkrun that has been around for a while and chat to the Event Director or the Run Director and shadow them and see what happens on the day and get as much information about set up and tasks as possible, if you are going to be put off then you need to do your homework.

If you have a venue in mind, try and think as a runner as well and not just an organiser, run round it yourself and look at the positives and negatives, if you find them, other people will also find them.

As a guide, you should be looking for the following things:

1. Parking
2. Toilets
3. Shelter
4. A cafe
5. A good start and finish area
6. A safe course that always has passage for other park users.

Try and get the support of friends or a local running Club and have a run round the course with a few people and identify any Health and Safety issues because you will need to complete a risk assessment and this will normally be completed with the support of a Member of the parkrun HQ Team.

Think about how many Volunteers you will need each week to run an event, each course is different and although events usually have a minimum number, you may need a lead bike or marshals on parts of the course that could be dangerous.

The minimum is normally the following:

1. Timer
2. Tokens
3. Barcode Scanner
4. Unreadable Barcodes

After that you can also have Marshals and a Back marker and Spot Checks on Times.

So, you need to think about having at least 4 people every week, the Run Director may also give the Run Brief and also Co-ordinate the Volunteers.

At Roundhay we have over 200 registered Volunteers and recruit every week and train people on every piece of equipment and also as a Run Director so that we are never short.

If you are satisfied that you could have a venue and could put a Team together, the next thing to do is drop a line to and say that you are interested in starting a parkrun.

parkrun will decide whether it is viable or not and normally somebody like Tom Williams will meet you and have a look at the course and advise you what is next.

Speaking from experience, what happened at Roundhay Park was that I met Tom and we walked the course and then I set up a meeting with the owners of the Park who were Leeds City Council Parks and Countryside and we gained agreement that we could hold a parkrun, with certain stipulations.  I would advise that you work very closely with the park, if you have no park, you have no run.

Once you have agreement to use the park, you need to complete a risk assessment and again, this would normally be completed with a Member of the parkrun Team and has to be agreed for safety and insurance purposes.

You then have to raise £2500 which is half the cost of the set up of a parkrun, the other £2500 comes from the parkrun sponsors.

This is the toughest part of setting up a parkrun in my opinion as money is scarce nowadays.

My suggestion is that you contact your local MP or Cllr as they have access to funds or they can talk to the right people to gain local council funding and that you also contact your local sports development officer for help.

At Roundhay, we secured our funding in about 8 weeks and this is pretty quick compared to some that I heard had taken 10 months, do not let this put you off, if you have belief in what you want to d, you will do it.

Once you have secured the funding and have your risk assessment, you need to put a Team of people together who can help you run the event, please do not become a one man or women band as I found out, this can cause more problems than needed, empower people who want to help and share the responsibility so that you can enjoy it.

Once you have a Team, you would agree a Test run and invite 20 - 30 runners and actually be shown and use the kit that you would have at a parkrun.  This is where you can learn who to use the kit and to see any potential issues with the course etc, this is very valuable time.

Once you have had a test run and all is well, parkrun HQ would give you a start date and you will provide information for your web page and set up a Facebook and Twitter page and start to promote the date and gain support.  It is worth contacting all your local running clubs as this is where a lot of support will come from.

Look forward to the first day, check all your kit and have a Run brief put together and brief your Team well and enjoy it!

Starting a parkrun is one of the most rewarding and amazing things I have ever done, and to see all the runners and Volunteers in your park is amazing.

If you get the opportunity to do this, please do and there are always many of us that have done it and we support each other in any way that we can.

These words and thoughts are my own words and you must contact parkrun HQ if you want any further information.

A Day in the life of……..

A Day in the life of an run director at Huddersfield parkrun

  • 6am - alarm goes off - hit alarm so it stops
  • 6.10 am - alarm goes off again - what is it with these alarms wanting to get you out of bed?
  • 6.15 am - finally gets out of bed and looks out the window…..great no snow or ice!  Whoop de Whoop!
  • 6.16 am - gets back into bed
  • 6.23 am - littlest daughter creeps into bed for a cuddle with very cold feet (why do children always insist on putting their cold feet all over you?)
  • 6.31 am - cat attacks
  • 6.33 am - finally realises that getting out of bed is going to be the more peaceful option
  • 6.34 am - puts the coffee machine on (Nespresso if you would like to know….the black capsule….need it strong in the morning, tiny bit of hot milk, no sugar)
  • 6.40 am - drinks first cup of coffee - puts a second on - makes the children pancakes for breakfast (this is a novelty following Shrove Tuesday - hopefully it will wear off soon)
  • 6.44am - wipes maple syrup off the walls and the cat - ponders the idea of a third coffee before 7am, breaks up a fight between the two littlest ones over the last pancake by eating it myself (yup I can multi task…I am a woman)
  • 6.50 am - goes to get dressed 

Okay a break in transmission here so I can explain about getting dressed for Huddersfield parkrun.  In normal households on a normal Saturday most people at 6.50 am are in bed, sensibly.

