welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Fitbit give us some tips, the Sweatshop sale continues, Change4Life invite kids to stay active over the summer and our founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt backs dementia research and celebrates his 250th parkrun.
I love parkrun! I bet you are surprised to hear that. What's interesting about that statement is that the milestone clubs don't really feature in the daily love affair that I have with parkrun. My everyday emotions are heightened by the smiles on your faces, the stories of human achievement that you tell me and the unbridled, inclusive love we all feel at every parkrun we visit no matter where we are in the world.
And so, with my 250 approaching, I decided it would be a low-key affair with the Bushy parkrun family. But, the folks in my team thought differently...
Many of you will know about the fabulous celebratory photo book representing the first ten years of parkrun across ten countries. It was designed, photographed and written by four wonderful volunteers and produced by parkrun - and thank you to those of you who have purchased a copy. Well, the team felt it would help improve sales of this book if I went on a book signing tour, with all proceeds from the book being used to further develop junior parkrun. We currently have 56 junior parkruns, which are changing the health of our nation.
With the book tour coinciding with my 250th parkrun, we ran a national social media competition which was won by the folks at Worcester parkrun. It was great to see loads of cheerful, inventive and suggestive comments which meant that when I arrived at the event I was welcomed by more than 500 parkrunners.
While I am normally happy to be one of the crowd at a parkrun, it was not possible at Worcester. Everyone wanted a chat, a hug or a photo, and loads of people brought along their photo book or Debra Bourne’s book about parkrun to have them signed. Some went a bit further, getting their fabulous milestone tees or their personal barcodes signed. I was a bit worried about destroying the new Tribesports club shirts with my signature!
The event itself started with a short chat on the phone to BBC Radio Worcester. After attending the first-timers briefing we were called together to hear the main run briefing. Event director Richard Ralphs welcomed me and I was presented with a huge card. Then one of our junior parkrunners, Alice, gave me a small, but perfectly formed badge celebrating the milestone. My day was already perfect.
The Worcester course is special. After a short sprint around a field we were into the forest for two laps. Eddie Freemantle, who has volunteered at Worcester parkrun more than 150 times, cheered us through ‘Eddie's Corner’ while at the end I was searched out by a volunteer called Elaine to ensure I was properly scanned. I met many people, all of whom were wonderful.
The volunteer team welcomed Joanne and I to dinner where we had the opportunity to get to know a number of the team a bit better. As they discussed their daily comings and goings, it was evident that the relationships built through parkrun infused all aspects of their lives. One man had tragically lost his wife 18 months ago and reported how the parkrun community had seen him through this awful period. Another who had moved to the area recently found that the isolation of a new city was made redundant through the actions of fellow parkrunners. The stories flowed throughout the evening and everyone there was holding me partially responsible.
While I created the values that we all hold dear, there are many folks who helped me develop these over the years. Our staff and I are responsible for the continued protection of these values, however it is you, the parkrunners and the parkrun event teams and volunteers who carry these values forward through your actions. And it's your actions that make all of this possible. I am delighted to represent you, to accept the accolades and awards on behalf of you but it is you who deserve all the praise. I remain indebted to you for your every action that makes our community more special. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And so it was that I had one of the best weekends of my life. I returned to my roots on Sunday when I volunteered at Moormead junior parkrun where I am a member of the core team. Witnessing the joy experienced by the children as they complete the 2k course is often enough on its own to make a weekend great. Celebrating my 250th alongside another eight parkrunners, spending time with the volunteer teams and watching the kids: that's all it takes.
Thank you to everyone who messaged me. Thanks for your kind thoughts and congratulations to the other seven runners who joined the 250 Club on Saturday: Kevin, Christine, Steve, Carol, David, Phil and Alison.
Paul’s interview with BBC Worcester is available here. It is 2 hours 44 minutes into the programme.
Greg Whyte’s parkrun tips
It’s been an exciting couple of weeks at Fitbit, and we’ve been working on some fun projects with our Fitbit Ambassador, Professor Greg Whyte. Greg is a former Olympian, a world-renowned sports scientist and the man behind the Sports Relief endurance challenges, having trained the likes of Davina McCall, Eddie Izzard and David Walliams.
We asked him to share a few of his top tips for running a parkrun – whether it’s your first or fiftieth parkrun, Greg has the low-down on how to maximise your runs, improve your parkrun performance and achieve your fitness goals – whatever they are! Check out Greg’s advice on our blog.
