welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Fitbit announce their partnership with Strava, our very own resident Aussie Glen Turner pays tribute to the late Ron Clarke and we hear from regular parkrunner and volunteer Santosh Rai.
The story of how we, the Nepalese community, got involved in Northala Fields parkrun starts with a rather painful memory. My first born, at the age of a mere six months, was suddenly diagnosed with hydrocephalus which I later learned was a serious medical condition where there is a build-up of excess fluid in the brain. The surgery and the whole experience was very difficult for my wife and I but we were so very grateful for all that Great Ormond Street Hospital had done for Newa. So back in 2009, in order to raise money for the hospital, I took part in my first 10k run.
After seeing my daughter go through so much I realised just how lucky the rest of us were, those of us who were free from medical conditions and yet we did not take care of our body and health. I felt a change within me and I started training, helped by taking part in Bushy parkrun introduced to me by Kevin Stone. I took this experience back home with me to Dharan, Nepal and as a result of the inspiration of parkrun I started an event there in 2011 with a small group of friends. The initial run attracted 25 runners and the latest event attracted over 200.
Back at my current home in north west London I started advocating a healthier lifestyle and running for fun to my family, relatives, friends and neighbours. I became a regular runner at Gunnersbury parkrun and I wanted to bring parkrun to our neighbourhood as well. I tried pursuing this dream but I guess my efforts alone were not enough. Then by chance I met Fiona Kennedy, another running enthusiast, who was also looking for ways to establish a parkrun in Northala Fields.
With help, a lot of help, from our friends we were successful at last. My family members were the first to try out our brand new course and then with the power of social media a few more 'brave' people started to sacrifice their Saturday lay-ins and came to join us. It is because of the friendly, positive attitude of the volunteers and the runners that people come back again and again. It didn't take them too long to see and feel the benefits of running and socialising with positive and dedicated people. Our very own Nilu Dewan has lost more than 15kg due to her determination, eating the right diet, parkrun and other exercise. More Nepalese people started joining in and there is now a growing Nepalese community in parkrun.
After the recent tragic earthquakes in the Nepal region, Fiona and I decided to dedicate the 48th Northala Fields parkrun to Nepal and raise some funds for DEC Nepal. You can see a fantastic video of the day and also read about it in our run report. We raised a massive amount for the appeal, almost £2,000 at the last count. A big thank you to all of you who contributed, whether volunteering, cake-baking, cake-eating, donating, or just generally creating a wonderful community spirit. Even the sun came out to cheer us on!
Run Director, Northala Fields parkrun
Fitbit, parkrun and Strava
Are you a parkrunner who is also Strava user? If so, did you know that you can now connect your Fitbit account with Strava? This means your workouts logged in Fitbit will automatically sync to Strava and vice versa. Whether using a Fitbit Surge or the MobileRun feature on your Fitbit, all your GPS-based data - including routes, distance and pace - now syncs to your Strava account to give you a comprehensive view of your run and help you to maximise your performance. To find out more about how to connect your Fitbit account with Strava check out the Fitbit blog.
Don’t forget to join in with the conversations on Facebook and on Twitter using the hashtag #parkrunfit and if you’re considering getting a Fitbit, why not ask the social community for their thoughts on whether it’s right for you and which Fitbit to get? We’ve been enjoying your discussions and joining in where we can. You can still take advantage of the £15 discount + free shipping on any Fitbit with our special parkrun offer. Happy stepping everyone!
tribute to Ron Clarke
As a young kid growing up in Australia in the 1980s there were no shortage of homegrown superstars from the world of running to admire. Rob de Castella was the marathon world record holder, Steve Monaghetti was on his way to becoming a Commonwealth Games marathon gold medallist, while Cliffy Young won the inaugural 544-mile Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon at the tender age of 61. And most importantly, as my dad would always emphasise, their reputations off the road were as credible as their performances on it.
But the athlete people seemed to talk about more than any other was Ron Clarke MBE, who sadly passed away last week aged 78. Ron, they said, was the ‘complete’ middle distance runner. He broke an astonishing 17 world records over distances ranging from two-miles to 20 kilometres (12.4 miles). In 1965 he raced 18 times in 44 days and broke 12 world records. The following year he set a world record of 13:16 for 5,000m - to put this in perspective, the parkrun world record stands at 13:48.
Perhaps Clarke’s biggest accolade however was at an event he didn’t compete in. In 1956, as the junior one-mile world record holder, has was chosen to light the flame at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The organisers proved to be outstanding judges of both talent and character given that Ron was just 19 at the time.
Ultimately though, enabling and inspiring others to lead active lifestyles is Ron’s legacy. What's striking is that the tributes pouring in rarely mention his monumental achievements on the track, but rather what he did after running to promote public health. During his eight years as Mayor of the Gold Coast he was a vocal campaigner for lifestyle programmes and sporting facilities, and was part of the team that secured the upcoming Commonwealth Games for his city which sadly he won’t see. He was the guest starter at the inaugural Main Beach parkrun on the Gold Coast in 2011, and when he retired as Mayor he became the first Patron of parkrun Australia.
We might not have the speed to run a parkrun as fast as Ron could have, but as parkrunners we do all share his power. The power to motivate and encourage our friends, family, colleagues and neighbours to take those small but important first steps to a more active and happier life - and then to turn those steps into strides.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 68,005
Number of volunteers - 6,215
Number of first timers - 10,341
Number of PBs - 15,693
feedback from the field
Let us know if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners
On the 6th of June I had the most gracious fortune to take part in parkrun Italia's third running of Uditore parkrun in Palermo, Sicily. It was an amazing experience and I am extremely grateful to have had it as a leaving gift, after leaving my employment at parkrun UK, from the staff and Ambassadors at parkrun. It is a beloved and treasured memory. I would like to thank Giorgio Cambiano, Uditore parkrun's Event Director, for being a most gracious host that morning and of course also to the volunteers. I can highly recommend a visit to Uditore parkrun, just remember Sicily's wonderfully sunny climate is very different to the UK. I guess you could call it Uditore 'parksun'! I'll get my coat...