But in a Huddersfield parkrun household on a Saturday morning at 6.50 am we are probably deciding wether to wear a bunny costume (see previous blog for more info on the bunny), wear the bunny on tour t-shirt ( I will blog more about bunnies on tour as well soon), wear a moustache and top hat, superhero costume (although that can fall into the bunny category too), or jeans and a t-shirt….occasionally I have been know to wear running things…..very, very occasionally!    I am not sure where the dressing up and running thing comes from….it could be co-director at parkrun (Chris Smith) who has a HUGE amount of dressing up clothes in his wardrobe….but I think it is more likely that it is just something that you runners like to do!

A selection of some of the more tame parkrun costumes……

Halloween run - Alice in Blunderland costume

Cambridge parkrun - proof I can and did run (although this photo was taken before the race started)

From left to right run director Colin as the bunny, Squirrel man, wonder woman and me as the superbunny!

I did try to find a ‘normal’  photo of myself….but failed miserably!

So as you can see…..It can take more that a few minutes to get dressed….and times that by the five (six if Grandad Peter comes) people in our house that go to parkrun….it can take some time!

Anyhow….back to the blog……let’s assume it is a ‘normal’ parkrun day…..

  • 7 am - puts make up on - now I know this is a bone of contention with runners, and not just the ladies out there…..but really, I have to wear makeup at that time in the morning or I will scare the squirrels out of the trees (or some kind of local saying like that!).
  • 7.05 am - (it doesn’t take that long to put the make up on …..I’m not that bad looking) remembers to feed the cats as maple syrup isn’t really cat food
  • 7.15 am - speaks to Chris for the first time that day about the 'whoop de whoop no ice' observation
  • 7.20 am - shouts at the teenager for the first time to get out of bed
  • 7.20 and a little bit am - shouts at the husband for the first time to get out of bed
  • 7.21 am shouts at the littlest children to get dressed and not in beach shorts and cinderella shoes as the weather isn’t quite right for that kind of clothing
  • 7.23 am - realises that I have left the first cup of coffee of the day to go cold - curses just a little bit
  • 7.30 am - shouts for the second time for the teenager to get out of bed, threaten the husband with sending the dogs in if he doesn’t get out of bed
  • 7.40 am - sends the dogs in to get the husband out of bed
  • 7.41 am - husband gets out of bed, mumbles something about ‘life before parkrun’ and hits the shower
  • 7.45 am - sends the second littlest daughter back up stars to get changed out or the harem pants and a crop top, listens to the mini teenager stomp up the stairs mumbling something about ‘life before parkrun
  • 7.50 am - shouts a the teenager that if he doesn’t get up out of bed right now, then not only will he have to run the 5k, he will also have to run to the park!  Teenager gets out of bed and mumbles something about ‘life before parkrun
  • 7.50 am - 8am are spent looking for trainers, ipod covers, car keys, water bottles, insulated coffee mug and of course those pesky, why can’t we put them somewhere we can find them, barcodes!
  • 8.01 am - leave the house
  • 8.02 am - return to the house for those pesky barcodes
  • 8.03-8.15 am spend arguing about the music to play in the car… it seems to be a choice of Coldplay, Imelda May, Eric Clapton, High School Musical, The Specials or Mamma Mia …..ashamed to say Mamma Mia wins!!
  • 8.15 am - thankfully arrive at the park and the music stops!
  • 8.16 am - say hello to the cafe owners and order a coffee…mmmmm…….coffee
  • 8.17 am - 8.30 am spent erecting the gazebo (aka the love shack), chalking the start and finish signs and laughing at Chris…..sorry, with Chris
  • 8.30 am - the first of the volunteers arrive
  • 8.31 am - 8.50 am - back to being a multi tasking woman, organising the marshals, making sure the equipment works, trying to find the bunny costume, saying no to the children, trying to find my now cold coffee, laughing with Chris, taking a few photos, saying no to the teenager, testing the megaphone, being shouted at for testing the megaphone in Chris’s ear, laughing at Chris, saying hello to regular parkrunners, catching up on the gossip, saying hello to tourist parkrunners, saying hello to friends…….
  • 8.50 am - first timer brief
Okay….another break in transmission …….you can go and get a coffee if you want and maybe a piece of cake……we are a few hundred words in at only done a couple of hours so this could take some time… favourite cake is ginger, just in case you are thinking of sharing……..

