March 24th will be our 53rd Newport parkrun and so our first birthday! It's been a year in my life that I'll never forget.
The story started in September when I had the good fortune to be in Eastliegh & did my first parkrun. Wow! We needed one of these!!! A short time later Paul & I were begging funds from Kerry Griffiths of Newport CC Sports & Leisure. Happily Kerry was the champion we needed & helped us get things going applying for funds.
Worried about the size of the commitment I was more than grateful to get willing support from Nick, Yvonne, Jules & julia from our running club, Gareth & Kelly from NEWT and Peter, Gareth & Sian from Caerleon RC. The core team was formed. Howard was to join later as Mr Reliable.
The first meeting at Tredegar House was not all smooth. My idea to start in the main car park did not go down well with groundsman Bob. But I didn't know Bob then. A man of few words but with a can do attitude that i was to get to know. Anne Tame, the manager of Tredegar House loved the idea & we all agreed that plan B scheme was worth a go.
The core team was trained in February 2010 by Anita from parkrun office. Then we ran a few test events on club nights to get used to the bar coders & timing system.
We held two pilot events in Tredegar House grounds with willing guinea pigs from the three clubs, San Domenico RC and a few others who had offered their services.
Using the original course, which started & finished in the overflow car parkrun we included a sprint up and down the car park with a U bend in the middle. The feedback was either that they loved it or hated it. We tested the timing system with 30 runners and we were ready to go but......would anyone turn up?
I had advised Newport CC that my expectation for the first 3 months was approximately 50 participants based on how Cardiff parkrun started. So imagine my suprise & happiness when Event 1 attracted 125 participants. Things built up steadily. ther were no shortage of runners!
Then in early summer thanks to a group travellers who parked on our (then) start/finish line, we had to move to course No 2. This was a great success as it was a faster course during the summer months and a whole new crop of PBs resulted.
As winter moved in the grass section became quite wet under foot, so it prompted a rethink. Not wanting to go back to the original course and with a preference to parking in the main car park so that access to the Brewhouse is easier, the latest course (No 3) was conceived. Hey presto! This one is even faster, so lots more PBs resulted.
The good news is that we can stay with this course. My meeting this week confirmed that National Trust are right behind us and we seem to have a good future for Newport parkrun.
All my thanks go to the parkrun core team and the ever increasing number of happy smiling faces on Saturday morning, not forgetting our sponsors Newport CC, Lucozade Sport, Adidas, London Marathon & Sweatshop.