Friday, 16 March 2012

New Contributor: Geoff Render

Posted on behalf of Geoff Render:

I had reluctantly tried to get to parkruns. I worked shifts at the time and found hard to run by myself. I did my first run in April 2009. I always got nervous on the start line. I knew some of the runners through using same gym.

Since then things built from there. I did my first 10k in November 2009, a few weeks after my first sprint triathlon. Since then I have done 72 parkruns, 65 at leeds hyde park, 3 at Bradford, 2 at roundhay and 1 at Harrogate and Black Park. I have marshalled numerous times at Leeds HP, Leeds RP and Bradford.

In 2010, I quit my job to go freelance as my job was too stressful, my training improved and got new times. I did my first half marathon in May 2010 (still PB). My 5km PB was a few days later at Leeds HP.

In July 2010 I was on end of cycling leg of a triathlon when I crashed my bike and over weeks extent of injuries including knee was established. parkrun became rehabilitation then this developed into marathon training by May 2011 when I did the Edinburgh Marathon.

After this came tough times. I lost fitness and have still not recovered my times even though I have never been a fast runner. I also work as a support worker, one of the people I support wanted to do running. Trying to be Geoff at one event and the person's support was a difficult balance to manage and people did not realise which cap I had on and sometimes I did not even know. He still needs support with some aspects of the running events but he is now an active part of the running club Hyde Park Harriers and he regularly runs and as now he is injured he marshalls at parkrun. I actively encourage him now to marshall. We are now two separate members of the running club and parkrun and this works well now. I am really proud of him. I am also proud of parkrun and Hyde Park Harriers that it welcomes and develops people of all backgrounds and covers all demographics.

Although my times are not getting better, I am planning on doing new things this year and this has given me new focus including trail and fell races. I am also back at the gym now. I have hypermobile joints and need to do strength work to prevent injuries.

I also hope to do cycle ride and triathlon and a 2 mile swim this year.I am also looking forward to trying new courses, York, Pontefract and Huddersfield on my hit list. My grandma lives next to the Sewerby/Bridlington course. It would be great to have this as my summer course. My personality is I love the routine of parkrun but need variety so now new parkruns are popping up is fantastic.

However, I do get bored going to Hyde Park every week, the course is a very boring course. It is now too popular to stick my music in as I need to know who is around me. What I do miss if I don’t go for couple of weeks is the people. I miss the friendly community supportive environment. The Leeds Parkrun I feel is very friendly and inclusive. I am surprised how many runners I know and they know me especially at events. At one event I was watching, people knew who I was…

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Walsall Arboretum

and they're off...

Just a few weeks ago, doing a 10th parkrun location would have got me promoted in to the prestigious parkrun tourist league at

Not so now. Those nice people at parkrun HQ have raised the bar. A demanding 20 locations and/or 5 inaugural events is the new entry level qualification. Well that’s ok. I have several weekends away planned, and other local events still to do, so I should join this elite club at some point this year.

I’m not keen on the word ‘inaugural’, so I’m glad to have now gotten my inaugural inaugural out of the way.

The 25k bike ride from Solihull to Walsall Arboretum took me a disappointing 70 minutes. It’s up hill all the way from Brum to Walsall though, honest, and I have to save something for the run don’t I?
Anyway, I still arrived in plenty of time, and it wasn’t long before I saw the reassuringly familiar faces of Peter and Paula from Conkers. Proper tourists they are. I was at the right place. 

Strangely, on the way, I had passed a group of about 20 runners heading towards the Arboretum themselves. They arrived in the park, did some exercises, and then ran off again. Shame. Maybe they’ll find out about parkrun soon.

Event Director Kate, ably assisted by Tom Williams, and a full team of volunteers from Wolverhampton Uni finished setting up the course, and we were called to arms.

About 60 runners lined up, next to the soon to be infamous brown wheelie bin. No expense spared eh.  This was one of those parkruns, where most contenders wanted to stand towards the back. So there was quite a gap behind the first half dozen who fancied their chances. Then in a moment, we were off.

lap 1, passing 'dusty bin', with other runners in my slipstream ...

