welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Fitbit update us, parkrun UK is recruiting, we explain how age grading works, and Tommy Hill spreads his wings.
Shortly before I moved to Birmingham in 2013, the Equality Network in Scotland published a report called ‘Out for Sport’. The research focused on the negative impact that homophobia and transphobia has on the number of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people (LGBT) taking part in sport.
The findings made sobering reading. 57% of LGBT respondents said they would be more likely to participate in sport if it was more LGBT friendly. 62% had witnessed or experienced homophobia or transphobia in sport. Just 5% thought enough was being done to tackle the problem.
And while the report came out of Scotland and I was in Birmingham, and it focussed primarily on sport as opposed to physical activity in general, the findings and recommendations used those words and phrases that we in the parkrun community are all too familiar with: accessibility, inclusivity, breaking down barriers, community engagement.
So when I discovered that Birmingham didn’t have an LGBT running group, there was only one option – and it wasn’t long before the Birmingham Swifts was born.
With the support of the local LGBT Centre and Birmingham City Council I attended a leadership course and gained my Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) accreditation. The added bonus was that I had been an event director at Hanley parkrun before my move, and parkrun was the perfect model for establishing a group that was open to everyone who wanted to join. We started out as a social run on a set route from the LGBT Centre, which made it easy to spread the word, and we encouraged people to take part in local parkruns on Saturdays. All along I wanted parkrun to be part of the club plan, and connecting the two really opened the door and showed that running is for everyone.
What started out as a few mates going on a social run and extending the hand of friendship to anyone who wanted to join has turned into a running club with more than 50 members. We have a constitution, club vests and an affiliation to England Athletics, who have been incredibly supportive. As a result of Birmingham Pride this year our profile really ballooned, and hits on our website and social media channels translated into people turning up and running. 15 of our runners recently completed the Birmingham Half Marathon, many of whom didn’t consider themselves runners six months ago.
One of the reasons we’ve grown so effectively is because we are seen as a safe space. Sexuality isn’t an issue. The awkward questions people fear such as “when can we meet your girlfriend” through to genuine anxiety about using changing rooms are not barriers to participation.
The first time I had a call from someone I didn’t know asking about joining was from a Muslim woman who wasn’t sure if she could run but wanted to try. That was the moment I knew our club was going to work, and two years later that woman has two half marathons under her belt.
Just like parkrun, for some people our runs are the only ones they do. Some come for socialising, others to strive for a personal best and more and more are completing a Couch to 5k programme through our club. We also have a handful of non-LGBT members who came along to support someone at their first run and liked the ethos of the club.
Whatever the reason, all of us have had our lives changed for the better in some way. For me, I am always looking for ways to bring people into the running community and then help them progress. Just like parkrun, I can’t imagine life without the Birmingham Swifts.
new features from Fitbit
Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge users can now rely on SmartTrack, a new feature that automatically tracks workouts, like walking, running or outdoor cycling, and gives you credit for your activity towards your exercise goals.
It’s easy – now your tracker will automatically recognise that you’ve exercised, identify the type of activity, and record it in the Fitbit app.
SmartTrack only recognises workouts or activities where there is continuous movement, and can also be personalised. All you need to do is go to the exercise settings in your Fitbit app and select which SmartTrack activities you want to be recognised as workouts. Find out more in the SmartTrack FAQ.
A recent update to PurePulse heart rate technology for Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge enables an even better heart rate experience during and after your workouts. The update improves heart rate tracking performance when using Exercise Mode and multi-sport modes during certain high-intensity workouts.
With these three new features from Fitbit, you now get more from your exercise experience than ever before – more personalisation, more accountability, and more success!
SmartTrack and PurePulse are available now for Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge users on all operating systems.
If you need an extra nudge to get moving, it’s your lucky day! Fitbit now lets you set weekly exercise goals based on the number of days per week you want to be active. Exercise goals help you stay motivated on a daily and weekly basis by showing a picture of your progress. Exercise goals is available for iOS and Windows users now, and Android users will have access to this new feature soon. Learn more here.
BLACK FRIDAY FOUR DAY SPECTACULAR FITBIT SALE!
Check out the parkrun Fitbit store on Friday the 27th of November for some great deals* on Fitbit trackers including the Surge for just £159.99 and the Charge HR for just £95.99 – grab some great bargains!
*Offer valid from Friday the 27th of November 2015 at 12:01am until Monday the 30th of November 2015 at 11:59pm GMT. Offer applies to orders within the United Kingdom only. This offer cannot be combined with other discounts or applied after an order has been placed. Terms of offer are subject to change.
we are recruiting
From quiet beginnings, parkrun has grown to be a major force for grassroots athletic participation and community engagement.
Central to our ethos is that children’s participation at parkrun is primarily for fun, being free from undue pressure from parents, other adults or their peers and in the full understanding they are participating in a timed run rather than a race.
In order to support our growth, we are looking to appoint a Safeguarding Lead. The successful candidate will lead case management and policy development of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults at parkrun UK. If you are interested in applying then please read the Job Description and Personnel Specification and Application Procedure.
Please note: This is a specialist role. Applications will only be considered from experienced candidates who demonstrate they meet the requirements of the post.
parkrun UK is an equal opportunities employer. Applications are welcome from all sectors of society and all appointments are made on merit alone.
comparison by calculation
When the weekly parkrun results are produced, one of the statistics displayed in the results table against your name is your 'age grading' percentage. Age grading enables all runners regardless of their age or gender to compare their parkrun result to that of other participants.
