welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Fitbit introduce their Surge watch, Alzheimer’s Research UK give us some numbers, we form an alliance with Netmums, you can treat yourself to a parkrun barcode and I look to the future.
On the 2nd of October 2004 our founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, invited his friends to run a 5k lap of Bushy Park, in Teddington, London, and parkrun was born. Despite being one of the greatest visionaries in the history of running I’m sure even he couldn’t have imagined that eleven years later people would be celebrating international parkrun day in locations as diverse as Darwin (Australia), San Francisco (USA), St. Petersburg (Russia), Sicily (Italy) and Soweto (South Africa). It has been a phenomenal journey and this weekend we expect over 700 parkrun events around the world will welcome in excess of 110,000 runners and 10,000 volunteers to their free, weekly, timed runs. In true parkrun style our suggestion is always to keep things simple and just to enjoy being physically active, together, in the great outdoors. Perhaps also taking a moment to consider yourself as a vital part of a weekly journey that starts in New Zealand every Saturday morning, travels around the world to San Francisco, and then finishes as the final junior crosses the line back in the UK on Sunday morning.
The picture below was taken on Saturday at the inaugural Tramore Valley parkrun as part of our annual gathering of all the parkrun country managers from around the world. They’re all in there if you fancy guessing who’s who. For me it sums up where we are right now really well and I’m pleased that, demonstrated by the various youngsters on show, family remains at the heart of what we do. It’s important to note though that Paul always refers to ‘the parkrun family’ in a literal sense and considers every single one of the 1.92 million (and rapidly growing) registered parkrunners to be a member of his own family. I myself feel hugely privileged that my children will grow up in such a fantastically positive and diverse community, and not only that but for their entire lives, wherever they choose to settle down, they can be part of something so special.
We believe, of course, that being physically active is one of the most wonderful things a person can do, with volunteering or running at parkrun just two options out of many, many thousands. It is also refreshing to see that policy makers are becoming increasingly aware of the significant benefits that come from physical activity. Throughout the summer the government has been asking people what they think can be done to use sport to improve lives, and they want to hear from people from all walks of life. The consultation can be completed online and the deadline is tomorrow evening, so if you have ideas to share, now could be a good time to do so. We have submitted an extensive and detailed response on behalf of parkrun so don’t worry if you’re not sure what to say, but the more people championing physical activity the better, so do find a moment if you can.
That’s about it from me for this week, have a fantastic international parkrun day wherever you choose to celebrate it.
Surge & parkrun: perfect partners
Whether you’re a gym bunny or a beginner, parkrun gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people who like to get active on a Saturday morning. As well as making exercise an enjoyable, community led experience, parkrun also helps you to work towards your personal fitness goals. But how do you know if you’re on the right track if you’re not keeping a tally of your progress? Enter the Fitbit Surge.
The Fitbit Surge is something of a fitness super-watch. If wearable trackers could wear capes, we’re sure this one would. It tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, sleep and also constantly monitors your heart rate for more insight into your activity and fitness level. The Surge also connects to your phone to receive call and text notifications, so your friends can send you messages to cheer you on even as you run!
The Surge’s sleek and contoured design is made with all-day wear in mind, so you can keep tracking your movement even after you’ve crossed the parkrun finish line.
With a new update introduced last week, the Surge now has extra features that make it even more useful for parkrunners. Run cues now give you automatic alerts when you’ve reached a certain distance or time, so you can keep an eye on your progress and push yourself to reach a new personal best! An extended battery life and built in timer and stopwatch mean that not only can you time your laps, you can be confident that all of your run data will be captured.
If you have a Surge and haven’t updated yet, you can learn how to here. Don’t have a Fitbit yet? Use the exclusive discount offered to all parkrunners, giving you £15 off any device.
1 in 3 will develop dementia
New data shows that for every child born this year, one in three can be expected to develop dementia during their lifetime.
The analysis was carried out by the Office of Health Economics on behalf of Alzheimer’s Research UK, parkrun’s official charity partner, to help us better understand the potential future impact of dementia.
