Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review of Graves parkrun

Today I ran Graves parkrun (Sheffield) for the first time. It was my 12th different Yorkshire parkrun; I ran 11 of them last year and plan to complete the rest this year. When I run a parkrun for the first time I like to do a write-up of my experience and impressions of it but I must stress it is my experience and my impressions and is based on just the one run.

I found the park very easily though I was using a satnav and postcode I got using the AA Route Planner not the one on the parkrun internet. There’s is plenty of parking though the car park I used was pay and display (80p) but it was right next to the start so I didn’t have to go walkabout to find out where the start was. I haven’t mentioned toilets before in one of these reports but … they were a short walk from the start and their location was clearly obvious due to the people going to use them. Some parkruns don’t have toilets or at least ones that are easily accessible, and as I have a runners nervous bladder and always feel like I need to pee just before a race even if I don’t, so a parkrun with toilets always gets a tick from me; well, since this is the first time I’ve mention toilets, Graves parkrun gets a tick.

The course was well marshalled/marked and deceptively tough. It doesn’t have what appear to be any daunting uphill climbs but don’t be fooled, there may be no uphill part of the course that is ‘steep’ but there is a gradual climb which really takes it out of you, at least if you’re as old and unfit as I am. There’s also a second uphill stretch through an animal farm which gives the course a bit of interesting scenery and also some interesting nasal stimulation, which, being quite close to the finish, helps spur you on towards the line if for no other reason than to get away from it (I exaggerate, it’s not that bad but you won’t miss it). With the exception of a very short grass stretch, next to the car park, the course is mainly tarmac with some well-kept, fairly even gravel paths which didn’t appear to cause a problem for runners pushing pushchairs (if you’re a runner what else would you be doing with a pushchair?) – I was passed by a guy with a pushchair that had two kids in; I did say I was unfit, he obviously isn’t. All the paths were quite narrow though in most places there was grass faster runners could use for overtaking. The path the start was on was probably the widest path on the course but I’d still recommend faster runners to make sure they start at the front – if anyone wants to be sarcastic and say ‘you mean they don’t normally start at the back?’, beat you to it. Despite the fact that it was very cold there was no evidence of ice and other than the grass stretch, no noticeable mud.

I don’t know why but the official time I’ve been given is 11secs faster than I timed myself at – I timed myself at 32:26 which was the time given to the woman who finished just behind me. I found a woman who was scanning bar codes quite easily but must apologise to:
a) the women standing next to her who asked my time and place number; I wear glasses but don’t run in them and the numbers on the place bar code is far too small for me to read and as my position bar code had already been put in the collection bag…
b) the people who started to queue up behind me while I spoke to these two women; I was telling them that based on my run time and experience of the Roundhay parkrun, which claims to be the toughest parkrun in Yorkshire, I was making Graves parkrun the official Melvyn Burton toughest parkrun in Yorkshire. Even at my official time of 32:15 I was still slower than any of my 11 runs at Roundhay and my slowest at Roundhay was on New Year’s day after I’d already run the Leeds parkrun, so sorry Roundhay but…

A big thumbs up to the little girl (Polly Hallam I guess – say, weren’t you running the wrong Sheffield parkrun?) who passed me just as we left the farm for the second time. Her and (I assume) her dad (I think he must the unknown finisher in position 95) left me for dead. I did have a bit of a sprint left for the final 50 meters but was never going to catch them. It’s great to see kids running at such an early age and doing so well.

In summary, I really enjoyed it despite how tough a course it is. I certainly recommend it to people though if you’re new to running and live in the Sheffield area, you may want to try Sheffield Hallam parkrun first (I haven’t tried Concord yet).

parkrun world domination in your lifetime!

If the often talked about "doubling effect" at parkrun continues unabated, then it's true, parkrun will have caught the imagination of the entire population of the Earth within most of our lifetimes. By 2031 roughly speaking. Optimistic?!

It would be a brave man (or woman) "Why do you keep on banging on about women Stan!" [Life of Brian, Monty Python]....who would bet their reputation on such a bold prediction, and I wouldn't be so foolish, but the trends are still very impressive and the "doubling effect" does still continue to-date.

There have been a number of mentions in the last few years of parkrun doubling in size each year. That is that the number of completed runs seems to very roughly double each year. For example, almost exactly a year ago (13th Jan 2012 I believe) the 1 millionth completed run was achieved (after roughly 7 and a half years of parkrun) and last weekend (5th Jan 2013) the 2 millionth run was completed. i.e. Doubling in very slightly less than a year.

Now here is the leap....Very roughly speaking, the number of runners on the first (proper) parkrun day of January each year is also seeing double that of the previous year. Clearly there have only been 8 "first parkrun days in January", as parkrun has only been going for that many years, so this isn't really enough data to base such a calculation on, but if it were....

