Yesterday was one of those sunny September Saturday mornings when there’s no better incentive to get out of bed than a nice run alongside Fareham Creek, followed by a leisurely coffee outside the Cams Mill. There’s no way I would find the motivation to do it on my own, but there’s something about parkrun, and Fareham parkrun especially, that draws you to it like a magnet.
A recent parkrun blog posed the question “which type of parkrunner are you?” and gave you eight different options, such as stats guru, social butterfly, milestone monster or hi-vis A-lister. However, if you asked 100 Fareham parkrunners for their take on it, I think you would get 100 different answers. I tested this hypothesis yesterday by ambushing some of the 210 participants to tease out their thoughts on what kind of parkrunner they are, or what actually makes them get out of bed and do it. I think their responses proved my point and also captured a sense of what yesterday’s event was like, as well as some of the essence of parkrun itself.
- Garth: “It’s a nice social way of getting fit, with an edge of competition. And you always find someone that little bit faster than you to give you an incentive.”
- Emma, recovering from an Achilles injury: “I’m a middle-of-the-road parkrunner and today I was plodding, because I’m getting close to my 100th and don’t want to miss it. I love doing parkrun tourism too.”
- Stephanie: “Some weeks I just like to enjoy the sunshine, look at the boats and watch everyone else. Some weeks I might try for a good time and some weeks I’ll even decide whether to try for a good time half way through.”
- Alex: “It helps me lose weight, except I can never resist the cake afterwards.”
- Tawanda: “I’ve made a lot of friends through parkrun. It’s the interaction and synergy with other people I look forward to, it really sets up my weekend.”
- Gary: “It’s so much more than just the run itself. I’ve met some wonderful people and it’s great that you can go anywhere and just turn up and do it at 9am on a Saturday.”
- Andy: “It’s always the same and yet it’s always different.”
- Liz: “I’ve been injured, so today was just about getting around the course without stopping and I achieved that. But I would never have got up this morning and run 5km on my own.”
- Dave and Sue: “It’s the sense of achievement as we get older.”
- John (their fellow-septuagenarian): “It gives me a target and the sense of achievement from doing it.”
- Lisa: “It’s the after-feeling. Is my time important to me? I’d say no, but it’s always nice to get a good one.” (Later she will have discovered that she knocked a huge 44 seconds off her PB – well done Lisa!)
- David: “Last week I beat 21 minutes after being dragged around by some Fareham Crusaders. Without them I would have stopped. But now I’ve achieved that, I’ll just enjoy it and I’ll do some volunteering too.”
- Robin (who usually runs at Havant and was the person who introduced me to parkrun two years ago.): “I just love it. And it keeps me running when I really don’t feel like it. I love volunteering too, even though they usually put me in the woods as far away as possible.”
- Ian (tail-walker and joint volunteer-co-ordinator, who himself volunteered for the 100th time last week): “Volunteering is a completely different experience to running and you get to meet people in a different way and have a different kind of conversation. There was a lovely moment after today’s run when Anastasia (turnpoint marshal) was chatting to Mike (marshal at PJ’s corner) and gave him a big hug – and there’s 74 years between them.”
Yesterday also marked the 50th run for Angela Bennett, Melissa Barham and John Saunders and it was my own 100th. It was good to actually meet John yesterday as, despite being even older than me, he’s a 21-minute runner and therefore partly responsible for me no longer being the fastest OAP in Fareham. I don’t hold this against him though because, as we all know, it’s not a race!
As for my own take on parkrun, what has surprised me is how totally committed I am to it. I’m also one of those sad people who is obsessed with my own times and I put 100% effort and energy into my run every single week. But as a result, my times have been continuously improving over the last six months and yesterday was my second-fastest time ever. (Did I mention that on Facebook?)
I was especially grateful to my long-suffering wife Carolyn yesterday for baking 46 lovely carrot and gin & tonic cakes for me to take. I’m only sorry there weren’t any gin & tonic cakes left for yesterday’s run director Ali, who could have done with one after responding to the medical emergency that took place at the finish. I also have it on good authority that 2nd placed Dave Mallard performed heroics when flagging down the ambulance on the A27, with what the paramedics themselves later described as squat jumps. David MacSwayne has asked me to tell Dave that he might like to work on those.
Event number 131
15th September 2018
This week 210 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 26 were first timers and 35 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 17 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 26 volunteers:
David MACSWAYNE • Alison MACSWAYNE • Anastasia JENSEN • Edward WILLMOTT • Ian WRIGHT • Deborah CASPER • Mike SHAW • Hannah HOLLIDAY • Andy DONN • David MALLARD • Kelly CREEK • Jessica CREEK • Hannah CREEK • Mandy MARSDEN • David HUGHES • Rachael HUGHES • Louise STEWART • Chris REES • Paul RAYNER • Alan BULLOCK • John FAIRHURST • Anne FAIRHURST • David MORRIS • Michael MOODY • Suzanne RAVENHALL • Nigel EMERY
The male record is held by Lachlan WELLINGTON who recorded a time of 15:47 on 31st December 2016 (event number 40).
The female record is held by Jen ELKINS who recorded a time of 17:31 on 29th April 2017 (event number 58).
The Age Grade course record is held by Penny FORSE who recorded 95.49% (22:34) on 15th July 2017 (event number 69).
Fareham parkrun started on 9th April 2016. Since then 4,572 participants have completed 25,205 parkruns covering a total distance of 126,025 km, including 5,116 new Personal Bests.