First, a short descent of about 150m, then a sharp right hander. This could be problematic, this close to the start, when the event is attracting hundreds. An incline followed, then another right hander and then a long flat path. Beware the pot holes. A grass section, then back along another path heading back towards the start. It’s a 3 lap course.  There is currently construction work underway at the arboretum, after which the course will be changed, and become two laps.

I finished 17th in 22:38, which I was pleased with. Several of the faster finishers proved to be “unknowns”, so perhaps they’ll be properly bar coded up for the next one.

That was my 6th midlands parkrun location by bike this year then, which means I  have 4 left to do. Although this could become 5, with Tom confirming that a new one in Wolverhampton is in the pipeline.

Thanks to Kate, Tom and the students for all their hard work. A very enjoyable parkrun.  Thoroughly recommended.  Why not give it a try.

Monday, 12 March 2012

parkrun to 10k

Journey from parkrun to 10k

For those of you who have been (un)lucky enough to read my parkrunfans blogs before you will know that I am a reluctant runner.  By reluctant I mean

  • I really don’t like it
  • it is painful
  • I look like a radish when I have run
  • it makes not just bad, but down right disastrous hair days
  • and…..well the next few blogs will add to this reluctant runner thread.  

I think until getting involved with parkrun the last time I had really ran (not just for the bus or at the dreadful parents race at sports day…in fact why do they do that?  What is it with teachers making parents compete against each other with an egg and a spoon?  I think they just want to punish me for them having to look after my slightly precocious darling daughters all year…getting side tracked…back to the blog)… the last time I ran….cross country at school in 1987 (for those of you trying to make out how old I am…I will save you the mathematics this early in a morning -  I am a very young 38).  Cross country at our school was dreadful, no other word for it!  And it wasn’t just me that hated it, we all did, including the teachers who would just set us off running and wait for us to come back.  Now for those of you who don’t know me…..I live and was brought up in the beautiful town of Huddersfield which is on the edge of the Pennines….there is a point to this, so bear with me….and these Pennines are beautiful, they mean that every time I look out of my window there are different and often breathtaking views….but do you know what this means…it means HILLS….yup, I am surrounded by hills!  I can’t even cross the road for a bacon buttie without having to go down and up a hill.  Cross country at my school meant running around a hill, Castle Hill to be specific.  So while the teachers were sat in their smokey (smoking wasn’t banned then, youngsters) staff room, us unfortunate children were left running around this hill! It is no wonder that I was put off running for a very long time.

Castle Hill

Then of course I became involved with parkrun…please recap and read early blogs so that I don’t have to bore you with how that happened.

After weeks (okay months) of watching, cheering and Shazaming parkrunners across the line, the day came when I knew I had to run the damn thing.  I chose one of our special events…Barkrun….parkrun with dogs.  So there I was at the start line in some hastily put together running gear and my two “bottom biting’ dogs.   Why on earth I chose to run my first parkrun with two dogs is beyond me….my dogs are a bit like my children….absolutely adorable, slightly uncontrollable and you never quite know what they will do next!  The only words to describe my first parkrun….bloody nightmare!  Lily dog was relatively well behaved only nearly causing a runner pile up by doing an emergency stop after seeing a squirrel.  Humphrey on the other hand excelled himself on what a bad dog he can be.  He wanted to run in every direction we weren’t going in, he tried to hump three other dogs, he growled and attacked the cafe dog, bit the bunny’s furry bottom and on the home straight as we were being applauded in after a run of 37 mins he sat and pooped!  It was no wonder it took another two months before I ventured out running again!

Barkrun at parkrun with Lily dog

The next few parkruns were thankfully dog free at Cambridge and Roundhay…. Roundhay being the first time in years I had run a whole 5k without walking!  

The problem with being an Event Director and also being a reluctant runner means that there is always an excuse why you can’t manage to run a parkrun.  
  • Too busy
  • too much to do
  • not enough marshals
  • Chris is on holiday again
  • it’s cold
  • I don’t want to look like a radish
  • it’s too hot
  • I am having a rare good hair day so why spoil it
  • ...….list is endless!  
But being surrounded by runners achieving incredible things, you really want to be part of that so you end up…..running!

