Event #178 – the one with Willow and a weaver!

Saturday 6th October 2018 was International parkrun Day, marking 14 years since the very first event took place in London’s Bushy Park. This week in Luton 277 people ran, jogged and walked the course, 41 of whom recorded new personal bests and representatives of 15 different clubs took part.
We also welcomed Michael Joseph and Catherine Flynn into the 50 parkrun club, Catherine with a new PB! Well done.

Among the participants were a number of runners dressed in purple in aid of Willow, a charity close to many at our parkrun that provides special days for seriously ill young adults at the most difficult of times.
Several of these wore some rather fetching tutus and smiled for the camera.


Purple parkrun in full flow.

For those who made it over to the clubhouse there was a further opportunity to support this charity with a range of purple cakes and a chance to donate money.


Cake aplenty in the club after.

Now it so happened that this Saturday was also the Saturday that I had selected to collect data from the following participants.


From left to right; Claire, Rob & Elizabeth

These willing volunteers are helping me with a project that I have named “Running with Thread”. I have received funding via The Luton Arts Fund to create 3 woven Artworks that I will weave in Wardown House and will be on display there in the new year.  Alongside my weaving there will also be an opportunity for any visitors to try weaving on a large loom.

You may well be asking how or what is the connection? Well these three wonderful volunteers have agreed to share the data with me that their Garmin fitness trackers have generated from their parkrun on Saturday 6thOct. I will be translating this into cloth.


The width of each piece of work will be determined by the width of each of their stride. The length of each piece of work will be worked out according to how long it took them to complete the 5 kilometres- for every minute of time I will weave 5cm of cloth. In addition, across the whole work embedded into the cloth will be the pattern created by their heart rate. It may thus be possible to see the 4 occasions that they went up the hill!!

It has been extremely interesting exploring the different reasons why they attend parkrun and also the way that the data differs. The 1.52m stride of Rob Barnes was certainly unexpected and has presented some exciting creative challenges.


The reason I believe that I was successful in gaining the funding was due to the fact that as a town the number of adults engaged in physical activity is well below the national average. I have been massively struck by the strong sense of community, the celebration of individual PBs and the support that is given to runners, walkers and those who do whatever it takes to get around.

It is an inspiring event that I hope in some way to celebrate and raise awareness of within the different communities that use the park and beyond.


Do pop into Wardown House on a Tuesday 10-3pm or Saturday 2-4pm in October or November to see how Rob, Elizabeth or Claire’s successful run is being depicted. The final work will be exhibited there in the new year.

On another note I captured this shot of Rob having completed his run in 17minutes and sprinting to the aid of someone who needed help somewhere else on the course. It’s not all about speed but it would seem that on this occasion being fast is a blessing.


Rob to the rescue


To Volunteer have a look at the Future Roster, choose your role and email us at  lutonwardownhelpers@parkrun.com
To see this week's photos have a look on our Flickr site
To look at our Results page for all sorts of statistics

Dates for Your Diary
13th October - World Mental Health Day parkrun - wear your best yellow outfit to say #helloyellow and support children and young people’s mental health.
There will be a Pop-up Cafe as the Cricket Club is not available to us that day
27th October - Halloween Chase the Pacer and Cardiac Rehab charity chest waxing :-o


Event #177 – the one with milestones and pacers

Another excellent parkrunday on Saturday - 318 walkers, joggers and runners, 37  wonderful volunteers and a lot of cake!
Most of the goodies in the Cricket Club were provided by Christian and Keith who both celebrated their 100th parkrun - that's nearly 2 years of parkrunning.

Luton Wardown parkrun 29_09_1842734641_2176456889266577_1489748014078623744_o
Christian flying on his way to his 100th and Keith with his impressive cake afterwards!

We also had Catherine Lennon and Maria Wusu reaching their 50th parkrun.
We look forward to seeing those black 100 and red 50 t-shirts soon.

There will be no t-shirts for Paula and Elizabeth as it isn't an official milestone but they both did their 150th parkrun this weekend

44935544022_b7a6b8b10d_oLuton Wardown parkrun 29_09_18
Paula and Elizabeth on their way to 150 parkruns

We also had 4 runners who have run over 250 parkruns, some sporting their lovely green t-shirts - Paul and Wendy Reddaway (258), David J Sutherland (263) and our own Dave Smith (294)

Luton Wardown parkrun 29_09_18
Paul and Wendy in their customised 250 t-shirts (they usually come with sleeves!)

Luton Wardown parkrun 29_09_18
Dave as Tail Walker for his 294th parkrun - cake in 6 weeks time maybe?

As usual parkrun couldn't happen without the 37 awesome volunteers who set-up, timed, scanned, shouted and cheered people round the course and then packed it all away again. This week's volunteers included 8 pacers, ranging from 22 minutes to 60/30 run/walk, enabling a whopping 66 people to get a PB.