Our exclusive discount of £15 off any tracker plus free shipping is still open for all parkrunners so grab it while you can. As always, we encourage you to tweet us or leave us a comment on our Facebook page using the hashtag #parkrunfit to join in the discussion with fellow parkrunners and Fitbit users. Happy stepping everyone!
Paul backs dementia research
parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt signed up for Join Dementia Research earlier this year. The national service allows people to register their interest in taking part in dementia research studies across the UK. Here, Paul explains why he decided to sign-up and why others should too.
How did you first hear about Join Dementia Research?
We are beginning to hear more about dementia in the media lately, but I knew very little about it before parkrun UK’s partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK. Like many people, I was under the misconception that older people naturally developed dementia – I had no idea that it was a disease, and that it was not a normal part of ageing.
What prompted you to sign up?
Of course, the best way to reduce your risk of developing dementia is to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but now that I know more about dementia, I know that despite being healthy all my life, it can get me as well as anyone else. It seems clear to me that research is the way to beat dementia. The Join Dementia Research initiative gives you the opportunity to get involved in research and feel as though you can make a difference.
Have you matched to any studies?
So far I have matched to one study, I haven’t yet received a date for my appointment but my wife has her first appointment coming up, so I hope I get mine through soon. I’m open to everything, whatever will benefit other people – if the people in the know think it will work, I’m happy to help.
Why do you think dementia research is important?
Personally, I found Sir Terry Pratchett incredibly enlightening as he championed the importance of dementia research. The news has also recently been talking about a new treatment that has shown some positive results - this proves that research works! I am sure that with a greater understanding of dementia and what dementia research can achieve, many other parkrunners will want to know that they have contributed to research too. There is something fundamentally good about the fact that it is a combined effort. It is hugely powerful to have so many people working together to achieve the same aim, and that is to defeat dementia. For more information and to register, click here or call 0300 111 5 111.
Sweatshop sale counting down
The Sweatshop sale is counting down and as more prices drop and fantastic new offers are added, now is the time to visit your nearest store or shop online to pick up a running bargain!
With up to 50% off most ranges including running watches there is no reason why you shouldn’t treat yourself to some new kit to help on your next adventure or parkrun.
team up to shake up
parkrun is supporting the Change4Life 10 Minute Shake Up campaign this year. The campaign aims to keep kids happy and healthy this summer and there are lots of new and exciting 10 minute games and activities for kids to play. Every 10 minute burst of exercise can make a real difference and helps kids get the 60 minutes they need each day. Every child, every day, every 10 minutes counts!
We’ve been handing out leaflets and stickers at selected junior parkruns around the country to parents and kids so you may have signed up already. If not, then visit Change4Life online now to sign up and receive a free 10 Minute Shake Up pack (while stocks last) for your kids in the post.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 65,657
Number of volunteers - 6,440
Number of first timers - 10,704
Number of PBs - 12,682
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
Well done to Dave Edwards, Jae Hargan and Fay White for completing The Gauntlet at Castle Howard on Sunday. Five years ago my husband started parkruns, and he encouraged Dave, and then Fay, who were also keen to get fit. Times fell from 40 minutes plus to 25 minutes, and at the same time fitness increased. This encouraged them to do some swimming and go for some bike rides. Then came the 10k races and the half marathons. They met up with Jae at Heaton Park and challenged each other to do a triathlon last August. After this it was the half ironman. They trained hard all this year and they did it! And it all started with a 5k parkrun.
Ever considered guiding a visually impaired athlete but felt nervous about it? Don't be. It's fun and hugely rewarding. Guide running is like a three-legged race while you learn to coordinate movement and synchronise running action. The early stages are comical as you bump into each other. You need to give at least three steps notice of events. Too much warning and the blind runner starts moon walking in nervous anticipation. Random statements such as “watch out" mean nothing. Remember, blind not psychic! You are not expected to give a running commentary but things of interest help create the atmosphere and make the experience. If you enjoy parkrun then help someone else enjoy it too by guiding.
I get married on the 25th of September and have recently been on my mystery hen party organised by my bridesmaids. They took me to Durham for a fantastic weekend full of surprises! As they know how much I love parkrun, and I hate the thought of missing my parkrun fix, they surprised me with a visit to Hackworth parkrun. The organisers and runners there really looked after us and cheered every one of us across the finish line. It showed all my hens how parkrun is such a fantastic thing to be involved in, and they finally appreciated why I insist on getting up every Saturday. Thank you to Hackworth parkrun and to my home parkrun in Huddersfield!
