“It’s a run, not a race!” Reflections on Fareham parkrun Number 110
In the parting words of my old parkrun friend Emma Powell, “he’s got enough material for a sequel to The Hobbit”. So, I’ll try to edit this little report down to sensible proportions.
The long-awaited Spring sunshine brought us out in force yesterday and the field of 265 runners and walkers was, by my calculation, the fifth highest in Fareham Parkrun’s two-year history. When I arrived, Julie was busy diverting drivers away from the chock-a-block Cams Mill car park and it was a colourful and animated scene, with people of all ages and abilities converging, conversing or warming up in their various ways. This is what parkrun is all about, isn’t it? It always feels very social and inclusive. And also, crucially, it’s a run, not a race - or at least, that’s the theory. It was in that context that I loved the brilliant little Freudian slip during the pre-run briefing by Run Director Tom Mellor, when he said: “Before the race … whoops, it’s not a race.”
There was a really nice vibe out on the course, especially getting cheered on by all the hi-viz heroes like Mike Shaw at PJ’s Corner, Ed Willmott by the creekside and Kerry Brown at the turn-point. I always like chatting to Ed during post-run coffee. He’s been volunteering whilst recovering from surgery and it was clear how much he’d enjoyed encouraging everyone and trying to make us “feel that little bit better” as we went past. That’s another of the joys of parkrun – volunteering can be as satisfying as running.
The Cams Mill is a godsend for Fareham parkrun and a great place to catch up with old and new mates. Over coffee, Ollie Holt was in particularly good spirits after smashing his PB by 35 seconds. He lives in Drayton but likes running at Fareham because he finds it so friendly. And, with its out-and-back course, “you always know when it’s half way”. He also made a new friend who latched on to him during the run, used him as a pacemaker and complimented him afterwards on “running like a metronome”. I enjoyed Stephanie Monks’ graphic account of her mid-run misadventure with a bramble too. Quite how it cut her hand and then got stuck to her bottom still intrigues me. Meanwhile, Rachael Hughes’ moment of the week was the little girl who gave her a high-five, which Rachael reciprocated. The little girl seemed really thrilled to get a high-five back and Rachael was thrilled that she was thrilled. I thought that was cute!
There was an impressive turnout by 30 participants from Run Verity, a mixed-gender club with runners of all abilities. Coach Verity told me how 17 of their cohort had just graduated from their beginners’ programme by getting from zero to 5km in eight weeks, while the others came to run and support them. I also talked to Nikki, who has been with them for four years. For Nikki it’s been all about “learning how to run properly and injury-free”. And what she hadn’t expected was to make so many new friends along the way too. She also told me how she now finds herself spotting when other runners aren’t quite doing it right. This led me to reflect on how I’m probably doing lots of things wrong myself.
Returning to the theme of “it’s a run not a race”:
• Am I bothered when I get overtaken in the final kilometre every week by that chap with the double buggy? Of course not.
• Do I look back nostalgically to 2017 when I was often Fareham’s fastest OAP? Well, just a bit. I was only third-fastest OAP yesterday but, as Julie Salt always says to me consolingly, “at least it was still a podium finish”.
• And do I mind being beaten most weeks by my 11-14 year-old rivals Isobel Bennett and Anastasia Jensen? Nooo!
In fact, over coffee I chatted with Anastasia and her parents, Slavena and Robert. Anastasia told me about her “trick”, which involves following hapless old runners like me, copying our stride pattern and then overtaking us. Then if we try to catch up, she sprints. She also took the mickey out of my rather irritating breathing pattern, which others have likened to a steam train. Pondering over this as I walked back to the car, I came to the conclusion that, after all these years and 81 parkruns, I need to take a leaf out of Vikki and Verity’s book and learn how to run properly.
Being well-travelled parkrunners themselves, Slavena and Robert summed up how they perceive the parkrun culture and philosophy. For them it’s a wonderful way of starting the weekend. It gets people active and enjoying a healthy lifestyle and it’s so supportive, regardless of “whether you’re a front-runner or at the back of the pack”. They find it a great way to bond as a family too.
And when I asked Anastasia what she liked about parkrun, she replied in a single word: “Everything”.
Event number 110
21st April 2018
This week 265 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 37 were first timers and 35 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 14 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 25 volunteers:
Tom MELLOR • Julie SALT • John SALT • Margaret MCGILP • Angus MCGILP • Mike CREEDY • David MACSWAYNE • Alison MACSWAYNE • Kerry BROWN • Edward WILLMOTT • Kathy O'LOUGHLIN • Ian WRIGHT • Mike SHAW • David WALTERS • Hannah HOLLIDAY • Melissa BARHAM • Brendan TUTTIETT • Emma POWELL • Louise STEWART • Jane BASCOMBE • Alan BULLOCK • John FAIRHURST • Anne FAIRHURST • Michael MOODY • Phil BRIEN
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 3,943 participants have completed 20,306 parkruns covering a total distance of 101,530 km, including 4,292 new Personal Bests.