Starting with the global attendance for last weekend and then calculating the doubled value for the first January parkrun in subsequent years we would get:

Year   parkrunners
2013   27,683    (Actual)
2014   55,566
2015   111,132
2016   222,264
2017   444,528
2018   889,056
2019   1,778,112
2020   3,556,224
2021   7,112,448
2022   14,224,896
2023   28,449,792
2024   56,899,584
2025   113,799,168
2026   227,598,336
2027   455,196,672
2028   910,393,344
2029   1,820,786,688
2030   3,641,573,376
2031   7,283,146,752    Pretty close to the predicted population of the earth, allowing for volunteers!
Ok, so we may not need 1 billion volunteers, but some of us will be parkrun tourists, so you have to include bus and train drivers etc to make parkrun tourism possible!

This quite clearly shows that it is impossible for the doubling effect to carry on for very much longer.

To be honest it would be incredible if parkrun manages to double in size (number of runners) even for another couple of years. But it's not impossible that within a handful of years (probably within 3 or 4) that there could be 100,000 parkrunners running each week. And figures of over a million parkrunners are probably not impossible within a decade or two (but I'm fairly sure not within 6 years as the list above suggests). But if parkrun really takes off in somewhere such as the US, you never know!

So in all honesty, we won't see the whole of the world take to their local parks for a parkrun at 9am each Saturday within our lifetimes, but it will be very interesting to see just how big parkrun can grow over the coming years.

Wouldn't it be nice if on a Saturday morning, wherever you happen to be in the world, you could go and join a group of local parkrunners and feel almost as at home as you do at your own home parkrun event.

Friday, 11 January 2013

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 7,965 registrations this week, 3,141 more than at the same time last week! parkrun registrations are really growing at the moment.

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations (according to my official source page on the parkrun website) up to 420,498 (up from 412,533). That is a growth in total registrations of 1.9% in a week.

As far as I am aware, there are 3 new parkruns starting this weekend:
Harrow Lodge, Wimpole Estate and Modderfontein

That will take us up to 200 different parkrun events having been run!

Malahide parkrun continues to be top of the charts in the number of new registrations category, this week adding an incredible 247 new registrants so far! What will they do if all the keen new registrants turn up tomorrow morning! That is the most new registrations I remember seeing for a single event in one week. That is now 10 weeks in a row (including before their first event) that Malahide parkrun has added the most new registrations.

An amazing 25 different parkrun events have added 50 or more new registrants this week!
The parkrun events showing (the most) notable growth in registrations this week are:
Event   Total   This week   
Malahide parkrun1969247
Nahoon Point parkrun2032108
Leeds parkrun1137490
New Farm parkrun436190
Glasgow parkrun1255089
South Bank parkrun59089
Cannon Hill parkrun, Birmingham528988
Newy parkrun230088

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still the same top 5:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun21295
Glasgow parkrun12550
Leeds parkrun11374
Brighton & Hove parkrun10200
Wimbledon Common parkrun9851
It looks as though Wimbledon Common parkrun is only about 3 weeks away from becoming the 5th parkrun with over 10,000 registered runners.
And at the other end of the spectrum, but just as worthy of a mention we have (with a couple of new entries this week):
Event   Total   
Temple Newsam parkrun7
Walthamstow parkrun13
Upton Court parkrun76
Modderfontein Reserve parkrun80
Carlisle parkrun84

My full-on training plan for 2013!

After all my various blog posts about what I want to achieve in 2013 and how I am going to try and do it, I finally put together a training plan. So this is it:

Its a 2 week plan, to allow all the different types of training that I want to include. The plan is that I will do the same type of training on each of the days of the two-week plan, but the general trend is that I will increase distance and intensity as my fitness and pace improves (hopefully!) over the coming weeks and months.

The initial aim is to lose the excessive Christmas weight gained, which was 5lbs in the space of a week!

So to the plan:

Week A:
MONCore Training
TUEHill session, Yoga, 40 min easy cycle
WED30 min Hard cycle
THUClub interval training
FRIShort easy run, 20 min easy cycle, Yoga
SATHard parkrun
SUNLong slow run

Week B:
MON60 minute easy cycle
TUEIntervals sesssion, 40 min easy cycle
WED30 min Hard cycle
THUClub tempo run
FRITempo run, 20 min easy cycle
SATEasy parkrun
SUNLong slow run

Wherever possible I will also try to include some basic hamstring, calf, quad and hip flexor stretches and strengthening each day. To start with this should see my weekly mileage around 30 miles a week and my cycling alternating between 90 and 150 minutes each week. You will probably notice that there are no out and out rest days. I will take days off when I feel they are necessary. In essence, I see Wednesday as a day off as it is a quick hard burst of cycling and no running. Where possible I am trying to follow a hard session with an easy/recovery session within 24 hours. This is after reading about that current science tells us that the true benefit of a recovery run is that you are training in a pre-fatigued state. I think most of us know that training in a fatigued state is where our body learns to improve and build extra muscle where needed.

Having started the year last week part way into a Week B, I have since done an A and am currently back on a Week B.

