2018 - a parkrun year
We’ve had quite an eventful 2018. Our first parkrun of the year on 6th January had to be cancelled half an hour before the start as rain followed by a hard frost overnight made the course too icy to safely run.
We had to make use of our ‘Winter course’ from January through until mid-March as continual heavy rain meant that the University field was under water for much of the period and was far to muddy to run in even when the surface water subsided.
parkrun, as you know is a free event, but we do require donations to improve the course and provide esential safety equipment. An audit of parkun access to defibrillators highlighted that the one we would access at the Quay Climbing Centre was too far away to be accesible in the event of a runner falling ill. We raised sufficient funds to not only buy our own defibrillator but also a lockable storage box which houses a permanently publically available defibrillator at the Haven Banks Outdoor Centre. We hope never to have to use the equipment but it is good to know that it is available at the start/finish if ever needed.
We were also forced to cancel in early March when much of the South West and Midlands was covered by a sheet of snow, our first and only occasion when snow has resulted in an event cancellation at Exeter Riverside.
As the weather warmed up over the summer we welcomed olympians to our parkrun. James Cracknell, whilst on a visit to Exeter in his role as a Great West Run ambassador came along and volunteered as a results scanner at our 21st July (run 204) parkrun and just like busses, double gold medalist Kelly Holmes arrived just in time for the pre-run briefing. Despite starting in the middle of the pack and filming the run for Facebook, she still completed the course in a very criditable 18:39, and is currently the 11th fastest female to complete the course.
Later in the summer, I had the priviledge to tail walk my 250th parkrun with olympic sailing hopeful Daniel Budden as part of the #teamparkrun initiatitve where atheletes were invited to thank runners and volunteers for their support through the national lottery. Keep your eyes open for him in 2024 as he is a genuine medal prospect at the Paris, France games.
The parkrun can only go ahead with the support of our volunteers, some of whom volunteer week in, week out. Our core committee does a fantastic job of ensuring that the event moves from success to success. Whilst I risk missing people out, specific thanks to John Caswell, Mike Feighan, Martin Brint, Paul & Becci Barter, Alex Bosley and Steve Hagley, who have contributed so much as Run Directors, and we have recently proved that gender is no barrier to becoming a Run Director as Petra Aubert, Alice Green and Bev Ashe have all undertaken training and have completed this role. Regualr barcode scanners Richard Ashe and Dianne Goodwin always keep a tight ship and Felicity Ward-Smith, Steven Forrester and Catherine Mountford, completing her gold Duke of Edinburgh award, have been regular timekeepers. A special mention too to Lewis Jones. Come rain or shine, Lewis can be more often that not be found out at Marshal 7 in the university field directing runners across the field. Lewis has now volunteered on 141 occasions which is a phenomenal achievement.
As you may have heard, after 3½ years as Event Director, I have decided to hand over this reponsibility. My last parkrun of the year was on Christmas Day and it was perhaps fitting that Dennis Hall, who takes over sole responsibility as ED from 1st January did a great job as Run Director in damp and drizzly conditions. Despite the rain, we welcomed 413 runners to Exeter Riverside, our second highest attenance ever. It was a great way to start Christmas Day, and I would like to say a thank you for the champagne gift which accompanied our Christmas Day lunch.
Our last parkrun of the year was also an eventful one. The key that we use to open the exit gate to the university field broke in the lock. Our volunteers had to improvise and redirect runners back through the field entrance. This resulted in our final parkrun of the year being 600 metres longer than our usual route. Unsurprisingly, we had no PBs this week! So our final stats for the year are: 15,103 runs were completed, with a total distance run of over 75,000 kms. We welcomed 2,406 new parkrunners to Exeter Riverside. 2,544 PBs were achieved. We averaged 296 parkrunners at each event.
For many of us, 2019 will begin with a parkrun, or perhaps two, on 1st January. Whatever your parkrun plans for 2019, we wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.