welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Alzheimer’s Research UK profile one of their supporters, VitalityHealth report on their faces, we’re looking for more masters, we reveal the winning Volunteer Club t-shirt design and parkrunner A19147 Chris Jones steps into Tom’s shoes for a few weeks.
When Tom said he was off on holiday for three weeks so I’d better write the Newsletter column my immediate reaction was a complete blank. When I read the parkrun newsletter, I approach it in exactly the same way as a newspaper, where I go straight to the football pages and then come back and read the front page. With the parkrun newsletter, I scroll past Tom’s column (sorry Tom, I do come back to it later!) to get to the letters and parkrunner of the week. What could be more uplifting than reading about how the parkrun community has changed someone’s life? Suddenly, the world’s a better place.
So, what are my parkrun credentials and how have I ended up writing this piece to 600,000 people? Well, I’m eleven short of 300 parkruns and all things being equal I should be the fourth non-London based parkrunner to reach that milestone. Even better, I’ve been able to combine my passion with my profession and now share Tom’s shed/office, where I look after the financial side of parkrun UK.
I first heard about parkrun from my friend Andy, who told me that his mate Tom had started this initiative where you could run every Saturday at nine o’clock at the park in Leeds, for free. I thought about it for around 30 seconds and concluded that it wasn’t for me. The reasons were obvious. I don’t run, I’ve never run and I never will run; I walk, but I don’t run. I don’t possess any running kit, I’d look ridiculous in Lycra and I’m so self-conscious that I’d rather miss the bus than break into a trot. Saturday at nine o’clock? I’ll be half way up Pen-y-ghent, not hanging around in a park with a dubious reputation in the city. But I couldn’t get past the ‘for free’ bit. It just didn’t make any sense. Eventually I registered and sheepishly turned up – I’d never done an organized run so didn’t really know what to expect. Fast forward 288 runs and I think I’ve got the hang of it.
So what makes me keep coming back? It’s the atmosphere, friendliness and the sheer variety of experiences it offers. If I want to run intervals, I can (I rarely do, but the possibility is there). If I want to test myself, there’s a ready supply of people around my pace for me to chase. And if I want to pootle around talking to other parkrunners in the sunshine, I can do that as well. I can go to any parkrun in the country and know that I’ll be welcomed and that I won’t make a fool of myself. And I can be pretty sure that I’ll make some new friends over a mug of tea afterwards.
There it is again – the F-word. Friends. I’ve just looked up the results from my very first parkrun and I’m amazed at the number of names there that I now count as bosom buddies, mates, nodding acquaintances, work colleagues and pub quiz teammates. I’ve only just noticed that Chris Wright was on tour with a contingent from Bushy at my very first run.
Along the way, I’ve also become a runner. A card-carrying member of a running club (the mighty Hyde Park Harriers) and the proud owner of more T-shirts than you can shake a stick at. Yes, this hill walker has become a runner. A parkrunner.
Head of Finance & Fundraising
P.S. You can read this week’s junior parkrun newsletter here.
supporters: our greatest strength
At Alzheimer’s Research UK, we believe our supporters are our greatest strength. So, as part of our partnership with parkrun, we’ll be profiling some of the inspirational individuals who are helping us defeat dementia.
This week we introduce Paul Bulmer, an avid parkrunner and fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The 56-year-old, who lives in Cheshire with his wife, Alison, has raised £2,000 for pioneering dementia research through running and chalked up 25 parkruns in 16 months at Delamere Forest.
On the face of it, Paul seems like a typical fundraising runner. But he’s far from it…
In 2012, aged 53, Paul was diagnosed with Posterior Cortical Atrophy – a rare variant of Alzheimer’s disease which typically begins with visual difficulties. PCA affects just a few thousand people in the UK, the most well-known of whom is author and Alzheimer’s Research UK patron Sir Terry Pratchett. It is a progressive, neurological disease which affects skills such as reading, driving and seeing what and where things are. Other symptoms include difficulties with literacy and numeracy and the inability to cope with changes in light. Thinking skills and speech may also be affected.
Since his diagnosis, Paul has had to stop driving and give up his job in IT financial services. But he’s always enjoyed running and, although it’s more of a challenge these days, he’s able to continue with the help of guide-runners.
Paul said: “Although I’ve had to give up my job and need help with many day-to-day things, I like to concentrate on what I can do rather than what I can’t. I’ve always been a runner, but now I run with guide-runners because of my visual processing difficulties. It’s a challenge, but I want to run for as long as I can. My diagnosis has closed many doors for me but I’ve been pleased to find it’s opened others.