Volunteers 29-09-18

We have a busy month ahead with an art work being started (more on that next week), lots of opportunities for wearing different colours (purple and yellow being the main ones!), dressing up (Halloween), eating cake (the Pop-up Cafe is back on 13th) and watching two of our own get their chests waxed for charity (suitably timed to coincide with Halloween!)

Happy parkrunning

Dates for Your Diary
6th OctoberPurple parkrun day for The Willow Foundation
7th October - Come and join the Purple parkrun team at the Willow 5 and 10k in Hatfield House - run, support or donate
Have a look here to see why Willow is important to so many local runners

2018 Purple parkrun 2

13th October - World Mental Health Day parkrun - wear your best yellow outfit to say #helloyellow and support children and young people’s mental health
There will be a Pop-up Cafe as the Cricket Club is not available to us that day
27th October - Halloween Chase the Pacer and Cardiac Rehab charity chest waxing :-o


Event #176 – the one in rhyming couplets

It was the perfect weather to go parkrun,
With the calming breeze and the spectacular sun;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

Heavy breathing and marshals clapping,
Sweat pouring and runners talking;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

Parkrun is a place for all, old and small,
With people who have done it once and many times before;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

With welcoming volunteers doing their best,
Easily spotted with their bright coloured vests;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

Their efforts are never taken for granted,
They work so hard, it's like they're enchanted;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

280 people walked, jogged or ran,
With 23 first timers, each who will become a fan;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

52 record new personal bests,
And 13 representatives of different clubs took part, unable to divert;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

Robert Barnes, Stephen Richardson and Feroz Khan were the top three males,
Coming in before 20 minutes, they certainly sailed;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

Lucy Storey, Linda Scanlan and Sarah Cashin were the top three females,
Now done with the run, they could finally exhale;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

Ami and Billy Giles both reached 50,
These youngsters really are very nifty.


I think this report can come to an end,
Make sure to come to parkrun, maybe bring a friend;

Luton Wardown parkrun 22.9.18

Who knows, this obsession could become a trend,
It would definitely be one I'd recommend!


Dates for Your Diary
30th September - Chase the Pacer
6th October - Purple parkrun day for The Willow Foundation
7th October - Come and join the Purple parkrun team at the Willow 5 and 10k in Hatfield House - run, support or donate 

2018 Purple parkrun 1
Have a look here to see why Willow is important to so many local runners
13th October - World Mental Health Day parkrun - wear your best yellow outfit to say #helloyellow and support children and young people’s mental health
27th October - Halloween Chase the Pacer and Cardiac Rehab charity chest waxing :-o


Event #175 – the one with all the Harpenden Arrows

On a glorious early autumn morning, the park was at its sparkling best, and a massive 333 runners and walkers turned out for the 175th Luton Wardown parkrun, at least one with a dog and another pushing a buggy. There were tourists from Bristol, Tunbridge Wells and South Africa. Almost all the volunteer roles were taken by the Harpenden Arrows running club, ably co-ordinated by club captain Jillian Russell, and at the pre-run briefing the assembled crowd of volunteers and runners was awash with Arrows red.


A sea of Arrows red

As a member of the club, I’d come along to run and offered to write this report. Most importantly, though, I’d also come to give Wardown another try. Because I have to let you in on a little secret, the sort that nobody usually mentions in reports like this. Saturday was my second visit to Luton Wardown parkrun. I’d been before on a cold, wet January day last year, and on that occasion – whisper it – I didn’t really enjoy it very much. Gasp!

Don’t get me wrong, the parkrun was as friendly and well-organised as parkruns always are, and the people couldn’t have been more welcoming. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe I was out of sorts and felt that running up that little incline four times was a cruel and unusual punishment, but whatever it was, I just wasn’t feeling it. And I have to admit to myself that I’ve been running scared of this parkrun ever since. Why would I open a run report on this negative note, you might be wondering? Well, I was thinking that maybe I’m not the only person who sometimes has these days. parkrun is such a relentlessly positive, life-enhancing experience for most people, that I almost feel guilty on those days when I don’t seem to be able to tap into that vibe, when my legs ache and my lungs burn, and I feel a bit grumpy despite all the friendly waves, the support, the balloons, the costumes, the cake. When that happens, it’s easy to think. “Everyone else seems to be loving this. What’s wrong with me?” But it’s worth reminding ourselves occasionally that it’s okay to have a bad day on the course, and to feel a bit deflated as a result. That’s part of running, just as much as the highs of a new PB or the feeling of accomplishment you get when you achieve something you never thought you could. The benefits of exercise for our mental and physical health are well-documented, and indisputable, but it can’t always be an upward curve of improvement, or we’d all be Mo Farah in a year or two. The important thing, though, is that you should always give it another chance, because the next week, or the next time you can visit, will probably be better. This was brought home to me yesterday when I finally faced my Wardown bogeyman, and, of course, discovered that there was really nothing to be worried about at all. In fact, I found myself wondering why on earth I hadn’t been coming here regularly for the last year and a half, and while I wouldn’t say that going up the hill four times was easy, it certainly wasn’t the Everest I’d somehow managed to turn it into in my imagination.
It helped that the weather was perfect – a touch warm, perhaps, but with the searing heat of July still in the memory, this seemed like nearly ideal running conditions. More importantly, everything good about parkrun was on display as usual – the warm welcome, the inclusivity, the positivity, the sense of community – and it was lovely to be a part of that.

