Fareham parkrun #131 Alan Bullock

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.

Fareham parkrun
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.

 

Fareham parkrun #126 Run Report Alan Bullock

What a lovely morning it was for a parkrun: quite sunny, slight breeze, pleasantly warm but not as stifling as it had been in the heatwave. Strolling in at 8.45am, the first three things I noticed were that the Cams Mill car park was already full, there were a lot more runners than usual and Verity’s warm-up routine had just started.

I had already spotted on Twitter that it was another Run Verity graduation day, which always takes place at Fareham parkrun to conclude her 8-week “non-runner to runner” programmes. Verity has become one of my inspirations, because she’s the person who taught me the importance of warming up properly. For my first 87 parkruns I hadn’t really bothered to warm up at all, apart from waving my arms around and doing a little jog. However, on Run Verity’s previous graduation day in June I joined their warm-up and, lo and behold, knocked 8 seconds off my PB in a time of 27.17. Prior to that I had generally been a sub-29 runner and didn’t consider myself to be a “proper” runner at all. Since then, however, I have tried to re-enact Verity’s warm-up each week and have broken 28 minutes every time. Two weeks ago I even got my PB down to 27.04, which led me to start dreaming the impossible dream of a sub-27 run.

The only trouble is, over the weeks, I had forgotten the precise detail of Verity’s routine. So on arrival yesterday, I joined their warm-up again. As before, it culminated in the fast-feet exercise that gets your heart-rate going. I now swear by fast-feet, along with my pre-run banana and my no-booze-on-a-Friday-night rule.

Dave MacSwayne then gave one of his spirited briefings and welcomed first timers and tourists. Being a nerd, I always like to hear where the tourists are from and yesterday we had several from Southampton and Eastleigh and others from Windlesham, Watford, Leighton Buzzard and Ipswich. Dave then introduced this week’s centenarian Nicola Gregory, whom I always recognise as another Fareham regular. Before setting off, we were also ordered by Dave to recite the KEEP LEFT rule, a critical safety factor on our out-and-back course. For me Dave is one of those unsung heroes who make Fareham parkrun so compulsive, with his dry humour, beaming smile and calm authority. The fact that he calls me “Puffing Billy”, because of my noisy breathing pattern when I run, doesn’t in any way diminish my affection and respect for him.

In fact, I often ponder on the things that make parkrun, and Fareham parkrun in particular, so special. I think it’s a combination of factors. The first is obviously all about health and fitness, which is especially crucial as you get to my age. It’s also about the weekly challenge. And for me it’s about the statistics too; I love those stats and can spend hours analysing them. However, in addition, it’s about familiarity and friendship. I have made lots of new acquaintances at parkrun, some of whom have become firm friends while others are people with whom I just enjoy a bit of banter, even if they’re always rude to me (no names no pack-drill Peter!). I also love randomly chatting to people you just bump into on the day. Yesterday I struck up a conversation with Dave Godley over coffee outside the pub. It turns out that he went to the same school as my wife in an East Sussex village and that, just like me, he also gets told that he sounds like a steam train when he runs. So, we soon found a common bond and we’ll probably look out for each other and share a coffee at future parkruns.

Anyway, in total there were 277 runners and walkers yesterday, the third biggest turnout ever at Fareham, including an incredible 50 from Run Verity. It was especially good to see lots of hi-viz marshals out there. I find their presence and encouragement immensely reassuring and supportive and I hope they realise how much that means. I don’t usually acknowledge this when I pass them, because I’m trying so hard to conserve energy and breathe, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t spotted them and appreciated them being there. You do get to recognise the regular volunteers too and yesterday it was lovely to see Keira, back from uni, on barcode-scanning.

Out on the course, for the first time in many weeks, a few of the puddles had returned after Friday’s heavy rain especially between the pylon and the halfway point, although they weren’t quite as deep or forbidding as they’d been a few months ago. I don’t usually check my time until I reach the turn and this week I got there in 13.13. After a quick bit of mental arithmetic, it dawned on me that this could be PB territory for me and for the next mile or so I kept imagining myself ringing the PB bell. I was worried I might have gone out too fast, my usual failing, but I managed to keep roughly the same pace all the way back and still had a bit left for a bit of acceleration in the final 100 metres. When I crossed the line, I heard timekeeper Jane shout 26.13, which was what my stopwatch said too. I had been hopeful of a good run and maybe even a PB, but this was beyond my wildest dreams, a whole 51 seconds better than my previous best. It’s now more than 24 hours later and I’m still on Cloud Nine.

I certainly wasn’t alone yesterday either. A scan through the results shows that 61 PBs were achieved, including my new pal Dave and another of my inspirations, Julie Salt, knocking exactly two minutes off hers. And there were some superb performances by people like Peter Evans (11-14 age group) in 19.05, Matt Hargreaves (60-64) in 19.46 and Daisy Wilkinson (11-14) in 21.11. There were also 47 first-timers, many of whom will be about to go on journeys like the one I started in August 2016 when I was more than six minutes slower than I am now.

