welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Intersport say thank you to parkrunners, our steps get social with Fitbit and Strava, Alzheimer’s Research UK introduce us to a super fundraiser, we launch the parkrun youth panel, exercising women are invited to take part in new research, and Gillian Craig from Larne parkrun tells us about a life-changing moment.
I was born as a twin, and at an early age was diagnosed with a condition called Cerebral Palsy. I had many challenges ahead of me, including crawling, balancing, and learning to walk. But with the support of my family, I eventually took my first steps in a local park at the age of two and a half.
I spent most of my early and teenage years being a spectator, looking on at my friends playing sport. I always wanted to take part but I knew that I would never get picked to be in the teams as I would be too slow. Deep down, my only wish was to be on the team.
Then in August 2015, one very exciting and life changing thing happened.
My brother and his wife are into running marathons and half marathons, and when my niece and nephew visit from Scotland they always want to do our local parkrun in Larne, Northern Ireland. One Saturday morning they all went down to take part, and I went along to watch because I didn’t think I could do it. While standing there, I asked myself ‘Why am I watching this?’ I wanted to give it a go!
So I signed up, printed my barcode, and with great support from everyone on the course I completed my first parkrun soon after. When I reached the finish funnel everyone was standing and cheering me in – I felt like the Queen! I was so happy that I had found a sport that I enjoy and could take part in. Now all my family do parkrun every Saturday morning, and it’s great that we can enjoy it together.
parkrun has given me a whole new outlook on life. It has given me inspiration and enthusiasm, power and determination to succeed, and most of all it has given me respect. At parkrun I am treated as an equal and as part of the community, regardless of my ability. This isn’t always the case in the outside world. Through parkrun I have made many friends and look forward to every Saturday morning.
Because of parkrun, and in particular the volunteers at Larne parkrun, I don’t just watch sport from the sidelines anymore. I take part. And I don’t just cheer. I get cheered on. From my family and from the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank the parkrun community enough for your support and encouragement.
thank you parkrunners!
As proud partners of parkrun, we were delighted to see so many of you at our Manchester running event in association with Nike last week. With parkrunners counting for more than half of the group, it was a fantastic evening where you could try out the brand new Nike Lunarglide 8 shoe on a 5k run from the Intersport DW Sports store in Market Street.
The Lunarglide is a sleek looking shoe in great colours for men and women with many fantastic features that help you notch up the miles effortlessly – as many of you found out at the run. Many thanks to everyone who attended and don't forget you can claim 10% off at Intersport with your parkrun barcode as an ongoing parkrun partnership price #PPP.* Time to treat yourself to the Lunarglide 8 or any other new running gear!
Find your nearest store and we'll be on hand with plenty of tips and advice about running.
See you at your next parkrun!
*PPP valid at all participating Intersport stores; see our website for details.
** Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion.
steps get social with Strava
Social networking now uses your feet instead of your scrolling finger, thanks to Strava and Fitbit.
You can now enjoy the best of both apps together and enjoy the social aspect of comparing your workouts with others on Strava and also still track your everyday activity with Fitbit.
The apps are now fully integrated, allowing Fitbit users to monitor their steps and sleep at all times and share their more intense activity with the Strava community. So that means you’ve got a support network ready and waiting every Saturday morning after your parkrun.
Don’t have a Strava account yet? Give it a try! Using the two together is simple – you just need to sign up for a Strava account and integrate it with your Fitbit profile. Follow our step-by-step guide here.
running down dementia
This week we’d like to introduce you to Andy Morris, who is steaming ahead at number one on the Running Down Dementia leaderboard. He’s already raised £2,390 in the five weeks since signing up to the challenge – the first and only person to raise more than £2,000 so far.
Andy, who is a Run Director at Poolsbrook parkrun, and was previously part of Graves parkrun, took up the challenge in honour of his mum Peggy Morris and stepfather-in-law Tony Shanley, who both have dementia, and in memory of his auntie Joan Morris.
Peggy was diagnosed with vascular dementia three years ago and Tony was diagnosed with mixed dementia – Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia – around the same time.