A year ago this week I did my first ever parkrun and I still continuously love getting up and going to parkrun on a Saturday morning. Now a Saturday is no longer a Saturday unless I have completed a parkrun. Over my first year as a parkrunner I have had the honour of experiencing a true community feel and the support of others in something I love to do. The volunteers at parkrun do a truly amazing job week in, week out and not only manage to organise everything but offer words of encouragement and support from start to finish. I hope to continue to be a member of the parkrun community for many years to come. Thank you for a wonderful first year!
Raring to parkrun, and en route by foot to Preston parkrun, a sinking feeling kicked in with every step. No yellow signs, no event director, no other parkrunners. Yep, you guessed it – the event was cancelled. You’d think that with years of experience volunteering at parkrun I’d have checked the night before! Alas we were not alone. My puppy and I toed the start line with 12 other parkrun enthusiasts - 10 gents and three women, of which two were first-timers and three juniors - who also hadn’t realised the run had been called off. After briefly discussing our epic parkrun fail we set off on a casual group run anyway. As everyone finished we all stayed to support each other with cheers and unofficial finish line celebrations. Just think though, if it wasn't for parkrun, 13 complete strangers wouldn't have thought to go for a jog around a park on a Saturday morning, and then hang around for 20 minutes chatting afterwards. It will certainly be one of my most memorable parkruns (even if it wasn't official). It's a good reminder as to why you should always check the event’s website before setting off, listen to run briefings for future cancellations, and it never hurts to check social media networks too. Yes, I will be double-checking this Saturday before we set off - lesson learned!
Edinburgh parkrun celebrated its 300th run on Saturday, where we welcomed a record 642 people and organised cakes and juice to celebrate the milestone. The core team and the volunteers do such an amazing job each week to keep our event going and I wanted to give something back for them to enjoy, so I created a video for everyone to enjoy. The video lasts seven minutes and I have had lovely feedback from Edinburgh, so I thought I would let you know about it. Making the video was great fun, and it’s a great way to show off your local parkrun. Pop over to the Edinburgh parkrun Facebook page to check it out -
I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.
I recently returned from a 1000 mile charity cycle ride from Land’s End to John O'Groats with fellow parkrunner Neil Chapman. It was a two-week trip and, not wanting to miss our Saturday morning run, we completed the Hereford parkrun along the way. We would like to thank Nick, the run director, plus all of the volunteers and runners for making us feel so welcome. Straight after the run we got back on our bikes and cycled 100 miles to our next stop at Chester. The whole ride was amazing and the parkrun was definitely a highlight.
Last Saturday, the great team at Tilgate parkrun let our running club, Lingfield, take over for the day. Although many of us regularly participate, this was a fantastic opportunity to introduce others to the parkrun experience, as well as encouraging new members to run their first 5k. Our men’s captain, Vernon, was the run director, and other members took on many other volunteer tasks, as marshals, timers, scanners, tokens and funnel manager. We had nine members running as pacers, and of course several runners. It was a fantastic morning, and it made everyone appreciate how much work the regular team put into making the run happen so seamlessly every Saturday. Thank you Tilgate parkrun, we’re looking forward to doing it again next year!
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: Ian Connolly
Home parkrun: Watergrove
Occupation: Coffee Machine Dealer
Number of runs: 17
Favourite volunteer role: Not fussy
What do you do at parkruns: I run in the event and having a lifetime in sales, I'm used to mixing and striking up conversations with people. I'm happy to assist in anything that helps with the running of the event. I volunteer at least once a month and offer myself as a reserve marshal in the event of a shortage. I see it as putting something back into the community.
How has parkrun changed your running: It’s made me focus on improving stamina and strength, especially as Watergrove is such a hilly course. In an effort to improve on the hills I've taken up spinning and yoga. I thought I’d lose my street cred doing these activities but not at all. I'm now focused on improving my all-round fitness to improve my running. I was a sprinter in my youth, but the challenge of a 5k is something different, I never would have thought I could run 5k.
What do you like about parkrun: Watergrove parkrun has a good community spirit, I rather suspect because of the tough nature of the course. There are many who run it just once, never to return, so the numbers aren't as large as at some of the other events, which creates more of a community. It also gives me a regular aim and a goal to achieve a PB if possible.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: Crossing the line at a recent event with an old school mate of mine who had run as my pacer. I looked ready to collapse and he reminded me of Michael Schumacher in his glory days - he'd hardly broken sweat over the course. Whilst he gave me encouragement en route and was capable of fluent conversation I was barely able to reply other than in a series of grunts!