My 1st parkrun – Move over Mo Farah!

Almost 10 weeks ago I started on my couch to 5k journey and today, Saturday 28 April, I ran my first 5k parkrun. I can't believe I actually did it! It's not been a simple journey as it took me almost a year and a half to find a guide runner - but I'm so glad I didn't give up.
I've not posted anything on my blog before about my new running adventures, after all it is a baking blog. BUT I'm so chuffed and feeling really proud of myself. I'm also hugely grateful to my wonderful (and very patient) guide runner and his wife for helping me.
I decided to try running as I mostly work from home and had begun to feel quite low and isolated. I knew I was on a slippery slope to depression after suffering a major set-back with my sight and I knew I needed to make a change. So, I decided to try a sport that would help me meet new people and get me out in the fresh air - running seemed like the perfect solution. I thought it would be easy to find a guide runner locally, but it wasn't. But I'm not one to give up and after almost a year and a half I was finally put in touch with a guide runner through a local sight loss charity Worcestershire Sight Concern.
10 weeks does not seem such a long time to get to this point - but we've worked so hard. Indeed, if you'd have asked me 10 weeks ago I'd have said I'd never be able to run a mile, let alone 3.1 miles (which is 5k). Being visually impaired you can't just pop on your trainers and have a jog, everything has to be planned and as much as I hate it I also have to rely upon the help and goodwill of others.
My guide (Corin), who is a seasoned runner and a complete inspiration, and I met for our first 'run' on the 18th February. I was so nervous and worried, I thought I might fall and not be able to do it. Funnily enough Corin was equally nervous. But neither of us needed to have worried! We hit it off instantly!
We decided on a couch to 5K plan as a starting point. On that first run I thought – ‘Oh My Goodness I can’t do this!’ I couldn’t run more than 45 seconds without looking and feeling like a tomato!
We persevered, we followed the programme and I quickly got bitten by the running bug. I started running on a treadmill once a week too and very soon I was running for 5 minutes at a time and on week 8 I ran for 5K without stopping!
Although I can only run with a guide, it's amazing the difference running has made to my mental health and my sense of independence. Today, Saturday 28 April, we took part in our local parkrun for the first time and I was totally blown away by the support and friendliness of everyone. Friends who I used to work with also came to cheer me on - which was amazing. I've been introduced to a whole new circle of friends and the whole experience has given me a new drive to not let anything stand in the way of achieving my goals.
Lizzie parkrun

It's early days for my running adventures - but we are not going to stop now that we've reached the 5k target. Our aim now is to inspire others with a visual impairment to feel brave enough to run with a guide. We also want to encourage experienced runners to volunteer to become a guide runner.
With the aim of raising awareness and hopefully raising some money in mind, I applied for place at next year’s London Marathon and am delighted to have been given a place to run for The Guide Dogs for the Blind. Corin is going to run with me. We are absolutely determined to do it!
I'll be posting more about our running adventures - I hope you don't mind!

Lizzie (A4405505)


New Core Team Members

We are delighted to announce the addition of Ruth Burton & Clare Grennan to the Arrow Valley Core Team. Both are experienced parkrunners and core volunteers and well known faces at Arrow Valley. They bring an enthusiasm and dynamic from Hanbury Hall and Wythall where they both helped within the core teams. Please could everyone support them both in their volunteering and Run Director duties.

Thank you Ruth & Clare it is good to have you on board.


***Christmas Day parkrun 10:00***

It's that time of year when the event team need to consider their intention for additional runs over the Christmas period.
This year Arrow Valley & it's wonderful runners will be providing a Christmas Day run at 10:00.... that is provided we have enough volunteers to fill the rosters.
New Year's Day the team are taking a break but the parkrun compendium will list other fabulous running opportunities and perhaps possibilities for the famous "double".