Why are we having a break again……….oh yes…….to let you know what I like about the first timer brief…..I think is one of my favourite jobs at parkrun.  It is great to see who has come to visit you from other parkruns (parkrun tourists) and meet those brand spanking new to parkrun.  We normally have between 10 and 30 first timers at any parkrun and these few minutes give us time to welcome them in a small group and explain about how the parkrun works.  If we have someone new to running we introduce them to our 40 min pacer who will help them round the course.  It’s a chance for them to ask questions and for us to give sensible answers…..we can do that sometimes!

Have you got your cake and coffee?  Are we ready to go?…….okay then…….

  • 8.55 am - mad dash to the start line…..actually more of quick walk as it’s only about 150 yds from the cafe and as explained in previous blogs….I am not a runner!
  • 8.55 am - 9am  - Run brief - with my beautiful megaphone!  Those of you who have experienced Huddersfield parkrun will know just how much I love my megaphone and my megaphone loves me……..megaphone and me, sitting in a tree, K, I, S, S, I, N, G!
  • 9am - Shouts loudly through the megaphone……"3,2,1 GO…….have a great parkrun”
  • 9.05 am - now I know this is a little sad, but during the first loop at Huddersfield parkun, just as the runners are coming back up towards the start line, you are nicely spread out but still in a group and there are a couple of us that like to count you (one of them is me and one of them the single, tall, handsome, young man we are trying to find a date for - fingers crossed following the last blog that there maybe some movement in that area - thank you to all of you who emailed in)……just to see if we have beat the course record…..I did warn you that it was a little bit sad and geeky!
  • 9.06 am - 9.15 am - time to get coffee, heckle (encourage) the lovely parkrunners and wait for the first runner to cross the line.
  • 9.16 am - 9.45 am  - back to multi tasking woman (actually…... how do you male ED’s do it?)  checking to make sure that all is well, helping out with scanning, shouting SHAZAM as runners cross the line, explaining to those being lapped that running that fast really isn’t normal, chatting with friends, asking people how the run went, trying to find my coffee, trying to remember when I saw the children last, shouting SHAZAM a few more times, getting a bit excited as the course record is broken, getting even more excited as age graded record smashed by the the loveliest runner in the world, drinking cold coffee (needs must), realising that I haven’t seen the kids for forty minutes, looking for the kids, find the kids in a  bush heckling parkrunners and eating ice cream, leave the kids in the bush (easy option), shout SHAZAM a couple more times and applaud the last runner across the line
  • 9.50 am - go to the cafe for coffee and cake with friends!

Another break…..but a short one, so you haven’t time to grab another coffee

At Huddersfield parkrun - the tradition of coffee and cake

I am not sure if this is the same at every parkrun around to world, but at Huddersfield you have to consume cake and coffee once you have finished, I think it is in the park by-laws….or that’s the excuse that I am sticking too.  Our cafe is great and you can have all different types of coffee and they specially bake cakes just for parkrunners….so it would be rude not to eat them.

Also at Huddersfield, there really is no hurry to upload the results straight away (apologies to those who like a text before they have left the park).  We like to socialise and have a good chin wag, catch up and gossip……then we upload the results.

  • 10.30 am - FIND THE KIDS
  • 10.35 am - start to upload the results
  • 10.41 am - finish uploading the results (once, okay, once, we managed to upload the results in 6.09 minutes a PB for the volunteer team….we are just as competitive as you runners in our own way…’s not happened since, but we are always hoping for a new sub 6 min PB!)
  • 10.45 am - upload the volunteers so they get a lovely big fat thank you from us and parkrun!  You volunteers really are super super great!
  • 10.50 am - another coffee - no cake though - and chat with any remaining parkrunners
  • 11 am - leave the park
The rest of the day is spent chatting on Facebook, checking the results, maybe amending the results, children’s swimming lessons, walking the dog, cooking, walking the dog again, family movie with toffee popcorn, coffee, wine, maybe a gin….and if I am really lucky it’s also social night with the parkrunners… I get to see you all over again!

So, become and ED or RD or volunteer or parkrunner and join in the fun….you don’t have to loose your children, you don’t have to drink coffee or eat cake, you don’t need to spend as much time as we do at the park…..but one thing I will guarantee you, is that you will meet incredible people, go on an incredible journey and have an incredible amount of fun!

  • midnight - sleep before I turn into a pumpkin…..or something like that!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Course Description:  Newcastle parkrun

To date, I have been around the Newcastle parkrun course 80 times (officially) and completed many "freedom runs".  I also use the course for tempo and marathon paced runs so, to cut a long story short, I know every inch of our parkrun.

