Saturday, 19 January 2013

Even the snow can't stop her!

I felt really bad, but at 7:30am this morning my pre-parkrun chat with my 4 year old Daughter went something like this:

Me: I'm really sorry Ella, but you can't do parkrun today.
Ella: But I want to Daddy.
Me: I want you to Ella, but it's so cold, you won't like it.
Ella: I will. I want to do it.

A few minutes later.

Ella: Daddy I am doing parkrun.
Me: You can't Ella, it's really icy. You might fall and hurt yourself.
Ella: You can hold my hand Daddy.
Me: Ella, it's a really long way to run in the snow and ice. You won't enjoy it. It's too cold.
Ella: I will enjoy it. What clothes shall I put on?
Me: It doesn't matter - you can't do it. I'm going to brush me teeth.

A minute later, whilst brushing my teeth.

Me: Why are you coming in here.
Ella: To brush my teeth to get ready for parkrun.
Me: Ella, it's just not safe.
Ella: I am doing it.

A couple more minutes pass by.

Me: Ella, I'll ask Mummy, she'll agree with me.

Me: Ella wants to do parkrun, I have told her it's too cold and icy.
Mummy: Let her do it, make sure she wears lots of layers.

Me: Ok Ella, get lots of clothes on.
She came back with 4 layers and eventually wore 5, plus hat, scarf and gloves.

And so Ella was allowed to do it. "Crazy" you say, a 4 year old can't do parkrun in the snow! Oh yes she can! Ok, but she won't enjoy it you say. Oh yes she did!

She was a little slower than last week, the traction wasn't great, but she ran almost the whole way again (just a couple of short walks) and never complained at all. And yes, she really did enjoy it again. Unbelievable! I kept asking her if she was enjoying it and the reply was yes every time. And when asking her if she wanted to stop, she would say "at the finish", or "after the funnel".

Fairly close to the end she asked, "can I have cake at the end". Last week a new 100 clubber had brought cakes for everyone, or so I believe (we got there quite late!). Ella had had some and she remembered. Luckily for her, two more 100 club newbies had taken cakes today. So Ella got her way on that too. Unfortunately, she will probably associate cake and parkrun for all time now. I'm sure that there are plenty of others that do too. At least she earns it I suppose! And she doesn't like icing - which was a bonus, as I certainly do!

She has since been told that she has to take a couple of weeks off parkrun now. I think she needs to give her little legs a break. She took it well at the time, but who knows what arguments we may have next week!

I just hope that she can keep that enjoyment of running. That would be brilliant. And as for that determination to both turn up and to do the entire parkrun, well I just find it incredible.

Friday, 18 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 5,566 registrations this week, 2,399 less than at the same time last week!

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations (according to my official source page on the parkrun website) up to 426,064 (up from 420,498). That is a growth in total registrations of 1.3% in a week.

As far as I am aware, there are 2 new parkruns starting this weekend:
Carlisle and Chelmsford: An interesting weekend for your first event with all this snow!
Incredibly, Malahide parkrun is top of the charts yet again in the number of new registrations category. This week adding another 155 new registrants so far! That is now 11 weeks in a row that Malahide parkrun has added the most new registrations.

12 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 parkrun2182151
Carlisle parkrun20695
Chelmsford Central parkrun25981
Newy parkrun238679
South Bank parkrun66571
New Farm parkrun443164

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still the same top 5:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun21354
Glasgow parkrun12622
Leeds parkrun11434
Brighton & Hove parkrun10256
Wimbledon Common parkrun9905
It looks as though Wimbledon Common parkrun is only about 2 or 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:
Event   Total   
Walthamstow parkrun21
Wolverhampton parkrun23
Temple Newsam parkrun44
Cheltenham parkrun63
Upton Court parkrun89

Thursday, 17 January 2013

parkrun stats of the week...12th January 2013

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:

196 parkrun events run (up 5 on last week)
29,120 runners (up 1,337 on last week) NEW parkrun weekly record attendance for the second week running (pun intended)!