Andy has already clocked up a whopping 250 kilometres during the challenge.
He said: “I enjoy running and do a lot of it, so I wanted to make the Running Down Dementia challenge harder for myself. I aimed to run 250k and raise £2,000. I tried to make the runs difficult – some were long, some were hilly and some were very muddy.
“I’ve been a big Birmingham City fan my whole life so, to make my final run particularly hard, I was challenged to run it in an Aston Villa shirt. That was the most challenging of my runs!
“My stepfather-in-law and my mum both have dementia but they’re very different. Tony sits and watches television a lot. My mum on the other hand is very restless. She can’t sit still and often asks if she can go home when she’s already there. We can see rapid changes in her.
“Research is the most important thing. It may be too late for Mum and Tony but it’s about helping people in the future.”
You can donate to Andy’s run or read his updates here.
Alzheimer’s Research UK can now reveal that the closing date for the Running Down Dementia campaign is Monday 31 October.
There’s no better time to get involved if you haven’t already, just go to our website to sign up and connect your tracking app to get started.
If you are signed up to Running Down Dementia, why not join our dedicated Facebook page for inspirational stories and support from fellow runners.
parkrun youth panel
A parkrun youth panel is being created to give young people the opportunity to help us shape the future of parkrun, particularly on matters which impact on juniors. We are inviting young people aged 4 to 17 to be part of the panel – anyone between these ages is welcome to join, and to choose how much or how little they wish to be involved.
Further information about the youth panel and how to get involved is available here.
iron deficiency in exercising females
Recent research suggests that just under half of exercising females may have a compromised iron status. The impact of iron deficiency and the criteria used to define it are ambiguous, therefore our research group, which is a collaboration between UCL and St Mary’s University and supported by Orreco are aiming to shed more light in this area.
Many women cite that their menstrual cycle impacts upon their training and performance, yet the reasons for this are not clear. One possible reason could be due to an unknown iron deficiency.
In order to begin investigating the effects of the menstrual cycle on performance, we have launched the IRONWOMAN trial, where we are looking specifically at the impact of low iron levels on exercise capacity, quality of life and mood. We are currently seeking exercising females, aged 18 years or over, who think they may be low in iron to participate in this trial. Testing is taking place at St Mary’s University in Twickenham and through this, participants will receive information about their current physiological fitness. Participants will receive an iron injection, with pre and post physiological tests. If you are interested and would like to know more please get in touch.
UCL Division of Surgery & Interventional Science
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
random stat of the week
The ages of both male and female first finishers at UK 5k parkrun events ranged from 9 to 66 last weekend. Two junior parkruns saw a six-year-old cross the line first!
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
It was lovely to be part of Eid celebrations recently at Cassiobury parkrun. Some of Cassiobury's regulars had been fasting during the month of Ramadan, so helped out by volunteering and we celebrated Eid together last week. We indulged in a delicious variety of foods – Indian mithais like halwa and pehras, doughnuts, and there's got to be cake at every Cassiobury parkrun celebration! The environment was lively, everyone enjoyed it and took part in the festivities. A big thank you to Cassiobury parkrun for organising such a fun run!
My local parkrun is Rother Valley in Sheffield and my first parkrun was on my 31st birthday. I had never run before with so many people around me. Everyone was so welcoming and really encouraged me on the way around. I did my second parkrun two weeks later and am doing my third soon. I never would have dreamed of doing a 5k, but I enjoyed it so much that I got my mother-in-law involved too. In November 2015 I weighed 16½ stone; I've just hit 14 stone this month and I never felt as though anyone was judging my size. Thank you parkrun for showing real community spirit.
One of the great things about our parkrun, apart from finishing, is looking at the photos afterwards. It's great to scroll through and see many of your friends in various poses. I was always disappointed that I always looked like I was walking, often with both feet on the ground, whereas everyone else looked like they were running with at least one foot off the floor. But a few weeks ago I spotted that the volunteer photographer was one of our club members, Andrew King, and I managed to achieve the elusive ‘off the ground’ shot (perhaps a bit too much). I also ran a PB so it may well have helped!