In a troubled world, parkrun has given me a new focus. There’s also a circular thing about it. I do parkrun to improve my health and fitness and, in turn, I eat more fruit and veg and cut down on cake and Merlot because I know it will help me do a better parkrun time. My impossible dream is now a sub-26 run and, before the pre-run briefing, you’ll normally find me somewhere around the back doing fast-feet.

Picture: Run Verity’s warm-up session before their previous Fareham parkrun graduation day in June, infiltrated by Alan in the right foreground

Fareham parkrun
Event number 126
11th August 2018

This week 277 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 47 were first timers and 61 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 22 different clubs took part. The event was made possible by 29 volunteers:

Malcolm Eric VAUGHAN • Julie SALT • Margaret MCGILP • Angus MCGILP • David MACSWAYNE • Alison MACSWAYNE • Kathy O'LOUGHLIN • Liz WEIGHELL • Phillip PROPHETT • Lynn ROBINSON • Lorraine ROWE • Melissa BARHAM • Richard STEWART • Kelly CREEK • Jessica CREEK • Ann MCCARTNEY • Ginette EMMONDS • Kevin EMMONDS • Louise STEWART • Jane BASCOMBE • Keira MARSHALL • John FAIRHURST • Georgina HUTBER • Anne FAIRHURST • Neil MASSON • Phil BRIEN • Lorraine MASSON • Amy SNOWDEN • Mick TOMBS
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Fareham parkrun Results Page.
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 4,422 participants have completed 24,011 parkruns covering a total distance of 120,055 km, including 4,913 new Personal Bests.

 

Fareham parkrun #125

Fareham parkrun
Event number 125
4th August 2018

This week 208 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 35 were first timers and 17 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 23 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 28 volunteers:

Colin GARDNER • Julie SALT • Katherine HOLLOWAY • Margaret MCGILP • Angus MCGILP • Slavena JENSEN • Anastasia JENSEN • Peter ADAMS • Edward WILLMOTT • Mark BROOKS • Kathy O'LOUGHLIN • Joseph BROOKS • Ian WRIGHT • John SAUNDERS • Melissa BARHAM • Nicolas MCCARTNEY • Sue BADDELEY • David FRITH • Jane BASCOMBE • Peter BASCOMBE • John FAIRHURST • Alison IRWIN • Georgina HUTBER • Anne FAIRHURST • David MORRIS • Michael MOODY • Phil BRIEN • Kay WALKER

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Fareham parkrun Results Page.

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 4,375 participants have completed 23,734 parkruns covering a total distance of 118,670 km, including 4,852 new Personal Bests.

 

Fareham parkrun #123

Fareham parkrun
Event number 123
21st July 2018
This week 244 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 52 were first timers and 30 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 29 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 30 volunteers:

Geoff COLLINS • Julie SALT • Margaret MCGILP • Angus MCGILP • David MACSWAYNE • Alison MACSWAYNE • Slavena JENSEN • Lucy SUTTON • Leigh ALLEN • Peter ADAMS • Andy O'LOUGHLIN • Liz WEIGHELL • Ian WRIGHT • John SAUNDERS • Melissa BARHAM • Jessica CREEK • Sue BADDELEY • Andrew LOCKWOOD • Doreen WARD • Louise STEWART • David FRITH • Sarah HAZELL • Alison IRWIN • Georgina HUTBER • David MORRIS • Michael MOODY • Vicky BRAZIER • Phil BRIEN • Alison HUNT • Kay WALKER

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Fareham parkrun Results Page.

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 4,312 participants have completed 23,313 parkruns covering a total distance of 116,565 km, including 4,789 new Personal Bests.

 

