welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Alzheimer’s Research UK take their ‘hats off to research’, Vitality congratulate their Face, Chris Davies praises diversity, and we present our wallpaper gallery.
As Tom mentioned last week, we’re spreading our wings in the parkrun UK newsletter. This week, we’re bringing you the first in a series of interviews asking names from the running world to tell us ‘Why I Run’. As we’re passionate about the 5k distance and volunteering, who better to kick us off than former 5,000 metres world record holder and Director for Sport at Join In, Dave Moorcroft.
On a spring morning in 1985 I did what around 300 people now do every Saturday. I wandered from my home in Coventry to the Memorial Park, and I went for a run.
It was a far cry from three years earlier in a packed Bislett Stadium in Oslo when I had one of those moments that runners occasionally have. I felt like I was flying, like running was just so easy. On that day I broke the 5,000m world record in a time of 13:00.41.
But in Memorial Park I was alone. I'd been injured, had an operation in Germany, and hadn't run for months. I was about to take my first steps on the long road back to fitness.
I only ran for 100 yards, but it was one of the most enjoyable 100 yards I have ever run. In that solitary moment I learned to love running again.
That run was my first since the Los Angeles Olympics the previous year, which was one of the low points of my athletics career. I had gone into the 5,000m final with a groin injury and was relying on cortisone injections to manage the pain.
Despite my best efforts, I finished last - by a long, long way!
As I crossed the finish line I was using words like 'disaster' and 'tragedy' in my mind. I knew these words were totally inappropriate - we all know what disasters and tragedies are and losing a race isn't one of them - but that's how I felt. I was devastated. I didn't want to run, and I couldn't run because of the injury.
But even though it was one of my worst experiences as an athlete, it was one of my most powerful as a person.
That final act at the Olympics rekindled why I run and why I love it so much. I needed that awful experience of coming last in an Olympic final and then being unable to run for a long time because of injury to remind myself of why I loved running - which is purely because I can.
I have been running since I was 11 and it underpins who I am as a person. For a period of my life trying to win became almost an obsession, but the more balanced me now knows that the running, not winning, was my primary motivation. Running gave me confidence and helped me recognise my weaknesses. It's certainly a great leveller.
Our sport is unique in that anyone can toe the same start line as greats such as Paula Radcliffe in a mass participation event, and having top-level athletes getting involved in a grassroots movement like parkrun is really special. All different people at all different levels can share the same experiences at the same time at the same venue.
For all of us, no matter what pace we run, it often takes a long-term injury or illness to make us realise how lucky we are to do this thing we call running. It's the most natural of human movements, it's what we are born to do, and we should never take it for granted.
celebrity hat auction
Some of the world’s biggest stars have donated their favourite headwear for an auction to boost funds for parkrun’s official charity partner, Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Helena Bonham Carter, Simon Pegg, Seth Rogen, Boy George and Sharon Osbourne are just some of the big-name celebrities who have backed our Hats Off To Research fundraising campaign.
From now until 8pm on Saturday the 23rd of May, you can bid on a range of celebrity hats - many of them signed and pictured with their famous donor - by visiting www.hatsofftoresearch.org. All proceeds from the auction will go towards funding pioneering dementia research, giving hope to the 850,000 people across the UK living with dementia today.
Stand-out lots include a signed helmet from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, a Philip Treacy-designed hat donated by pop icon Boy George and a signed cocktail hat from singing sensation Paloma Faith.
Other celebrities who have donated hats to the auction include comedian John Bishop, dance troupe Diversity, racing driver Mark Webber, boyband Union J, singer Jahmene Douglas, Olympian Goldie Sayers, celeb blogger Perez Hilton, actor John Challis and milliner-to-the-stars Philip Treacy.
The response from celebrities to our first ever Hats Off To Research auction has been fantastic. From wizard hats and Panamas to helmets and beanies, there’s a great mix of headwear going under the digital hammer.
Dementia is one of the greatest threats to public health now and in the future yet funding for research still lags far behind other serious diseases. By supporting our auction, you’ll be helping Alzheimer’s Research UK take the fight to dementia. You could even get sponsored to wear your hat to your next parkrun, if you win the bid!
Our work just wouldn’t be possible without our supporters, including those parkrunners who have joined the #TeamARUKparkrun movement. Each one of you is helping to power world-class studies that give us the best chance of beating dementia sooner.
