Saturday, 2 February 2013

parkrun proximity

One of my great wishes for current runners (but not yet parkrunners) and for non-runners who may just end up running one day due to parkrun, is that they get a parkrun event near them sometime soon.

The overriding main reason why I first tried out parkrun was due to how close the event is to my home. I can jog to the start line in about 7 minutes from my front door. Now that is what I call convenient! In fact, due to parkrun growing organically and not advertising, it is only due to having been running in the park (due to it's convenience) that I saw one of the early events and investigated further. Otherwise, three years later and I may still not have known parkrun even existed.

There are so many reasons why parkrun is great and I won't bother to list them all. But, for example, the fact that parkrun is free and doesn't require a commitment to attend frequently helps to break down any barriers that non-runners have to trying it out. That in turn leads to more non-runners becoming parkrunners - great!

That said, and taking my home parkrun event as an example, for a city the size of Coventry you may expect a free running event to attract many more than the 350 (ish) we tend to average these days. That would of course raise the issues of "how big is too big for a parkrun event" and "when do you need a sister parkrun event", which I will probably follow up on with other posts sometime soon.

So why doesn't a parkrun event like Coventry parkrun grow even bigger? According to the 2011 census, Coventry has a population of around 318,000. Now I have no evidence to go on whatsoever, but I would suspect that if you plotted the homes of regular Coventry parkrunners on a map, I predict that the highest density of parkrunners would be closer to the park, gradually decreasing the further away from the park you get. I am sure there are some that come from further afield, but the majority from within a couple of miles I would guess. And I suspect that there are simliar trends at most parkrun events.

So if you take that one step further, people that live 5 miles away from their local parkrun are probably less likely to attend than those that live 1 mile away. And once you get to 10 or 20 miles away, it's starting to get down to a very few committed parkrun regulars.

As an example, this weekend I will be at a spot in Sussex where I would say it's 20 plus miles in every direction to the nearest parkrun. It wouldn't be convenient for me to attend one of those this weekend anyway, but at 20 miles it is starting to get to an unreasonable distance for me (and for most) to run a 5K run. The fact it is parkrun might tip the balance for me, but you are unlikely to attract newbies.

I hope this isn't sounding negative. It is supposed to be positive and here goes....

What I wish for is that one day parkrun will have grown such that every city, town and village (that wants one) has a parkrun event. I admit that not all places may have a suitable venue, but many, many will.

Where I will be this weekend has a suitable recreation area. It might have to be a 3 or even 4 lap course, but if there were a parkrun there and people became aware of it I am sure it would be a success as there must be several thousand people living within a couple of miles. Enough to have a successful parkrun event for sure. I don't suppose many of those locals, even the runners, know about parkrun yet or that they could apply to set one up if they so wished.

With the organic growth of parkrun, I am sure that these little pockets of parkrun absence will gradually diminish over time. I hope that is true both for the people that live in these areas and for those of us parkrunners that stay with friends and are unable to do a parkrun ourselves or take the opportunity to introduce our friends to the parkrun phenomenon on their own doorstep.

One day everyone that wants one will have a local parkrun. Or at least let's hope they do! Then they will all be as lucky as the rest of us.

Friday, 1 February 2013

parkrun registration stats this week 1st February 2013

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 4,424 registrations this week, 675 more 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 434,237 (up from 429,813). That is a growth in total registrations of over 1% in a week.

As far as I am aware, there are 3 new parkruns starting this weekend:
Wolverhampton and Hillsborough parkruns. Plus Temple Newsam parkrun, original intended to start last week, but postponed due to adverse weather conditions.

Malahide parkrun returns to the top of the charts in the number of new registrations category this week after a one week dip to second place, with 152 new registrations in the week.

6 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 parkrun2501152
Newy parkrun261081
Nahoon Point parkrun231368
South Bank parkrun82156
Carlisle parkrun35855
Modderfontein Reserve parkrun21754

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" category this week, where it is still the same top 5:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun21457
Glasgow parkrun12737
Leeds parkrun11508
Brighton & Hove parkrun10322
Wimbledon Common parkrun9970

It looks as though Wimbledon Common parkrun is one or possibly two 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   
Thetford parkrun22
Lake Mac parkrun26
Scunthorpe parkrun33
Walthamstow parkrun56
Hillsborough parkrun78

The top three of these appear to be new parkrun events showing up in the new registrations page for the first time.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Top 5 reasons to be a parkrun regular

These are my top 5 reasons to be a parkrun regular:

1) You will get fitter and faster.
2) You will make parkrun friends and feel part of the parkrun community.
3) You will earn your parkrun 10 (Juniors only), 50, 100 and 250 t-shirts.
4) You will become addicted (in a good way).
5) parkrun and therefore exercise will become part of your weekly lifestyle.

