welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Intersport invite us to come and say hello, ARUK have places in the Silverstone Half Marathon up for grabs, Vitality update us on their offer, Fitbit introduce us to a parkrun convert, Catherine Edeam represents us at the London Sport Awards, and I hand over the reins after four incredible years.
I’ve led parkrun in the UK since 2012 and through that time have seen us quadruple in size whilst successfully maintaining the simplicity of our ethos of breaking down barriers to participation in (and delivery of) our free, weekly, timed runs. We now have 381 Saturday 5k events in the UK, another 81 Sunday junior events, 85,000 weekly runners, 8,000 weekly volunteers, and are in a wonderful position as we look towards the future. During this time parkrun has also been developing all around the world, where we now have another 340 weekly events, and 60,000 weekly runners, across 12 countries.
Looking forwards, our growth continues unabated across every country that we already operate in and new countries are approaching us on a daily basis. As wonderful as that is, we do face new and diverse challenges every single day and if we are to remain true to our grassroots ethos, continue welcoming new communities into the family, and supporting existing parkrun communities in the best possible way, then we need to develop as a global organisation.
It gives me great pride therefore to announce that from Monday this week Helen Hood has taken the lead across all parkrun UK events (5k and 2k) as her role changes to Head of Event Delivery (UK). Helen has been a dedicated parkrun runner and volunteer since 2011, was one of our first ever Ambassadors, is still the Event Director at Colwick parkrun, and has been the UK Head of Operations since January 2014. Her in-depth experience at all levels of parkrun volunteering and detailed insight into the day-to-day operations of parkrun UK make her the best person in the world to take over from me and lead on everything involved with the delivery of parkrun events across the UK. This change sees me moving into a more globally-focused role where I will be working with every single parkrun country, including the UK, and supporting them as they continue to deliver free, weekly, timed runs all around the world.
Some of you may be aware of the challenges that Little Stoke parkrun has faced over the past few months. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s shown their support, particularly those with a BS32 or BS34 postcode, and to let everyone involved with Little Stoke parkrun know that the parkrun family is behind them.
Finally, it’s great to see news (below) of parkrun volunteer teams being formally recognised within their communities. If you know of an award or nomination involving your local parkrun team please do let us know.
Although I imagine that I’ll pop in to the newsletter now and again, Helen will be taking over this monthly column from now on. So thanks for all the feedback over the past few years, it has been an honour writing to you all.
come and say hello to us in store!
Intersport is now officially connected to parkrun, and we would love to see you all in store over the coming weeks and months.
Our philosophy ‘Sport to the People’ recognises your passion for sport, and the huge role that the community plays within sport and physical activity. Being part of the growth of new parkruns across the UK is very exciting, bringing sport to the people together.
We are passionate about sharing our expertise and knowledge, and you are guaranteed to get the best equipment and kit with the best advice. Alternatively feel free to just pop in for a chat and let us know how you did at your latest parkrun!
Intersport stores are at the heart of communities across the UK, and we are looking forward to getting to know you and to sharing your parkrun journey.
Please visit www.intersport.co.uk for further information about Intersport UK and to find your nearest store.
run like F1
At Alzheimer’s Research UK we’ve been bowled over by the generosity of parkrunners who have fundraised or donated to help us continue our pioneering research into dementia.
But we also like to give something back to parkrun, our official charity partner, to say thank you.
So today, we are giving away places for the 2016 adidas Silverstone Half Marathon with no registration fees and parkrunners will be asked to raise just £100 in sponsorship money instead of the usual £250.
What better way to kick-start spring and clear out the cobwebs than with this 13.1 mile Northamptonshire run?
The route will wind around the famous racetrack which hosts the British Grand Prix every year. If you want to run round the same racetrack famous faces such as Lewis Hamilton, Juan Manuel Fangio and Jackie Stewart have sped round then look no further. And your family and friends can watch you from the stands where King George VI once sat, the only time a British monarch has visited a motor race.
So join us for this fantastic event on Sunday the 13th March by filling out this form: www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/event/adidas-silverstone-half-marathon.
There are still a few places up for grabs and we’d love them to go to our supporters at parkrun, but you’ll have to be quick as the deadline for signing up is Thursday the 11th of February.
We are grateful to all of you who have already joined the #TeamARUKparkrun movement, and we look forward to seeing you at the finish line!
