Saturday, 8 December 2012

Fastest 10 parkruns, by male course record

These are the fastest 10 parkrun events, by male course record.

That doesn't really mean that these are the fastest courses, especially where the record holders are Olympians (Andrew Baddeley and Jonathan Brownlee), but they might just be anyway. At the very least, they are all very impressive times:

Event  Athlete         Time  
Bushy ParkAndrew BADDELEY13:48:00
Brighton & HoveBenjamin Michael TICKNER14:30:00
EdinburghRoss TOOLE14:31:00
NewcastleIan HUDSPITH14:36:00
CardiffMichael E JOHNSON14:40:00
GinninderraMartin DENT14:42:00
RiversideYared HAGOS14:43:00
YorkJonathan BROWNLEE14:43:00
HullIan KIMPTON14:46:00
PooleRichard HORTON14:47:00

Friday, 7 December 2012

parkrun registration stats this week

There is still a little time for new registrations this week, but at the time of writing and compared to the figures in my post this time last week....

Totalling up new registrations across parkrun globally, shows that parkrun has attracted a further 2508 registrations this week.

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations (according to my official source page on the parkrun website) up to 398,499 (up from 395,991). That is a growth of 0.6% on last week.

It would therefore appear that parkrun should break-through the 400,000 registrations mark sometime in the next few days. If it hasn't already that is, as the stats are sometimes a bit behind real registrations, or so I believe.

No new parkruns starting this week, but next weekend sees the addition of Darlington South Park parkrun and Congleton parkrun to the parkrun family.

Four runs in and Malahide parkrun continues to be top of the charts in the number of new registrations category, this week adding yet another 99 new registrants so far. That is now five weeks (including before their first event) in a row that Malahide parkrun has added the most new registrations. Amazing growth at Malahide parkrun.

parkrun events showing notable growth in registrations this week are:
Event   Total   This week   
Malahide parkrun127699
Newy parkrun188548
St Peters parkrun212538
Nahoon Point parkrun162537

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun20952
Glasgow parkrun12313
Leeds parkrun11143
Brighton & Hove parkrun9979

Brighton and Hove parkrun there closing in on 10,000 registrants! Next week probably, for an early Christmas present.

And at the other end of the spectrum, but just as worthy of a mention we have (including a new entry):
Event   Total   
Darlington South Park parkrun4
Upton Court parkrun36
Congleton parkrun41

Politicians at parkrun

Having recently been made aware that Harriet Harman MP has run a parkrun, I started to wonder whether any other politicians run at parkrun. Who are these parkrun politicians? So I decided to do a little digging and this is what I found.

Of course I am not 100% certain that all of these are the politicians, but it would be nice to think that some of them might be:

David Cameron, Waterworks parkrun, 1 run
George Osbourne, Bushy parkrun, 3 runs
Ken Livingston(e), Bramhall parkrun, 175 runs
Ed Ball(he left the 's' off for anonimity), Cardiff parkrun, 6 runs
Gordon Brown, Falkirk, 3 runs

There are a few MPs from yester-year too:
(Sir) Patrick Mayhew, Harrogate parkrun, 2 runs
David Steele, Edinburgh parkrun, 86 runs
Michael Foot, Albert Melbourne parkrun, 5 runs
James Callaghan, Brockwell parkrun, 2 runs
Harry Wilson (his less formal name), Grovelands parkrun, 1 run

And of course:
William Pitt (the much younger I assume),  Swindow parkrun, 5 runs

And from the US, we have a few ex-presidents now making the occasional parkrun appearance:
George Bush, Worcester parkrun, 2 runs
John Kennedy, Bedfont Lakes parkrun, 4 runs
Andrew Johnson, Bramhall parkrun, 3 runs
John Adams, Coventry parkrun, 6 runs
Benjamin Harrison, Newport parkrun, 1 run

There are also those that have signed up but haven't yet run:
Will(iam) Hague, Tom Jefferson, Richard Nixon and Gerald(ine) Ford

I'm sure there must be more political figures at parkrun, but these are all I have managed to find so far.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Am I still capable of a PB?