Fareham parkrun #122 Run Report Alan Bullock

217 runners and walkers and 30 volunteers were at Cams Mill to do their thing yesterday and we probably all have a story to tell about why we were there or how we got on. When I walked in at 8.45, there was Rach busily organising the car park and Kaye, Teresa and Phil warming up in the style of Spotty Dog. If you’re aged 55 or over you can’t mistake Spotty Dog’s walk, so I stopped for a quick chat. Spotty was a character in The Woodentops, which was on BBC’s Watch with Mother every Friday in the 1950s and early 60s, and the rhythmic way in which his fore legs and hind legs moved simultaneously is easier to mimic than it is to describe. If I say so myself, I can do a mean Spotty Dog impression if asked. Or you can check him out on Youtube.
I cornered a few more people to get their take on what motivates them to run or volunteer and I got the usual enthusiastic and diverse responses. Trina and Nick were celebrating their third wedding anniversary, so Trina ran with a veil and buggy and Nick with a backpack and tie. My fellow OAP Ed, who is gradually shaking off the effects of an operation, completed his run without stopping for the first time since the op and I could sense how much satisfaction it gave him. Georgina was on barcode-scanning duty and told me she likes volunteering “because such lovely people run”. Cathy who was also barcode-scanning said she just likes to volunteer as a break from running some weeks. It’s a simple philosophy that helps to sustain parkrun.
I had coffee afterwards with Nat, who’s in the Navy. Nat’s often away or at sea, but always likes to do Fareham whenever she can because she likes its community atmosphere and can catch up with people she wouldn’t normally see in the week “for a good old natter”. And it helps her own fitness regime too. She’s also Assistant Manager of the Royal Navy ladies cricket team and several members of the squad sometimes turn out at Fareham parkrun as a way of improving their fitness and for a bit of team bonding. Next March they’re all going to Barbados on a cricket tour and Fareham parkrun will be part of their “No carbs before Barbs” fitness programme to get them all beach-ready. There’s talk of them doing parkrun in full cricket gear one week, including pads, as a charity fundraiser.
At the end of the run I also caught up with Hong Kang. She and I wouldn’t otherwise know each other but in recent weeks we’ve both noticed that we run at a similar pace, so we now look out for each other and offer mutual encouragement. I love that. I usually chat with Dave and Sue too. Like me, they’re both approaching their 100th parkrun but Dave is two ahead of Sue so he’ll do a bit of volunteering in the coming weeks to allow Sue to catch up, thus allowing them to do their 100th together – another way of helping to keep the volunteer roster healthy.
As a Fareham regular whose wearable tech doesn’t stretch beyond an £8-99 Casio watch, my rule-of-thumb is whether I can reach the pylons before the leaders pass me going in the opposite direction. Normally I don’t succeed, but this week I was a good 50 metres beyond the pylons before the leader went by, so I got quite excited and started to dream of ringing the PB bell. In the end it wasn’t to be, but what has really made me happy is that all my last six runs have been sub-28, which is a step-up from anything I’ve achieved before. I put it down to the warm-up techniques I learned from Run Verity recently, especially my “fast feet” routine which I now swear by. That’s another thing I love about Parkrun, it’s an endless learning curve.
23 people did achieve a PB today, which was a great achievement in the hot conditions, and there were 24 first-timers. If we get that many first-timers every week for a year, that would be around 1,250 new parkrunners annually at Fareham alone. Just think what that’s doing for the health and fitness of the nation. Since I started doing Fareham parkrun myself nearly two years ago, I’ve knocked over five minutes off my time and I just noticed that I’ve now reached 91,987th in the national rankings behind Mo Farah. He won’t be sleeping easily in his bed now.
A couple of last requests. If you happen to have gone home with finish tokens numbers 178 or 179, please could you let someone know or pop them back, as they went missing yesterday. And if anyone fancies helping out on the social media side of Fareham parkrun, could you let Andrew Smith know (just email him at winden32@hotmail.co.uk) as the admin team would love to get a bit of help with that side of things. Like everything else about parkrun, it will be fun as well as helping to keep the show on the road.
I thought I’d finish with some more stats, which is another aspect of parkrun that can give hours of joy to anoraks like me. Of the 206 participants whose barcodes were scanned at the end of yesterday’s run, there were 111 males and 95 females and 17 juniors, 44 seniors and 145 veterans (including 12 OAPs). Every age group was represented from Under 10 to 70-74, with the largest representation being ladies in the 40-44 group. The smallest groups were 70-74 and, interestingly, 15-19, both with three runners each. What I find intriguing about that is whether the low number of 15-19s is statistically significant and, if so, why? Now that could be a fascinating research project.
Fareham parkrun
Event number 122
14th July 2018
This week 217 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 24 were first timers and 23 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 16 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 30 volunteers:

Julie SALT • Margaret MCGILP • Angus MCGILP • Slavena JENSEN • Kathy O'LOUGHLIN • Ian WRIGHT • Mike SHAW • Carol WRIGHT • Melissa BARHAM • Kelly CREEK • Jessica CREEK • Cathy GLENDINNING • Brendan TUTTIETT • Ann MCCARTNEY • Nicolas MCCARTNEY • Andrew TULL • Rachael HUGHES • Louise STEWART • Vickie BARBER • Alan BULLOCK • Georgina HUTBER • David MORRIS • Michael MOODY • Phil BRIEN • Philip SWAN • Trudy BISHOP • Luke THOMPSON • Matt BULL • Mary BRIER • Kay WALKER

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Fareham parkrun Results Page.

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 4,260 participants have completed 23,069 parkruns covering a total distance of 115,345 km, including 4,759 new Personal Bests.

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