The age grading formula takes your result and compares it to the world’s best time for your age and gender over the 2k or 5k distance and displays it as a percentage. The higher your percentage the closer to the world’s best time for your age you are. It’s also a great way to compare your performances as you get older as while your time may remain pretty much the same, your age graded performance might actually improve. It’s as good a reason as any to look forward to your next birthday!
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of parkrunners - 56,970
Number of volunteers - 7,173
Number of first timers - 6,639
Number of PBs - 6,198
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
On Saturday all five of my family completed York parkrun together for the first time. Four of us have clocked up a number of parkruns with me on 85, my partner Lucy Turner on 43, 14-year-old daughter Charlotte on 19, and seven-year-old son George on 18. Our six-year-old daughter Grace was clocking up her first parkrun having volunteered once previously. Despite going to several other attractions in and around York over the weekend, when we asked Grace on Sunday evening what her highlight had been it was parkrun. Very impressed with her choice given the strong winds evident at the Knavesmire on Saturday.
My brother had prostate cancer surgery in June of this year. It was a harrowing time for him and his family. I thought I would help by raising money for Movember and have run three parkruns so far with a lovely moustache! My final one will be on Saturday and I will be thinking of him throughout the run. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to fundraise in this way.
Last weekend I ran my 100th parkrun at Chipping Sodbury as part of a large group of Frampton Cotterell Harriers. This was a special day as I had great support around the course but also ran the last few steps with my son who is 19 and has global developmental delay. Two years ago he had a series of life-saving operations and one abiding memory was being able to run parkrun on the weekends during this time. It was my way of getting through it – thank you parkrun.
I am a three London Marathon man, although the last one was six years ago. I had heart surgery 18 months ago to repair a faulty valve and completed my first parkrun last Saturday – my first run since before the operation. I was thrilled to get round. Thank you for organising and running this event – I'm there next Saturday morning and hopefully many more.
Four young parkrunners – Ewan Hull aged 13 (98 parkruns), Henry Pipe aged 12 (90 parkruns), Alf Pipe aged 10 (102 parkruns) and George Craggs aged eight (105 parkruns) are all members of Tailenders Running Club, the club set up in 2014 for bellringers. They see each other regularly, despite living in York, Cambridge and Hartlepool, and decided they wanted to do something collectively in aid of Children In Need this year. The challenge they set themselves was to run at least a mile every day throughout November, with longer runs on some days, especially Saturdays! Progress has been excellent with no missed runs and more than £1,000 has so far been raised for charity.
Well done to Janet Pollard, the first of ‘our’ parkrunners at Yeovil Montacute to reach the magic 100 mark – it was nice to see the whole family out and the cake at the end was very nice too!
Martin Chaffey and the Yeovil Montacute team
My four-year-old Jayden completed his first parkrun in Chichester last week. I think he was the youngest parkrunner that day and did it in a very respectable 39:04. He got loads of support from all the runners and volunteers and loved it so much he is raring to go for his second one this Saturday! The photo is one of the 'official' ones courtesy of Mike Houston from the Chichester parkrun volunteer team.
It was our 100th Durham parkrun, we've done 170 in total but 100 at our home parkrun and we wouldn't have got this far without the great work of the volunteers and especially Alister Robson, the run director. He is always enthusiastic, encouraging and inclusive whether you are a first-timer, veteran of parkrun, buggy pusher, dog runner, child under 11, tourist or doing a special milestone run. He makes everyone welcome and we wouldn't have done all these runs let alone run any parkruns in New Zealand without his enthusiasm. Here's to many more. We are now looking forward to our 250th and more cakes.
After smoking quite heavily and drinking most weekends I decided it was time to get fit. I stopped smoking in January 2015 and started running two days later, doing just a couple of miles. Having never been interested in physical activity, I have proved that age really is just a number when it comes to changing your lifestyle and I have taken part in many races since then. During all this wonderful stuff I have also taken on a personal challenge to complete all the north-east parkruns. This Saturday I’ll be running the final one in Stewart Park, Middlesbrough.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Elaine Parry
Club: Ryde Harriers
Home parkrun: Medina, Isle of Wight
Number of runs: 105
Favourite volunteer role: Marshal – it’s great to cheer other people on!
What do you do at parkruns: I love the fact that you can run however you feel like doing it each week. Sometimes I just enjoy the run and a good chat on the way round and other times I feel like giving it my all.
How has parkrun changed your running: After spending many wet, frosty or sometimes even hot Saturday mornings watching my two boys run around the parkrun course, I decided I might as well give it a go for myself. So with much encouragement from family and friends I finally summoned enough courage, put on my trainers and had a go! I remember it very well as it was my birthday and a very dear friend of mine practically dragged me to the finish line with me calling out “I can't do it!” But I did. Six months later I joined a local running club and haven't looked back since.
What do you like about parkrun: parkrun is all about social running, people of all different shapes, sizes and ages coming together to do something that they all love. I love that all my family – my other half and my two boys – can run together. We have met so many lovely people since we started parkrun and quite honestly I can't think of a better way to get the family weekend started.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: There have been many great moments at Medina parkrun but the fancy dress sessions are always memorable and funny. I will never forget when there was a youth football tournament under way on the fields at Medina and we had to run around the outside. Many of the children taking part were children from my school and didn't quite know what to make of one of their teachers running past dressed as Batwoman.