You may have your own opinions. There are plenty of reasons to be a regular at parkrun, but this list is limited to my top 5, so there clearly wasn't enough room for all the many and varied reasons that we all have.

If you would like to comment and add your own ideas they would be very welcome.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

parkrun stats of the week...26th January 2013

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:

143 parkrun events run (down 12 on last week)
15,702 runners (up 3,051 on last week)
The snow and ice again got the better of a lot of parkrun events and runners this week in the UK.

The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 109.8 (up 28 on last week!).

14 events recorded a new record attendance this week, as follows:
Event  Record Attendance  
Balyang Sanctuary128
Cornwall Park102
Highbury Fields104
Lower Hutt113
Nahoon Point321
St Peters204

New national record attendances were set in each of the following countries:
New Zealand
South Africa

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

And in the UK it's:
Gorleston    156    19/03/2011

The highest attendance this week was 948 at Bushy Park.

The lowest attendance this week was 4 at Mansfield parkrun.

4 new male course records set this week (1 less than last week):
Event  Athlete  Time  
Chelmsford CentralTom CAMMACK17:47
SandgateMesele GEBRE16:48
South BankLiam WOOLLETT16:26
WalthamstowDanny NORMAN17:48

7 new female course records set this week (2 more than last week). The women edge it again this week:
Event  Athlete  Time  
WalthamstowElizabeth MAIDMENT24:18
PlymvalleySarah PEPPER18:38
Harrow LodgeLydia HALLAM21:04
Modderfontein ReserveMarilise VERMAAK22:30
Wimpole EstateCaroline PRITCHARD20:59
Cornwall ParkNicola O'CEALLAIGH18:58
St PetersBritney MCMULLEN18:27

44 runners (up 18 on last week) ran times under 17 minutes this week.

4 of these runners (up 3 on last week) ran under 16 minutes!
The fastest parkrunner in the World was Tom Aldred running 15:41 at Highbury Fields parkrun.

The fastest 4 were as follows:
Event  Athlete  Time  
Highbury FieldsTom ALDRED15:41
Brighton & HoveKevin ROJAS15:44
GinninderraMick CHAPMAN15:48
PooleIan HABGOOD15:51
The top age grade performance this week was by Jane Davies who ran 21:12 in the VW60-64 category at Bushy parkrun, recording a 95.60% Age Grade in the process. Now that is impressive!

The number of parkrun freedom runs being recorded at the moment means that the most recent 100 page is filling in less than a week. The fastest freedom run on the "most recent 100" list at the moment is:
Runner  Date  Location  Run Time  
Jonathan WILLIAMS26/01/2013Glasgow00:19:54

Monday, 28 January 2013

parkrun off, fair enough

I left the house as usual for parkrun having not given a single thought to check the website or social media sites. Of course it would be on. Coventry parkrun is always on.

I had been for my normal Friday parkrun freedom run a day earlier and the course had been almost completely clear. The park maintenance staff had done a superb job. Except for one short stretch the entire parkrun route was clear of all snow, ice and slush.

Based on that evidence and the failure of the predicted overnight heavy snow to materialise, there seemed no doubt it would be on.

I jogged round the corner to call for my near neighbour for our run up to the start, only to be told that it had been cancelled. At that stage I had only jogged 50 yards or so, but already I had seen how treacherous the conditions were and although a little disappointed I was not surprised.

We decided that as we were all dressed up and ready to run, we may as well head up to the park for a jog anyway.

We stuck to the road as the compacted ice on the paths made them akin to a skating rink. Even though the road was clear it was still far from ideal with plenty of patches of black ice.

Once inside the park and onto the parkrun route the reasons for cancelling became even more clear. There was no way you could allow an organised run to take place on that surface. There would have been a fallers than a bad year at the Grand National.

As we approached the parkrun start area we could see our amazing Event Director and his parents. Even though he had cancelled in plenty of time they were still there to tell parkrunners the bad news in person. That is dedication!

The two of us decided we would do a parkrun or two at a very sensible pace.

Over the next half hour or so I witnessed some great sights. We told each group of arriving parkrunners the bad news as we passed them by. Although they were disappointed, none seemed too surprised and all were perfectly understanding.

The best sights were all the different groups doing there own slow jogs around the parkrun route. So addicted to parkrun we all are that although not an official parkrun, there were many groups of people, most who would probably never have run at all before parkrun and certainly not on ice, and they were all determined to do a parkrun freedom run, even at the slowest of paces.

It was great to see that. There must have been 50 or 60 people that ran a parkrun freedom run in place of their normal parkrun. I think that is pretty incredible.

I later heard that a further group (I'm not sure how many) had heard the news early enough and made an impromptu trip to our local parkrun neighbours at Leamington Spa. 

Another example of what parkrunners are willing to do to get their weekly parkrun fix!

Thank you parkrun!