At 38 years old I am starting to wonder how much longer I can keep improving my PB each year. There can't bee too many years left, surely?

I know that running isn't just about getting PBs and for the most part I don't concentrate on trying to get PBs. In fact, this year I have only attempted 3 PBs, two at parkrun (5km) and the other at 10km and each time I achieved my goal.

I do have friends in their very early forties that have been runners for many years and yet have still managed to achieve PBs in the last year at a number of distances. So it should still be possible for me for a year or two, but probably not much longer than that.

It's not that my PBs are bad, I'd just like to improve them a bit more whilst I can. It's a challenge after all.

My parkrun PB History:
First parkrun (April 2010): 20:18
2010 PB: 18:14 (8 PBs in the year)
2011 PB: 17:49 (only 1 PB all year)
2012 PB: 17:28 (only 2 PBs all year)

So on progression alone, in 2011 I took 25 seconds off my 2010 PB and in 2012 I have taken 21 seconds off my 2011 PB. That's not much of a trend to go on, but I would say that somewhere in the region of 10 to 15 seconds improvement in my parkrun PB should be achieveable next year with the right preparation.

Then of course their are other distances. There is the 10km for sure and I really think I'm ready to step up to the a half marathon again next year. I thought I was going to be this year, but that never quite happened.

So, after telling myself a few weeks back that I wouldn't run hard for a while and I'd just give myself an easy month or two (the rest of the year really), that break has refreshed my mind and now I am looking forward to trying to improve next year.

I have booked my first 10km race for next year for 7th April at the Leamington Regency Run. The 7th April was my Mum's birthday and next year she would have been 66. This year I did a parkrun on the 7th April and beforehand agreed with my brother that we would both get PBs to mark what would have been her 65th birthday. We both smashed our PBs that day and I haven't even tried to get near mine since. It has felt out of sight for a while to be honest. On that day it was a case of just not caring how much it hurt. That day we were getting PBs come what may! I'd like to think I can do the same for a 10km PB on that date in 2013, but it's not going to be easy.

I also realise that it is not just a case of saying I am going to do it. That is just the final justification to push that little bit harder and hold on for that little bit longer. Before that I need to make sure that I have a chance. I know that a lot of preparation is required, so the next steps in this plan are to work out what needs to be done and what needs to be right on the day in order to have a chance of a PB next year.

A few follow up blog posts to come on this subject I think!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

parkrun Volunteering made simple...the Timekeeper

Being the Timekeeper at parkrun sounds ominous doesn't it. It's that role at parkrun that everyone seems to fear. But why?

I suppose there is a bit of pressure in this role. If everything were to go completely wrong then all the parkrunners could end up without a time. But, even then, looking on the bright side, they will still have had their parkrun, they will know their finish position and they will have had another parkrun finish to add towards their 10, 50, 100 or 250 club t-shirts.

But that really is the wrong way to look at the Timekeeper role. It is very rare for a Timekeeper to get things so wrong that no times are recorded. Minor mistakes such as too many or too few times being recorded are relatively simple to resolve at the time of processing the results.

So what does the Timekeeper role actually involve?

The Timekeeper carries out this role using the Timing device. I believe that there are more than one type of timing device in use at parkrun so the specifics may be a little different for each type. There is a little bit of set-up for the timing device, which the Run Director will always be able to help with. There are also good instructions available and these would be made availablle to the Timekeeper ahead of the run. There is normally plenty of time to digest and understand these instructions before the run.

With the timing device set up and ready to go, the Timekeeper will stand near the Run Director at the start line. The Run Director will ensure that the Timekeeper is ready before the "Ready...Go", or whatever method is used for starting the parkrun. At this point the Timekeeper will press the button on the Timing device to signify the start of the run.

The Timekeeper can then take around 15 minutes or so off, whilst waiting for the approach of the first finisher. Seriously though, the Timekeeper only needs to act a minute or so prior to the first finisher. At that time, the Timekeeper will plug the remote button (where available) into the timing device. This can be done earlier, but leaving it until a minute or two before the first finisher ensures less chance of an accidental button press or two. It is possible to use a button on the timing device, but the remote button is just a little easier to use.

