welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Fitbit reminds us to move, ARUK celebrates a record-breaking London Marathon, Intersport congratulates each of us, places in the Westminster Mile and tickets for the Athletics World Championships are available to parkrunners, you can vote for us, we are hiring, and Ron Hill MBE joins the 50 Club.
When I was in my first year of secondary school in the early 1950s, I would read a boy’s magazine called The Rover. There was a guy in it named Alf Tupper who was often pictured running in the rain on cobblestones. Alf came from a northern town, just like I did, and he was extremely poor. He lived under railway bridges or on disused barges, and he would hitchhike to London for races after working all night as a welder. He’d eat a bag of chips and then go out and win his race. Nobody was helping him and everybody was against him, but he was a champion in his own right. I wanted to be like Alf Tupper, so I joined the local running club.
I was the only boy at my school who looked forward to cross country – the other lads either cut corners or tried to hide to avoid it altogether! I would travel around to cross-country races, and in my first big race I finished 256th. I loved the races, I loved the competition, and when I moved away to university to study textile chemistry I started taking my running very seriously. I still wanted to be like Alf Tupper, running in the rain in just shorts and a vest. That was until I went for a 90-minute run one day and ended up suffering from exposure from running through a freezing stream. I still had a lot to learn!
Over the years I became the first British athlete to win the Boston Marathon, I won the marathon at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in a world record time, and I also won the European Championships Marathon in Athens. That day almost turned out differently though – as I was about to run into the stadium I narrowly avoided being run over by a jeep doing a u-turn. Thankfully I avoided disaster, and running into the stadium knowing my parents, my wife and my two children were there to see it was one of the highlights of my career.
I discovered parkrun in 2011 and was hooked immediately – I can’t put into words how fantastic I think it is. It’s wonderful that everybody can join in and nobody cares what position you finish in. I have always been an avid racer, but on weekends when I don’t have a race, parkrun provides me with an opportunity to get a good session in. I love the social side and I’m really looking forward to doing some parkruns abroad, because they’re a great way to explore unfamiliar places and an easy way to meet likeminded people.
At 77 years of age I am still competitive with myself, and having run at least one mile every day since December 1964 (that’s 18,753 days in case you were wondering) I am determined to keep my running streak going.
parkrun has certainly featured in my streak. On 20 December 2014 at Heaton parkrun I celebrated running every day for 50 years. And then last Saturday I was proud to run my 50th parkrun there. The reception from all the participants was fantastic, and it got me thinking about when I will join the 100 Club. It was a memorable moment and I was thrilled – and surprised – to finish in less than 30 minutes. I hadn’t run that fast for a long time and it was the icing on the cake.
I always run first thing in the morning because it sets me up for the day and I always feel better afterwards. Running is who I am. It’s me, and this is why I run.
Running is the most accessible exercise you can do because the kit is minimal – it’s a simple sport to start off with and all you’ve got to do is go out your front door and run, or build up to it by walking. Enjoying it is the key, and that’s what parkrunners do so well.
Ron Hill MBE
Photos courtesy of Paul Taylor and Graham Cameron
congratulations all runners!
As partners of parkrun we are great supporters of all sporting achievements, especially running. This week we’d like to say a big well done to Paul Sinton-Hewitt, founder of parkrun, for completing the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday, and for raising more than £20,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK in the process!
Congratulations of course to everyone else who ran the Virgin Money London Marathon or any other event at the weekend. Whether you ran 5k or 42k, every running achievement is something to be proud of. Across the country many people will have crossed the finish line at an event for the first time, enjoying a sport that is truly accessible and rewarding at every level.
As always, we’re here to help with kit and advice about all things running. Pop into your local store for a chat – we’d love to hear what you’re up to. Click here to find your nearest store.
Remember to keep the pictures coming on Twitter#loveparkrun and make sure you like us on Facebook to keep up with what’s going on.
See you at your next parkrun.
get going with Fitbit!
From getting the bus to sitting behind a desk, we spend a lot of our time with our bottoms on seats. Research shows spending all that time sitting down is bad for our health – it increases our risk of heart disease, even if we’re fairly active otherwise!
So even if you never miss a weekly parkrun, you should still find ways to keep active throughout the day, every day. The first step to moving more is understanding your current habits.
Our Fitbit scientists looked into anonymous user habits and found that on average peak sedentary times are between 2-3pm and 7.30-8.30pm. With this in mind, you can make small changes to keep moving – such as using a smaller water bottle that you have to get up to refill more often in the office, or walk on the spot when watching your favourite soaps!
Fitbit can help too. Reminders to Move means your tracker will remind you to walk 250 steps every hour – it sounds a lot but only takes 2-3 minutes.
