welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Vitality invite you to run with them, Fitbit asks why you parkrun, Alzheimer’s Research UK ask for your memories and 53 time parkrunner Liz Yelling is making memories.
Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of running with my mum. Looking back now we were a great match - she enjoyed running, and I was a high energy child who needed an outlet. I knew from school sports days that I would never make it as a sprinter, but despite always watching other girls disappear out of sight toward the finish line, I had a passion for running and it really gave me a buzz.
I'm sure my mum was always wondering when I'd give up, or give in, but I never did. So by the time I got the chance to take part in races that were longer than sprints, and discovered I was actually pretty good at them, mum decided I should be running with kids my own age. She took me along to the local running club, Bedford and County, and introduced me to a coach by the name of Alex Stanton.
Alex was a wonderful coach, and not just on the track. He encouraged us to build a strong friendship group and insisted that school came first. There is no doubt that this balance of running, mates and school served me well over the next few years as I started to run at international level, and throughout my initial career as a teacher and then as a professional athlete.
The importance of running in my life was highlighted on a beautiful spring morning earlier this year, when around 40 women and girls aged between 11 and 45 converged on Bedford parkrun wearing our club vests.
This was no ordinary parkrun, but a surprise 80th birthday for our coach Alex. We chose parkrun because it meant we could all just go for a run together without any pressure. Thanks to Alex, many of us have been good mates for more than 30 years. Throughout my career I was lucky enough to run in two Olympic marathons and win a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games, but this group of lifelong friends who I still see regularly is by far and away my proudest achievement in sport.
Since I first met Alex when I was nine, the one constant has been the need to balance my life to enable me to run. But the reasons why I run have certainly changed. Previously I was running for me, and focused purely on performance. But now it's about being fit for life and active and healthy for my three children. And I'll be honest - I need to do it to be sane sometimes!
There's no doubt it is more difficult to find time for a run, but whether you're a former elite athlete or a complete beginner, it's all about creating little openings in your week that become routine. We love spending time together as a family by the seaside, and often we go off-road and I push the twins in the buggy. The kids just love looking for animals.
We are always busy making our own memories, and one day I hope my children remember running with their mum with the same fondness I do.
do a Vitality Run
The pre-race excitement. The thrill of crossing the finishing line. The pure sense of achievement. Kick-start your autumn fitness regime by joining one of parkrun partner Vitality’s 2015 Run Series events.
The Series, which aims to inspire anyone to reach for their fitness goals – irrespective of ability – has two events still to go this year: The Oxford Half Marathon on Sunday the 11th October and The WestRun London 10k on Sunday the 15th November.
Watch the recent British 10k London Run and be inspired by first timer Luke’s experience...
win a place
Fancy becoming the new ‘Face’ of the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon and inspiring the UK running community? If so, Vitality would love to hear from you.
You’ll get an automatic place in the event on Sunday the 11th October 2015 and receive a complete running package including an activity tracker and a customised training plan. Enter by midday on Tuesday the 8th September 2015 for your chance to win.
Competition Terms and Conditions apply.
why do you parkrun?
Whether you’re looking to get fit, find new friends or encourage your family to do more exercise, there are plenty of reasons why people choose to take part in parkruns.
We asked parkrunning Fitbit users what inspired them to start, and their stories show that your reasons to parkrun can be as unique as you are.
Many of the people we spoke to said that parkrun appealed to them because it’s a positive lifestyle choice that’s open to anyone and everyone, regardless of age, ability or experience. Starting a new exercise regime can seem daunting, but the inclusive approach of parkrun makes it ideal for those who perhaps aren’t sure where to start. Shannon from Hove said:
“I got into parkrun this spring after being sick of being overweight. I have felt very welcome and I try to go every weekend to get me prepared for my Brighton challenge (six events for one charity) starting at a 5k and ending next year with a 100k trek. All because of parkrun getting me interested in running and showing me that I can do it!”
Meeting new people or encouraging existing pals at parkrun is another plus - when you’ve got a healthy step-count competition going amongst friends, you’ll find it hard not to go every week! A coffee after the run also gives you the chance to catch up, without being short of breath. Joanna said the social side of parkrun is what made the event so appealing to her:
“I started parkrun over three years ago as a work colleague kept singing its praises. From my first one to my 102nd last week I’ve loved it. We have a large group from work who go every week, and coffee afterwards is as a big a part as the running! We even have to have a note from home if we’re not going one week!”
Those who use parkrun to kick start their workouts said that a weekly event gave them a goal to work towards, whether it be beating their personal best or tallying up their total parkruns.
Tell us - why do you parkrun? We’d love to know - share your story on Twitter or Facebook using the #parkrunfit hashtag. Remember that parkrunners can take advantage of an exclusive £15 discount on all Fitbits - so you can keep track of your runs each week!
Alzheimer’s Research UK, parkrun’s official charity partner, is inviting you to share your favourite parkrun memory to help fight back against dementia.
Our new Facebook campaign, #NeverForgetNominate, is a way you can help shine a spotlight on this global health crisis and raise awareness that, with your support, Alzheimer’s Research UK can defeat dementia.