Only time will tell if this helps me reach my aims, but on the weight loss side, things are already working well with 1 lb lost in the first week and an impressive 5 lbs in the second. This could just be a blip, but the early signs are good that I might have lost the Christmas weight.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

100 years of parkrun!

Happy Birthday parkrun. 100 years completed!

Ok, so it's not really parkrun's 100th birthday and completed really is the operative word. parkrun really only started back in 2004 I believe, so it's a few months over 8 years old. But at the weekend parkrun did reach 100 years in another way....

If you take all the times, of all the runners, for all the completed runs, of every week, at every parkrun event anywhere in the world and add them all together then you get the total cumulative time run at parkrun. It is this figure which this week passed through the 100 years mark! Now that is impressive!

Every single parkrunner has contributed to this astounding feat of endurance and this is one parkrun stat where the slower runners can indisputably claim to have had the biggest influence.

An even more amazing way to look at this is that even though it has taken only a little over 8 years to reach this figure of 100 years of running time, we are probably only looking at another year or so before we double this and reach 200 years of running. Such is the incredible growth rate of parkrun.

Well done to all of us!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

parkrun stats of the week...5th January 2013

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:

191 parkrun events run (up 4 on last week)
27,783 runners (up 9,817 on last week) NEW parkrun weekly record attendance!

I think the combination of New Year's resolutions and slightly warmer and drier weather in the UK played it's part in this incredible new record attendance.
The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 145.5 (up 50 on last week).

An amazing 29 events recorded a new record attendance this week, as follows:

Event  Record Attendance  
Black Park412
Bushy Park1051
Finsbury Park154
Frimley Lodge329
Mile End83
St Albans240

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 attendance this week was (a timer's RSI inducing) 1051 at Bushy Park, setting a new attendance record for a single parkrun event in the process. This eclipsed the previous record attendance of 1000, which was also held by Bushy parkrun.

The lowest attendance this week was 2 at Hillerod parkrun.

8 new male course records set this week (2 more than last week):
Athlete  Time  
Albert MelbourneThomas DO CANTO15:32
BarnstapleDan MAPP17:29
FallsEoin MULLAN17:26
MalahideDavy BYRNE16:15
RedcarShaun O'GRADY16:04
Sunrise-on-SeaSteve ANDERSON22:27
TorrensJacob COCKS15:33
WynnumWerner BOTHA16:52

12 new female course records set this week (2 more than last week) After letting the men get the upper-hand last week, the women certainly had the better of it on the course record front again this week:
Event  Athlete  Time  
BarnstapleSamantha STEVENSON23:29
RedcarKath ASPIN20:04
Sunrise-on-SeaCarly LOUW03:21
TorrensTasmin MCMAHON17:02
CongletonSharon JOHNSTONE19:27
SandgateJenny CONLON20:12
Alice HoltSarah HILL19:17
Frimley LodgeMona JAPPINEN18:02
ConkersElaine SHERWIN16:43
WhitleyBayAlison DARGIE18:42
DewsburyHannah OLDROYD19:50
BrabrandKatrine Louise SVANE19:25

53 runners (down 18 on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week. Cardiff parkrun providing the most, with 5 in the sub 17 club this week. 10 of these 53 runners (down 1 on last week) run under 16 minutes!

The fastest parkrunner in the World this week was Wondiye Fikre INDELBU running 15:24 at Albert parkrun.

Event  Athlete  Time  
AlbertWondiye Fikre INDELBU15:24
NewyScott WESTCOTT15:29
Albert MelbourneThomas DO CANTO15:32
TorrensJacob COCKS15:33
Brighton & HoveDimosthenis EVANGELIDIS15:42
Bushy ParkRichard KOWENICKI15:48
CardiffStephen PATERSON15:54
GinninderraMatthew FENECH15:56
CardiffJerome EDWARDS15:58
AberdeenBarney PHILLIPS15:59

The top age grade performance this week was by Brian MAILLARDET who ran 18:02 in the VM60-64 category at Burgess parkrun, recording a 92.14% Age Grade in the process. Very impressive!

Event  Athlete  Time  Age Group  Age Grade  
BurgessBrian MAILLARDET18:02VM60-6492.14%
ConkersElaine SHERWIN16:43VW40-4492.02%
SwindonPeter MOLLOY17:56VM60-6491.82%
TorrensMaureen MOYLE20:01VW55-5991.67%
HullGavin DALTON17:33VM55-5990.60%
AberdeenCarolyn MILNE19:19VW50-5490.16%

59 parkrun freedom runs were recorded last week. The fastest freedom run recorded was 20:35 by Jamie Wilson at Gateshead parkrun on 2nd January 2013.

Other facts and figures...
With the incredible record turnout at the weekend, jointly all parkrunners broke through 3 significant milestones, as follows:
- Between us all, over 2 million runs have now been completed!
- That means that we have collectively run over 10 million kilometres!
- And coincidentally, the total time that it has taken us to run that distance, has now passed through the 100 years mark!