It was a noteworthy day for several runners achieving parkrun milestones. John Cross completed his 100th Parkrun, with the balloon to prove it. For Jit Samji, it was a 50th parkrun – but work to do on the balloon front.


Top balloon work

The first finisher was William Levett, making an impression on his first visit to Luton Wardown with an extremely rapid time of 16:59. Christine Lathwell was the first woman through the finisher’s funnel in a time of 20:01. And behind them, as ever, a long list of first-timers and PBs, many of whom gathered as usual in the clubhouse afterwards for some of the free cake provided by the Arrows, a drink and a chat. Well done to everyone who helped and took part.


Harpenden Arrows runners and volunteers

Thanks once again to all the volunteers who make parkrun happen– not just to the Arrows, but to some of the regular volunteers and helpers, too. I know it won’t be eighteen months until I return again. And if this week didn’t go well for you, you have my sympathies -- but don’t despair, you won’t be the only one. Make sure you come back sooner than I did to have another go.


Lots of wonderful photos are on our Flickr site
The full results can be found here

Dates for Your Diary
30th September - Chase the Pacer
6th October - Purple parkrun day for The Willow Foundation
7th October - come and join the Purple parkrun team at the Willow 5 and 10k in Hatfield House

2018 Purple parkrun 1

Have a look here to see why Willow is important to so many local runners
13th October - World Mental Health Day parkrun - plans are still afoot but it will involve yellow :-)
27th October - Halloween Chase the Pacer


Event #174 – the one with multiple milestones and a big birthday

Planning for a combined 100th parkrun and a 50th birthday started a few months ago.


It seemed easily achievable at the time 3 months ago when I decided to do it. 12 weeks away, 8 runs to do, four spare Saturdays, it shouldn't have been a problem. On closer inspection with my diary though, I hadn't left myself any leeway; I was Run Director one week in July, away for a conference the weekend after, we were cancelled on the 4th of August for the Mela and then I was away on holiday over a weekend with no parkruns nearby.

The last part of that sentence may seem daft to some, especially if you're new to parkrun. But believe me, you'll speak to many a parkrunner who checks out where their nearest parkrun is to the holiday location they're planning to book. Scoff all you like, but you've been warned, it'll happen to you.


So there it was, I couldn't afford to miss a week running up to this weekend. With a couple of Friday night races in June at Marston Forest and St. Albans, there was no let up and I had to get up and get around parkrun the next morning.

As we rolled into August, I decided that I should do a bit of parkrun tourism for our cancelled week and I went over to Tring, where that hill is all they say it is. It did mean that I now had that one spare week for 'just in case.' In the end, it was all good and I used that spare weekend to RD at the start of September.

As Saturday approached, I knew I wouldn't get away without having to don some outfit for parkrun. My partner Penny didn't disappoint, so I rocked up on parkrunday with a 50th birthday sash, a black tutu, a helium 50 balloon, a crown and a cape with 100 on the back.


Dressed up for the occasion


It was never going to be a fast run. Apart from the fact I've been very slack with my running recently, I wanted to jog around taking photos and try to not hit anyone with the balloon as it bobbed about.

A special thanks from me for the rendition of 'Happy Birthday' forced on to you all from RD Maria.

On Saturday, I was joined by my good friend Karen who was dressed up as Supergirl for her 50th parkrun.


The cake and caramel shortbread didn't last long


Less conspicuous on the day (who can blame them), but by no means any less of an achievement, we had Amani Choudhury celebrating her 10th parkrun and Christopher Rockell, Graham Wilde, Jonathan Venning and Thom Darby celebrating their 50th parkrun. Rickey Avis joined the V25 club by volunteering at our junior parkrun on Sunday.

This week 297 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 25 were first timers and 60 recorded new Personal Bests. The event was made possible by fabulous 27 volunteers.

I know as RD's, we bang on about volunteering and you're probably all bored of hearing it, but without you we can't do it. Your safety is our number one priority, so we need a certain amount of marshals out on the course in case things go wrong. We will move people from other roles to fill marshal spots if need be and as Maria stated on Saturday, we weren't that far away from our first 59:59 parkrun. Have a look at the future roster and email us at lutonwardownhelpers. We'll run you through whatever role you choose, it's not that scary (honest). Harpenden Arrows are joining us this weekend for a volunteer takeover so have a look at the other weeks of September and into October.

I hope you all enjoyed the copious amount of cake and caramel shortbread in the cricket club afterwards. I was just glad that there wasn't much left to bring home.

See you all next parkrunday.


Dates for Your Diary
15th September - Harpenden Arrows Volunteer Takeover
30th September - Chase the Pacer
13th October - World Mental Health Day parkrun - plans are still afoot but it may involve yellow :-)
27th October - Halloween Chase the Pacer

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