“The only answer to dementia is research and I plan to do everything I can to help Alzheimer’s Research UK find the preventions and treatments so urgently needed. I hope fellow parkrunners will join #TeamARUKparkrun so we arrive at that day sooner.”
Paul is currently in training for Wrexham’s Village Bakery Half Marathon on the 15th of February, which he’ll be running for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
For more information about our partnership with parkrun and how you can get involved, visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/parkrun.
Head of Corporate and Community Partnerships
Alzheimer’s Research UK
faces of Vitality Run Series
Our Faces of Vitality Run Series continue along their training journey to the upcoming Vitality Brighton Half Marathon and Vitality Bath Half Marathon:
- Hannah Lees gets those thinking juices going as she ponders about girls and sport. “I do all my best thinking when I’m running. There’s something about the rhythm of my feet and my breath that loosens and untangles all the scrambled thoughts and smoothes them out.“ What do you think about when you run parkrunner? Share your runner’s musings with us and Hannah on the Vitality blog
- Meanwhile Ian Isaacs shares his battle against the elements with us: “I was cycling into the wind and a particularly strong gust would catch me and it felt like I was going backwards.” Does Mother Nature prevent him from training? Of course not, he takes it indoors. Find out what exercises has Ian been doing indoors on the Vitality blog.
- And finally Rhys doesn’t let the sub-zero weather take away from his ambition to beat his personal best – and he succeeds by a whole 21 seconds. “The temperature was lingering around zero, and I finished the run feeling like I had just emerged from the dentist after a lengthy operation – with little control over my numbed face,” he says. Read about Rhys’s progress on the Vitality blog.
We have short-listed and selected our Faces of Vitality North London Half Marathon. Congratulations to Simon Lang and Clare Georghiades! – Stay tuned next week for their first blog entry.
Want to achieve a Half Marathon challenge?
Be part of the Vitality Run Series - a series featuring eight of the UK's most exciting running events, brought to you by Vitality. Get active and take on a new challenge - run one, run two or run the whole Series.
A Vitality Run Series event may provide the motivation you need to become a fitter and healthier you in 2015.
Find out more here.
looking for more master athletes
Manchester Metropolitan University is still conducting their nationwide study into bone health in master athletes. The formal name of the study is “VIBE” (Vertical Impact on Bone in the Elderly).
Their aim is to understand physical activity patterns in older athletes and the effects of regular exercise on muscle and bone health. For their study they require a final 50 master athletes over the age of 60 years. Volunteers must have competed at regional standard in sprint/middle/long distance running in the past 12 months.
What they would need you to do
All they ask is that you simply wear a monitor for a week and then return it to them – via a freepost facility. The study is being managed by former European cross country champion Jessica Coulson. Jess has competed numerous times for Great Britain at both track and cross country championships but has suffered numerous issues with bone health during her career including a career saving operation to unite a fractured bone in her foot. Jess therefore has a real passion to improve bone health for others in any way possible.
parkrun has established an encouraging attitude towards the positive effects of physical activity. The Manchester Metropolitan research team share such an attitude and have teamed up to try and recruit as many people to partake in the study as possible to help contribute to a better physically active nation.
the winner is…
Over 28,000 parkrunners all over the world voted for the design of the new Volunteer Club t-shirt and here’s our winner!
The logo took 89% of the vote and in a sprint finish ‘eggplant’ crossed the line with 49% ahead of ‘sunshine yellow’. T-shirts will go into production shortly and we’ll let you know when they are available.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 51,521
Number of volunteers - 4,521
Number of first timers - 7,415
Number of PBs - 7,806
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
Hi parkrun UK
My son Nathan and I love Conkers parkrun, and the thought of missing a week is almost unthinkable! Last Saturday's run was more than a little special for me personally though. After a chilly couple of miles I noticed Nathan smiling to himself and was a little intrigued. I assumed he was thinking about a Minecraft video he'd been watching but he simply turned to me and said "I love parkrun Dad". I can't begin to describe how this made me feel. Running with my son, and on occasions my daughter, are moments I will cherish forever. This feeling we both share is due to the incredible effort that has made Conkers parkrun such a fantastic place to spend our Saturday mornings.
Hi parkrun UK
At the beginning of 2014, at just under 20 stone I managed to creep under 30 minutes for the first time in a while after three weeks training. By the end of the year I managed to lose seven and a half stone and run under 18 minutes. Looking forward to parkrun each week was a huge motivation in helping me improve my running and lose weight. I am lucky enough to have seven different parkruns within 30 minutes drive of my home in Newbury to keep things interesting, and rotated a different run each week. It helped me achieve 31 PBs throughout the year over the seven different courses.