However, we have run a number of variants of the course since Newcastle parkrun started in January 2010.  Recently, we went through a period of running the course in reverse but have returned to the original "clockwise route" due to some safety concerns.  We also have an alternative route for two weeks in June when part of the course in occupied by "The Hoppings" travelling fair.  The run takes place on The Town Moor.  The Town Moor is a large area of common land in Newcastle upon Tyne. It covers an area of around 400ha, and is larger than Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath combined, stretching from the city centre and Spital Tongues in the south out to Cowgate/Kenton Bar to the west, Gosforth to the north and Jesmond to the east.

Anyway, down to the description of the course itself (the distances given are cumulative course distances).  The start is on a tarmac path and this takes you 0.2 miles to the main path that runs from South to North across the whole town moor.  This path is fairly straight and undulating and takes runners to 0.92 miles to the first gate on the course.  Manned by Newcastle parkrun legend Malcolm Craighead (one of our most decorated volunteers) "Gate 1" has recently been renewed after the original gate mysteriously disappeared.  Runners then turn right onto Grandstand Road.  This fast section is downhill and usually has the prevailing westerly wind behind you.  Grandstand Road can be seen below (looking up the hill the opposite way to the runners).

At 1.25 miles runners then return back onto the moor by turning right through Gate 2 onto a rough gravel track that turns back into tarmac.  This takes runners from North to South and is usually quite fast depending on the wind direction.  At 1.96 miles, the route turns back onto a rough path that takes runners past The Military Museum that occupies the corner of this part of the moor.  The picture below shows the museum (the opposite side to the course side).

This is the hardest part of the course.  Uphill and on a rough surface the course heads North again to 2.37 miles before turning left (West) back onto the tarmac path that runs from West to East across the moor.  This undulating path takes runners through Gate 3 and is 90% of the time into the stiff Westerly wind that blows unhindered across the moor on so many Saturdays.  The welcome sight of the crossroads at 2.7 miles if the point where runners turn left (South) out of the wind and towards the finish and back over the course the crossed at the beginning.  The crossroads can be seen below.

At this point, it is a fairly fast downhill section to the finish where many races to the line begin.  The finish comes after a sharp left hand turn and a 0.1 mile sprint to the line.  The picture below shows the final stretch to this sharp corner and includes another common feature of the moor in the summer, the cows (and their "debris").

On the whole, the Newcastle parkrun is course is fast but PB attempts are usually limited to rare wind-free weekends.

Craig Smith

New Contributor:Simon Buckden

Name: Simon Buckden
Home parkrun: Roundhay Park (Leeds)
Date of first parkrun: Late 2007 and before barcodes!
Total Number of parkruns: Officially 11 but more like 40 without barcode!
Number of other parkrun locations run: 4 - Brighton, Leeds, Middelsborough and Newcastle
Number of times volunteered: 53 including 40 out of 43 at Roundhay
My parkrun history:

I was inspired by my good friend Kerry over at Huddersfield to come and say a few words .... I can hear her saying "you a few words"

I am currently the Event Director at the lovely and tough Roundhay parkrun in Leeds.  I set this up where many had talked about it after I had a chat with the now UK parkrun Manager, Tom Williams.and if you have met Tom, you can hardly not be enthused! (He may well check my spelling)

Born and bred in Leeds many moons ago, I joined the Army at 17 and thats where my love of sport happened.

Originally I was a Rugby and Cricket player and represented Yorkshire Schools for both sports and then represented the Army U25 Cricket side and Army Un21 Rugby Union side.  Unfortunately I was injured in a rugby match and started running for my rehabilitation and met an Army Cross Country Runner.

I started to train and entered my Corps Cross Country Champs and came 4th and qualified for the Army Championships where I came 12th and then ran the Navy Champs and came 8th, I hate Cross Country by the way.

I ran more and more and got my 5k time down to 15.47 and my 10k down to 34.57, my best at 10 miles was 57 mins and my HM was 1.17 in 1996.

Unfortunately I became ill in the Army and suffered trauma at War and was medically discharged in 2001 with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and my running fell away completely and I put on around 3 stone in weight.

I moved back to Leeds at the end of 2005, having spent most of my time in the South of England and in 2007 I found out about the Hyde Park Time Trial and now known as the Leeds parkrun.  I was very unfit and started to run on and off and I think I got my 5k time back down to Sub 20 and then started to travel the world and lived in the US in 2008 and then Israel in 2009.

I was still running but not racing and then in August 2009, I met my now Ex Partner Susanna in Newcastle and I found my love for running again, along the Quay side and then South Shields in the wind and I also started to coach Susanna and her effort and determination inspired me to start to race again.  Susanna went from never having ran in her life to running the London Marathon in 2011 and also losing 3 stones as well.

In 2010, both myself and Susanna started to race around the North of England and my 5k time came down to 19.31 and my 10k came down to 42 mins, but I Had done all this before and I wanted to do something much bigger.

