welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Fitbit are looking forward to the weekend, Alzheimer’s Research UK say thank you, Intersport are making the most of longer days, there’s an invitation to Go Tri something new and Louise Osbourne feels terrific.
When I discovered that Carmarthen junior parkrun became both the 100th junior parkrun and the 500th parkrun to launch in the UK over the weekend, I felt compelled to share my family’s story about how both 2k and 5k parkrun has transformed our lives.
In late 2014 I was trying to find an inclusive running event for my daughter Edith, who was jealous that her big brother Dylan was running primary school cross-country. They both enjoyed running, but the opportunities seemed limited. Luckily, I found Rushcliffe junior parkrun.
Remembering that first event is painful. Not because we weren’t wholeheartedly welcomed or because the kids didn’t have a superb time. We couldn’t believe this free run was there every week. The different ages, shapes and speeds of the runners and walkers, all expertly supported by volunteers, was just fantastic.
The problem was, although I thought I could manage 2k at the pace of a five-year-old, I had been deluding myself at how unfit I was. I failed to keep up with Edith and an hour later I could still feel the burning tightness in my chest from my unsuccessful attempt to get around the course. I shouldn’t really have been surprised. I hadn’t done any exercise since school more than 20 years ago. Society seems to focus more on weight than fitness, and I was naturally slim, so I never bothered.
Once home, the kids excitedly scanned the results online and were clearly hooked. Luckily for me, I spotted a young man that had his running club listed as NHS C25K. Later that week, I started the NHS Couch to 5k programme and my love of running was born. I would use junior parkrun to do one of my weekly programme runs, with the volunteers giving me as much encouragement as the kids. A quick look around would reveal I wasn’t the only one attempting to run with my child in an attempt to get fit.
Seeing the impact it was having on me, my husband Oz also started to run. A few weeks later, Dylan and Oz ran the 5k event at Rushcliffe. Edith and I went along to watch. We all loved it. Within months, I started running the 5k and Edith started begging to run it too. I had tears in my eyes the first time she crossed the finishing line with everyone clapping and cheering her on.
Our next step was volunteering at the junior event. Starting your Sunday morning by high-five’ing little runners and seeing them so chuffed with themselves is really enjoyable. Edith also likes to tail run and this has given her extra confidence and taught her about taking responsibility.
Fast-forward a year and I can’t believe the difference in us as a family. The children both have their ultra wristbands and it is rare they miss a junior parkrun. They really look forward to seeing their parkrun friends every week. We all run the 5k once a month as a minimum and it is great to see friends there – old and new. Oz has joined a running club and recently travelled to Scotland to run an endurance event. I run three times a week, averaging 25 to 30k, and the impact on my wellbeing has been enormous. I sleep better, I eat better and I feel a much stronger person, both physically and mentally. I completed an obstacle race in April and have my sights on a half marathon in the not too distant future. I have even rectified a pre-running knee problem caused by gardening – who said running was bad for your knees?
Having a hobby that we can all share as a family really unites us. Most importantly, I know that as the children grow older we will still be united by our love of parkrun and continue to spend time together. We often tell our children how proud we are of them, but hearing them say they are proud of us when we get a PB or take part in running events is brilliant. I can never thank parkrun and the Rushcliffe parkrun family enough for the difference it has made to our lives.
Looking back, I knew I wasn’t fit but I thought I was ‘fine’. Ultimately, I was fooling myself. Most importantly, why settle for ‘fine’ when you could feel terrific and be part of something awesome!
longer weekend, lots more steps!
Weekends are great, aren’t they? You can catch up with friends and family, get outside and join in your local parkrun to get in your weekly Saturday 5k run.
So what could make a weekend even better? An extra day, that’s what.
This weekend we’ll enjoy a three day weekend thanks to the bank holiday on Monday. For those of us lucky enough to get the day off, that means we have 36 hours to play with. In that time you could:
* Fly to New York and back almost five times
* Climb up and down Ben Nevis six times
* Walk across London 10 times
Whatever you do, make the most of your free Monday and find your fit.
What will you do with your extra long weekend? Snap a Fitbit selfie and share with us on Twitter @FitbitUK - there are instructions how to take and share selfies using the Fitbit app on our blog here.
Have fun, and enjoy!
thank you parkrunners
We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has signed up to Running Down Dementia so far.
After less than two weeks, over 440 people have signed up from 190 parkruns across the country. You’ve run over 3,500k and raised nearly £8,000. What an incredible result!
There’s still a long way to go though. When there are 850,000 people living with dementia and over 1 million parkrunners in the UK, you really can make a huge difference.
Running Down Dementia challenges people to run 100k over the summer and raise £100. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do it now by heading to www.runningdowndementia.org.
Special thanks must go to our current top three fundraisers. At number three is five-year-old parkrunner India Mackie, who has already smashed the £100 target and has raised a brilliant £243. What an amazing achievement! She said:
“I've just started running. Sometimes I find it easy to run the 2k with my dad at Sunday parkrun and sometimes I don't. But I always feel good at the end (especially with an ice cream!).
