Many thanks to this week's Run Report writer, Jenny DIMMICK from Woodley parkrun, near Reading.
It's hard to believe that it's the 4th parkrun of 2019 for many parkrunners. A very impressive 717 parkrunners wound their way around Finsbury Park in this, the 150th year of the Park. According to Wikipedia, whilst the plans for the park's creation were ratified by an Act of Parliament in 1857, it didn't open until 1869, which by my maths is 150 years ago. So that's a double reason to celebrate: a significant birthday year for the Park and record attendance! [Ed's note - look out for more on 150th anniversary park later this year].
I must admit that I didn't know much about Finsbury Park until turning up this morning. The parkrun website had told me that it was 2 laps, on tarmac paths and that's about all I knew. There are a large number of parkruns in London and we choose Finsbury parkrun as it was off the Piccadilly line and as we were staying close to that underground line and someone (apologies, I can't remember who) was extolling the virtues of the parkrun fairly recently in the UK parkrun tourist Facebook group. Indeed, we found it very easy to locate. A sign outside the station pointed us in the direction of the park and soon we saw plenty of folk in running gear heading in the same direction, so we followed them! One thing I wasn't expecting was the hills/slopes. This I must admit is due to poor research by myself. If I'd realised that the Park had hosted anti-aircraft guns during the second world war, then I'd have realised that there was a hill! I'm not saying that Finsbury parkrun is hilly, if you compare it to say Mole Valley (Surrey), Parke (Devon), Alice Holt (Hampshire) amongst others, you'd think that it is flat. However in my experience, all London Parks that I'd been to and parkruns I've run (Bushy, Tooting Common, Crane Park, Beckton and Victoria Dock) have been flat, so it was a bit of a surprise. In the queue in the cafe afterwards, I was informed that Ally Pally parkrun is much hillier and close by. Maybe I just need more experience of London parkruns?
The route started off with a nice downhill (which was when I realised that there would be some up!). I started at the back of the pack and the closed barrier was a bit of a surprise! The route otherwise was lovely and wide to begin with, which is just what you need to give the runners space to spread out. I was impressed with the number of amenities that we ran past in the park, it must be a lovely one to live close to. I wasn't expecting a running track (again, poor research!), the lake (which I had seen on the course map) looked as though it could be fun to hire a boat on in the summer, the playground looked to be well equipped and the outdoor gym equipment was actually being used, which is a rarity! There were a number of other folk using the Park, including groups doing some running and exercise class. I must say though, that the instructors seemed encouraging and even encouraged parkrunners as they went by. After my two laps (with a downhill finish!) I got given a raffle ticket.
^ What happens when we run out of tokens? Some of our final finishers became the first people ever to be handed raffle tickets at Finsbury park, as we broke another attendance record this week.
A raffle ticket? At the first-timer's briefing today, Mark JEFFORD, today's Run Director explained to the 147 people new to parkrun, as well as the tourists, that when you cross the finish line, you'll get handed a finish token. However, today, there were more finishers than Finsbury parkrun had finish tokens. This was handled very well by the use of raffle tickets and a sheet of preprinted barcodes, for those folk who finished in positions greater than 670. The previous record was 608 parkrunners, only last parkrunday. An increase of over 100 parkrunners in one week is very impressive.
Welcome to the parkrun family to all of those new to parkrun today. In fact, well done too to all 717 parkrunners who ran Finsbury parkrun today. Running or walking 5k is an impressive feat, especially on a cold winter's morning when others are in bed. 105 parkrunners achieved a new Personal Best (PB) today. Wow! John RANDALL celebrated his 50th parkrun today. Well done. John started his parkrun career 8 years ago and has run 38 runs at Finsbury parkrun and at 8 other parkruns over the years. Hopefully he'll be donning his red 50 tee soon. Dave H earnt his black 100 tee today. He has run at Finsbury parkrun 61 times and has run at 20 different venues, including my home parkrun, Woodley. In 2018 Dave ran 48 parkruns, which is very impressive. Tim BAVISTER was celebrating an arbitrary milestone of 300 parkruns today. That's a very impressive feat, which has taken him 8 years to achieve. Tim has run parkruns not only in the UK, but in Ireland, New Zealand and the USA! In fact, today was his 250th run at Finsbury parkrun. That's reason for celebration. Tim's also a keen volunteer, having done over 10 different roles, including tail walking and run directing. He's even been responsible for time keeping 35 times and barcode scanning 25 times. Thanks Tim!
^ Over 700 hundred parkrunners! No tapes yesterday due to issues getting into the shed. As I'm sure you can imagine, having this many people run down the hill at you can be scary. Please stay off the pavement on start hill and the first corner.
parkrun wouldn't happen without volunteers like Tim. Many thanks to all 25 volunteers for today: Mark JEFFORD, Adam MITCHELL, Alexander SWEET, Carl HEAP, James MCCAGUE, Tom BEDWELL, Frederick S GORDON, Becky DARNILL, Sarah MOORE, Patrick LUONG, Duncan RAY, Jon KNOX, Duncan MINTY, Katie BELKIN, Isabel GARROOD, Jenny DIMMICK, Andrea COLEY, Annabel LITCHFIELD, Serafina KILADIS, Quick Kasia KILADIS, Daisy VEITCH, Zachary WEISZ, Liz ADAMS, Isobel MURRAY and Katharine ELLIOT. Volunteering is as much fun as running, if not more! Why don't you email firstname.lastname@example.org and offer your services next week or whenever convenient? If you analyse my stats, you'll see that I've hardly run at my home parkrun. When there I can often be found volunteering. I celebrated my arbitrary milestone of volunteering at 100 events on New Year's Day. parkrun changes lives, whether you're a runner, a runner who volunteers or whether you enjoy volunteering so much that you don't run (yet).
Anyway, that's enough from me. Hopefully I may bump into one of you at another parkrun, somewhere!
Jenny (from Woodley parkrun)