In December 2010 at Hyde Park in Leeds I said that I would help out a fellow park runner who wanted to run 100 miles in the Park to raise some funds for a Veterans Charity, I had not done any training at all and I went along and started to run.  It was -5 when we started and got to -7 and snowed and I managed 78 miles in 17 hours and eventually we stopped for safety reasons and I ended up in hospital as I was dehydrated and other weird things were going on.  This event changed my life and I wanted something even bigger.

I came up with the idea to run 100 Marathons in 100 weeks to raises awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and fund for Help for Heroes and I started on 06 Feb 11 with the Thames Trot 50 miler that I completed in just over 8 hours!

I have since completed 46 Marathons and have recently had to take a break due to being diagnosed with a potentially life threatening condition and also the break up of my relationship.  I am hoping to run Marathons again in about a months time as I miss it.

I have been on TV a few times and in most of the major National papers and on Radio around the world and received a Hero Award from Help for Heroes for Extraordinary Effort and was picked to carry the Olympic Flame in 2012 on 24 June and this is a huge honour.

I have started to speak at various places as an Inspirational Speaker and I am writing my book as well.

I have managed to turn a negative into something very positive that has changed many lives'

I am also very proud of what has been achieved at the Roundhay parkrun, from an idea in Feb 11, to the first Event on 23 April 2011 and now nearly 5000 runnings and 1000 PBs!  I am very thankful to the first people that helped me set it up and especially Jeff and Susanna and we have now moved on and have a wonderful Team of Run Directors, Volunteers and Runners.  I also now have my sidekick and friend Ronnie who took me through some difficult times with parkrun and kept the faith.

Ia m very thankful to parkrun for giving me the chance to set up Roundhay parkrun and for Paul, Tom and Chris's support, parkrun is the most community spirited run that I have ever come across and is more than just a run, its a revolution in running and open to all!

My thanks go to Ronnie and to Susanna for support, past and present and I hope that I can give an insight into life as a Event Director.


Monday, 27 February 2012

Huddersfield Running Bunny

The origins and the nonsense that is called The Huddersfield Running Bunny

As many of you will know through previous blogs….there is something about cake and coffee that goes hand in hand with Huddersfield parkrun.  The problem is that quite often, after a parkrun (who am I kidding, cake is often consumed during and before a parkrun) we may have eaten a little bit too much cake, giving us a bit of a sugar high, followed by a stonking caffeine attack from the vat of coffee drunk…and this makes a downright dangerous combination.  At times like this really daft ideas seem like really good ideas and often that really isn’t a good idea at all!

It was one Saturday morning in the early days when Colin, one of our genius run directors and I were sat, eating coffee and cake and Colin leaned over and whispered “I have a genius idea”.  Now….those who know me, will know that I love genius ideas….I have a whole load of them stored in my head just waiting for the moment that myself and Matthew Kelly finally get invited onto Dragons Den.  In fact….my genius idea about bubble wrapping children once made it onto the hit TV programme, Genius with Dave Gorman…fact!  So with great excitement, I whispered back “go on then, tell me your genius idea”   *not sure why we were whispering* and Colin came back with the immortal words “let’s have a running bunny”

And the bunny was born!

The rest of that morning and most of the afternoon was spend drinking more coffee, eating more cake and planning the birth of the HUDDERSFIELD RUNNING BUNNY.

For all of you that don’t know about the Huddersfield Running Bunny the basic (and very genius) idea is that each week a different parkrunner dresses up as the bunny to run their parkrun.  The aim of the game is to beat the bunny.  And the bit that makes it a little bit more genius, is that each week you have no idea who the bunny is going to be, how fast they will run….so you have no idea until the finish line if you have beaten the bunny!

So, the bunny costume was made (thank you to Sharon’s mum - I did tell you in a previous blog that Sharon has a lot to answer for - the talented Mrs Palmer for the largest pair of bunny pants ever made…one size truly does fit all!).  And on the 30th July 2011 the very first appearance of the Huddersfield Running Bunny was made!

Chris bunny

Debra bunny

Rich aka Krystal lovebunny (all a bit wrong wrong…right?)

Amanda bunny

John bunny

Evil twin were-bunny aka Nick bunny

Over the next few months, the bunny pants and ears were worn every week and washed most weeks, lots of people beat the bunny and lots of people didn’t….and nobody died trying!  All in all everything was tickety boo….

And then the parkrun show had to go an spoil everything by mentioning the bunny!  So Danny Norman….it’s your own fault that you are now being stalked by a bunny!

On the 1st November 2011, after an entertaining evening spend chatting to the loonies in the Huddersfield parkrun volunteers Facebook group, drinking too much coffee (and wine) with all of us listening to the parkrun show.….another genius moment popped into our heads!!

