welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter VitalityHealth search for new faces, Andy Shennan reviews the running in pregnancy survey, we invite you to join us on The Mall and I size up our potential partners.
Earlier this week parkrun group announced a new partnership with Strava, one of the world’s most amazing online running (and cycling) communities. As a big fan of Strava and an even bigger fan of parkrun the news that two of my favourite things would be working together was really rather exciting. At parkrun we pride ourselves in using technology to empower real people to do real things in real areas of open space and the fit between our two organisations is therefore pretty obvious. So, in light of that announcement and in advance of future announcements I thought I’d spend this week presenting something of the thought process that goes into bringing organisations into the parkrun family.
In my role as Managing Director of parkrun UK I meet with potential partner organisations on a pretty much daily basis. Being one of the largest series of timed runs in the world, and with such an engaged community, we are of course hot property for anyone who would benefit from telling people (particularly runners) about what they do. As we continue to grow so in turn does the organisational infrastructure required to support tens of thousands of UK parkrunners (runners & volunteers) every single week and as such it’s vital that we engage with the right partners on the right terms. But what constitutes the right partnerships?
We each have our own first parkrun experience from which to benchmark where we are now and for me that was the 4th of August 2007 at Bushy Park. Back then there were just three parkrun events in existence and the model was clear… ‘start between those two trees, run round the park, finish between those two trees’, the running equivalent of ‘jumpers for goalposts’. I therefore benchmark whether or not I’m doing a good job of guiding our wonderful movement in the UK by ensuring that anyone who wants that ‘original’ experience can still embrace the ‘turn up, run for free, go home, get your result’ process.
Having said that, when you bring so many wonderful people (yes, that’s you) together every single week year after year then amazing things can and do happen and as such there should be opportunities for those who want to engage a little more. There are therefore just four simple questions I ask myself when considering a new partnership, which result in me turning down 95% of the approaches we receive and starting a conversation with the remaining 5%...
1 - Is there likely to be a negative impact with regards my aforementioned parkrun benchmark?
If the answer to that is yes then I’m afraid we’ve fallen at the first hurdle and it’s game over.
2 - Would a successful partnership with this organisation result in good things happening?
We strive for every partnership to be successful and with a clear definition of what that success might look like. We can then decide whether or not that is a good thing. By ‘good’ I mean something that benefits or enhances the lives of our parkrun events and their local communities.
3 - How can we make it happen?
If we’ve managed to tick those two boxes then it’s all systems go and we will do everything in our power to get things going. Occasionally we do get stuck here though where both parties want to do something and a successful outcome would clearly be a good thing, but for whatever reason it just can’t be done.
4 - Can it somehow contribute to achieving our mission of ‘a parkrun everywhere someone wants one’?
Although not a deal breaker, where possible our partnerships will contribute towards making parkrun happen. This could be with financial investment, value in kind, or some other indirect benefit.
I’m really happy that our relationship with Strava satisfies all those criteria and as we move forwards and our family develops do rest assured that the spirit of parkrun remains strong.
P.S. You can read this week’s junior parkrun newsletter here.
ready for your next challenge?
After following Simon and Frances’ inspiring journey to completing the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon, VitalityHealth are looking for two parkrunners to follow in their footsteps in Brighton on the 22nd of February 2015.
To give you a helping hand along your training journey, we will provide you with:
- Ongoing training support including a personalised training plan and training day with Decathlon Olympic gold medallist, Daley Thompson
- A GPS running device to track your progress
- £50 Sweatshop voucher for new trainers
- A full Vitality Run Series kit
- Free entry into the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon.
In return, VitalityHealth will follow you through a weekly blog and photography updates provided by you on a weekly basis. You may even get some coverage in your local newspaper! We want to share your story to inspire others to step up to the challenge.
How to enter:
Tell us why you should be the Face of the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon by emailing us at email@example.com by midday on Wednesday the 3rd of December. For your best chance to win, make sure you send us a descriptive and motivating entry (maximum 250 words). Please also include your parkrun Athlete ID and the best form of contact, including a valid telephone number.
Entrants will be shortlisted on Wednesday the 3rd of December and then contacted for a 10 minute phone interview. Winners will be announced on the 9th of December. Terms and conditions apply.
The Vitality Run Series is a running series featuring eight of the UK’s most exciting running events is brought to you by VitalityHealth. Get active and take on a new challenge - run one, run two or run all remaining races in the Series. Find out more at http://www.pruhealth.co.uk/personal/vitality/sponsored-events/vitality-run-series.
an open letter
Thank you to all who replied to the brief questionnaire for the SPORT study into running in pregnancy. We have had an unbelievable response and interest, nearly 1,000 already, typical of parkrunners. Thanks to this, just a few more responses will allow more detailed analysis to answer important questions in subgroups of women who ran for different periods. We also need more women who didn’t run in pregnancy to act as ‘controls’ but have a 5k time to share – please spread the word – even if not (yet!) registered with parkrun. The survey is taking about five minutes to complete on average. So if you haven’t yet, please do help! It will remain active till end of January 2015. With your help we will be able to offer definitive advice to women in the future. Click here to find the survey.
Professor Andy Shennan
date for your diary
The Westminster Mile takes place on Sunday the 24th of May 2015 and once again we have our very own parkrun wave.
You can enter here using the unique parkrun wave link. Join us on The Mall!
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 50,688
Number of volunteers - 4,847
Number of first timers - 6,264
Number of PBs - 8,345
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
In light of the recent articles on young runners, I want to thank all the Bushy parkrun volunteers who not only wait for my four year old daughter, but cheer her in every week. Last Saturday she completed her 10th parkrun to much fanfare. She has been participating in Bushy parkrun for over five years now (while I was pregnant, then in the running buggy and now she runs it!), so it is a real achievement for her, and we are so grateful to everyone who has helped her. A special thanks to the ‘marshal with the green hand’ who high-fives her every week!
