welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Ira Rainey shares a wonderful story with us which demonstrates the power of parkrun.
When I first heard about parkrun I thought it was a great idea - a local, free and inclusive run. As a runner that sounded fantastic, but I never stopped to think about the true power of parkrun, about how it much more than just a run in the park.
This is Roy Hale. Roy is 77 years young and a lovely bloke. His dog is called Cooper and a lovely dog.
Roy is one of the regular marshals at Pomphrey Hill parkrun where I am a run director. He turns up almost every week regardless and gives out encouragement to everyone running past him, doing the diligent job a marshal should. He never asks for anything in return nor has a negative word to say.
After first coming along to watch his grandchildren run, Roy found out his neighbours were keen parkrunners and asked them to register him so he could keep coming back and helping out. As much as anything it gave him something to do on a Saturday morning.
Roy is one of the many people I see and talk to most weekends at parkrun. I always thank him for volunteering, I talk to him about the weather; about parkrun; about Cooper, and I thank him every time I run past him, but until recently I didn’t really knew much about him.
I knew he was friendlier with some of our regulars than others, but didn’t know why, and generally being busy directing or running I never found out why.
But a couple weeks ago something happened. After twenty-one weeks volunteering, Roy decided to run - all three laps of Pomphrey Hill. He ran the whole thing from “it’s a run not a race”, right up to “well done, here’s your finish token.” It took me by surprise as Roy didn’t strike me as a runner, but who does?
That is part of the power of parkrun – that people who aren’t regular runners and don’t care about splits or GPS watches can turn up on a Saturday at their local parkrun and be a part of it. Whatever their age, fitness, or ability they are welcomed with open arms and supported from start to finish.
But that isn’t even its true power. The real power comes from the meeting of people. The sheer genius of one simple statement – “parkrun is a run not a race”, makes it welcoming and inviting to everybody. At its heart parkrun is about community.
For whatever reason, Roy Hale decided he was going to run 5k at Pomphrey Hill. Why? Well, only Roy can answer that. But as I watched him finish his first ever parkrun it reminded me why I love it so much.
He smiled the whole way around and was still grinning when I caught up with him later. People supported him; cheered him on; and spoke to him about it after. For a recent widower like Roy that is the power of parkrun.
Run Director at Pomphrey Hill parkrun
in the pink
Our friends at ERS, the only official supplier of personalised parkrun barcodes, have extended their range of wristbands to include a new extra small size. All four sizes are now also available in pink.
They can be ordered here with the option to include medical and ICE details along with the all-important barcode... your passport to parkrun.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 72,830
Number of volunteers - 6,001
Number of first timers - 10,870
Number of PBs - 16,055
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 got a text from an old friend today. I haven’t had one in a while. Over the past few years, they helped me to get started with running, encouraged my progress and introduced me to so many new friends and experiences. There to help celebrate the good times, and there to support me when times were bad. Always pleased to see me, never complaining when I can’t make it, regardless of reason. They introduced me to sense of community, and the ability to help them too. Sometimes I join them even if I’m not running. Above all, they’ve always been there for me. The text begun with “Nigel, your time in position…”. Thank you, parkrun.
I work for a not for profit social enterprise which provides community health and adult social services, as the Clinical Lead in a team called the Active Ageing Service. We are Health Visitors, Specialist Public Health Nurses and Support Workers. Our role is to support older people in their homes where we hope to keep them safe, well and enjoying life. When the team was first formed, we attended a lecture at the University of the West of England where we were told about the benefits of exercise. I was so excited to read in this newsletter that parkrun also recognised the link and had created a partnership with Alzheimer's Research UK. I asked if we could join Little Stoke and Bath Skyline parkrun to share information about our service and Alzheimer's Research UK, and to offer the runners fruit, cake and a drink. We were delighted that the answer was yes. Thank you so much for allowing us to celebrate our first birthday in Bath and North East Somerset and launch the service in South Gloucestershire - we had a wonderful time.
Last Saturday saw my nine year old Finn run his 50th parkrun. From week one Saturday mornings fast became the highlight of our week and have continued to be so - Finn’s enjoyment of running and his dedication has made me so proud. Thank you to everyone at Pontefract parkrun who have been so friendly and supportive, especially the lovely Ian Hill for his encouragement and for running with Finn on his milestone run as he is too fast for his old mum these days, they are all wonderful.