Hi parkrun UK
My mum Danielle started parkrunning a few years ago and last week she beat me to completing her 50th parkrun and has also volunteered many times. Although we live 200 miles apart, parkrun has meant we enjoy a good catch up on the phone on Saturday lunchtimes to see how our parkruns went. I hope she doesn't mind me wishing her a happy 56th birthday this Saturday at Northala Fields parkrun. She is an inspiration to me, as are so many of the parkrunners and volunteers of all ages and abilities that I meet every week. We love parkrun, thanks!
Hi parkrun UK
Our daughter, who is nearly 13, has Russell Silver Syndrome, a rare condition which causes low muscle tone and difficulties with physical activities. Regular parkrunners, Alison and Mike Smith were joining us for New Year, and challenged themselves to complete both Panshanger and St Albans parkruns back to back so Emily (along with her friend, their sisters and us) challenged herself to walk the St. Albans 5k. This was a tremendous achievement for her - she tires very easily and struggles with hip, knee and foot pain. We would like to say thanks to your marshals for being patient and supportive with us - we were the last participants and yet they stayed in place, and accompanied us to the finish, but without hurrying us, or making Emily feel uncomfortable, despite it being cold and grey! Emily is stoked to have managed it, so thank you for helping her new year start so positively.
Rachel & Dan Pidcock
Hi parkrun UK
As I'm not in training at the moment, I have been going to the gym instead of parkruns or my club run if it's been raining. However, yesterday I decided, sleet or not, I was going to run outside. I turned up this morning at Little Stoke parkrun and five minutes later was told it was cancelled. I was very disappointed having made the effort. But as the sun appeared I decided to run/slip 5k around the local area. I saw other runners doing their laps on my return so decided to do one lap too taking me up to four miles. I thank the organisers for thinking of our safety and am actually pleased for the way it turned out.
Hi parkrun UK
On the 17th of January with the temperature at -3°C there was bound to be some ice but little did the Run Director at Crystal Palace parkrun expect the lake to be flooding over the route turning it into an ice rink.
Quick work from a number of people,many of whom forewent their own run in order to help out, devised a diversion which meant a safe passage, albeit akin to cross country. So thanks to all the volunteers who stood in the freezing cold guiding us and prevented the run being cancelled. If this wasn't enough, other runners stopped and helped the buggy pushers over the mud in another true sign of parkrun ethos.
Hi parkrun UK
Just back from Florida where I had an amazing experience running the Clermont Waterfront parkrun on the 20th of December. This was followed by a most sociable breakfast with Karen Bowler pictured here and her fellow runners, who with her husband have set up this run, just west of Orlando. 'It's been really hard work' she said but worth it, especially now she has an enthusiastic team of support volunteers.
Hi parkrun UK
The BBC new series Wolf Hall started on Wednesday the 21st of January and the Yeovil Montacute parkrunners are looking forward to seeing our parkrun course featured, as a lot of the filming was done here. We had good fun here last year when we started our parkrun from the jousting arena and had the run briefing from Anne Boleyn's Royal Box! (shh - don't tell anyone we played with some leftover props!)
parkrunner of the week
Name: Julie Barker
Club: Durham City Harriers
Home parkrun: Durham
Occupation: Teaching Assistant
Number of runs: 15
Favourite volunteer role: Marshal
What do you do at parkruns: I love running and I've got my two children and even my husband joining in. It's the best way to start a Saturday morning.
How has parkrun changed your running: My first ever parkrun was in 2013 and at the end I vowed never again! Then in January 2014 my New Year’s resolution was to keep fit so thought I'd give running another go. After a couple of weeks on a treadmill, I decided to try another parkrun. I was so proud of completing it and promised myself I'd keep on running. Since then I’ve joined a running club and kept on running on a regular basis. Running is addictive.
What do you like about parkrun: I love the atmosphere of parkruns. They are so friendly and it really doesn't matter how good at running you are because you’re always only trying to beat your own time. The volunteers are amazing and I appreciate their support when I'm puffing around the course.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: During my last parkrun, I was pushing for a PB but ran out of steam. Two lovely ladies from a rival running club kept me going, I'm sure they thought it was my first time. In the last 50m I overlook them and finished in front of them. I felt really guilty but pleased because I got the PB I was after!