A big 'thank you' to Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers as they took over parkrun
Despite the icy conditions, 428 (427 official) hardy souls turned out for today's parkrun. Before the start, the first person I was fortunate enough to speak with was Francesca Eksteen who had come along for her first ever parkrun or organised run or race of any type. I asked why MK parkrun? The number of runners was an important factor, as Francesca was worried where she might finish, along with a wish to follow a healthier lifestyle and comments by friends who had told her how supportive the parkrun community is. She was targeting a time of 45 minutes and was beaming ear to ear when I found her after the run, having clocked a wonderful 39:28 and a PB to boot. She wanted everyone to know how much she appreciated the organisers, marshals and the other runners. Well done Francesca and welcome to the parkrun community along with the other 36 first time finishers who joined you this week.
While they were a tad cold before the off, the steam evaporating at the finish was a testament to the effort put in by all, from the first person across the line, Ben Fairhill of Redway Runners through to Louise Sinclair officially supporting the rear of the run. Ben clocked an impressive 16:39 on his 8th appearance and looked far too relaxed as he crossed the line. I was only able to catch up with Ben as he had stopped running. I asked him how he had found the course? A little icy on the far side but generally fine it seems, which was the feedback from most peeps out there today. The first woman across the line was another Redway Runner, Julie Loxley, hotly pursued 18 seconds later by Jennifer Sangster and Vikki Alexander 2 seconds behind, both of whom have previously been the first woman to finish. A modest Julie suggested that I might want to interview another runner as she had featured before. Given her 74 appearances to date and current lead in the annual points competition, that should have come as no surprise.
I was inspired by the number of parents out there with their children, proving that parkrun really is a family affair. First across the line in the buggy stakes pushing his twin 22 month old boys was Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers James Handley who finished in 25:58 and and who claimed a new PB on his second outing with the lads. I asked James how he found it pushing his very handsome boys who clearly take their good looks from their mum (its ok, I know James well). The start was a little congested with a double buggy and trying to overtake a few runners, but he found everyone very supportive, understanding and in his words kind particularly once underway. If he was looking to pass someone, the sound of the buggy meant peeps would look behind and move over with a smile to let him pass, particularly when he was coming downhill and the buggy picked up momentum. He was followed not long after by Nathan Barrington on his 61st parkrun and 19month old Elijah in 26.09. I asked Nathan what he enjoyed most about the parkrun and like James, it was being able to experience it with their children as well as adding a new and extra challenge to their training. All three boys were smiling, happy and clearly having a great time. To make it a complete family outing, Elijah was able to cheer on his mum Samantha Baker who home with a time of 30.01.
The age gap between parent and child was a tad closer with Laura Davis completing her 129th parkrun in 27.19, just one second behind her mum Caroline Beechy on her 183 rd parkrun. Had you been running together I asked the two? A silent glance followed by a burst of laughter, told me they weren't. Laura hasn't beaten her mum in a race for a few years (which she doesn't mind sharing as she is rightly proud of Carolines achievements) and was trying to do so today, missing by such the smallest of margins.Both were tired, sweaty, giggling and evidently proud of the other. Laura did point out that her PB, set a couple of years back, is quicker than Carolines so I reckon girls, thats a score draw to date.
Richard R2d2 Jones, a pre run nervous first time run director of Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers, said afterwards that the feedback he received from every runner he spoke to was positive without any negative comments at all. He wanted to thank the 31 volunteers from the Flyers who turned out to help in all the positions who took to their roles with magnificent aplomb.
There was a race within the run, with the pacers trying to get as close as they could to their target time. Top honours were taken by Jessica Anstee who was pacing at 23.30 and who came in at 23.29. Jess began her parkrun exploits back in 2007 at Wimbledon with her barcode number being 6000 something. Given parkrun global has reached well over 100,000 runs, with weekly runner attendances in 2014 going over 60,000 for the first time, that is a great connection to parkrun. Second in the race within the run was Andy Bierton in 20.02 (20:00), followed by Richard Satnav Jones in 21:49 (22:00), Mike Petty 24:48 (25:00), Brendan O'Mahoney 30:13 (30:00) and Caroline O'Mahoney 35:40 (35:00).
And finally to Victoria Flanagan, who deserves an honourable mention for crossing the line with the tail runner, Annie Paige. Victoria unfortunately won't appear in the official records due to a wardrobe malfunction. She left her bar code in different running gear than she had on. Never the less, Victoria encompasses what parkrun is all about. She started running at the start of this month, having put a little bit of weight on following having her child (I checked and she's very happy to share why she was running). This was her fifth run in a row and she feels that with each week, she is getting a little fitter and going a little further. Running is giving her energy which she didn't know she had, a better out look on life and something to focus on once a week just for her (which is really important as every loving and devoted parent will tell you). The entire team was cheering and clapping as she crossed the line and in Victoria's words, she was ''really overwhelmed''. That to me summed up the ethos of parkrun and the wider running community. Mutual support, respect and admiration for everyones efforts, whether out there on the course or behind the scenes. The only disappointment was the circus being closed and no bacon rolls in the cafe. Can parkrun HQ sort that out for next week?
Ben FAIRHALL (VM35-39) of Redway Runners, was first over the line in 16:39 - 4th time in 8 appearances.
Jordan CLAY (SM18-19) of Leighton Buzzard AC, was second over the line in 17:05 - was first to finish once before.
James MASON (SM25-29) (Unattached) was third over the line in 18:58.
Current standing in the Men's annual points competition:
William SHIPPIN (Redway Runners) 593 pts.
Ed VOUT (Unattached) 591 pts.
Simon READ (Redway Runners) 590 pts.
Julie LOXLEY (VW50-54) of Redway Runners, was first (52nd overall) over the line in 21:45 - 17th time in 74 appearances.
Emma WHEATCROFT (SW30-34) of Shenley Striders, was second (58th overall) over the line in 22:03 - was first to finish once before.
Jennifer SANGSTER (VW40-44) of Redway Runners, was third (60th overall) over the line in 22:05 - has been first to finish on 5 previous occasions.
Current standing in the Women's annual points competition:
Julie LOXLEY (Redway Runners) 595 pts.
Jennifer SANGSTER (Redway Runners) 592 pts.
Vikki ALEXANDER (Shenley Striders) 577 pts.
The following runners recorded the best Age Grade scores:
Ben FAIRHALL (VM35-39) was graded 79.68% for the time 16:39 (first overall).
Jordan CLAY (SM18-19) was graded 78.05% for the time 17:05 (second overall).
Julie LOXLEY (VW50-54) was graded 77.09% for the time 21:45 (52nd overall).
This week there were 430 runners, of whom 37 were first timers and 78 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 23 different athletics clubs took part.
Milton Keynes parkrun started on 16th January 2010, and since then 8,279 different runners, including participants from 423 athletics clubs, have completed 71,075 runs covering a total distance of 355,375 km, and there have been 14,494 new Personal Bests.
The women's record is held by Emily TALLEN who ran in a time of 00:17:04 on 2011-10-29 (event number 94).
The men's record is held by Ian KIMPTON who ran in a time of 00:15:01 on 2013-07-27 (event number 182).
The Age Grade course record is held by Shirley Rose GIBSON who recorded a 89.38% run (23:23) on 20th October 2012 (event number 145).
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Milton Keynes parkrun Results Page.