My dad completed his first parkrun on Saturday the 13th of June at Eglinton parkrun. He only started running when he retired last year and has only ever been out running by himself. It was great watching him complete the course and then hear how much he enjoyed it. It might have only been his first parkrun, but I have a feeling he is already hooked and I'm looking forward to joining him again in the future and witnessing many PBs. Thanks as always to the fantastic volunteers and crowds at parkrun each week.
The dress code was extra special this weekend at Yeovil Montacute to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of our event director Matt Warr (the bride) and his lovely wife to be Jodie McCarthy (the groom). Runners joined the congregation looking fantastic in all their wedding finery. Matt and Jodie were also celebrating reaching the fantastic milestone of 50 parkruns together. This made for a great atmosphere, one of the best yet at Montacute.
My four year old son has just beaten his PB by over two and a half minutes thanks to some fantastic help from his brother and two other fellow runners spurring him on. It’s been heart-warming to see. Markeaton junior parkrun has become a great Sunday morning feature for our family and now, thanks to Fergus and Ewan, our sons feel even more part of the junior parkrun community. Patrick is now more likely to sustain his enthusiasm long enough for him to grow into the running gear we bought him!
I remember seeing the This Girl Can advertisements in January. I hadn't done exercise for years and was always put off by the embarrassment of being a larger person exercising. But with an impressionable two-year-old daughter I knew that I needed to do something, because I wanted an active lifestyle to be the norm. Yes I may jiggle, but the only person that would be judging me was me. My friends Hannah and Katie introduced me to parkrun last month. I was aiming to break 50 minutes at Leamington parkrun and was delighted when I finished in 37.03! We have already scheduled our next parkrun for this Saturday in Daventry and I can't wait to try to beat my time. I find myself repeating "this girl can" when I'm running, reminding myself of my inner strength. The people who organised the parkrun at Leamington, and all the participants, were lovely - they took the time to say hello and cheer us along, which is really motivating. I am excited to have found something that works for me, and I am getting such a thrill from hearing my little girl saying "run mummy run!" This girl most definitely can!
What a week... my last day at work, my retirement party, my wife's retirement party and then my 100th parkrun. I was determined to get my 100th run in at Crystal Palace, before going off to France for the summer. Then I heard the good news... the first parkrun has started in France and it’s a short drive away from our house. Merci, parkrun!
I ran my 100th parkrun on Saturday at Kings Lynn parkrun with my 18 month old son, Stanley. I met his mum and my wife, Lisa at parkrun three years ago (we were featured in the parkrun newsletter not long after his birth) so running it with Stanley was a special way to mark the landmark.
Eight weeks ago my husband Tom started to come to Northala Fields parkrun with me. He was a little hesitant at first and not sure he would be able to get round without walking. He enjoyed it enough to come back the next week and was delighted to get a PB. Since then, he's got a PB every week - eight PBs in eight consecutive weeks and now he's faster than me! This remarkable achievement was topped off by winning the Sweatshop monthly prize for May. I'm very proud of him and we'd like to thank the team at Northala Fields parkrun for their hard work every week.
Three parkruns ago my cousin Baber Hussain and I were plodding along at parkrun when suddenly we heard a bang and then some screams. My cousin shot off immediately to see what had happened. There had been an accident and the van involved had toppled upside down with a family trapped inside. Baber abandoned his parkrun to help those involved in the accident. He became a hero for the day.
How I wish I had started parkrun earlier! I joined the parkrun community in June 2014 and since then I have run the Watergrove course on 41 out of the 46 events they organised in their first year. Every week I look forward to Saturday morning where I meet friends and runners that I didn't know a year ago. Each time I try and chase that elusive PB, knowing that I'll get another chance next week. At their first anniversary run I was proud to receive an award for winning the points competition. Thank you parkrun,
parkrunner of the week
Name: John Stembridge-King
Home parkrun: Wycombe Rye
Occupation: British Airline Pilots' Association's Head of Organisation
Number of runs: 50
Favourite volunteer role: Time Keeper
What do you do at parkruns: I enjoy running, socializing, volunteering and trying to beat the person in front of me in the last 100 metre dash to the finishing line. However, I have to admit to enjoying a glass of wine on a Saturday night, which I feel is well earned particularly on a PB day!
How has parkrun changed your running: I only started running again last year. I gave up at the age of 18 after I smashed my patella which is now wired up. My two sons, Sam and Joe aged 14 and 12 respectively had started parkrunning with our friends, the Fewells, and I was their taxi driver. I was a little overweight too and was encouraged to join in, which was very daunting at first. When I started I was completely out of breath finishing my first run in over 30 minutes; a year later and two stone lighter I have a PB of 21:49.
What do you like about parkrun: parkrunning is now a firm family favourite in our household. Sam at 14 has just achieved 19:59 and his younger brother Joe, a reluctant parkrunner, has achieved a long awaited PB having last obtained one in October. Also, I was a pace maker for my wife Hannah who eventually decided to join us in September last and is gradually making her way up the field achieving a recent PB of 26:02. We love running with our friends the Fewells too who are always there on Saturday mornings.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: I loved achieving the 50 milestone and bizarrely finished in 50th place, was 5th in the 50 age group in a time of 21 minutes and 50 seconds. All planned of course!