Give it a try and get going with Fitbit. You can now get Blaze, our latest smart fitness watch, with a £10 discount exclusive to parkrunners – click here to shop
For more inspiration and tips, read our blog or reach out on Facebook and Twitter.
a record-breaking London Marathon
Alzheimer’s Research UK wants to say a massive CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who ran the Virgin Money London Marathon this year.
Though we are still counting the donations, we estimate that the charity’s 220 runners have raised more than £394,000 – a new record – which will make an enormous difference in the fight to defeat dementia.
A special shout-out goes to Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who finished in three hours and 32 minutes, raising more than £20,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK in the process. The sum mostly came from you, the incredible parkrun supporters who generously donated to the cause. Thank you.
Incredibly, Ehud Eliashar raised more than £60,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, putting him in the top ten fundraisers in the whole of the London Marathon. Laura Allen finished in a speedy two hours and 52 minutes as our quickest runner, followed by Hipólito Fernández Indias, who came in at a personal best of two hours and 59 minutes.
There has been blood, sweat and tears to get to this point, but we hope everyone involved had a wonderful day, and it was worth the pain to see just how much you’ve all achieved.
We are already receiving applications for 2017’s London Marathon, and with the success of this year we can’t wait to see what next year will bring.
If the London Marathon wasn’t enough, or this year’s race has inspired you to get running, we have plenty of fundraising events you can get involved in on our website.
And remember – there’s still time to donate to Paul’s fundraising page, just go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulSintonHewitt.
The Vitality Westminster Mile takes place on 29 May this year and once again we are invited to run in our very own wave. It’s a fantastic family day out and is open to people of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes. Places in the parkrun wave are strictly limited to 450, so sign up now and join us on The Mall.
Here’s what one of our parkrunners, Ian Richards, had to say about it last year: “My partner was amazed at the applause she received when she crossed the finish line of the parkrun wave. She was nearer the back than the front, but felt like a champion. I told her that everyone is a champion at parkrun.”
priority ticket access for parkrunners
See the world’s greatest athletes compete in The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as the IAAF World Championships and World ParaAthletics Championships come to London next summer.
parkrunners and volunteers are being offered the chance to access a priority purchase window to get tickets on a first come, first served basis in June 2016. Tickets will be on sale to the general public, via ballot on 1 August.
Thousands of parkrunners have already taken up this opportunity, but if you haven’t already, simply register your details to get advance ticket access.
Child tickets to the IAAF World Championships are priced at just £9.58 – Usain Bolt’s 100-metre world record, and just £5 for the World ParaAthletics. With 1.5 million tickets available, and one million costing £35 or less, the Summer of World Athletics will be a fantastic event for the whole family.
Visit the website for information on ticket pricing and both championship timetables.
the Running Awards
On Friday 22 April we attended the 2016 Running Awards at the O2 in London. It was a superb evening, with the who’s who of running in attendance. The night got off to a fantastic start as we were asked to present the Innovation in Running award to Goodgym. It was an absolute honour to present Goodgym’s Ivo Gormley with the award in recognition of his truly innovative and inspirational organisation that blends physical activity with helping those more vulnerable in society.
We were delighted to pick up the gold award in the two categories parkrun was nominated in: Best Book (Debra Bourne’s parkrun much more than just a run the park) and Best Event Series.
The wonderful thing about these awards is that the nominations and winners are selected by public vote. Winning these awards is a terrific achievement for parkrun and whilst the awards were collected by Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams and Head of Marketing Russ Jefferys, they did so on behalf of the whole parkrun community.
It was great to see Bournemouth parkrunner Sam Mollaghan receive the ‘Inspiration in Running’ award. Sam is the face of Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign and, in a very moving acceptance speech, she spoke of her passion for parkrun.
Thanks to the Running Awards for a tremendous event – and to everyone that voted.
vote for us!
parkrun UK is a finalist in this year’s Women’s Sports Trust #BeAGameChanger Awards. The awards recognise individuals and organisations doing the most to progress women’s sport, and we have been nominated in the Inspiring National Initiative category. The winner will be decided by a public vote, so follow this link to have your say. Voting closes this Sunday so don’t miss out!
we are hiring
From quiet beginnings, parkrun has grown to be a major force in grassroots physical activity and community engagement. In order to support our growth, we are seeking to appoint a dazzling Marketing Executive to join the team in London. Are you a digital wizard, a creative copywriter and a sassy social media superstar? We want to hear from you!
The successful applicant will enjoy working in a fast-paced environment alongside a supportive and fun team, and will play a key role in helping parkrun create a healthier and happier planet. If you are interested in applying then please click here.