The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 148.5 (up 3 on last week).

An utterly ridiculous 41 events recorded a new record attendance this week, as follows:
Event  Record Attendance  
Amager Strandpark38
Balyang Sanctuary127
Cannon Hill366
Finsbury Park166
Harrow Lodge120
Heaton Park370
Highbury Fields100
Modderfontein Reserve95
North Lakes71
Old Deer Park86
Pennington Flash134
Sheffield Hallam466
South Bank218
Wimpole Estate292

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

And in the UK it has finally changed, with Old Deer Park getting a new record attendance this week. So it is now:
Gorleston    156    19/03/2011

The highest attendance this week was 1027 at Bushy Park, the second highest attendance ever at a parkun event and only 24 short of the attendance record set at Bushy park last week.

The lowest attendance this week was 3 at Hillerod parkrun, one higher than the same venue last week

7 new male course records set this week (1 less than last week):

Athlete  Time  
Harrow LodgeDanny NORMAN18:48
MalahideEoin CALLAGHAN16:01
Modderfontein ReserveAnrich ZIMMERMANN20:10
PortrushChris DENTON17:59
SummerfieldsJohardt VAN HEERDEN17:36
Wimpole EstatePaul MAKOWSKI18:46
WoodleyTom LERWILL16:25

8 new female course records set this week (4 less than last week). The women win yet again this week:

Event  Athlete  Time  
Harrow LodgeCaroline TUCK24:18
MalahideAnnette KEALY18:15
Modderfontein ReserveMarilise VERMAAK22:56
Wimpole EstateCarla BROWN21:09
Sunrise-on-SeaKaren Louise DAVIS25:56
CongletonOlivia WALWYN17:14
BurgessLucy APHRAMOR19:46
StrathclydeHayley HAINING16:49

45 runners (down 8 on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week.

For the second week running, the fastest parkrunner in the World was Wondiye Fikre INDELBU running 15:46 at Albert parkrun.

Just 2 of these 45 runners (down 8 on last week) run under 16 minutes!
Event  Athlete  Time  
AlbertWondiye Fikre INDELBU15:46:00
HuddersfieldRichard ANDERSON15:53:00

The top age grade performance this week was by Hayley Haining who ran 16:49 in the VM40-44 category at Strathclyde parkrun, recording a 90.98% Age Grade in the process. Very impressive!

Only two runners in the 90%+ Age Grade bracket this week:
Event  Athlete  Time  Age Group  Age Grade  Club  
StrathclydeHayley HAINING16:49           VW40-4490.98%         Kilbarchan AAC
HuddersfieldLynne MANNION21:41            VW60-6490.78%         Unattached

63 parkrun freedom runs were recorded last week. The fastest freedom run recorded was 18:53 by James Slade at Newcastle parkrun on 5th January 2013.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Doubling the numbers in the Burnage parkrun puddle!

So it started out when one runner commented that he wished he’d booked to come to Copenhagen with us as, depending on who turned up on the day, he had a chance of his first 1st place finish! So when I spotted the results from Burnage (Men’s 1st place in 21:38, ladies in 26:29) it seemed like an opportunity too good to miss!!
Burnage is a small (I know they won’t mind me saying this!) off-road parkrun near Stockport quite close to the M60 (more on that later!) making it easy for tourists from Yorkshire to get to. With 8 signed up from Leeds, one from Oldham and an indeterminate number of the Huddersfield Running Bunnies scheduled to go I thought it only fair to warn the event organisers who were very helpful and keen to see us and forewarned us of the need for trail shoes and about the “puddle”. The team at Burnage consist mainly of non-runners from the rugby club who do a great job of organising the event each week!
Meeting up at mine just after 7am (I live next to the motorway so it’s logistically beneficial not selfish!) we set off in 2 cars with Nicky driving one, me the other including parkrun royalty Nicola Forwood (aka SWMNBN, please listen to the parkrun show if you have no idea what I am banging on about!). I had a detour over Saddleworth moor into Oldham to pick up Simon Bruce Lake (aka Simon Bruce Lee) but still managed to get there before Nicky, which should have warned me of things to come…