The genius…..why hasn’t the bunny the got it’s own Facebook page, idea……so the bunny came to life for a second time.  A quick back story written and the bunny had it’s own voice!  Needless to say a lot of evenings, afternoons and mornings have been spent chatting with the bunny on Facebook… fact Nicki Dawson thinks it is the only way to start the day…chatting with a bunny!!  And at Huddersfield parkrun that seems normal!

Following on from this came the smiley carrot award for guessing how many parkrunners there would be at Huddersfield parkrun, the bunny cake competition won by Tom and Hannah Whitworth, the pink hot pant superbunny costume and lots and lots of bunny related chat and shopping.

The next obvious step (okay in our mind it was obvious….but there again you have seen how our minds works) was to take the bunny on tour and spread the bunny love with other parkruns.  And we all know that all good tours have T-Shirts….so guess what happened next….go on, have a guess……yup, the bunny got it’s own Tour T-Shirt.  At first just a batch of 15 were produced and quickly snaffled up, so the next order increased and then last week, for our tourist bunny trip to Oldham parkrun the bunny went technical….and there are now over 40 bunny loving, tour t-shirt wearing, parkrun bunnies.

So far the tourist bunnies have been on mass to Roundhay parkrun (great hilly course and their cafe is a pub!!) and Oldham parkrun (the wettest day ever - but such a laugh).  They will be touring to Leeds Hyde parkrun in March and joining the lovely Linda at Bradford parkrun to celebrate Bradford’s 2nd birthday.  There are plans to go to Sewerby and camp over (??!!??), Sheffield because they have a good cafe and even Bushy….although what time we will have to set off to get to that one, doesn’t bear thinking about!

Roundhay parkrun

Oldham parkrun

Single tourist bunnies have been to
Cambridge parkrun

Brockwell parkrun

Bradford parkrun

and also Highbury Fields parkrun and Edinburgh parkrun….there has even been a rumour that a certain tourist bunny has recently done a freedom run at Leeds parkrun in his tourist T-Shirt….I wonder who that could be…….Oh yes, I remember….

…..the bunny’s true love…Danny Norman!

So to finish another rambling blog…..mainly because I need coffee and cake to think up more genius ideas….come and join in with the bunny fun at Huddersfield parkrun…..or look out for bunny love at other parkruns…..and try to beat the bunny (not with sticks though).


An A to Z of Hanley parkrun

Hanley parkrun began in September 2011 and here is a brief introduction to the fun:

  • A is @hanleyparkrun - there is great banter before and after each parkrun - we love Twitter!
  • B is for bandstand, which marks the finishing spot for the 5km.
  • C is for the Caldon Canal, which runs right through the middle of Hanley Park and which you will cross 5 times in completing your 5km.
  • D is for dog walkers, with whom we share the park most Saturday mornings. Another hazard to avoid in completing your parkrun.
  • E is for encouragement - we have a great support whilst completing the route and have quite a few volunteers who take on the role of cheerleader. It is a great help on the final lap in particular.
  • F is for fountains - when the fountains start up, its time for parkrun to start.
  • G is for geese, primarily of the Canadian variety, who own the park. Best advice - avoid!
  • H is for Hanley, one of the six official towns that make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent.
  • I is for ice, which so far is the only thing that has stopped us at Hanley parkrun.
  • J is for jog, run or walk - just complete the course however you can at your own pace - its part of the philosphy of parkrun
  • K is for kudos, the sense of achievement that everyone gets from taking part in parkrun either as a runner or a volunteer.
  • L is for the lake, which is the location of the start of the parkrun.
  • M is for mud, through which we sometimes have to run, as the 5km route includes a couple of places where we have to cut across the grass to avoid the top and bottom carparks. As Tommy (see T is for Tommy below) tells us each week: "runners and cars don't mix".
  • N is for numbers. We've had 21 events with an average of 33 runners each week, 699 runs in total. The biggest field of runners was 50 (we've achieved that twice).
  • O is for oatcakes, real Staffordshire oatcakes, to be enjoyed post-event at Flavours Cafe just by the park. There is lots of debate about oatcakes, especially on the parkrun show, but we think they are the perfect recovery food.
  • P is for personal bests, something we all chase each week. This week we had 10 PBs for the 38 competitors. The current course records are: 16:06 (men) and 20:28 (women). 
  • Q is for quite quick - see the PBs above. Do you think you can go quicker? There are records to be broken at Hanley parkrun.
  • R is for running clubs. Many of the people who have taken part at Hanley parkrun are also members of local running clubs and Trentham RC, Sandbach Striders, Potters Trotters, Newcastle AC and South Cheshire Harriers currently top the list of runs!
  • S is for Staffordshire University Students Union, our local sponsors. A big thanks for their support.
  • T is for Tommy Hill, our volunteer co-ordinator and run director each week. Another big thank you to Tommy for all his hard work. We're still working on getting him to take part in the Hanley parkrun though... perhaps for run #25!
  • U is for undulating, which is the official description of the course. We prefer to describe it as hilly.
  • V is for volunteers, without whom we couldn't put on the parkrun each week. We could always do with more help though, so please volunteer from time to time if you can. It gives you a different perspective on parkrun and is a great way to get to know more of the parkrunners.
  • W is for welcoming. We try our very best to welcome everyone to Hanley parkrun, whether you're a regular runner or visiting from another parkrun. We're a friendly bunch, just ask Norm.
  • X is for Xmas - we had a fantastic fancy dress run on Christmas Eve with 50 participants and a whole host of fancy dress costumes. No doubt, there will be more fancy dress events as the year progresses.
  • Y is for young and old. We have parkrunners of all ages and its one of the things that makes Hanley parkrun so special.
  • Z is for zephyr, although I'm not sure that's an accurate description for the windy conditions we've experienced at Hanley parkrun. But its a Z and that's good enough for me!
So that's Hanley parkrun, with apologies for the slightly dodgy entries for K, Q, X and Z. If you've not been for a visit before, come and run with us soon. There's a PB just waiting to be achieved!