The statistic goes a long way to demonstrate the scale of the fight we have on our hands. It’s a sobering figure, and one which should give us cause to redouble our efforts.
The researchers looked at the current estimated life expectancy for males and females born in 2015, using data from the Office of National Statistics. They also used estimates of dementia incidence – the number of new cases of dementia that would be expected to occur each year – for men and women of different ages. These figures came from a large UK study known as the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study, or CFAS.
Their calculations showed that an estimated 27% of males born this year would develop dementia during their lifetime, while that figure rose to 37% for females, largely due to a longer life expectancy for women. Overall, the analysis suggests that 32% of children born this year will develop the condition.
However bleak this looks, we must remember that the figure paints a picture of what could happen if no progress is made in our efforts to tackle dementia: the very worst-case scenario. At Alzheimer’s Research UK, our hope is for a different kind of future, one where future generations will be free from this life-shattering condition. But we can only reach this goal through research.
Last year another set of projections, also carried out by the Office of Health Economics, estimated that a treatment to delay dementia’s onset by five years could reduce the number of people living with the condition by a third. Just think what a difference that could make.
We owe it to the people living with the heartache of dementia now, and to our children, to strive for better treatments and preventions, and a future where dementia is a thing of the past. Research has the power to deliver that future, but we must take action now.
For more information about parkrun’s partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK, visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/parkrun.
Media and Communications Manager (Corporate & Policy)
Alzheimer’s Research UK
parkrun and Netmums
We have always been an inclusive, family-focused organisation, encouraging parents and children to participate together and parents to run with a buggy at all our events. So we are delighted to announce that we have partnered with Netmums, the UK’s largest parenting website, on a three month campaign to encourage the Netmums community to run, jog or walk - and realise the many benefits that this brings.
Netmums has almost two million members and, like parkrun, is a locally-driven organisation, made up of more than 150 local websites. The recently launched Netmums Run programme centres around a couch to 5k training programme, which encourages mums (and dads too!) to take part in their local parkrun and/or junior parkrun. We also look forward to welcoming some of the Netmums staff to our events over the coming weeks.
In addition to the training programme, the campaign has a host of new helpful and inspiring articles, video and blogs. There is also the chance to find other local Netmums runners through a running partner finder and a search function to join local, women-only running groups.
You can find out more details about the Netmums Run programme here.
We hope that all parkrunners get behind the initiative, and encourage mums (and dads) throughout the country to take part in parkrun events with their children. That’s what the parkrun family is truly all about!
durable barcodes and wristbands
Whilst we will always be happy to scan your paper barcode, parkrun barcode wristbands are available in black and pink in a range of four sizes from our friends at ERS, the authorised parkrun UK barcode supplier. Plastic barcode tags are also available to slip into your wallet or attach to your keyring or running shoe laces.
Both the wristbands and the tags can be personalised to include your emergency contact details and/or any specific medical condition, and profits help us to grow our parkrun family.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 72,110
Number of volunteers - 7,281
Number of first timers - 9,618
Number of PBs - 16,486
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
Earlier this year the Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, Sandi Toksvig, approached me as the university’s head of sport about holding an event that would entice students and staff to become even more active. Four of the six run directors at Southsea parkrun work at the university, so we decided that parkrun would be the best way to do this. Saturday was the big day, with almost 150 first-time parkrunners taking the opportunity to ‘run with Sandi’ who then joined everyone after the event for coffee and to share stories from the day and hear people’s health and fitness journeys. It was an overwhelmingly successful initiative and the aim now is to encourage people to take part more regularly. A video and write-up of the day is available online.
I would just like to say a big congratulations to Reg Powell and his son Dale for sharing their story with parkrun and the direction it's given Dale to join The Army Foundation College. I spent just over two years there as an instructor and had the privilege of overseeing the transformation of young boys and girls becoming new soldiers. Not only do their fitness levels improve greatly but also their ability to work in teams to solve problems and to create a winning mentality which in turn improves maturity. A year from now when Dale has completed his training it would be great to see how much he has improved with regards to his fitness. I'm sure there'll be a PB in there!