For the past six weeks as part of Saltwell Harriers Spring Series, up to 45 members of our club have ventured to six different parkruns throughout the North East - Gateshead, Newcastle, South Shields, Riverside, Blackhill and finally Sunderland. Each week we have been welcomed by the volunteers and had great chats with regular runners. The weather has been glorious to foggy at a soggy Blackhill but the atmosphere at each event has made it all worth it whether a PB was achieved or not! Thanks parkrun - we are going to miss our Saturday adventures!
My 15 year old daughter Sophie loves parkrun, she quite literally drags me there on a Saturday and it's now firmly embedded as part of her week. She was Sweatshop Monthly Prizewinner at Barrow parkrun and now has a super pair of new trainers. The parkrun community is a huge part of not only my family's life but many in the town. Once the run is over it's time for cake and there’s always great selection on offer. So to whoever first thought of parkrun, a sincere ‘thank you’ from a mother of a teenage girl who instead of lying in bed on a Saturday morning is up and ready for 'parkrun'!
Nestled in north Birmingham, in the shadow of the famous Alexander Stadium is Perry Hall parkrun. the event only started last November and usually attracts around 60 runners each week. This week was extra special as not only was the highly popular nearby Cannon Hill parkrun was cancelled but founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt came to visit! It was a big day for Perry Hall and I would like to thank all the volunteers for all their hard work. A big thank you to the event director, Adam Wilkins, who has also recently managed to secure a defibrillator through the British Heart Foundation's scheme. 213 runners turned up and we hope that some of those tourists will be back!
I was introduced to parkrun by my 50 club member wife, Frankie and have now completed seven in my home city of Armagh. We were lucky enough recently to holiday in Perth, Western Australia, where my son James, his wife Annie and my new grandson Nico live. It was easy to go to the Lake Joondalup parkrun in Yellagonga Park with our barcodes to be welcomed and applauded as international visitors. We also set PB's as it was nice and warm and flat. James and Annie joined us with James pushing the pram. My picture shows three generations of Knipe's at the finish line. You are never far from a parkrun!
I completed my second parkrun (well, due to MS, a walk in my case) at Fountains Abbey parkrun. A huge thank you to the tail runner volunteer as her support saw me through the last 3/4 mile which is where fatigue kicks in for me!
On Saturday the 13th June, myself and five other mums from Great Cornard parkrun will sadly be missing from our local event. This won't be because we are all going for a coffee but because we will be getting down and dirty at the Ipswich Pretty Muddy Race for Life. As some of us took part in the event last year we decided to create a team from friends made at the parkrun and it didn't take too much time to form our group of 'Merry Mums'. Thanks to parkrun for bringing us together and good luck to any other parkrunners doing similar events this year.
I started last Saturday's Basingstoke parkrun as usual, but soon realised that this run wouldn't be a quick one as I felt a bit of a dull pain from my right foot. I'd run in a club handicap two days prior so I thought it was just down to that. After about 4k it all went a bit wrong as I had a stabbing pain from my right foot but still laboured to the finish in pain. A trip to A&E 36 hours later confirmed I'd fractured my third metatarsal! Listen to your body and get it checked out, don't dismiss it as I initially did.
We recently visited Orlando and not only did the whole family complete Clermont Waterfront parkrun where everybody was just wonderful and welcoming but also advertised parkrun all around Epcot.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Colin Plews
Home parkrun: South Shields
Number of runs: 8
Favourite volunteer role: Tail Runner
What do you do at parkruns: When I’m tail running I try to give people encouragement and the confidence to do their best.
How has parkrun changed your running: I used to be shy about running in public but the help and encouragement of the parkrun volunteers and runners have enabled me to love running. I’ve made so many new friends and improved my time from over 40 minutes to about 26 minutes.
What do you like about parkrun: parkrun is without doubt the best way to build your self confidence as no one is judged on their performance and everyone is made to feel welcome. It is a great way for all runners even complete novices to learn from experienced runners.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: I’m known as ‘Big Pink Dress’ as it’s what I wear for my fundraising. As I’m six feet six inches tall and 19 stone I am quite a sight in a costume weighing three stone. I ran my full fancy dress marathon training run at South Shields parkrun and coping with 40mph winds dressed as Hairy Poppings wasn’t easy but the marshalls were brilliant.