Mike Hudson Reflects On His 250th parkrun

I’ve never been a fast, or what you would call, natural runner. In fact, apart from a few brief forays in earlier times, I didn’t even start running regularly until I was just about into my mid-fifties. I think it was training for a 10K event in Redditch that triggered it. In those days there was no Couch to 5K or local parkrun to encourage me but somehow the bug took hold.
A few years later I ran my first parkrun in Coventry, well before AVPR started. About the same time I joined my first running club UKnetrunner, there was no Kingfisher Harriers back then (I’m a member of both these days).
After lots of 10Ks and few HMs over the years that followed (I‘m 66 now), I eventually found myself running my long anticipated 250th parkrun this week and a really enjoyable day that was - thanks everybody. Not to mention the exclusive green tee-shirt to come.
Mike Hudson 250 run
If you are just starting out or further settling into your parkrun journey, at whatever age or ability, I hope reading this encourages you to stick with it and leads you to all the running pleasures I have encountered so far i.e.
• The vast number of friendly people you meet and come to know in the Redditch running community, and beyond. And the many inclusive running groups around the town.
• The pure simplicity of waking on Saturday morning and heading to AVPR and then being back home, feeling good, having breakfast, before most people have got round to doing anything much.
At parkrun nobody cares who is fast or slow and you can talk to as many people as you like (or to nobody, if you so choose). You can rush off at the end to do the shopping or hang around to chat, have a coffee or do another lap. Every which way is always welcomed.
• The equally pleasant experience of going to an alternative local parkrun, or even better, being far away from Redditch for the weekend and finding a parkrun nonetheless. All you need is a postcode (and your barcode). Get there in reasonable time and follow the locals to the start line, a new course will reveal itself. I’ve done 31 different parkrun courses and enjoyed them all.
Mike Hudson 250 cake
I think we should all be very grateful to the people who worked hard to bring parkrun to Redditch in the first place and to the core team members and volunteers who have supported it ever since. Similarly, away from parkrun, I personally would want to thank the group leaders of the various town running groups, particularly those I have intermittently attended; for their time, encouragement and humour (you know who you are guys ).
So what now? Well I’m looking forward to my first foreign parkrun next weekend in Copenhagen (I don’t count Wales) and the HM the following day but I’m equally looking forward to trying the new parkruns at Worcester Pitchcroft and Wythall, as well as cultivating a new determination to get some more marshalling in this autumn. See you all then.


#Teamparkrun Red, White & Blue Event

On Saturday 19 August 2017, following the World Athletics Championships in London, the UK's National Lottery funded Olympic and Paralympic athletes are teaming up with parkrun to encourage the nation to get active with #teamparkrun

5k parkrun events offer a free and easy way to take your first steps into becoming more active. Walk, jog, run or volunteer - everybody is welcome!

To thank you for all your support for sport at all levels over the years, and being right behind them every step of the way, the UK's top National Lottery funded athletes will be right behind you on #teamparkrun, acting as tail walkers at parkruns across the country.

No one finishes last at a parkrun.


Vitality #MySummerGoal Information

Our friends at Vitality are launching their new summer campaign #MySummerGoal aiming to help parkrunners set themselves health and lifestyle goals.

It should be a lot of fun, and we'd love for as many parkrunners to get involved as possible. To do this, we would be really grateful for your help in supporting this campaign.

Arrow Valley have received a small 'Pledge Board' whiteboard in the post. It will be taken to parkrun each week, starting on Saturday 8 July and we would love you to use it and make a fitness or volunteering pledge.

What do parkrunners need to do?
1.Set their health or fitness summer goal and write it on the Pledge Board
2.Take a picture with the Pledge Board
3.Post these images on social media tagging @Vitality_UK and #MySummerGoal
4.Go online to and register their pledge

The goal could be anything from volunteering a certain amount of times, shaving a few seconds off a PB, inviting a friend along to parkrun, or simply getting out and being more active.

Whatever the goal is, Vitality are encouraging parkrunners to reach it and will be showing their appreciation by offering hundreds of fantastic fitness prizes.


Change of Event Director

You may have noticed that Hayley our Event Director has taken less of an active role at Arrow Valley lately. After years of working hard to develop the Bromsgrove & Redditch running community and in particular our local parkrun's, Hayley has decided to focus her parkrun attention upon Hanbury Hall. An exciting project with huge potential and we wish Hayley and the Core team every success.

Dylan Gould will become the Arrow Valley Event Director commencing this Saturday 19th November. Dylan will be supported by the established Core team of Rachel, Raymond & Richard and new additions to this group will be announced shortly. The nominated Run Director will assume responsibility for an event on a Saturday with the Event Director being responsible for stakeholder & team management and administration. There will be no noticeable change to the free weekly 5K run you are used to and we look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

If anybody would like to get in touch with Dylan regarding the Arrow Valley event please email into


New Years Day parkrun

The core team have decided that we need to recharge our batteries for New Years Day (rumours of expected hangovers are speculation at this stage).

However, all is not lost... tradition has it that the Arrow Valley community enjoys the double tourism opportunity on NYD. There are a number of local options but the general feeling is to try Stratford (09:00) and then Leamington (10:30).


Christmas Day 2016

We are pleased to announce confirmation of a Christmas Day parkrun. The start time is 10:00 am so please arrive before 09:45 for the pre-run briefing.

Santa hats, tinsel, reindeer's, elf's and other festive characters are warmly welcomed and we hope you can join us for mince pies & chocs afterwards.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered throughout the year and in particular for Christmas Day to make the magic happen.