“If I run 100k over summer, we will be raising money for research to help people remember the names of people they love, and also if they like peanut butter on their toast!”
Second spot goes to Tanya McKenzie-Gordon who’s reached an incredible £264. And our current leader is Nigel Saxon from Poole parkrun, who lost his mum to dementia six years ago. He’s raised an impressive £336 – and all in less than two weeks! Congratulations to all three.
Thank you parkrunners – together we can defeat dementia.
all kitted out for the longer days!
What’s not to love about the days getting longer? Everyone is happier, there is more time to do the things we love…and more opportunity to get outside and run!
As a proud partner of parkrun, we’re loving seeing so many people out and about keeping fit. Running is such a great sport as you can squeeze in a run before work or get some precious down-time in the evening with a run at sunset. Whenever you choose to run, the longer days make it so much easier.
If you’re pounding your local roads or enjoying the trails through your park a little more than usual, make sure you have the right kit. Pop into your local Intersport store (find your nearest store at www.intersport.co.uk, and we’ll check your gear and help you pick any new bits and pieces you may need for your summer running.
As always, we love hearing what you’re up to and we’ve got plenty of advice for all levels of runner. With another bank holiday weekend upon us, there’s no time like the present!
See you at your next parkrun.
Tri something new at Go Tri
Tri something new at GO TRI, coming to the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds on Saturday 11 June.
Swim, cycle and run yourself proud in a fun and relaxed environment at our beginner friendly GO TRI event in Roundhay Park. Costing just £10, anyone can take part and to make the event even more relaxed, you can sign up to one of our special start waves, so you can take part with like-minded people:
Platinum 50+: Because age doesn’t matter in GO TRI, this wave is for those that would like to take part with fellow evergreen participants.
Made in Leeds: Aimed at Leeds residents; those that are born and bred in the city and want to take part with other Leeds locals.
This Girl Can: Year on year female participation in triathlon is increasing and we’re proud to offer a women’s only wave at the event.
Relay: Don’t fancy taking on all three elements? Team up with one or two friends or family members and take on the course together.
Splash and Dash: Not got a bicycle? Fear not, you can still take part on the same course in our swim-run event.
Pedal and Plod: Swimming not your thing? Our pedal and plod wave is the perfect way to take part, whilst sticking to dry land.
Don’t fancy toeing the start line? We urge sports fans from across the country to come along and cheer on Britain’s leading triathletes in their last race on home soil ahead of Rio.
Following in the footsteps of the unforgettable 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ in Leeds and Yorkshire, the event will see home heroes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee battle it out, as well as local lasses Non Stanford and Vicky Holland.
Contested over the Olympic distance with a technical, city centre-based bike course, the race is guaranteed to deliver a thrilling showcase of endurance and strategy in front of thousands of Leeds’ sports-loving residents, creating a unique Yorkshire atmosphere lining the course.
Find out more and enter the GO TRI event now at leeds.triathlon.org.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of parkrunners – 96,947
Number of volunteers – 9,095
Number of first timers – 8,336
Number of PBs – 18,526
random stat of the week
An incredible 89% of people who buy a parkrun performance t-shirt are customising them. Which event would you put on yours... James went for Winchester!
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 was baptised into the parkrun world back in 2010 in the dreamy meadows of Norman Park, Bromley, and since then my parents, four brothers and I have completed 768 runs between us. Last weekend I was proud to be the first Brit ever to make the voyage to parkrun Chelyabinsk, so far the only parkrun in Siberia, Russia. The pilgrimage from where I am currently studying in Novosibirsk was a round trip of almost 3,000k, including two 22hr overnight trains, taking me through Kazakhstan and across the vast Steppe to the Urals. Good thing I didn't forget my barcode!
I registered for parkrun many months ago but could not find the courage to go believing I would be last. Finally I went along to York parkrun and met a very friendly bunch of people. It did not matter if I was slow or had to stop occasionally. Having started running at 62 I enjoyed a good number of years running then got injured and thought that at my age – I’ll be 80 next week – I could not start again! Although I have only run in two of them to date parkrun has given me the confidence to go out and run during the week. I am now running nearly four miles without stopping and I hope to be there every week from now on.
I just wanted to make you aware of an example of ‘parkrun dedication’. Susan Munro – A2113546 and a member of the Walney Wind Cheetahs running group – runs at Barrow parkrun. On Saturday 21 May she turned up with her partner, Martin Clarkson, who paced her to a new PB of 30:38. This was Susan's eighth PB from 13 outings. Nothing too unusual in that except they then dashed off to get married. They had kept the wedding a secret from all but close family so it was a pleasant surprise to all their fellow runners who I am sure would like to wish Susan and Martin a long and happy marriage with lots more PBs in the future.
My 14-year-old son is currently progressing through his first stage Duke of Edinburgh assessment, and for one of his tasks he has been volunteering at Fulham Palace parkrun. I would only have expected a positive experience, but I have been so struck by the inclusion and friendly encouragement that Fergus has received from the regular Run Directors and all the other volunteers. Without exception, everyone has been so friendly and marvellously encouraging, giving Fergus the experience of nearly every role and affording him the opportunity to engage and encourage many runners. He's coming to the end of his 'official' period of volunteering now, but I am certain that he will continue to volunteer from time to time going forward. Thank you parkrun!