Until recently I had never exercised but I wanted to lose weight so my husband suggested that I start running. I hated it initially but grew to like it and finally to love it. Once we started attending Springburn parkrun I began to actually look forward to running! I then became pregnant and was often too tired to run but still enjoyed volunteering as often as I could. My son is now 10 weeks old and last Saturday I ran my first post-baby parkrun. Not a PB, but I loved being back as part of the community. For a lifelong exercise avoider this is the only time I have looked forward to anything 'sporty' or felt motivated to keep fit and I have parkrun to thank for that.
Runners from King’s Lynn parkrun recently took part in a 24 Hour Marathon event, organised to raise funds to help towards improvements planned by the Borough Council to the café area where they meet each Saturday for parkrun. The ‘marathon’ started at 9am,with the normal parkrun and parkrunners then volunteered to run for an hour of their choice right through until 9am the following day. It proved to be a really memorable event for all who took part, with a total of 117 runners participating, running an impressive 1059 miles in total, with many running for more than their allocated hour and raising an incredible £1,079 for the cause.
Last week saw my eldest son Dexter complete his 100th parkrun. This was made extra special as he also gained a new PB of 27:23 knocking one and a half minutes off his previous best time. He is very proud of being in the 100 club aged just seven and a half and is now the youngest 100 clubber at Huddersfield parkrun. This Saturday he is barcode scanning for a rest!
At 78 years old Tim Clark is an inspiration to me having done over 100 runs. When I didn't attend for a few months I saw Tim, while on my way to work at seven o'clock one morning, pounding the tarmac. I resolved to get back to parkrun. Tim always has a smile and is ready with a few encouraging words every week. By the way, Tim is the one in the red t-shirt!
Since first going to my local parkrun in 2010, I have met a huge number of great people, many of whom I now call my friends. Whilst returning from some parkrun tourism, four of us got talking, and we decided that it would be great to try a team event, and through coercion and persuasion we were able to put together a team of eight parkrunners to do so. Named in honour of our 650 parkruns at Cannon Hill, last week ‘Cannon Hill Crusaders’ competed in the Equinox 24 relay race at Belvoir castle, running 330k in a little over 24 hours, for which we are very proud. This is just one of a number of great memories as a result of parkrun. Thank you!
Fell Foot parkrun at the south end of Lake Windermere must be a contender for the most beautifully-situated parkrun. Consequently the usual exhortation “to walk, jog, cycle or use public transport when attending” is particularly apposite but, unfortunately, impractical for many. However, last week one of our regular enthusiastic volunteers, Laura Wellington, used another environmentally-friendly mode of transport. She swam home from the event down the Lake!
parkrunner of the week
Name: Rob Holdsworth
Club: Isle of Wight AC
Home parkrun: Medina I.O.W.
Number of runs: 188
Favourite volunteer role: Marshal
What do you do at parkruns: I either run at my own pace or with someone else from my family. My wife and our three children all take part in parkrun regularly as it is something we can do together. Our weekends always have to start with parkrun and between us, we have completed more than 500 parkruns.
How has parkrun changed your running: Before parkrun I hadn’t taken part in any physical activity for many years. I was persuaded to start by my children and I ‘caught the running bug’. I am now a member of Isle of Wight Athletics Club and have represented them in both road and cross-country races including four half-marathons.
What do you like about parkrun: That everyone can take part - the fit and not so fit, the young and not so young, fitness and age are no barrier to taking part. It is a chance for people from different backgrounds to get together and have fun through sport. Everyone is friendly and encouraging and I have made many new friends through parkrun.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: I really enjoy the fancy dress parkruns we hold to celebrate the Medina I.O.W. parkrun anniversary every year, everyone seems to make the effort. One year, my wife and our eldest son argued about who would wear the Pocahontas costume. My son won and ended up running in a dress and wig!