The Timekeeper should then position themselves in line with the finish line ready for the runners to finish.
As each parkrunner crosses the line, the Timekeeper must then press the button to signify a finisher and enable the timing device to record a finish time. Each time is automatically associated with the corresponding finish position such that by the end of the run the timing device will have stored the finish time for each finish position.

When the earliest and latest runners are finishing, and at the smaller parkrun events, the Timekeeper has plenty of time to carry out this role accurately. However, at the busiest of parkrun events and at the most popular finish times, this task can be quite taxing. Some Timekeepers will look down and count pairs of feet, whilst others will look up and count heads. Do whatever works for you. The aim is to get one press per human finisher finishing under their own steam. Babies in buggies are not normally given their own time or finish position, but this could be different at each parkrun event. As long as the Timekeeper and the Numbers roles (giving out finish position tokens) stick to the same rules about who gets a time and finish position then it should all work out.

It is important to remember that the Number Checker and Funnel Management roles are in place specifically to notice when and where mistakes occur and this will usually allow these to be easily resolved when the results are processed. The Timekeeper just needs to concentrate on their own role and not worry about mistakes or trying to rectify them as this may cause trickier problems to resolve.

All in all the Timekeeper job is good fun, there is a little bit of pressure, but it is very rare for mistakes to be made that cannot be rectified pretty simply. So there is nothing to worry about. Put your name forward and give Timekeeping a go. If I can do it, then so can you!

A year in the life of a parkrun tourist...part 5.

So as the title of this piece suggests I have been planning to be on tour for most of the year, aiming to hit 20 different parkruns by the end of the year and experiencing the best that Yorkshire in particular has to offer!

After our trip to Wembley via Milton Keynes we decided to revisit some local runs again- mainly due to time constraints and other races and to be sociable!

First stop was Dewsbury – closest parkrun to the track at Spenborough where Kirklees Council organise an excellent track coaching session for under 8’s on a Saturday morning at 10am. Jamie decided he could do both so of we set round the hilly 4 lap course. After 2 laps his feet hurt so he stopped by the finish and allowed me to smash out 2 laps, nearly managing to catch Event Director Nicki at the finish despite being 100m down with 200 to go – I was out-dipped in the funnel after my heavy breathing and footsteps warned her I was coming but all good fun! One quick coffee later (plus a sausage sandwich and ice cream for Jamie!) we headed for the track where he spent a great hour and a half trying out a variety of track and field events – I can recommend this for any kids under 8 who want to have a go at athletics with qualified coaches for next to nothing!

After that a trip to my second home in Bradford to see Event Director Linda and to pace a friend to 27:30. Always good fun at Bradford despite the teeny tiny hill (x3) and I finished in 27:29 (thank you Garmin!) – my friend unfortunately struggled coming back from illness but there will always be other parkruns…..

Enjoying the pacing theme the week after (and the day before the Great North Run) we planned to get Sarah (my wife) round a parkrun in under 30 minutes for the first time. Like the four-minute mile this was a psychological barrier rather than physical and true to form she passed me on the finish straight to clock a time that was later rounded down to 29:43. Very well done Mrs!!!

The day after I travelled up to the GNR with the Huddersfield Running Bunnies to take on my second half marathon since coming back to running- despite the usual chaos (bus breaking down, driving past us and off up the motorway etc) we got there in good time, set off and knocked over 10 minutes off my comeback pb, and without stopping once!!! Happy day- though the traffic was so bad on the way back I did run out of beer…..