Hi parkrun UK
I wanted to tell you about my son Scott who ran his 100th run last Saturday. I started selling the refreshments at Mile End from their second week and after a couple of weeks I asked my son to come and help me. The following week he said he'd rather run than help me. I was amazed as running was not really his thing. He's now joined by my wife Jocelyn who has completed 45 runs to date. I'm so proud of them both.
Hi parkrun UK
I loved sport. I lost my sight suddenly in 2005. In 2012 I became friends with Michelle who reintroduced me to sport and what I had been missing since the day my sight went. She took me swimming, and on various Saturdays took me to St Albans so I could listen as she did St Albans parkrun. I really enjoyed being there and hearing the runners pass by. I loved the atmosphere. I miss a lot of things about my old sighted life. British Triathlon put me in touch with a guide and on the 15th of November Roz guided me as we ran our first parkrun at St Albans together. I loved it. Everyone there was so kind and encouraging. We will definitely be doing another as soon as we can. I just wanted to say a massive thank-you to everyone involved in parkrun. It really isn't easy for some people to take part in sports for many reasons but at parkrun it really does feel like everyone is welcome. Thank you for an amazing, enjoyable and extremely well organized event. Thanks again to everyone.
Hi parkrun UK
Last week my three young daughters took part in their first junior parkrun at Gravesend. It was also the first week I managed Shorne parkrun without stopping, so an auspicious weekend for our family! As we’ve come to expect everyone was very friendly at the junior parkrun and it was lovely to see all ages running, including the two young children who were bringing up the rear. They didn't give up but continued to the end to be greeted by lots of applause.
Hi parkrun UK
On a recent visit to Adelaide to visit my daughter and her family, I thought I would follow my 100th UK parkrun with my first overseas run. Initial research suggested a one hour journey across Adelaide however on a visit to the beautiful, picturesque, town of Victor Harbor I spotted a familiar poster, and only 20 minutes away. I turned up at 8am on Saturday by the bay and our Run Director from Brueton parkrun had let them know I planned to join them. I felt completely at home, received a wonderful welcome, met great fellow runners and enjoyed a typical parkrun family atmosphere. The spectacular view caused a slower than normal time, but it was worth it.
Hi parkrun UK
My mum died quite suddenly a couple of weeks ago. Two days later I went to Leeds parkrun and the sheer life-affirming nature of the event really helped me through, as did talking to Daisy, Anne and Roy that day whose warmth was such a comfort. Not only that but when the funeral arrangements were looking like coming apart last week, because we weren't happy with the minister we'd initially appointed, I managed to get in touch with Rev. Joanna Seabourne who I'd met a few weeks earlier over coffee after the Leeds parkrun. She saved the day for us. parkrun really is a great community and it's helped me so much.
Hi parkrun UK
Almost reaching the 50 run milestone, having started back in October 2013, I am so grateful to parkrun and all at Clumber Park who week in and week out volunteer to put on such an excellent event. The National Trust grounds are amazing and I have enjoyed running in the changing seasons. Not having run or been very active in 30 years, at the age of 57 I started with a modest time which I have improved by 16 minutes and I’ve also completed four 10k runs. The added bonus is that I have lost four stone in weight and feel great. I am sure that without the regular parkrun event I would never have achieved this.
Hi parkrun UK
I went to New Zealand in October to see my grandson who is eight months old. I went to Cornwall parkrun in Auckland and pushed him around in a borrowed buggy. My daughter took photos of me running with my grandson Xavier who enjoyed it... smiling and gurgling en-route. My daughter went online and bought a second-hand buggy the following week and printed out a barcode. She joined me on my last run in New Zealand and we have another member in the parkrun family.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Gareth Jenkins
Club: Cwm Ogwr Running Club (Chairman)
Home parkrun: Porthcawl
Number of runs: 63
Favourite volunteer role: Pacing. It's been introduced recently at my home parkrun and it's great when people come up afterwards and say that you helped them achieve a PB or target time.
What do you do at parkruns: Normally arrive just in time for quick chat with club mates and other runners that I've met through parkrun before going down to the start for the briefing. I say 'normally arrive just in time' as there have been a couple of occasions they've held the start as I'm running towards them a minute or two late. It happened on my 50th run as well!
How has parkrun changed your running: It provides a good speed session every week when it's not always possible to fit it in during the week. I also started a 'run to parkrun' as part of my marathon training earlier in the year which involved running anything from 10 to 17 miles then doing parkrun. I've had a few funny looks when some of the regulars seen me struggling much further back than usual. I've also enjoyed visiting other parkruns and have visited 15 different parkruns in the past 18 months or so.
What do you like about parkrun: Meeting up with club mates and others on a weekly basis to run together. It allows people of all abilities to participate and we've had everyone from international runners to walkers to pram pushers at my home parkrun. My running club also used parkrun as the target for a Couch to 5k club we set up which has seen several people run 5k for the first time and then go on to join the running club proper. We've also had a large increase in club members recently due to runners we've met at parkrun.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: We did a trial parkrun at Porthcawl and my running club members who ran that day had our photo taken with Olympic Triathlete Helen Jenkins, who is a personal hero of mine, plus her husband, former Olympic Triathlete Mark Jenkins. On the far right is Steve Brace, regular run director at Porthcawl and former Olympic marathon runner. As my club had only been going a few months at this point, I think the photo captures the parkrun tagline of 'from beginners to Olympians' perfectly - I believe Helen is still the course record holder at Cardiff with one of the fastest female parkrun times ever.