Please note: Applications will only be considered from experienced candidates who demonstrate they meet the requirements of the post. parkrun is an equal opportunities employer. Applications are welcomed from all sectors of society and all appointments are made on merit alone.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of parkrunners – 95,858
Number of volunteers – 8,599
Number of first timers – 8,404
Number of PBs – 22,068
random stat of the week
124,330 different people have volunteered at UK parkrun events. That's roughly the population of Colchester, which incidentally is home to 693 of those volunteers!
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
I just want to say how proud I am of my son, Sam Wickham, who on Saturday completed his 100th parkrun at just 10 years old. My family and I run at Alice Holt parkrun every week and we love the fact we can run together as a family, and enjoy our beautiful local forest whilst catching up with friends. We also like to do our bit with volunteering and Alice Holt parkrun have made us unofficial 'Volunteer Marshals' and once a month we try to sign up new volunteers. Thank you parkrun for keeping us fit, getting us out as a family, letting us be part of a wonderful community and for giving us the opportunity to recognise and celebrate our achievements.
I have spent the past seven weeks in Salford Royal seriously ill, including being in an induced coma, put on a ventilator and given a tracheostomy. I've lost nearly five stone and the majority of my muscle mass in my legs and butt – devastating for a guy who cycles, parkruns, plays squash and badminton weekly, who was described as solid and chunky. It’s going to be a hard slog to reach my former self and I will start with my return to Worsley Woods parkrun and the encouragement from everyone there, especially Carol. After the above situation I will take it easy volunteering as tail runner or just seeing how far I can go.
On 16 April in Southampton I ran my 100th parkrun. A friend, Eddie, got me to try parkrun, I went along every now and again for a few months but it wasn't until early 2014 that I got the bug. Since then I have hardly missed one, either running or volunteering. I have done quite a bit of tourism in that time too. So far I have the red and purple shirt, have now ordered my black shirt and I can't wait to get on and start running to get to the green shirt. parkrun has totally changed my Saturday mornings and my fitness in general. A big thank you to all of the volunteers that make it happen each week.
I had a heart transplant five years ago. Since then, although I have been in good health, the weight had been slowly going on so something had to be done. I remembered that my sister-in-law had started to do parkruns and they had helped her to lose quite a lot of weight. So I thought, if she can do parkruns then so can I. I discovered it doesn't matter about your size or fitness level – all are welcome and all are given the same encouragement. I have now done four parkruns, each time improving my time and I look forward to each week to give it another go.
On Saturday I completed my 50th parkrun and I wanted to thank all the amazing volunteers at Wakefield Thornes who have converted me from a non-runner. I am confident that I will never set a course record for parkrun and any week in which my age grading goes above 50% is a success. However I wonder if my daughter Harriet can lay a claim to being the youngest official parkrun volunteer as she got her first credit as a marshal at Wakefield Thornes parkrun on the day of her 4th birthday this January. She then ran her first official junior parkrun at the lovely Locke Park in Barnsley a month later. Her favourite role is as a signpost.
parkrunner of the week
If you feel somebody at a parkrun should feature as our parkrunner of the week, please get them to fill out this handy online form - you can even apply yourself!
Name: Shama Meghjee-Caine
Home parkrun: Cassiobury
Occupation: Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser
Number of runs: 30
Favourite volunteer role: Marshal
What do you do at parkruns: My parkrun starts on Friday evening when I message many of my friends and family encouraging them to attend parkrun the next morning. This motivates me to get out of my own warm bed every Saturday morning. The first thing I do on Saturday morning is update my Facebook status reminding everyone that it is ‘parkrunday’ formerly known as Saturday! I then meet up with all my friends and family who are running that day, take photos, update my Facebook status and do the same at the end. I discovered these fun-filled photos have encouraged many people to join in.
How has parkrun changed your running: I have always enjoyed running but have never run consistently. parkrun has increased my love for running and I am much fitter than I was eight months ago when I started.
What do you like about parkrun: I love the idea of getting fit in a fun and sociable way. It does not matter whether you are an elite runner, a jogger, a walker or a parent with a child in a buggy, everyone is welcome to join and all for free. The friendly team of volunteers, who cheer the runners on, give us so much energy that I find I am on a high the entire day. The run is not competitive at all and many faster runners are happy to share their ideas on how to improve your time.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: I have two memorable moments. The first one last Christmas day (yes a Friday ‘bonus’ run – in addition to the normal one on Saturday!) when many of us added Santa hats and decorations to our running gear – the atmosphere at parkrun was brilliant and to top it all, I got a PB! The second one was during Easter break in Barnsley (Locke Park); it was brilliant to be a ‘tourist runner’ from London. Although the course was tougher as it was very hilly, all the ‘Northerners’ cheering ‘GO LONDON, GO LONDON’ was magical! #loveparkrun