After 2 more weeks of pacing back at Leeds the 3 of us headed off to Harrogate parkrun with pool-playing friend Nicky for company. Nicky had gone from occasional runner to parkrun addict over the previous year and had caught me up time-wise, to the second at Leeds! Heading off round the perfectly flat half grass, half tarmac course he took his usual lead with me reeling him in slowly. After 2 of the 3 laps I realised that the cold I had been feeling was getting worse so I backed off, run/walking the last lap. The course however is so fast that if you have anything left for the last lap you can pick up a fast time! Lapping Jamie and Sarah with about 500m to go actually led me to my second fastest parkrun ever and a minute plus victory over Nicky, though the cold was to linger for a few weeks after that….. Nicky disagrees (because he does not like the mixed terrain) but I think this is one of the fastest courses out there – so long as it’s not too soggy!!!

Finally shifting that cold a few weeks later however having had a hip injury since the Woodland Challenge we set off for Hull parkrun on the 3rd Nov. Struggling to walk from the car to the start I was already planning a Personal Worse at possibly the fastest course in the country. However having tried to job at the back with the boys I figured my hip hurt anyway so I might as well get it over with as soon as possible!! Running on one leg around the lake on a very chilly morning I ended up with a very respectable time considering and promising to return next year when fit because this is a good one and a fast one!! The park itself is worth spending a bit of time and the event team are a great bunch, though I was appalled by the bad manners by a number of people during the run briefing!! I’ll be back…..

The week after back at Leeds we had one of those special events that sets Leeds apart – organised by the mighty Sam Dooley, statto extraordinaire the 3 leg relay (finally stopped calling it the 3 legged relay- completely different!) consisting of 25 teams of 3 running approximately 1 mile (ie a lap) each on a handicap system which only Sam understands but which works every time!! I had volunteered to marshall with Jamie for the main event due to the hip but as the 3 of us had entered as Team Jamie I had to do the relay! Now 1 mile is much more my thing- in the Golden mile track event a couple of months earlier I had clocked 5:38, far quicker than my 21 min plus 5k pb would suggest so I always do rather well out of the handicap system! However running on one leg still would not be easy. I ran the first lap with Jamie (aged 7 by now) who clocked 9:16 followed by Sar running 9:38 (ok, the first lap is very slightly shorter but still good going!) then I managed to shuffle round getting the team up to 3rd at the finish. Between us we managed a parkrun in 25:19 -if I had been fully fit…… Oh well, there’s always next year!! A great event with a fantastic atmosphere immaculately organised and supported – love it!

 The week after I decided to test my hip out at Leeds parkrun and it did not go well- so the day after I sacked off my pb attempt (planned for 12 months) and ran the Abbey Dash 10k with Sar – supposed to be pacing I spent the first 9k trying not to let her see the time as she was on for a massive pb- 7 mins 32 seconds as it turned out!! Most I’ve enjoyed a PW ever!!! Shows what parkrun can do for you…..

And so onto the final and 15th different parkrun of the year- York. Again, reckoned to be the flattest and fastest in the country they are not kidding- if it hadn’t been -1 degree, foggy and if I had full use of both legs it would have been!! As it was I ran the first lap with Nicky’s friend then hobbled off to pick up a few places on lap 2. Nicky again beat my best time (well done mate!) and proved that in good conditions this will be very fast. The usual excellent event team even gave Jamie a shout out (for those who followed the links earlier on the Longest parkrun he ran an unofficial world record for parkrun by a 6 year old in wellies at York…) and I had to apologise that he hadn’t made it and was tucked up warm in bed! Still, another great event to revisit when we start to fill up the calendar for next year…..

So what about the festive season? Well due to special events and generally being sociable we are staying local – full details can be found on our Facebook page – feel free to add and join in!!

Have a good one and see you at a parkrun near you soon…..

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The average parkrunner this week

Well what kind of week did Pat (the average parkrunner) have this week?

The average parkrunner (parkrun Pat) ran 27:04 this week.
Pat's all-time parkrun average remains at 26:36.
Pat ran 28 seconds slower than his all-time average this week.

Other weekly global parkrun stats that might be of interest:
  • 10 new clubs were represented at parkrun for the first time.
  • 1784 new runners ran at parkrun for the first time, roughly 48% of the weekly new registrants total from last week.
  • The total cumulative distance covered by all parkrunners at all parkrun events is now: 9,454,990 km!
  • At this week's rate, we will pass the 10 million kilometre mark on either the 5th or more likely the 12th January 2013, almost a year to the day of passing the 5 million kilometre mark.