A couple of weeks ago I helped out at a 10k running race, the Huddersfield 10k organised by good friend and fellow genius, Matthew Kelly and the Huddersfield Road Runners.  I loved every minute of it, from chatting to the many parkrunners before the race to cheering them in after the race.  Even the kiss from the winner (the now NOT single, attractive, tall, young man) wasn’t too bad!   I think then it became inevitable that I was going to have to 'have a go at this’.  Just be thankful it wasn’t a marathon I watched!!

So quietly I entered a 10k race.  The idea was I wouldn’t tell anyone (mainly because the Huddersfield crazies are….crazily supportive), just rock up and run a 10k, then announce it to the world afterwards and bask in the glory.  But…I went out on 'first date night social' (no blogging about that), had a cocktail too many and told everyone!  The next day after several postings on Facebook the race has now been renamed as Kerry’s 10k and banners, t-shirts and vuvuzelas have been made and it looks like I really am having to run this 10k!!!

So if I am having to run it….then you poor folks are going to be subjected to having to read about it…here on this blog!  So over the next five weeks I will be putting the pen to paper and recording for prosperity the pain and (hopefully) pleasure of MY FIRST 10k!

Week One


So….I can run a 5k…I know that because I have done it!  At least four times.  But, the problem is I am knackered at the end of it and I really don’t think I can run another step once I have finished it.  So how am I going to double it to run the 10k?  I managed to run parkrun by doing a couch to 5k app….so there that is how I will start.  I log onto the apple store and download a 5-10k app.  I must admit that I downloaded the one with the prettiest graphics, there was no research or checking the reviews….no, just go for the prettiest graphics!

I put on my running shoes (why can’t we call them trainers now?) and head out of the door…..head straight back in again….it is raining!

Four hours later set off again (rain stopped).  This time I am not only wearing my 'running shoes’ (and clothes - just to be clear about that), I am also having to run with a back pack containing a change of clothes and shoes and coat as I have to run to the park and then go to a Tea and Tarts meeting (it is just one wild party in my life) once I have finished running.  So I set off with the app telling me to walk for 5 minutes warm up….walking….whooop!  Good job as it takes me 5 minutes to work out how to get the music to work on the iPhone and the app at the same time, I have to adjust my army issue rucksack three times and tie my shoelaces…again!  The the app tells me to jog (so much nicer than the word run) for four minutes…and guess where I am….yup, at the bottom of a hill that takes me exactly four minutes to run up!  Then I get to walk for two minutes…and guess what….yup, I am on a flat bit which takes me exactly two minutes to walk before getting to the bottom of another hill…which I now have to ‘jog’ up!  I am beginning to think this app has been specifically designed to make sure that all hills are run up and specifically designed to torture me!!  I have to do this ten times and then I get to walk for five minutes to cool down.

so to sum up
  • 40 minutes of running
  • 18 minutes of walking
  • listened to Imelda May ‘Love Tattoo’, Derek & The Dominos ‘Layla and other assorted love songs'
  • carrying in back pack - black boots, compete change of clothes, make up, dry shampoo, babywipes, jacket, handbag
  • how do I feel at the end…..okay, had to lay on the office floor, not yet questioning why I am doing this… basically okay

Running to darkrun

Crap couple of days since Tuesday, one of my children’s best friends was one of the boys killed in Afghanistan and my husbands best friend is about to set off there.  So a bit of crying and stomping and arguing about the war….a subject normally banned in our house due to such huge differing opinions of the two mortgage payers! Emotional couple of days.

So set off to run to the park again…this time to meet the lovely darkrunners for the regular Thursday night  darkrun Freedom run.  It is basically an excuse to go to the pub!  I set off early though as the children are driving me crazy!  We have five children…yes we do know what is causing it…not all of them live at home now….but the ones that do make enough noise and mess that it is as if they haven’t left!  

