welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter we meet more VitalityHealth faces, Alzheimer’s Research UK announce their golden bond place recipient(s), Chris Davies welcomes beginners in Wales, we offer a free service and I value our volunteers.
If you read last week’s newsletter, you’ll know that I never intended to be a runner. I never intended to be a volunteer either, but it happened. As a strict backroom boy, I’ve never sought the attention that comes from being a run director, but I’ve done my time on windy corners and shunting equipment back and forth – and guess what? Yup, I loved it.
On Saturday and Sunday, we’ll need our volunteers more than ever. This week we have received a great deal of good press without actually looking for it, and a whole load of new people will be wondering what all the fuss is about. We are delighted about this and know that our events are gearing up to welcome all newcomers. It’s our chance to really show what we can do.
But whilst it’s fantastic to hear such positive statements about parkrun, a huge increase in numbers would put some of our events under pressure. If you can volunteer, run, jog or walk at one of our smaller events this weekend I’m sure you would get a very warm welcome and a different parkrun experience. If you are at an event that feels like it’s reaching capacity, don’t hesitate to offer your services as a last minute volunteer. You may be surprised at the power of community spirit as you’re drawn into the event in a way that only happens through volunteering. Let’s show any new visitors that the fantastic stories they have heard are all true.
And of course, we don’t just need volunteers at the weekend. Every day, volunteers support parkrun in ways that we wouldn’t have imagined only a couple of years ago. For instance, this Newsletter would not have landed in your in-tray without the considerable talents of one of our volunteers and we all lost count of the number of t-shirts our kit pixies gave out.
In 2013, parkrun established a team of local and regional volunteers who we call ‘Ambassadors’. These are people with a vast array of skills and experience at setting up and managing parkrun events. Over the last two years we have expanded this network and increased the range of tasks that ambassadors undertake to ensure that everybody gets their volunteering and running fix each weekend.
Now, we are extending our volunteer roles still further with an opportunity for a couple of parkrunners to work with us as non-executive directors (see below). We are growing very quickly in the UK with over a thousand new people registering every day and almost one hundred new events activated in the last year. Whilst this is a validation for the concept of parkrun and a reward for hard work, it does bring with it some challenges. To meet these, we want to recruit two people who are already operating at a senior level within their organisations.
At the moment we do not have the luxury of being able to develop new board members – we need them to be making a significant contribution from the moment they start. We also want people with a parkrun pedigree – people who know our values, recognise how we differ from other organisations and are in touch with the parkrun family. In this way we will supplement our small management team with experienced, well-connected volunteers.
If you have the credentials we are looking for and the time to commit to our development, please click here for further information. The closing date is the 13th of February.
Head of Finance & Fundraising
P.S. You can read this week’s junior parkrun newsletter here.
faces of Vitality Run Series
- Meet Louise, who shares the story of her role model, Anne Dickins, who is now a para-canoeist, having represented GB at the 2012 Olympics. When answering the question why Louise decided to become a Face of Vitality, she said: “The aim was to appreciate my legs for what they could do rather than how they look.”
- Say ‘Hi’ to Richard, who plans to relive the highlights of 2012 where he: “completed my first 26.2 miles, carried the London 2012 Olympic Torch, jumped out of a plane and broke a Guinness World Record, all raising for charity.” Follow his journey and find out more about Richard.
Meet our new Faces of Vitality North London Half:
- This is Claire, whose story is an inspiration. Claire tells us why she loves parkrun as well as inspires us with her personal story: “Before I was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2012 I was fitter than ever and managed my fastest parkrun in 2011 in 26:02. No doubt being fit played a huge part in my successful recovery.” Find out more about Claire on the Vitality Blog.
- Meet Simon, a devoted father and a real fan of running. He runs parkrun with his daughter and his ultimate goal is to have fun and to woo his kids: “I would love for them to get excited as they see me set a goal and strive for it. I want to show them that they can do what they want if they put their minds to it. This leaves me to say... Vitality North London, bring it on!”
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.
London Marathon runners revealed
In the 15th of January newsletter we gave you the chance to get your hands on Alzheimer’s Research UK’s final Golden Bond place for the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon. We were inundated with applications from parkrunners – each one sharing compelling, heartfelt reasons why they should run for #TeamARUKparkrun.
Choosing a recipient was tough. In fact, it proved impossible! Thankfully, two more places became available, meaning we could pick three worthy parkrunners.
The trio who’ll represent #TeamARUKparkrun have collectively clocked up over 100 parkruns. They are Chris Fautley, 58, a company chairman from Meopham, Kent, Alice Irwin, a 23-year-old student from Spaldwick, Cambridgeshire, and 55-year-old solicitor Kevin James, from London (pictured left to right).
Alice, who is studying medicine at Bristol University, will run in memory of her grandfather, Harry Archer, who died with Alzheimer’s disease when she was young.
She said: “My grandfather used to fly Lancasters in the RAF. He was a great man, who loved spending time with his grandchildren. Sadly, in the months before he passed away, he was a completely different person to the one we all loved. I can’t wait to run the marathon for him and help raise money for this important cause.”
Chris, chairman of a financial services company, lost his grandmother, Connie, to Alzheimer’s. His girlfriend Caroline Whittle’s mother, Jean Woolston, is also living with the disease.
He said: “My grandmother got to the stage where she didn’t recognise me anymore, which was really tough. Thankfully, my girlfriend’s mother’s dementia isn’t as far progressed and she still lives at home. I’ve seen the effects and experienced the hurt and pain dementia causes, so I strongly believe in the value of research and I’m proud to run for Alzheimer’s Research UK.”
Kevin, from Mortlake, will run in memory of his mother, Mary, a mother-of-nine and grandmother-of-nineteen, who died with Alzheimer’s disease in 2002.