You hate them, I hate them, lots of parkrunners hate them.  I say hate but perhaps it’s really plain old jealousy.  Those festering thoughts of mild resentment that blight your very day before you even hit the venue.

You don’t see them every week but they’re still there, quite innocently and unwittingly rubbing your nose in it.  Sometimes guys, sometimes gals and sometimes on bikes.  They’re the worst, I mean bikes!  The only reason I feel the way I do about them is because I wish I had the means to do it too but I know I never will.  I live twelve miles or so from my local event and that’s what makes this whole episode completely impractical for me I tell myself.  I have a hard enough time negotiating one leg in front of the other in a left followed by right pattern to the general direction of the start line from the car park at walking pace for God’s sake.  And during your sojourn to the start you see them again and it really starts to wind you right up.

Who are ‘they’ then?  THEY are the ‘run or cycle to parkrun, complete parkrun and run or cycle home again from parkrun’ brigade.  Worse than that, they have the audacity to finish before me and, if you care to admit it, you too.  Sodding paragons of fitness, shining examples of what we aspire to be (in yer dreams), models of vigour, the epitome of body conditioning, call them what you like.  I’d like to call them ‘me’ but it just ain’t gonna happen Bubba.  Wait for this.  There was one of them a few weeks ago, pitches up late when the race had gone off, rattles round the course and finishes in the top twenty or some like.  What’s that all about eh?

Well you know what, I doff my covetous cap to them for I am really an admirer as it goes and yeah, I do wish I was that fit.  That’s the beauty of parkrun for me.  I’m only ever going to be an also ran but I don’t care.  The fun part for me is participating on a Saturday morning alongside these guys, my guys, your guys, the fit, the not so fit, the athletes and the clearly very unfit but all of whom to a man, or chick, put in a shift.  It’ll never get any easier as you continually push for a better time but the level of satisfaction in the knowledge that you’ve just added another one to your tally is the talk that talks the loudest.  The parkrun family, where everyone is welcome.

Naked freedom parkrun

After over 2 years and 200 parkrun freedon runs, today I thought it was time for a change.

Today I decided to run NAKED!

Ok, not naked in the traditional sense, it was a bit too cold for that and no one would want to see that - certainly not at lunchtime! No, this naked was in the "lack of electronic aids" sense. Yes, today I decided to run without electronic aids.

To be totally honest though, even that isn't true. I only ever run with a watch, never an mp3 player, heart-rate monitor or GPS device etc. Today was no different really, I still wore my watch. But the big change today was that I decided not to look at my watch at all during my parkrun freedom runs. I had already planned to do two freedom parkruns back-to-back and a decided that I wouldn't even glance at my watch until completing each freedom run. I decided that there wasn't much point in running completely without my watch as how would I know how it compared. For a fair test, I had to time it, but just not look at the time during the run.

This was a big step for me as I can't remember often running for more than a few minutes at a time without looking at my watch. Certainly in races and also in any training around the parkrun route as I like to know what pace I am running at. Even on an easy run. I suppose there were the club handicap races this summer for which watches were forbidden, so I have done it, but rarely, and never in training in the park.

The first freedom parkrun....I just ran at a really comfortable pace, hardly breathing and totally relaxed. The aim was to take the first freedom parkrun slowly and then up the pace a bit for the second one. I guessed that I was running at just under 24 minute parkrun pace as it felt really easy. When I crossed the line, pressed the split button and looked at my watch I was really amazed to see that the time was 21:27. It hadn't felt anywhere near that quick.

So that was it, no more glances at the watch allowed until completing the second freedom parkrun.

The second freedom parkrun....I picked up the pace a bit. It still felt pretty comfortable, to start with at least, but not as easy as the first parkrun. Based on the pace and time of the first freedom parkrun, the second felt much closer to 20 minute pace. I really enjoyed not having the time pressure that a target pace and being close to, or behind, that target pace creates. I crossed the finish line, stopped the watch and this time I was much closer with my estimate as it was a 20:08 freedom parkrun.