Getting the most out of Arrow Valley parkrun.

We are now experiencing around 400 parkrunners each week, with several runners joining us for the first time each week. We thought it might be an idea to put something together so everyone can enjoy their Saturday morning parkrun. Rather than re-invent the wheel  we’ve *borrowed* the below from our friends at Oxford parkrun.

Happy running and see you down at the lake on Saturday!

  1. Arrive in time for briefing

There will be a new runners briefing at 08:45 in the corner of the car park where the route and parkrun process will be explained to you.  At 08:55 we have our main run briefing.  Please be courteous and listen to the briefing without talking.  You may be a regular runner and heard it on more than one occasion, but it is important for everyone to hear any safety concerns and also nice for us as a group to recognise runners milestones and thank our volunteers.

  1. Remember your printed barcode

Without a printed barcode, we will not be able to give you a time, no exceptions.  We recommend the official parkrun barcode solutions. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept any barcodes on any mobile or other digital devices - Tom explains the reason why in a recent newsletter here:

  1. It's a run, not a race

parkrun is open to everyone, no matter how fast you are. All runners are expected to be courteous to one another.

If you are a quick runner looking to pass, please ensure you do so safely and politely. By the same token, if you are a slower runner, or if you wish to run in a group, please keep to the left to allow space for faster runners to pass.

Whilst we have no problem with runners wearing headphones, please can you try and keep your music down to a level where you'll be able to hear both any warnings from the marshalls or any faster runners approaching.

  1.  Only cross the finish line once

When you cross the finish line, your time is captured by our volunteer timekeepers. Should you cross the line again (running in with a slower runner perhaps) this will upset the results.  If you have crossed twice you will be asked to take a second token, which will need to be given to the Communications person.

  1.   Always take a finish token

When you've crossed the finish line, you must take a finish token. If you do not take a token, all runners after you will receive an inaccurate time for their run.

Once you have your finish token, take both it and your printed barcode to one of our volunteer barcode scanners.  If you haven’t brought with you a parkrun barcode you will be listed as unknown.

  1.  Always give your finish token back

Even if you've forgotten your printer barcode, please return our finish token. They are waterproof, reliably scannable and guaranteed for five years.

When we lose one we have to replace it with a blank token and sticker which inevitably don't scan as well and wear out due to weather. Replacement original tokens cost 70p each.

  1.  Volunteer

parkrun is volunteer led. Without volunteers there is no parkrun. Please thank the marshalls on your way round.

Volunteering is extremely rewarding and very easy, full training is given for all roles and there are even roles you can complete and still run. You don't need to be scared of making a mistake as for all crucial roles we have two volunteers doing the same thing.

Finally, it's a great way of getting to know fellow parkrunners. You can check out our current volunteer rota here:

  1.  Respect other park users

We do not have exclusive use of the park or it's paths. Please be polite to other park users.  Please also respect the park and do not park on the grass verges.

  1.  Stay within arms reach of under 11s

Children under 11 must be within arms reach of a parent/guardian/designated adult at all times. This is a requirement of our insurance policy and is non-negotiable. We may remove the results of under 11s we find running without an adult.

If your under 11 wants to run by themselves, please check out junior parkrun.

10.  Keep your dog on a short lead

You are welcome to run parkrun with a single dog. We ask that they are under firm control and on a short lead at all times. Please take extra care to avoid tripping other runners.

11. Smile!

We are lucky and there are many of our marshalls who will take photos of your run.   These are uploaded to our Arrow Valley parkrun community facebook page. If you would prefer not to have your photo on the page, then please ask the person who posted to remove it.

12. Go to the cafe afterwards

The café in the visitor centre.  We'd love to see you there after the run. We have negotiated a 10% discount for anyone with a parkrun tab following parkrun.

13. Check the results, find us on Facebook

We aim to get your result to you on Saturday morning by email (and SMS if you set it up). Occasionally circumstances may mean they come out later. We are on Facebook as Arrow Valley parkrun.

14. Milestones and more

parkrun and Tribesports provide free milestone t-shirts to parkrun in recognition of their achievements. As a junior, you can claim a t-shirt after 10 runs. Everyone can claim a t-shirt for reaching 50, 100, 250 and 500 runs. There is also a t-shirt available when you have volunteered 25 times.

parkrunners can also purchase a discounted FitBit device.

15. Donations

If you love parkrun, you can donate to us to help us cover the costs of keeping the event running smoothly. 85% of your donation will come directly to Arrow Valley, with 15% going to the new event fund.  Please look on the about us page for more details.

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