Ample parking at the rugby club, toilets and changing facilities made a welcome change, especially as I had over-estimated the time needed to get there mainly due to the fact that I have a 7 year old and am usually late for everything! With Bunnies arriving all the time it looked like a good turn out. 2 last minute arrivals from Leeds of course but we were all there in time, 25 in total!

The run briefing was done in great spirit making much of our “Sister Wendy”, aka Matthew Kelly on the front row after we’d made sure everybody knew he was there for the “win” (sorry Danny, but I can’t keep saying 1st place finish!)! In a biting northerly wind we set off along the Mersey for the small loop before heading round the rugby club and round the corner to face the “puddle”. It was about 2 degrees when we started running and it was knee deep in places and very cold! Apart from the smell it is best described in pictures…

That last one is Nicky- it may look like he can walk on water but.....

2 laps, and 2 visits to the “puddle” and subsequent 26 step climb later and we were back in the field for a slight uphill finish. With a 2nd and 3rd finish (well done Matthew and James) as well as the 1st lady (Hannah) results-wise it went well- the main fun as always was further down the field! Kerry Bunny (aka The Boss) had the kids with as did Nicky, all of whom gamely tackled the freezing smelly water with good humour- young James even said it was the best course he has ever done!! Everyone piled in and I would have loved to have been that photographer who must have seen some right expressions when people realised it was knee deep! Some brilliant pictures though….
So post run, and into the clubhouse bar (with clean trainers on of course!) and I have never seen a room full of smiling laughing parkrunners making so much noise!

The bacon butties were excellent (cannot comment on the price as someone kindly paid the driver in coffee and a sarnie!). Most notable was the mickey taking of Sister Wendy after 24 of us had gone all that way to see him take the win – and fail! In general though our hosts seemed to really enjoy having a roomful for an hour afterwards entertaining them and chatting with them whilst they processed the results! We are no longer surprised by the hospitality of the volunteer teams at any parkrun, but I would like to say thanks to Rachael and the team for making this one fantastic!

Then onto the motorway – or not as the case may be. For those who do not know the geography from Burnage you turn right at the top of the road and a mile and a quarter later you hit the M60. This leads to M62 and home. From the clubhouse to my front door you can describe the route with 8 turns, most of them after leaving the M62.

The other car from Leeds with Nicky driving left about half an hour before us – I took the same detour on the way back through Oldham and over the moors to drop off Simon and soon we were home. Except Rick’s car was still on my drive, and as he was with Nicky and they should have been long gone! A quick phone call later and I was rolling about in the middle of the road with tears streaming down my face- somehow the sat nav had got stuck on “avoid motorways” and a complete lack of common sense had prevailed! Even realising this but sticking to his guns Nicky proceeded to take the group on a tour of Cheshire and north Derbyshire! Fortunately the others all have a great sense of humour (and were in no rush!) and we awaited their arrival petty much in hysterics, with coffee.

A few more coffees later after Rick recounted the entire misadventure we were done for the day, though all phones pinged simultaneously as the results came through before we had done! Good work team – and we were done for the day.

Except we weren’t – Nicky first returned with Rick’s phone which he’d left in the car then I find out that Nicky once ended up from Leeds at Manchester Airport, when he’d been aiming for Scunthorpe! Completely the opposite direction in case you need a map! Thanks to Mrs Nicky (aka Toni for sharing that gem with me!). I do have to add that he was only 18 at the time and obviously that was in the days before sat nav but even so...

The day ended with the publication of the pictures – a fantastic job done by Mark Alwyne who’s complete set can be viewed here causing the hilarity to go on long into the night.

Full results can be found here, most of the first timers were us!!