An unbelievably positive first parkrun for our family - originally planned as dad and daughter time, we also managed to get my son up and ready as well. Adam has Down’s syndrome, and as a part of that very low muscle tone which means that at nine he's still unable to walk. We brought his walking frame along and to our amazement he smashed out the whole 2k. I'm always proud of all my children, but even more so today. Massive thanks to all at Weston-super-Mare junior parkrun who encouraged us all the whole way round, and made it so wonderful for him especially (and I’m sure all the other children too).
This is Andy and Helen Lane. Although now they prefer to be parkrun tourists, the Lanes are parkrun royalty at Brueton Park and their 'Squirrel Army' are always in full attendance when they visit. They have supported me and others during times of injury and when we lack motivation. They are two of the most positive people I know and their enthusiasm is infectious.
At Medina, IOW parkrun last Saturday our dedicated Run Director, Ray, announced that we had ‘pacers’ and that if we hoped to attain a particular time we should run closely behind them. This was a new experience for me. I'd a very tiring week and felt I had no hope of running well but set off behind ‘31’ and thought I'd stay with him until I tired. I did not expect the encouragement and kindness the pacer showed me all the way through to the finish in 30:51. I realised that in the true spirit of parkrun, all the runners who acted as pacers were faster runners who had given their time that day to help the slower runners try to improve. Thank you, Dave, and all the other pacers and a big thank you for providing a superb weekly event to the volunteer organisers of Medina parkrun, and all who volunteer to help.
Seven years ago life was difficult – my mum and brother had just died, my dad was dying and I had just had a mastectomy. I decided that I needed to get my head sorted and so took up running and discovered parkrun. The sense of community and support is tangible every Saturday at Arrow Valley parkrun in Redditch and I love it. I now have a 50 shirt and three weeks ago in Rome, with enormous pride, I ran along the river and up to St Peter's wearing that shirt. I went into the Basilica thinking what a long way I have come in those seven years, and a lot of that progress was made because of parkrun – so thank you Arrow Valley parkrun.
Following on from last week’s Fitbit column in the newsletter about staying active in pregnancy, I thought this photo was quite appropriate (if a little blurry). Six parkrunners (work it out!) running together at Yeovil Montacute last week. Must be something in the Somerset air!
It was great reading Ron Hill's article in the newsletter recently. parkrunners will be interested to know that back in 1982 and 1983 Ron ran the Bahrain Marathon - coming second in 1982 and winning in 1983 in an all-comers record of 2 hours 25 minutes 25 seconds . That record was only broken in February this year when the winner Abdulaziz Alhsine, a Moroccan based in Bahrain, ran 2 hours 21 minutes and 3 seconds. I lived and ran in Bahrain for 20 years and on returning to UK started my parkrunning at Cheltenham last year. There are still plenty of runners in Bahrain who remember Ron running in Bahrain.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Jason Watson-Usher
Club: Valley Striders AC
Home parkrun: Roundhay
Occupation: Service Management Practitioner
Number of runs: 13
Favourite volunteer role: Run Director
What do you do at parkruns: I've been the Volunteer Coordinator at Roundhay parkrun for a year now. Each week, I send an appeal email, correspond with volunteers and prepare for the event. At 8:30 on Saturdays my wife, daughter and I arrive at the park where I meet the volunteers to help get everyone ready. I try to get involved with ‘behind the scenes’ aspects too by being an active member of the committee, where I'm fortunate enough to be part of an amazing team of people who work extremely hard to make our parkrun the best it can be every single week.
How has parkrun changed your running: Running was not something that had ever interested me, so I started late in life – on my 37th birthday in May 2012. However, the moment I completed that first run of 200 metres, I was hooked! It wasn't until January 2013 whilst training for the Paris Marathon that I was introduced to parkrun and the joy that it provides to so many wonderful people. A back operation in July of 2013 sadly meant that I've not been able to run since, so I've devoted my time to volunteering. I have an ambition to run Roundhay parkrun again.
What do you like about parkrun: What is there not to like? I love absolutely everything about parkrun! The happiness it brings to us in enhancing our mental well-being, this life-changing and potentially lifesaving event with a positive impact on our health. It enables people from every walk of life to get actively moving together and helping people recognise a fitter lifestyle. I love that it helps make friendships and I love that it's inclusive and accessible to everyone. parkrun has changed my family's life and I can't wait for my little girl to print off her first barcode in 2019.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: When you get a group of remarkable people together, which is what parkrun has enabled, there are so many memorable and funny moments. For me the most memorable and personal moment was watching a sea of both male and female parkrunners with cushions for 'bumps' parkrunning in support of my wife who completed Roundhay parkrun on her due date – only to go into labour the following day. As for funny? The time that Dave Weight popped the birthday balloons without realising they hadn't been given to the lady whose birthday it was yet!