Start with the lovely warm up walk again, try to walk really fast in order that I am half way up the hill before I have to run….doesn’t really work!  This time it is running for four, walking for one but only nine times.  I find running around the park a little bit dull so decide to run a different route which means I should only have to run half a loop of the park.  And there are a few down hill bits (whoop whoop whoop).  It is all going well….until I have to run up the road next to the fire station….I apologise for the language used on that part of the run if you were anywhere near me.  How come I can barely breathe or run but have enough energy to shout rude words loudly….anyway it helped and I managed to run up that hill!  Due to a total miscalculation on the map planning front,  I end up running a lot further than the app tells me too.  Arrive at the park to be rewarded with gin and jelly tots…thank you Mr Awesome!  Due to ‘getting lost’ I have run/walked my first 10k in 1hr and 17 minutes!

so to sum up 
  • managed 10k …whoop
  • 58 minutes of running
  • 19 minutes of walking
  • listened to Seasick Steve, Chris Rea and Pigeon Detectives
  • carrying in back pack, - black boots, less make up, lighter clothes, baby wipes and no coat, very small purse - I am learning
  • how do I feel at the end - knackered, had a good cry on the way round, didn’t have to lay on the floor but did have to sit in a chair for a long time, little bit disappointed in the amount of time it look me to do 10k
  • BTW it is not funny to beep your horn and shout ‘run, forest, run’ out of your car window
  • winnings at the darkrun quiz £19.50

Hubby and I run to Marsden

I failed to mention that I have also entered my husband to do the 10k.  I thought he would run round with me….but no, he is going to do his own thing and come back for me!  Cheers Rob! 
So…we decide to run to Marsden.  

So the plan is to run the near 10k route from our house to Marsden, running on the lovely flat canal.  Best bit…no back pack! When we get to Marsden we will meet the kids and grandad who have cycled there, have an ice cream and then tootle back with them.

What really happens - we run to Marsden on the canal which is not flat and has an up hill gain of 194m…I had to look this up when I got back…well actually the next day as when I got back I just lay on the floor!  When we get to Marsden I am allowed a 10 minute ice cream break (two scoops in a tub, don’t like cones, toffee and honeycomb).  Then the husband suggests a run back…and what do I do?…I must have been a sugar rush from the ice cream….I agree!!  All I can say is thank god it is all down hill from here!!!

so to sum up
  • ran nearly nine miles - it would have been nine miles but I really, really couldn’t run up that last hill back home
  • 84 minutes of running
  • 15 minutes of walking
  • listened to my husband telling me to ‘man up and grow some balls’ just outside Slaithwaite…documented for use in the divorce
  • carrying my house key and £20 note
  • how do I feel at the end….had to lie on the floor, was there so long the cat came and sat on me, cleaned itself and fell asleep…nothing else to say!
Bad photo of me in the bunny shirt at the end of the run - and it is not a smile more of a grimace! 

So…I have made a start!  All in all not too bad….week two starts now!  See you soon avid fans! XXX

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The parkrun course at Bradford