New Contributor: Liz Tideswell

Name: Liz Tideswell
Home parkrun: Hanley
Date of first parkrun: 12/11/2011
Total Number of parkruns: 9 (as at 26th February)
Number of other parkrun locations run: 1 - Glasgow
Number of times volunteered: 2 so far
My parkrun history:

As part of a commitment to lose wieght and get fitter, I started running about a year ago by following the NHS Choices Couch to 5km programme. I'd never run before and even refused to run for a bus on many an occasion - I'd rather wait for the next one! However, over 9 weeks I went from barely managing a minute of jogging to running 30 minutes quite happily. I joined a local women's running group in April 2011 - Potters Trotters - and have since taken part in a 10km race and am now training for my first half marathon - the Stafford Half at the end of March. I run 3-4 times per work and parkrun is an integral part of my running week. I document my training stories and fundraising for Cancer Research on my own blog: Running with Rosedawn Designs.

Hanley parkrun is a relatively new addition to the parkrun family and after missing out on the first few weeks of its existence, I finally made it down to Hanley Park to complete in my first parkrun back in November. Since then I've been hooked on parkrun and summed up by thoughts in a recent post on my own blog. In short:

  • I love the challenge of trying to improve my own time each week and am getting closer week by week to my 5km target time of 25 minutes. My current PB is 26:04.
  • I love meeting different people from the locality and hearing about their running goals and fundraising targets over a post-parkrun oatcake.
  • I love being part of the part of the wider parkrun family, the whole idea of parkrun tourism and meeting people from other parkruns when they come to Hanley.
  • I love volunteering at parkrun - it gives you a chance to see the event from a totally different perspective, and its a great way of encouraging other runners too.

So that's my parkrun story. I hope to post a few stories from Hanley parkrun here on the parkrunfans blog and the first post is an A to Z of Hanley parkrun.


parkrun Course Description: Norwich parkrun

The Norwich parkrun takes place in Eaton Park, which lies west of the City Centre. The website tells me that it covers over eighty acres and is the largest of the Norwich parks.

parkrunners meet at the bandstand within the park, past the fountain if you’re coming from the city end (and past the skate park if you’re coming from the other!). As far as parking goes, there are a few car park options, although I’m lucky enough to live near enough to run there.

We are fortunate in that we have a few courses to run, in order to accommodate recent weather and some improvements being made to the park’s tennis courts.

I’m going to describe the ‘usual’ and the current, which is scheduled to be used until March 2012.

Announcements are held within the bandstand area before the runners make their way to the start line, near the children’s playground.

From there, there’s a slight downhill through the trees with the football fields on the left. At the bottom the path turns left to follow the football fields along the narrow end of the park. Just before the skate park the course turns left again, up the (slight) hill and through the trees, on the way back to the bandstand. At this point you always get a great view of the hundreds of runners streaming around Eaton Park.

Run past the boating lake and take the second path on the right, with the lake on your right. It’s a sharp left at the end of that path which goes around the back of the park, through the trees and past the tennis courts. After that it’s straight past the bowling greens before another left past the bandstand.

Two more laps of that and at the end of the third lap, it’s a left to the home straight, the finish funnel and a last sprint for the last hundred metres!

The current course starts a little bit further back and consists of one lap straight past the boating lake to the bowling greens, and two which include a loop around the boating lake itself.