To bid on a celebrity hat, visit www.hatsofftoresearch.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Alzheimer’s Research UK
face of Vitality Run Hackney
Huge congratulations to everyone who completed the Vitality Run Hackney Half Marathon on Sunday! With the sun shining and over 10,000 runners taking the course, the event was one to remember!
Our Face of Vitality Run Hackney Danielle couldn’t recommend Vitality Run Hackney more for first timers looking to step up to a running challenge. Check out her final blog entry here.
Want to achieve a Half Marathon challenge?
Be part of the Vitality Run Series - a series featuring eight of the UK's most exciting running events, brought to you by Vitality. Get active and take on a new challenge - run one, run two or run the whole Series.
A Vitality Run Series event may provide the motivation you need to become a fitter and healthier you.
Find out more here.
Great British Tennis Weekend 2015
Dust off your racket and join the weekend fun!
Get outdoors and try tennis for free this summer at the Great British Tennis Weekends on the 16th and 17th of May, the 13th and 14th of June and the 1st and 2nd of August. Thousands of free events will be taking place across the country at parks and clubs that will offer fun activities and games for the whole family.
Rackets and balls will be provided and absolutely anyone can get involved. Whether you’ve never picked up a racket before or are a seasoned regular – there is no excuse not to come down. All ability levels are welcome so book your session today at www.lta.org.uk/gbtw.
Fancy a groovy parkrun wallpaper on your smartphone?
Visit our new parkrun wallpaper gallery to browse the 15 designs available and for instructions on how to download them to your mobile phone.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun):
Number of runners - 67,321
Number of volunteers - 5,967
Number of first timers - 9,679
Number of PBs - 13,129
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
Birmingham’s Cannon Hill parkrun last Saturday was dedicated to John Enright, a committed parkrunner, who collapsed at work exactly one year ago and died shortly afterwards. John was only 43 years old, and a loving husband to Rachel and their two young daughters, Lily and Poppy. His sudden death shocked us all so when fellow parkrunner and Harrier, Suz West realised that she would be running her own 100th parkrun at the first anniversary of John’s passing the whole local parkrun and running club communities came together, baking cakes for the big day and preparing for a friendly run-off between the two clubs. By 9am the bandstand was alive with trestle tables, bunting, club flags and, above all, cakes, cakes and more cakes. John’s wife and daughters, other relatives and former workmates, all came to share in this very special parkrun and were touched that so many people had played a part in remembering him in this way.
On an overcast morning at Fellfoot parkrun 100 keen runners turned out to test their strengths against the clock. Three of them were three generations of the Burton family - Ethan aged 11, Tim aged 54 and David aged 80. It was a great day for all the family and we would all like to say a massive thanks to the parkrun event and especially the volunteers who make these events happen.
Help please, I can't find my PB! The last time that I saw it was back in September last year. Every week I turn up at Watergrove parkrun in Rochdale and try and find it but so far I haven't had any luck. A couple of times I've seen it ahead of me in the distance and I've tried to reach it, but each time it just seems to get further away. One day soon I hope to see it again. If you think you can help then please join us next Saturday and we'll look for it together. Thanks parkrunners.
Big thank you to parkrun for all the good things you have brought us. This spring was good. My dad was the Sweatshop Monthly Prize Winner and I got it the following month. I completed my 50th run on my eighth birthday. Thanks to Sweatshop for their generosity, it is much appreciated. Our family has completed over 500 parkruns at Ecos since the event started just over three years ago. Special mention to Susanna, Matthew and Julian for all the good work they do each and every week to make the event possible. I am looking forward to many more parkruns.
At Pegwell Bay parkrun we have just celebrated our second anniversary. We have a regular runner by the name of John Hill-Turner who arrived at our anniversary run with the most fabulous cake. John's partner Caroline Vine made the cake especially for our anniversary. The cake represented the actual route that we run every Saturday and Caroline had even made icing leaves matching the official parkrun ones and had created the parkrun logo onto the cake too. We would like to thank Caroline for her hard work and effort that she put into the cake for us to enjoy which was appreciated by everyone. Thank You!