Lister Park is beautiful, its the jewel in Bradford's somewhat dented crown and it was the perfect choice to host our parkrun.
8:40am -We join our eager parkrunners as they stretch and warm up, flashing their pale Yorkshire legs and leaving their flat caps on any available flat surface.
I dash about as usual sorting out equipment, volunteers and funnel ropes that seem to have more bite in them than a rattle snake!
The geese watch us with amusement as they waddle about on the grass waiting for the head goose to take off and lead them Top Gun style back to the safety of the lake.
8:50am - its nearly time! Despite earlier worries of low numbers, runners seem to be appearing from everywhere, I can see the steam rising from Nick the frothy coffee man's van as he serves marshals and supporters lattes and hot chocolate, its time to get the marshals in their places and get started.
Regular faces smile and chat with each other, welcoming newcomers and reassuring them about the action to come.
We all walk down to the start together which is just by the fossilised tree above the lake. The usual pre-amble ensues and before I know it, they're off!
The first stretch above the lake looks flat but it isn't! If you start with cold legs you'll know about it. Approaching the bandstand you are greeted by the first marshal to clap and encourage you on your way, you continue on past the majestic Cartwright Hall and through the formal gardens, there are always beautiful floral arrangements here.
On your left are the water gardens with fountains, cascades and sculptures.
You're at Prince's Gate now where a marshal directs you left to the first long, winding downhill stretch, look out for the squirrels foraging amongst the trees and bushes.
You approach the bottom corner which is a sharp left past the statue of Lister and onto the longest stretch which is mostly downhill. This is where all the spring crocus and snowdrops are making an appearance.
You pass the adventure playground on your left where your kids can play and cheer you along, continue past the boating pavillion where the path slopes down towards the seated statue of Sir Titus Salt and the famous "Tony's corner" where the amazing Tony Kingham will encourage (and chase if necessary) you up the teeny tiny hill (TM) back to where you started.
3 laps are completed and then once you're up the teeny tiny hill (TM) for the 3rd time it's back towards the bandstand for the final stretch (watch out for low flying geese!) Immediately after the bandstand you take a steep right turn into the finisher's area for a glorious finish to the Lucozade 5 sign.
Once you've un-crossed your eyes and regained some composure you clutch your little parkrun position token and take it to the scanning table along with your barcode to register your finish position.
You are then encouraged to support and clap other runners as they make their way to the finish before staggering over to Nick to request your brew of choice!
If you pop along to our friendly event be sure to come and say "Hi!" you'll be warmly welcomed.
... Linda xx

Personal Best 'Smashed'

Saturday 10th March 2012, Norwich Eaton Park, perfect weather. Last time I blogged was 2 weeks ago and in that blog I talked about some advise I'd been given by a fellow Norwich parkrunner who had many parkruns and many PB's under his belt, about only attempting a PB once a month, by resting the legs a few days prior to the attempt and for the rest of the time, just turn up and enjoy the atmosphere! Well little did I know I would be forced in to taking this advise, as I came down with a stinking cold and cough, that stopped me training for 2 weeks (something us runners hate more than anything!!!) however, by Thursday this week I was dieing to run, so I did a sneaky 5K from home, which went really well, I then had a PT session, but I made sure he stayed away from working my legs and just focused on arms and core, so that come Saturday morning at 9am, I was ready to go for it and go for it I did!!! I got to Eaton Park just after 8:30 for my normal preparation, which is a gentle jog with a few sprints and lots and lots of stretching, all 298 of us were called to the meeting point, we acknowledged the fantastic support of the volunteers and off to the starting point we went, men, women, children and dogs connected to people with ropes! I waited in the back of the first 3rd, ready to press my iMapMyRun GPS whilst Marilyn Manson boomed in my ears!! The hooter went and off we went, I must admit I felt fantastic and at 2.5K I was running sub 5 min/K's so I knew this was good, I knew I was in the right mind frame to keep it going, no matter how what, on the last lap, the legs started to feel heavy, the breathing got heavier too (last reminants of the cold) but I had told myself to push and I could rest after the run, as I came down the final straight I gave it everything I had left in the tank and managed to overtake 2 other runners, as I crossed the line my GPS said 24:09, I thought this can't be right, my previous PB was 25:08!! I got scanned, stretched a little and got my breath back and did my normal post parkrun ritual of getting a coffee and a slice of banana cake. As I sat drinking my coffee I spoke to a few people and said I think I've had a good time but my GPS can't be right as it looks like I've wiped a minute of my PB, but would rather wait for my official time. The official time came out and said; Your official time at parkrun Norwich is 24:00 your place is 119 out of 298 runners, well done on your new PB, 68 seconds off your previous PB!!! I smiled all day and told everyone who would listen!!! I would like to finish by saying I am raising money this year for Alzeihmers by doing 6 challenges in 2012, including cycling from Vietnam to Cambodia in November, my main sponsors are Plumbase and Viessmann Boilers, but I need all the support I can get please or text GOLD51 £2 to 70070 Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed it.