welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Fitbit are enjoying the summer, Alzheimer’s Research UK invite you to run for them, the Sweatshop sale continues and Gary Ovenstone welcomes first-timers to St Andrews parkrun.
When it comes to parkrun, milestones provide motivation and create memories. Reaching the promised land of the fabled 100 club t-shirt or the recently released 25 volunteer club t-shirt is a moment to cherish for every parkrunner.
But for many of us, perhaps the biggest milestone of all in our parkrun journey is mustering the courage to simply take part for the very first time.
For 35 intrepid parkrun debutants recently, at St Andrews parkrun in Craigtoun Park, we did our best to ensure their first experience was one they would never forget. Men, women and children of all ages, including a couple of families, took part in our inaugural ‘First-Timers Initiative’.
The idea was born out of a national study being undertaken with parkrun by a University of St Andrews researcher, Gozde Ozakinci. St Andrews parkrun respondents revealed that as newcomers they had felt a bit unsure before their first run, and although there is always a shout-out to first-timers and an explanation of the route, as the event director I felt we could do more to help our new runners find their way.
As a result, we planned a first-timers meet and greet and spread the message through social media and word of mouth. So many people ended up talking about it that we even attracted coverage in the local newspaper.
On the morning of the run I stood in the car park near the start line, alongside Neil Stewart who is a Jog Leader from STAART (St Andrews Adventure Running Team) to welcome newcomers with a smile and a handshake. The Jog group has almost 200 members, so we provided a brief introduction to how parkrun and STAART work together.
It’s fair to say that some people did look nervous to begin with – which is not uncommon – but were soon put at ease when we explained the inclusive nature of parkrun. We provided a brief history of parkrun, explained that at parkruns in Scotland we meet each week at 9:30am, and of course invited everyone to the post-run café. It was also a great opportunity to answer those common questions such as 'what do I do with my barcode?' and 'I haven't registered, is that okay?' ‘Yes’ we said, just register for next time!
We had three tail runners to support people during the run, and the three-lap nature of our course meant lots of encouragement. At the finish we cheered everyone over the line and even gave out a few hugs to people we knew. But the story didn’t quite end there...
A couple of days later, I saw two familiar faces in the park (see picture below). They were first-timers from Saturday who were getting in a practice run before the next parkrun. To me this is tremendous, and shows that in less than one week we are already changing lives.
The First-Timers Initiative, like the people it caters for, has now embarked on its own epic parkrun journey. We are looking forward to the next one already, and would encourage other parkruns to give it a try.
St Andrews parkrun event director
run with #TeamARUKparkrun
Alzheimer’s Research UK’s event presence is growing, but parkrunners have the power to change the face of our sporting event profile in the UK, to drive more cutting-edge dementia research than ever before. We have charity places in some of the UK’s top events and this week we profile four which you can sign up for to play your part in this movement.
To join #TeamARUKparkrun and help power the fightback against dementia, apply now or sign-up to support us with your own place.
London Duathlon, Sunday the 20th of September
The London Duathlon is the world’s biggest duathlon. The run-bike-run event offers athletes of all abilities the chance to race through the stunning surroundings of Richmond Park while on closed roads.
Robin Hood Marathon and Half Marathon, Sunday the 27th of September
With a new route for 2015, the Robin Hood Marathon and Half Marathon starts and finishes next to the River Trent on Nottingham’s Victoria Embankment but now takes runners past iconic landmarks that the city has to offer as well as some of the most stunning parkland.
Yorkshire Marathon, Sunday the 11th of October
The Yorkshire Marathon is one of the highlights of the white rose county’s sporting year. The popular and picturesque run takes participants past some of York’s splendid historic sites and along scenic country lanes, making it an attractive prospect for runners of all abilities.
Great Birmingham Run, Sunday the 18th of October
The Great Birmingham Run is the biggest half marathon in the Midlands and attracts competitors from across the UK and around the world. The 13.1-mile course takes in some of the city’s famous sites including the Bullring, Cadbury World and Edgbaston cricket ground.
Visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/parkrun to discover other ways you can make a difference to the people affected by dementia now and in the future.
Head of Corporate & Community Partnerships
Alzheimer’s Research UK
summer’s here, step outside!
We’re definitely enjoying a smashing UK summertime this year! We’ve watched Wimbledon, tracked the Tour De France and basked in the sunshine while watching The Ashes. Thankfully the Fitbit Surge can capture multi-sport activities outside of your parkrun to give you an accurate picture of your personal performance.
With integrated GPS, Fitbit Surge combines all-day tracking with multi-sport activities to give real-time workout stats like pace, distance, elevation climbed, split times, route histories and workout summaries for smarter training.
So don’t just stick to your parkrun this summer, step out and make the most of the chance to get fit in the sunshine while it lasts! Up to seven exercises can be added to your Surge device including Biking, Hiking, Spinning, Yoga, Tennis, and Golf so whatever you’re up to, Fitbit can capture it!