He said: “My mother, a once proud and intelligent woman, was unable to comprehend what was happening to her and in the later stages of her illness was unable to recognise her once-loved family members. She will be in my thoughts on the day. It’s an honour to have been chosen to run for Alzheimer’s Research UK – a charity and cause close to my heart.”
Do you have your own ballot place in this or any other event and want to help defeat dementia? Visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/parkrun
delivering your results earlier
Did you know that you can receive your parkrun result by text for free?
The frequently asked question How do I set up results texts tells you how to activate this service. Currently 34% of parkrunners receive their results via free text message.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 57,778
Number of volunteers - 4,676
Number of first timers - 8,165
Number of PBs - 9,830
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 daughter Rebecca introduced me to parkrun at Darley parkrun in Derby last year. She had already completed several runs and thought it would be good to do an activity together. I felt very proud to complete my 50th parkrun together with my daughter last weekend. During the year I have done some parkrun tourism, and now hope to do some volunteering, although the roster at Darley is always well subscribed. The encouragement from the whole of the volunteer team over the past year has been fantastic and keeps me going. At school, cross country running for me was to run out of the school grounds then walk most of the way. I'm sure that the welcoming nature of the team keeps people coming back.
Hi parkrun UK
Can I say a massive thank you for the opportunity to apply through parkrun to become the Face of Vitality for the North London Half Marathon. This has meant such a lot, in fact it has already made 2015 an amazing year, and we are only in January. I will make sure I take some photographs for my blog at Bushy parkrun this Saturday, without which I would never have been inspired to run the North London Half Marathon in March, and definitely not the London Marathon in April. It shows that anyone who can make it round the 5k at a parkrun can succeed at bigger running challenges if they want to.
Hi parkrun UK
After some weeks out due to an injury, it was time to return to parkrun. I'm still unable to do 5k so I had offered to marshal, my first ever volunteer role. The night before I had a terrible cold, was feverish and unsure how I would make it the next morning. I woke up to a sunny but very cold day, got into extra warm clothes and packed some tissues and a flask of tea to keep me warm. I was at Mile End parkrun cheering on almost 200 runners, who in turn smiled, thank or high-five me. I had great fun, and really enjoyed that my "20 minutes 10 seconds , you're doing great!" helped someone achieve their PB.
Hi parkrun UK
I just have to tell you about the wonderful time I had at Durham parkrun on Saturday. parkrun is always the highlight of my week but this week was a bit more special as I was helping my good friend and long-running parkrunner celebrate his birthday. Lucky lad getting to parkrun on his actual birthday I thought! Paul 'Lord Smythe' Smith (21 again) looked pleased as punch as a handful of family and friends sang ‘Happy Birthday’ then devoured his massive chocolate cake before enjoying a post-parkrun drink! I always find it amazing how parkrun can bring people together from all different walks of life and forge friendships that will last forever, thank you for that.
Hi parkrun UK
Approaching the last three miles of the brilliantly supported Ferriby 10 mile road race on Sunday (which I would never have been attempting if it wasn't for parkrun), I heard a voice saying "just a parkrun left to go!". This caused me to smile broadly and turn around to prompt a conversation with John Kees and his friendly 'posse' from Pontefract parkrun. Lovely to see you guys, great running, and we look forward to paying you a visit from Hull parkrun very soon!
Hi parkrun UK
I think there is a parkrun volunteer task that should perhaps get more recognition and that is those volunteers who inspect the courses and then post if a run is on or not. Take last weekend for example... I was on a long journey to do one of my favourite routes at Eglinton parkrun's 100th event. They posted as early as they could that for safety reasons they had had to cancel. Somehow I still managed to get my parkrun fix by the ‘skin of my teeth’ as I got to Tollcross parkrun in time for a run after seeing both Ayr and Pollok parkruns were also cancelled. I'd like to say a huge thanks to those who do the course inspections, especially at this time of the year.
Hi parkrun UK
I just wanted to thank parkrun for the joy it has given me. I work long hours and parkrun is a great time when I can unwind and completely relax. Now my seven year old joins me too. After finishing six minutes ahead of my sister in her first parkrun, she has made it her mission to get to ten runs before I get to 50. She's currently on eight and I'm on 28! This week I saw one of my students finish first (aged only 16) and chatted to one of our dinner ladies and my Teaching Assistant. It's a friendly and sociable event that I can hardly bear to miss. Thank you parkrun for brightening up my week.
Hi parkrun UK
I'd just like to say how grateful I am for the parkrun movement. My local run started in Shrewsbury in September 2013 while I was struggling with knee problems. My physio agreed that I could run 5k so I started gently and along the way my youngest son, Dom, got smitten in May 2014 and now makes sure that wherever we go he finds the local parkrun. As a result we managed to do both a Christmas Day and New Year's Day parkrun and I've just completed my 50th parkrun on Saturday the 17th of January. This was brilliantly organised at Shrewsbury parkrun with pacers and I managed to finally beat the magic 30 minutes which my sons have been urging me to attain for ages.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Caitlin Quiney
Home parkrun: Blackhill parkrun
Number of runs: 52
Favourite volunteer role: Tail Runner
What do you do at parkruns: I run with my mum or dad and sometimes with my brother Lukas. I can get across the line ahead of mum and dad in a sprint finish but I haven’t quite managed to catch my brother yet.
How has parkrun changed your running: Until I did parkrun, I hadn’t run very far before. Now I've done it in 32 minutes with my dad which felt super fast!
What do you like about parkrun: I really like going for breakfast afterwards.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: Doing my 50th parkrun the week before my sixth birthday, together with my eight year old brother Lukas who also did his 50th. Loads of people said “well done” to us all as they passed us on the run and afterwards in the bowling club.