Here’s to many more parkrun tours if they are all going to be like this- thanks guys both tourists, hosts, photographers and navigators for a fantastic day! Next stop Dublin for Malahide parkrun, to find out more look us up on Facebook and feel free to use the page to organise your own tours!!

Only one last picture can truly sum up what a great time we all had, despite the puddle, and it has to be…..

parkrun course description: South Bank, Brisbane

South Bank Parklands - Photo courtesy of the Brisbane City Council

It seems that parkrun has really hit its stride in Australia.

Since Tim Oberg, General Manager of parkrun Australia, set up Australia’s first parkrun at Main Beach in 2011 on Australia, the concept has spread like wildfire, and at the time of writing, Australia is home to eighteen parkrun events. 

My home parkrun is usually New Farm in Brisbane, but I visited one of the more recent additions to the parkrun family, South Bank parkrun, last Saturday for a cruise around the course.

Like New Farm, the South Bank course is based around the banks of the Brisbane River. Unlike New Farm, it is one large loop lacking a turnaround, which is great for keeping congestion on the course to a minimum. There is little chance of running head on into a fellow parkrunner unless, perhaps, they had a few too many the night before!

The Course

Starting in the South Bank park lands, runners win their way south east, up and over the Goodwill Bridge and along the shared path to the west adjacent to the Brisbane CBD. This part is fairly fast, with runners being able to make up lost time at the start by smashing it down the decline of the Goodwill Bridge.

South Bank parkrun map

Runners then have to navigate a shared bike path that proves to be one of the major cycleways around the CBD. It narrows in sections but generally safetly navigable if runners are sensible and are aware of their surroundings. I’d probably recommend turning off the iPod for this section so you can listen out for cyclists and other runners.

Runners then will run under both the Victoria Bridge and the William Jolly Bridge before hitting the most challenging part of the event – the stairs up to the Go Between Bridge. This happens around the 3.2 kilometre mark, and proves to be the most challenging part of the course, and an obstacle that threatens to shred personal bests asunder. There is also a fairly gentle incline as you cross the bridge, which feel hellish considering you’ve just conquered the stairs.

From there, runners wind back into the park lands on a fairly fast flat section along a shared path. This allows runners to potentially make up for a lot of the lost time during the bridge section. 

My experience

I had mixed feelings when I first heard about South Bank parkrun. On one hand, it was great to have another event in and around Brisbane city considering the large numbers at New Farm. On the other, I worried that having to run down a busy shared pathway may mean safety issues and potential clashes from non-parkrunners.

I headed down last weekend to try it out and I’ll admit that my concerns were unfounded. Because of the great work of the volunteer marshals as well as good pre-race briefing, most parkrunners were acutely aware of the safety issues and kept left at all times.

The day I was there (12 January 2013) South Bank parkrun broke their attendance record with 217 participants despite temperatures sitting around 30 degrees Celsius at seven in the morning (more when relative humidity is considered).

The heat and unfamiliarity with the course was a recipe for taking it easy. Despite my less than super-fast pace, the Go Between Bridge was a challenge, a challenge that seemed to defeat many in the heat. Still, it’s great to have an interesting obstacle such as a bridge climb in a parkrun and a great opportunity to work the quadriceps to the limit! I took it relatively easy, trying to get a feel for the course, and came in at 83rd place in a time of 27 minutes (26:30 watch time).

Overall, South Bank is a welcome addition to the Brisbane parkrun stable and while I’ll be giving some of the other local runs a try out in the coming weeks, I’m certainly planning to return to South Bank and give the legs a real hard workout.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

New Contributor: Darragh Murray

Name: Darragh Murray
Home parkrun: New Farm
Date of first parkun: 09/06/2012
Total number of parkruns: 9
Number of other parkrun locations run: 2 – South Bank, Wynnum
Number of times volunteered: 1
My parkrun history: View my parkrun history here.