Vitality Fitbit offer closing soon…
Following the great response so far from the parkrun community to our Fitbit offer, linked to a new VitalityLife purchase, we wanted to thank all of you who have responded and let you know our parkrunning advisers are now in the process of following up entrants individually.
Many of you already know that an activity tracker such as a Fitbit can help nudge you into doing more activity than you might normally. Add that to parkrunning on a Saturday and you are already taking positive steps toward a healthier future. When you add Vitality Life or Health cover into the mix, you will also be rewarded regularly for moving towards your fitness goals and in the process add more healthy years to your life.
If you want to find out more about Vitality and are interested in receiving one of our 50 Fitbit Flex trackers follow this link before the offer closes at midnight next Thursday, the 12th of February.
diary of a parkrun convert
“That familiar buzz on my arm from my Fitbit tells me it’s time to get up. It’s Saturday – I smile not because of a day off work, but because I’m heading to my local parkrun to challenge myself to a morning 5k and I couldn’t be more excited.”
If this sounds familiar to you, then you must be a parkrun convert like our Fitbit friend Lou. Lou tried parkrun for the very first time on Valentine’s Day last year – it’s certainly a different way to get the heart racing on that special day! Since then she hasn’t looked back, despite being told at first that she wouldn’t be able to run.
Nearly a year on Lou has gone on to prove them wrong, smashing 44 parkruns at five different locations. She says it’s the community spirit and enthusiastic volunteers that keep her coming back for more. She even got a little choked up as they cheered her around the course and clapped her home at her first event. The emotional benefits of taking part are also a huge plus:
“Running has been my therapy, my escape. It allows me to test myself outside of my boundaries and given me strength and confidence to believe in me, I can do it!”
Armed with her Fitbit Charge HR Lou can measure her parkrun progress, keep active throughout the week and encourage others to get involved too. It’s even got to the point where Lou’s partner Mandy refers to her Fitbit as ‘the other woman!’
As well a new found love for running, Lou has made great friends and reached her fitness goals thanks to parkrun. What’s your parkrun story? Share your journey with us on Facebook and Twitter.
If you want to track your parkrun progress like Lou, or even become her Fitbit friend to see who comes out on top of the leaderboard, use your parkrun discount to enjoy £15 off all devices here.
The new Fitbit Blaze is available exclusively for pre-order here.
London Sport Awards
I recently had the pleasure of attending the London Sport Awards on behalf of parkrun UK. The night was a celebration of the achievements of individuals and organisations who have had a positive impact within their communities in London through sport. I was most fortunate to be sitting next to the man himself, parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt and to have met fellow Event Directors, all of us sharing our parkrun journeys.
parkrun was one of three nominees for ‘The Bigger and Better Workforce Award’ (supported by Sport England) that recognises outstanding achievements in developing and improving a workforce whether it is paid or voluntary. As parkrun was announced as the winner there was a huge cheer from the audience. It is likely that many were parkrun volunteers and/or parkrunners themselves. It was a beautiful moment. The fact that parkrun won the award was a huge achievement (all the nominees had done such great work) and being able to collect the award with Paul will always be one of those special moments in my life. Words cannot describe how honoured I felt to accept the award on behalf of all the parkruns in London, the UK and beyond with the person who came up with the brilliant idea by my side.
This award is for everyone involved in parkrun. There are so many stories shared of how parkrun has touched and changed people's lives in the most positive of ways. Thanks to one man’s brilliant idea and his courage to start the journey many dreams have been dreamt and fulfilled. More are to follow. For all ages and abilities parkrun has crossed so many social boundaries by using sport as a vehicle. It is a force to be reckoned with. Long may it continue!
Event Director, Ally Pally parkrun
Visit our website to keep up-to-date with the abundance of nominations and awards the fabulous volunteers are receiving in the world of parkrun.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of parkrunners – 78,432
Number of volunteers – 7,887
Number of first timers – 9,928
Number of PBs – 12,195
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 the 9th of January I went along to my first parkrun at Christchurch Park, Ipswich having registered on the Friday. I was inspired by my father, Norman Phillips who, on the same date, became the oldest parkrunner in the world, at 92, to complete 100 parkruns. He runs at Brightwater on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. His achievement was covered by the local and national media, including TV and press. As for me, I have never run 5k in my life and am overweight, and haven’t done any training except for walking the dog. I wore an old pair of trainers, jogging slacks and short-sleeved shirt, and went for it. I'm 69 and recorded a time of 46:17. I'll be back!