I just wanted to pay tribute to the role parkrun played at the London Marathon recently. Those Saturday morning runs mostly at Richmond Park parkrun and Northampton parkrun certainly helped my wife and father respectively with the base fitness needed to structure a training programme and give them much needed confidence they could run 26.2 miles. Whilst over two hours apart they both ran excellent races and as a husband/son, together with our kids, I couldn't have been any prouder. Now for them to break the 22:30 and 27 minute barriers respectively at a parkrun!
I have ran 102 runs, mostly at Edinburgh parkrun. My son Rory Greig is about to run his 100 parkrun just one week before his 15th birthday and my father Melvyn Greig has just completed his 50th parkrun as an over 70. Rory has been particularly dedicated to reaching his hundred before his birthday. It’s involved getting up and running on some rainy mornings, and even running four parkruns in Australia!
I discovered parkrun late in 2014 and began regularly running again in 2015. After having my daughter three years previously the time was right to get fitter and healthier and Telford parkrun provided such a friendly and informal way to do this I was soon hooked. Since January 2015 I am now seven minutes faster, have joined Telford Harriers, am planning on entering several 10km races over the summer and I am entered in the Cardiff Half Marathon in October! I am also over a stone lighter and feeling great. Running is in back in my life and here to stay. It wouldn't be there without parkrun. Thank you parkrun!
I just wanted to share how proud I am of my mum, Carol Hatch. If completing her 250th parkrun wasn't enough of an achievement, she also got a PB on the same day! I'm sure her friends at Bramhall parkrun will agree that it's well deserved. Here's to the next 250!
I would like to thank everyone at Riverside parkrun, Chester-le-Street for their support. On the 9th of November 2011 my husband, Steve, had a heart attack but thanks to the great medical care and support he received he is fitter than at any other time in his life. Riverside and the people there have played a huge part in this, he has gone from not being able to run 1/4 mile to running 50 parkruns, six half marathons and on the 31st of May he will run his first marathon in Edinburgh - two years ago he hated running, now there is no stopping him and that's down to parkrun. Thank you.
I just wanted say a big thanks to parkrun. I started in January with the hope of getting fit and getting my running passion back. Four months later, 14 parkruns and counting, I love St Albans parkrun. The volunteers are amazing and it’s so wonderful to run with a bunch of friendly people. On that note, I have just completed the Hackney Half marathon which feels amazing.
I am not the fastest or slimmest parkrunner in the world, but I had a lovely moment last parkrun. I was following a family, very gradually catching them up. There was a little girl, being helped along by Mum, and her younger brother was in a buggy being pushed by Dad. As I finally caught them up the young chap excitedly shouted, “Daddy, Choo Choo Train?” I immediately replied, “No – sorry – it’s me – panting!” I then added “Ivor the Engine, Toot Toot”.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Mel Carrington
Home parkrun: Maldon Prom
Occupation: Trade Union Official
Number of runs: 22
Favourite volunteer role: Tailrunner
What do you do at parkruns: After driving to the park as it's a few towns away, we mostly run and sometimes volunteer. My husband is a lot quicker than me, so I wave at him as we pass each other on the course and he cheers me on once he's crossed the finish line. After the run we either go for a cuppa and some breakfast at the local café, or if the weather has turned we head home for a hot cup of tea and a bacon sandwich.
How has parkrun changed your running: Firstly, I actually enjoy running now, rather than feeling it is a chore. I run with my husband, we began with the Couch to 5k programme a few years ago, initially to train for a six mile charity run and then progressed to parkrun. We go whenever the weather is not too grim and we are not busy. We have now joined a new local running group which includes things like interval running so we are challenging ourselves and always trying to improve.
What do you like about parkrun: Everything! I love parkrun - the atmosphere, the people, my competitiveness against myself and the satisfaction of knowing you have earned yourself some weekend treats. I'm always talking about parkrun to anyone and everyone who will listen, as it's great to have a free event, attended and organised by like-minded people. We love pushing ourselves to get new PBs and of course we are working towards joining the 50 Club.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: Just after arriving at parkrun one day, a man approached us to ask who the Run Director was, I pointed him in the right direction and continued to my volunteering role that day as timekeeper. It was only about 10 minutes later that I realised it was Paul Sinton-Hewitt, possibly the most famous name in parkrun world! But what was really great was watching a very young parkrunner sprint past him across the finish line with a big smile on his face and seeing Paul (and his dog) congratulate him and commend his running, a great parkrun memory.