I always loved distance running in high school and had some ability, but my love of distance running was eventually challenged and temporarily beaten by a then newfound love of beer throughout the majority of my twenties. Unfortunately, when beer took over, it failed to mention to me that it was going to dump pounds and pounds of weight on my feeble frame, and after coming to realise this sobering reality as I entered my thirties, I sheepishly had to return to running and ask for a second chance. 2012 saw me return to running and parkrun has played a significant role in keeping me motivated.

A friend of mine recommended parkrun last year and I haven’t looked back since. I live in Brisbane, Australia and we’re fortunate to have five parkrun events in and around the city. For a while there, New Farm was the only event, and consistently was the most popular parkrun in Australia. Since then Wynnum, South Bank, North Lakes and Sandgate have come on board and helped spread the parkrun brand and philosophy. I plan to run all the local events in due course.

While I’m still a relative newbie to the scene, I’ve used parkrun as a springboard for other running achievements. In 2012, I managed to cut my 10K time from 56 minutes to 49, rip apart my 5k time for 30 down to 23, and also complete a half marathon in an hour and 56 minutes. Parkrun has played a big role in keeping me motivated. I factor parkrun into my training schedule, and it’s going to play an integral part in my training for my first marathon in July.

In 2013 I plan to add at least another 23 parkrun events to my athlete history and get my PB down under 21 minutes. Of course, I also hope to volunteer a bit more and give back to the community. I’ll be chasing that 50 shirt, but don’t imagine I’ll get there until 2014. I also hope to visit Bushy Park when I’m in the UK later in 2013.

In the meantime, I hope to write a bit about parkrun, particularly about its phenomenal growth in Australia. I also blog here on running and other subjects of interest on my own personal site as well as use runkeeper and you're welcome to follow my progress on there.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The 'If only...' 50

This week I turned up to my 49th parkrun. It was snowing. I ran a PB. Next week will be the 50th Saturday morning I have set the alarm (although suffering from early morning insomnia I rarely need it), dragged on suitable clothing and made my way to an event. Actually, technically 2 of these have been Tuesdays for New Year and Christmas Day but you get the point. However, although I fully intend to run next week I will not be joining the 50 club. Did I forget my barcode? No! The DFYB message in the parkrun show (what do you mean you don't know what it is!) has got through loud and clear.
 I have, instead,  volunteered 4 times therefore haven't registered a run for those weeks.
I admit when I realised the significance of next week's event I did, for a few seconds think 'If Only' I hadn't volunteered. I joined parkrun in November 2011 so haven't really missed many. I have been chasing that 50 shirt all year, even running on Christmas day! But then I thought back, what would I have missed if I had simply turned up and run each of those weeks and had never volunteered?
I would have missed the chance to see every parkrunner pass my marshall point twice one (freezing) morning while I clapped and cheered them on. I saw everyone's running styles from the first to the last person and the effort everyone put in from the fastest to the slowest. This is what parkrun is all about.
I would have missed the chance to hand a token to every finisher and congratulate them on the completion of their run.
I would have missed the chance to speak to other runners who volunteered who run in a diffferent time to me and therefore don't see.
I would have missed the chance (twice) of scanning barcodes and learning a few more names of runners, and chatting to people about their run of that day.
I would have missed the chance to pay back something to parkrun.
Without volunteers parkrun cannot operate. According to an article published on this site last year fewer than 25% of parkrunners ever volunteer. parkrun only ask for 3 Saturdays a year. At Coventry we have an amazing team of volunteers some of whom never run but every week turn up whatever the weather and allow us runners to have our fun. Its not a big ask for runners to not run for one Saturday

I still have 5 more runs to go before I get my 50 but I don't begrudge those 4 sessions of volunteering at all. I feel more part of the parkrun community because I have got involved in as many ways as I could in the year.

So, when an email, tweet of facebook request comes your way asking for volunteers, if you haven't done it yet why not? Without it parkrun would fold. Then what would we do on Saturday mornings?