It really is a beautiful way to start a Saturday, and I feel lucky to have completed close to sixty parkruns there.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Tales of a lowly event director

When you're still tucking into your porridge, deciding which are your fastest socks, slathering yourself in muscle rub and visuallising that shiny new PB I'm already in the park trying to separate the cones which all seem to be busy mating in the back of my car and untangling the funnel rope (I'm sure we coiled that up carefully last weekend!?!)

I'm the event director of the beautiful Bradford parkrun which is held in Lister Park.
I'm also living proof that anyone can run, once I got over the thought of car drivers so transfixed by the size of my spandex covered backside jiggling about I actually found I enjoyed it!
I find its the only time I can mentally 'relax' as I shut out the world and all worries and just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other without tripping over my own feet.

The first ten minutes or so are hard, I turn an amazing and rarely seen shade of puce; my eyeballs literally feel like they are rattling in their sockets and I puff and pant like a sexually frustrated hippo, but after a while I find a breathing rhythm, the muscles loosen and I relax into a pace.
I'll always be slow which used to bother me but it doesn't so much now, I'm usually at the back of most races but I still do them. I would probably never have considered entering races at all if it wasn't for the support of my amazing team mates in Eccleshill Road Runners; I always get the feeling that we're all in it together, no matter how spread out we all are amongst the mud splattered participants.

I also used to avoid hills if at all possible which isn't easy in Bradford! If a hill did manage to creep up on me I put my head down and refused to acknowledge its existance! Its a well known fact that if you can't see the hill, it can't see you and therefore it doesn't exist, but joining the running club which seems to gravitate towards every hill in Bradford and run up and down it several times just in case you didn't suffer enough the first time has forced me to change my habits. I also learned a valuable lesson.... If Mick Hogan tells you it's flat - better pack your crampons!
So look out for me at Bradford parkrun or at the Yorkshire vets races, I'll be the one at the back!
... Linda xx

New Contributor: Suze Rodger

Name: Suzanne Rodger
Home parkrun: Norwich
Date of first parkrun: 07/08/2010 (inaugural)
Total Number of parkruns: 59
Number of other parkrun locations run: 0

Number of times volunteered: 4

My name’s Suze, and I am one of those people. The ones who only talk about running, and when the conversation isn’t about running, I’ll try to steer it back to running. Well, not all of the time, but maybe more than some people like!

I wasn’t very sporty when I was younger, although I did have a bike and didn’t have a problem doing PE (even with brown gym knickers to wear with a netball skirt!)

While I was studying at university I walked everywhere, probably around 6 miles a day and usually pretty quickly as I was either late or rushing to get to one of my two jobs or classes.

Once I’d graduated though, I walked less and less. My new boyfriend had a car which came in handy to cut down on the rushing in the morning.

Four years later, and I realised that not only did none of my old clothes fit, none of the new ones did either. Drastic action had to be taken. This involved going to Slimming World, where I bought a couple of cookbooks, and joining a beginner’s running club.

I’d like to say that I carried on with the running club and managed to run the whole couch to 5k programme. Unfortunately, I didn’t, but I carried on running alone whenever I could. A job working away from home meant resorting to the gym (essential when you eat out every night) but less running.

When I found a job closer to home, I took up running again, right at the start. I found it a real struggle and it was difficult to see any real improvements. In June 2009 I got a nike+ for my birthday, so I could track the basics. Later that year, a few of us from work began running together as I was still finding it hard to run more than a mile without needing to walk.

Slowly, milestones began to be ticked off. I could run 5k without stopping. I could run and ‘talk’ at the same time (jn very short sentences!). Near the end of 2010, parkrun started in Norwich and my friend, who lives in the North, recommended that we go. That first parkrun my time was 32:20.

Nearly 60 later, I have a PB of 25:28 and regularly achieve sub 26 minutes, something I thought I’d never do. On top of that, last year I did 3 half marathons and a 10k race. This year I’m doing the National Lottery Olympic Park Run (no relation), London Marathon, Edinburgh half marathon, Great North Run and Royal Parks half marathon.

Not only that, but looking back at my nike+ stats, I ran more kilometers in January of this year than I did in the whole of 2009.

If you’d told the 5 stone heavier me that not only would I be running five or six times a week in training for races, but I’d enjoy it to the point where I miss it when I don’t run for more than 24 hours, I would have laughed.

I run because I love pushing myself and achieving goals I never thought possible. I run because it clears my head and boosts my energy levels. I may also run so I can have a biscuit without feeling guilty or panicky.

I’ve also found that the community of runners is brilliant. In parkrun especially, the fact that there are thousands of people all over the world pushing for the same goal – to complete a 5k – is amazing. No matter how fast or slow we are, we all share this common focus and it is that that binds us together.