While visiting Australia in January, my wife Wendy and I took the opportunity for some parkrun tourism. The morning after landing in Perth we ran the beautiful Claisebrook Cove parkrun in 30 degree temperatures. The following week, after arriving in Sydney, we completed Menai parkrun while a week later, on the day of our return home, we arrived at Cronulla to complete our treble. An undulating out-and-back course, this was the toughest parkrun course we’ve ever done. Cronulla’s varied terrain features spongy grass, soft sand and four significant hills! Despite that, it was a real pleasure to visit all three. We received an extremely friendly welcome at each event and also introduced our niece Suzie to the pleasures of parkrun.
After 10 months out with injury and getting frustrated at my long and tedious rehab process, I volunteered at my local parkrun, Hackney Marshes, on Saturday. Being part of it and talking to the wonderful volunteers and participants was just the motivation I needed. I've given myself little milestones: to run/walk it by March, slowly building up to being tail runner – and doing all the volunteering I can do in the meantime. parkrun is a wonderful thing. The friendliness and camaraderie at Hackney Marshes is a privilege to be a part of. I can't wait to be able to run it but I'm thankful that it can still be a regular part of my weekend until that day comes.
I want to say a big thank you to the runners at Newbury parkrun who sacrificed their run to assist my son, who took a big tumble in last week’s event. I'm not saying he is accident prone, but he found the only stone sticking out on the course and took quite an impact. At least 10 people kindly stopped, helped him up and accompanied him as he bravely finished covered in mud with cuts and bruises. I'm afraid it turned into a hospital trip and the diagnosis was a sprained knee – ouch – and a ticking off from the doctor (quite correctly) for not retiring. Not quite the tourism we'd planned, but we will be back!
At four years and 23 days you can’t be much younger to do your first official 5k parkrun, but Henry Baker was so keen to emulate his Dad and Grandad that he couldn’t wait to get started at Dulwich parkrun. With lots of support from fellow runners and watchers, Henry’s little legs took him over the finish line in a great time of just over 39 minutes. He won’t be running every week just yet, but I’m sure it won’t be too long before he collects his 10 club t-shirt. Thank you parkrun for encouraging running whatever age you might be!
With the football transfer deadline day upon us, Yeovil Montacute parkrun celebrated one of the staples of the Window – the professional reporter looking straight into the camera, unruffled as 173 runners go bananas behind him. And in timekeeper extraordinaire Noel Frost we have the perfect man for the job!
parkrunner of the week
Name: Anthony Smith
Club: Leighton Fun Runners
Home parkrun: Rushmere
Occupation: Industrial Temperature Man
Number of runs: 9
Favourite volunteer role: Course Set-up, Marshal, and Smile-on-Face Installation Wizard
What do you do at parkruns: I have volunteered at every Rushmere parkrun since we started in November. I get there at eight to take the air with whichever excellent bunch of volunteers are setting up the woodland course. At some point we'll inevitably comment on how lovely the park is today (it truly is). If I'm marshaling I find suitable words of encouragement and sometimes it even works! On the radio I relay messages to the team around our hilly landscape and try to avoid pretending to be a policeman. Now and again I'll bring a cowbell, and try not to stop the barcode scanning people from hearing their beeps.
How has parkrun changed your running: Milton Keynes parkrun was my first organised running event and it was incredibly exciting. I realised how much more fun it is to run with others. Not long after that, I joined Leighton Fun Runners. Rushmere parkrun started while my ankle was unworkable and I couldn't run. I had a hole in my life where the running club was – I was still a member but it's not the same when you're not active. I had to be involved, so I volunteered, and I found it even better than running.
What do you like about parkrun: It's the best way to start the weekend. What else does anyone with weekends really do at 9am on a Saturday anyway? What did I do before this?! I can't remember and I don't care! I love the woods and this is an utterly brilliant excuse to spend a couple of hours there in good company every week. The smiles and the appreciation from the runners make this truly satisfying and it just doesn't get old.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: I ran Gunnersbury parkrun (the 15th of June 2013 I think) and the timekeeper there was amazing. The course passes close to the finish line halfway round, so the volunteers at the finish have two chances to cheer the runners on. We reached the halfway point and the timekeeper was calling out the time, jumping up and down and whooping with genuine excitement. It was infectious. I knew in my heart that this was something I had to do. It was my destiny. If you're reading, Gunnersbury timekeeper, you're the best. You're number one. You're the BEST!