That second freedom parkrun certainly wasn't easy, but I knew I had plenty left in the tank. I wouldn't have said I was pushing it. So with that in mind it's a pretty pleasing time.

Not bad for a 10km, taking it easy for the first half and still managing 41:35. A respectable time really.

So what has my naked freedom parkrun told me?

I think I should probably try it more often. I'd say that it seemed that the pace which felt comfortable was faster without checking my watch than when I know my pace. That's time pressure for you. The thing with the parkrun course is that I know where the half and 1 kilometre splits are. So it is really easy to work out my pace. When I am running and it is feeling hard, it is so easy to be disappointed with the pace or time. But by running at a speed that felt comfortable, it turns out that this can be quite quick without any time pressures. Interesting!

I will have to try this again. I can't see it working for me in a race as I feel that I need the time pressure to stop me falling off my highest pace. That quick feedback allows me to pick up my pace very quickly after noticing it has dropped. This is particularly the case at parkrun. But I suppose I'll never really know if that's true though, until I try it. Maybe one day.

Monday, 3 December 2012

parkrun stats of the week - 1st December 2012

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:
174 parkrun events run (a few cancellations this week!)
18,324 runners (down 3,558 on last week)

The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 105 (down 13 on last week - Winter must be here!).

Just 4 events recorded a new record attendance this week, as follows:
Record Attendance  
Ally Pally59
Cornwall Park66

Also of note were two parkrun events getting within 1 person of their attendance record:
Record Attendance  Record Week  This Week  

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

And in the UK its:
Old Deer Park  83 15/01/2011

The highest attandance this week was 741 at Bushy Park. No surprise there. Bushy parkrun still holds the global attendance record for a single event of 1000.

The lowest attandance this week was 6 at Fritton Lake parkrun.

4 new male course records set this week:
Athlete  Time  
North BeachReece ALLARD17:30
SandgateDavid LEAN16:59
South BankGeoff BERKELEY17:06
TorrensDaniel HARTWIG17:15

10 new female course records set this week (the women win this week!):
Event  Athlete  Time  
North BeachDebbie PERRY18:49
SandgateMelinda DENTON22:05
South BankBritney MCMULLEN18:30
TorrensCherie GAUCI20:52
MalahideAnnette KEALY18:32
CityparkGillian BURNS19:11
SouthendSophie RICHES17:55
WoodleyKatie Louise HENDERSON19:46
BurgessJanet WORSTER20:42
EbotseRobyn Claire KALTENBRUNN20:11

A total of 50 runners (down 12on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week.
6 of these (down 2 on last week) run under 16 minutes!
Impressively, 4 of those were at Cardiff parkrun, that must have been some sight!):
Event  Athlete  Time  
CardiffOwen WALPOLE15:36
CardiffRhodri BUFFETT15:40
CardiffJoshua GRIFFITHS15:43
CardiffEdward R TAKATA15:47

The fastest parkrunner in the World this week was by Owen Walpole running 15:36 at Cardiff parkrun.

The top age grade performance this week was by Peter Sandery who ran 19:50 in the VM70-74 category at Torrens parkrun, recording a 90.00% Age Grade in the process. Very impressive!

The fastest freedom run recorded the week was:
19:55 by Jake Allen at Brighton & Hove parkrun on 1st December 2012.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Who runs at parkrun?

The simple answer is anyone and everyone that wants to.

Head along to any parkrun and you will find people of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and abilities.

There are kids, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged, pensioners and even the elderly.
There are large people, thin people and every shape and size you can think of.
There are fast runners, slow runners and every grade of ability in between.
There are regular runners, even clubs runners, but the vast majority probably only run at parkrun.
Some of the runners aren't even runners, as walking is just as acceptable at parkrun.

There are even some who look like proper athletes!

As I said, parkrun is for everyone. Anyone is welcome at parkrun.