The first thing I saw on my laptop at 7am on Saturday was a tweet from @parkrunUK saying “everyone is welcome to parkrun whether you walk, jog, run or volunteer … nobody finishes last … a 60-minute 5k is just as far as a 15-minute 5k”.
I read it out to my wife Carolyn who was getting ready for her third parkrun. She’s in the 60-64s with a bit of arthritis setting in, so she power-walks it but says she feels self-conscious about being at the back. I’m ashamed to say that, apparently, I’ve made her feel even worse because of my lack of empathy. So today I chatted to a few other people who recently started at Fareham and it made me look at parkrun in a new light.
But first, the run itself. And once again the course record was smashed, with a stunning 382 runners, joggers and walkers. I always get a good sense of how I’m doing when I first reach the pylon and today just one runner passed the other way before I got there. I assume that was Martin who finished 1 minute 42 seconds ahead of the field and seemed to be gliding effortlessly. As always it was lovely to get a wave or a “well done Alan” from other front-runners like Dan, Dave, Tawanda and Paul as they passed by and also from people who overtook me like Sarah, John and Brendan. I don’t reply because I can’t run, puff and speak simultaneously, but I really appreciate it, even when Julie called out “Keep going, Puffing Billy” and gave me a high-five. Then when I passed Carolyn power-walking through the woods, I high-fived her too, hoping she would feel inspired and empowered by my empathy.
At the end, I love the banter when you share your post-run emotions with people you know, and even with people you don’t. Today I made a point of chatting to some recent parkrun converts who finished further down the field, like some of The Highlands Practice team. As well as enhancing their health and fitness, they say parkrun has been a great way to bond at work and, in turn, it helps them to inspire their patients too. One of them is Vicki who has improved her time by more than 19 minutes since the first of her 24 runs. That’s incredible and it also really brings home to you what a great contribution parkrun makes to the NHS preventative agenda. Vicki made the point that her times are even more important to her than the fast runners’ times probably are to them. I had never looked at it that way before. Like me and Carolyn, she gets inspired by the encouraging words of faster runners passing by too. Vicki also attends one of the local WW groups (it’s the new name for Weight Watchers) led by another recent parkrun convert Di, who encourages her members to come to parkrun because she says “anyone can do it, whatever their level”. Di herself has recorded a PB in each of her 9 runs so far and has knocked almost 11 minutes off her first time.
In the pub afterwards, I was chatting to Julie and Ali about whether the growth in numbers is sustainable. They think it is, provided people adhere to the rules: listen to the briefing, keep off the road and KEEP LEFT, only overtake when appropriate, respect all other parkrunners and be nice to each other. A couple of the walkers told me today that they had to take evasive action when runners coming back bore down on them whilst overtaking, to the extent that one walker had to jump into a hedge to avoid a collision. Someone else mentioned that some people don’t keep left between the pylon and the halfway point and won’t give way. I’m aware of the new Facebook thread about the start too, so I expect there will be a bit of ongoing discussion about that.
Meanwhile Carolyn was one of the 70 people to get a PB today and I’m now hoping that, as a walker, she no longer feels quite so self-conscious about being slower than the runners. In that context, the following short conversation took place when we got home:
Me: Did it inspire you when I high-fived you in the woods today?
However, what did inspire her was Mike, our legendary marshal at PJ’s Corner, calling out “Well done, young lady” when Carolyn emerged from the woods near the end. He found the perfect words and she loved it.
Event number 150
12th January 2019
This week 382 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 55 were first timers and 70 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 29 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 41 volunteers:
Margaret MCGILP • Angus MCGILP • David MACSWAYNE • Alison MACSWAYNE • Slavena JENSEN • Anastasia JENSEN • Malcolm RICHMOND • Ray GUNNER • Trina READINGS • Paula WILLIAMS • Mike SHAW • Melissa BARHAM • Ann MCCARTNEY • Nicolas MCCARTNEY • David HUGHES • Susan BOVINGDON • David FRITH • Chris REES • Paul RAYNER • Alexandra BRANNIGAN • Alan BULLOCK • John FAIRHURST • Anne FAIRHURST • David MORRIS • Michael MOODY • Phil BRIEN • Sally LINDSAY • Chris BARRON • Lisa DELICATE • David DELICATE • Joanne SMITH • Dorian KANHUKAMWE • Denise PERRETT • Toni STEED • Victoria ROWE-SHAWYER • John LOWDELL • Hayley BARKER • Wendy BARKER • Dean DOLMAN • Rachel DOLMAN • Philip STEED
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 5,234 participants have completed 29,996 parkruns covering a total distance of 149,980 km, including 5,884 new Personal Bests. A total of 521 individuals have volunteered 3,533 times.