If you feel like treating yourself to the Fitbit Surge, or any of our other products, you’re in luck. parkrunners can take advantage of an exclusive £15 discount + free shipping on any Fitbit with our special parkrun offer. Happy stepping everyone!
the Sweatshop sale continues
Sweatshop are hitting the last few weeks of their SALE and as more prices drop weekly and fantastic new offers are added, now is the time to visit your nearest store or shop online to pick up a running bargain!
With up to 50% off most ranges and big reductions on running watches there is no reason why you shouldn’t treat yourself to some new kit to help on your next adventure or parkrun.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 69,814
Number of volunteers - 6,566
Number of first timers - 10,529
Number of PBs - 14,191
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
Following on from visually impaired parkrunner Alison Mead’s article in a recent newsletter, I guided Alison not too long ago. I was a bit apprehensive as I didn’t know what to expect. We were linked together with soft comfortable wrist-bands, and within a couple of minutes of running we got into a nice rhythm and I ran at Alison’s pace. I really enjoyed running with Alison and my nerves melted away with each lap. I would encourage people at other parkruns who may be a bit nervous about guiding to give it a try and volunteer to guide any visually impaired runners in their area. I found guiding Alison a rewarding and awe-inspiring experience and I hope that others will take the time to share their love of running to guide runners like Alison.
Fay Giles regularly brings her children, Aaron and Charlotte to Peter Pan parkrun on a Saturday morning. Fay was celebrating reaching her 50th parkrun milestone, as was her son, so it was quite a family achievement with two out of the three receiving congratulations from the crowd. But Charlotte was not about to be left out as it was announced that her performances in June when she ran on all four Saturdays and achieved a PB on all four occasions had earned her a well deserved Sweatshop Prize for June. It was a great day for the Giles family with lots of parkrun memories to look back upon.
Last year I persuaded a group of King's Lynn parkrunners to join me on an epic run along the WW1 Somme battlefield, the route following the front line from Gommecourt to the Thiepval Memorial, where we laid a wreath in memory of those who lost their lives in that most tragic of battles. Clearly not put off by the experience, this year the group joined me again, the run starting to coincide with parkrun back at home. It was a great effort by a group of mixed sex and age all bought together by parkrun. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the start of the battle and it is hoped an even larger group will join me to commemorate the occasion.
I have so much to thank Shrewsbury parkrun for. A couple of years ago my dad, my brother and I never ran but after being introduced to parkrun by my partner, we were hooked. Everybody was friendly and encouraging but the biggest thank you I have is what parkrun has done for my brother, Dale. Before starting parkrun, Dale was overweight, had no goals in life and didn't think he could do anything. But after two years, he has gone from strength to strength. He can now run 10k in under 40 minutes and still have a steady breath at the end, has knuckled down at school and will be joining the Army in September. Thank you parkrun, from a very proud sister.
Just under a year ago I publicly set myself the challenge of completing a 10k race in under an hour. When I woke the next day I realised that my previous best was 75 minutes, I only ran when there was the possibility of sausage sandwiches and I hated going to a gym. Fortunately I wandered down to my local parkrun, Wakefield Thornes, in September and discovered an encouraging, friendly and amazing group that didn't care if I was slow as long as I jogged round with a smile. After nine months of their help and support I completed the Leeds 10k in 57:54. Huge thanks to Andy, Lisa and all the volunteers who make our Saturday mornings possible. parkrun rocks!
Today's Crystal Palace parkrun was special for three reasons. Firstly, it was my first parkrun since the 3rd of January as I had flu which exacerbated my asthma and it has taken all this time to regain my fitness. Secondly I was first in my age group (VM65-69). Thirdly, I have reached my 50th parkrun and now qualify for my 50 club t-shirt. As a retired GP I have the utmost admiration for parkrun and congratulate you on your success and organisation which has enabled people from all standards to enjoy a 5k run on a Saturday morning wherever they may live. I am a firm believer in regular exercise and it is a pleasure to be enjoying my running again. Well done parkrun.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Nathan Fox
Home parkrun: Southampton
Number of runs: 59
Favourite volunteer role: Helping Daddy marshal at junior parkrun
What do you do at parkruns: I run the 5km with Mummy and other people I know. Mummy can't always keep up with me now, so we find faster people to help me round - I love to chat to them while we're running. At the junior 2k event, I sometimes like to see how fast I can go, and sometimes run with my brothers, playing 'it' while we go round!
How has parkrun changed your running: When I first did the junior event, I couldn't run all the way. Now I regularly run the whole 5k and I love to see if I can beat my time. I try to control my breathing and stretch out my legs to take bigger steps. This helps me to go faster and I have more energy left at the end to sprint to the finish!
What do you like about parkrun: I like seeing all the other people running with us, trying to get round the first loop before the fast runners go past us, talking to people and getting out on a Saturday morning. At the end I like to eat my snack to get my energy back. I've even used my parkrun times to make a graph for my school homework!
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: The Christmas Day run when there were lots of Santas, reindeer and even a Christmas pudding running round!