351 parkrunners, 43 first timers, 50 PBs and the parkrun jigsaw
Written by Peter Coombs
Like all other parkrun events, Hanley parkrun operates a strict 'no barcode, no time, no exceptions!' rule but when an athlete's printed barcode won't scan, their details are written down and added to the results. So this Saturday morning I found myself in the role of 'soggy barcode monitor'.
Fortunately, after some early light drizzle, the weather was dry and unseasonably warm and there were very few unscannable barcodes for me to deal with. Free to act as a roving reporter, I was able to talk to some of the other 29 volunteers and 350+ runners and ask them about their parkrun experience.
The Run Director: Bryn HOLMES has been involved with Hanley parkrun from the very first event back in September 2011 when there was only 17 runners and five volunteers. Six years later, Bryn is one of the core team of volunteers at Hanley parkrun. Whilst most weeks I can rock up at 8.50, enjoy parkrun and be happily back home for a thick cut bacon butty before 10am, the Run Director is at the park soon after 8.00, is last to leave at getting on for 11.00 and has all the hassle and responsibility of organising volunteers and ensuring that hundreds of people have an enjoyable and safe 5k. It's quite a responsibility and commitment so why give up your Saturday morning to do it? Bryn simply says “I love it.”
The First Timers: I find Melanie PIPER and Aoife JACKSON looking a little lost near the bandstand and after guiding them towards the first-timers briefing, ask them what brings them to Hanley parkrun. The answer to that question could be 'broomsticks' as it turns out that they are both Quidditch players from Keele. Melanie has only ever run 5k on a treadmill indoors before and they're both keen to improve their fitness for the upcoming season.
The Volunteer: Like me and several other volunteers today, marshal Caroline DAVIES is saving her energy for a competitive 10k on Sunday. I ask Caroline what she likes about parkrun. To my surprise she says “I hate parkrun. I really don't like doing laps”. So why is she here giving up time to volunteer when she could be having a nice lie-in? “Well, it's good to give something back.”
The First Finishers: These are the people I usually only see disappearing off into the distance, but this morning I'm able to catch up with the first finishers - if only because I'm already waiting at the finish when they arrive. With 5k times I can't even dream of achieving, these are clearly very good runners so what's the attraction of mixing it with the pooches and pushchairs at Hanley parkrun?
Tim TWENTYMAN, a club runner with Newcastle (Staffs) AC, is first across the line in an impressive 18:47. His second 'first finish' in seventeen attempts. What does he like about Hanley parkrun? “It's good training”. But isn't it really just a fun run? “It's still competition and a chance to go fast” says a slightly breathless Tim.
Another highly competitive runner is first female finisher Tracy DEAN of Staffordshire Moorlands AC. I congratulate her but despite still recovering from last week's Chester Marathon and having just clocked a new parkrun PB of 20:15, Tracy is disappointed not have gone sub-20. She says parkrun is a good “tempo session” (…for non-experts like me, that basically means a faster paced workout. Don't ask me about 'lactate thresholds'). I ask Tracy if she'll now have a post-run fry-up but she explains that this morning she's already her usual breakfast of oats, fruit and hemp protein. I make a mental note that bacon butties may not be the secret to cracking that elusive 24-minute 5k…
The Family: Dad and daughter duo Danny WALKER and Millie WALKER have just completed parkrun together. It's Danny's 49th and Millie's seventh. I ask Millie if she has a special breakfast before running but she gets round on “just yoghurt”. Danny says he really likes the “family feeling” at Hanley parkrun and hopes that not too many regulars are lost to Newcastle when, or if, a new parkrun starts there.
The Visitor: In the post-run crowd I meet Karol TOMKINS who is combining a walking trip to the Peak District with a visit to Hanley parkrun. Karol's usual parkrun is Shorne Woods near Gravesend in Kent but she's done plenty of 'parkrun tourism'. Shorne Woods parkrun is almost all on forest trails and Karol likes the tarmac paths of Hanley Park. How does Hanley compare to the other parkruns she's visited? “Very enjoyable. Definitely in the top ten” says Karol..
Chatting to people this morning reminds me what a diverse but friendly group of people parkrunners are. Thanks to everyone who answered my daft questions and apologies for any misquotes.
Oh, and sitting (…I won't say 'collapsed') on a grassy bank just past the finish funnel, Melanie and Aoife have now completed their first ever parkrun. I ask them how it went and if they'll try Hanley parkrun again. The answer is more Arnie than Harry Potter: “Yes. We'll be back!”
More photos of smiling runners and volunteers on flickr - thanks Wendy Sears.
Thanks to all the volunteers this week : Laura Joan HALL • Bryn HOLMES • Beth DAWID • Millie HOLMES • Naomi OWEN • Philip DAWID • Jonathan TIDESWELL • Wendy SEARS • Ruth PARKES • Peter DIVALL • Dave ELBORN • Paul COTTERILL • Simon CLARKE • David COOPER • David KINSELLA • Karen SEILES • Dan OXLEY • David HEBB • Andy DIDDAMS • Caroline DAVIES • Craig CARPENTER • Sara BROOME • Peter COOMBS • Dan HEATH • Oscar SCHOLES - FURNESS • Gary EDGE • David CLARKE • Katherine TRAVERS • Charlotte WILLIAMSON • Amany WILLIAMSON
Get in touch by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or have a chat to us on Saturday morning to put your name down! To make the magic of parkrun happen each week, we need a minimum of 15 volunteers each week to cover the main finish area roles and marshalling points.
This week 351 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 43 were first timers and 50 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 31 different clubs took part. You can find a full set of times here.
Hanley parkrun started on 24th September 2011. Since then 6,496 participants have completed 49,556 parkruns covering a total distance of 247,780 km, including 9,585 new Personal Bests.