To play your part in the fightback, simply post a memory you never want to forget on Facebook. As a parkrunner, we’d encourage you to share a memory from the course, whether it’s the first time you took part in parkrun, completed a milestone run or beat a PB. Then nominate a friend – or lots of friends – to do the same. Remember to sign-off your post with the sentence below:
‘I’ve shared this memory I never want to forget to support Alzheimer’s Research UK. I nominate (tag friends) to post a memory next. #NeverForgetNominate’
How will it help?
We need you to help us make more people aware of the fear, harm and heartbreak that dementia causes. Because the more understanding there is of the problem, the more people are likely to help support our mission at Alzheimer’s Research UK to change the lives of people with dementia.
So please join the fightback today by posting a memory you never want to forget.
To find out more about Alzheimer’s Research UK, our partnership with parkrun and our #NeverForgetNominate campaign, visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org
PS Thanks to all of you who have watched and given such positive feedback on our new #TeamARUKparkrun partnership video over the past week. To see the clip, which features parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt, click here.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 69,981
Number of volunteers - 6,428
Number of first timers - 10,737
Number of PBs - 10,961
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
How many people can suggest that, perhaps, parkrun has saved their life? I've been running for over 50 years and started doing Fell Foot parkrun last December when, aged 78, I was quite happy with times around 32 minutes. Early this year I started going many minutes slower and, following a visit to my doctor, I was diagnosed with 'heart failure' and am now awaiting a pacemaker/defibrillator implant. Had I not been an athlete I would never have taken that step and could by now be suffering the effects of a heart attack - if, in fact, I was still alive! The original intention behind my participation in the parkrun was to gauge my fitness. And how! Thank you parkrun.
Swindon parkrun is my home run but recently on a trip to my home town of Birmingham I decided to try out Brueton parkrun in Solihull. My wife decided that a lie-in at our hotel seemed a better idea. I had a great time, it was a sunny morning and everyone so friendly. Arriving back at the hotel my wife asked if I had enjoyed it - certainly I had. “Well at least I knew that you wouldn't get lost there” she said, which puzzled me. She added that surely I hadn't forgotten, apparently we had our first date there - 60 years ago! Of course I remembered darling - just kidding.
John Graham Parker
Next week is my 100th parkrun. Having lost over eight stone in 2012, a friend suggested parkrun to keep the weight off. I signed up and my journey began. There were gaps, ups and downs, mornings when I didn't want to run, all kinds of weather, but I pushed myself as often as possible. I've been overweight most of my adult life and have mental demons when running but other people started using me as their benchmark. Me, an ex-fat man who struggles to run a 5k. Ordinarily I don't give out any advice because I don't feel qualified. However, there's only this to say: you CAN do it and I'm proof of that. Here's to the next 100!
We recently went on holiday to the Lake District and on our way up stopped to do Wetherby parkrun which was lovely to be a part of. At the end of the holiday we then did the beautiful Keswick parkrun. It was the first time at the pre-run briefing that I had heard the run director ask 'are there any locals here today?' as the place was full of holiday makers enjoying the delights of the Lake District and the Keswick parkrun course. We really must have swelled the numbers considerably but they were warm and welcoming to all - as all parkruns seem to be. Thank you Wetherby and Keswick.
Anyone who wants to make their milestone parkrun a memorable and fun experience, I can fully recommend dressing up and running round in fancy dress. Last Saturday, for my 50th parkrun, I took to the Burnage parkrun course dressed as Zippy with a specially commissioned red '50th parkrun' sash (supplied by my ever supporting fiancée Lynsey Stott). There was great support from all parts of the course, with lots of cheers for ‘Zippy’, bringing smiles to children and adults alike. It may not have been the fastest parkrun I've done but I can honestly say it was the best parkrun experience. I have already had enquiries as to whether I will be running as Bungle for my 100th!
I would just like to say thanks and well done to the organizers and volunteers of Hazelhead parkrun, Aberdeen. This run has now been up and running for one year and has gradually grown in popularity going from around 60 runners to now consistently over 100 runners and with a record turnout for the first anniversary of 172 runners. The weather wasn't the best for the day (typical Scottish weather I hear you say!) but it did not stop the big turnout and a number of participants looking good in fancy dress and topped off with a good spread of cakes afterwards. See you all on Saturday!
parkrunner of the week
Name: Kate Rogers
Home parkrun: Wycombe Rye
Occupation: Managing Director
Number of runs: 15
Favourite volunteer role: Tail Runner
What do you do at parkruns: Start at the back and keep going until the end, when I have a well deserved after-run coffee and chat (maybe a piece of cake) with my daughter, Elizabeth, who started me going to parkrun.
How has parkrun changed your running: When I first started I was unable to run - the first week I ran the first 200m and then run-walked the rest of the course taking around 45 minutes. Each week I have tried to run more of the course and I can now run the whole course. I keep trying to improve my time, this week was a PB at 31:53.
What do you like about parkrun: I love the atmosphere - everyone is so friendly and encouraging. The timekeeping also adds a little challenge for me, as I keep trying to get a PB.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: Celebrating my daughter's 10th Wycombe Rye parkrun with a large chocolate cake shared with other parkrunners.