After more than 130 parkruns, 50 of these at Blickling in Norfolk, I noticed that the same people were there each week as run director. That means they cannot run most weeks. Then a few other volunteers started to help, so I made inquiries and found I would be welcome to volunteer as a run director myself. After covering all the volunteering roles, I was able to be run director last weekend for the first time. It's quite a simple role so anyone can do it. Like all parkruns, if no-one volunteers there will be no event. So why not give it a go… you have nothing to lose.
As kids get older – especially boys turning into young men – it is not cool to do things with your mum, especially if she is nearly 60 and runs in public! But after a bit of arm twisting and favours owed, my 23-year-old comes to Aberdeen parkrun when he is home from university in Edinburgh or has a break from training with Scotland’s Men's Senior Squash Team. Saturday morning was so lovely and it made my morning by doing something together, bonding and being active! He also met people he knew there, chatted away and came for post-run coffee. What more could I want? Thank you Chris and parkrun.
My grandson Felix Hawker, aged nine, recently took part in his 100th parkrun; quite an achievement. His little brother Barnaby age four completed his 10th. A sporting family to be proud of!
On 9 July our running club, Headington RoadRunners, took part in a volunteer takeover at Oxford parkrun. Having put the word out to members a couple of weeks before, we were delighted to have an unbelievable response in order to provide volunteers for all roles, including a pacemaking army and enough bakers to supply all with cake! We thought that we would offer to cover the event in order to give something back to our community, as well as promote parkrun to our members. The day saw more than 260 runners take part, with many achieving PBs, and first-timers learning why parkrun is so fantastic. Our club motto is 'Running Together', an ethos shared within the parkrun community. Will we do it again? Definitely!
On 9 July I became the proudest dad as my 10-year-old daughter Evie ran her 100th parkrun at our home course at Colwick Park in Nottingham, despite the worst weather I have ever known there! Colwick is famous for its puddles so we just ran through every single one and she loved it (okay so did I). parkrun is so good for developing kids’ confidence and in a couple of week’s time Evie's next challenge is guiding our visually impaired friend Terry.
An amusing stat – I finished Havant Parkrun in 22:22 and I was in 22nd place and was the 22nd male out of a field of 222 parkrunners. Would love to have seen the odds for that!
Nearly 200 parkrunning pirates descended on Hastings Pier on Saturday morning. Courtesy of the Hastings Pier Charity, the runners enjoyed the novelty of running the full length of the pier (more than 500m) as part of their normal seafront course. There were some superb costumes on view, tourists from all over the South East and the runners also donated almost £75 to the pier charity. Captain Jack Madden proved to be the fastest seadog in town, finishing 40 seconds clear of his fellow landlubbers!
Special mention from Yeovil Montacute parkrun goes to Ben Sowden who, with his wife Jo, is on a tour of the country’s parkruns in memory of his son Rory – you may have read his story in a recent parkrun newsletter, where he was deciding whether to aim for York or Yeovil Montacute for the ‘Y’ in Rory’s name. Ben, we’re glad you chose us and hope you enjoyed your trip!
parkrunner of the week
Name: Harry Park
Home parkrun: Redcar
Occupation: Nursery pupil
Number of runs: 11
Favourite volunteer role: Marshal
What do you do at parkruns: I have volunteered as a marshal with my dad and sister and I've also followed my dad around the course doing the ‘parkrun poop scoop’ before the runners start! My mum and dad are helping to set up a junior parkrun in Redcar and I'm looking forward to that starting.
How has parkrun changed your running: I was desperate to start parkrunning because my Mum, Dad and big sister all did it. As soon as I turned four I registered for a barcode and couldn't wait to join in. I completed my 10th parkrun aged four years, three months 12 days. I love it. I'm first out of bed every Saturday morning and don't let my family sleep in on parkrunday. I've even convinced my teenage brother to run with me every week, so now the whole family run every Saturday.
What do you like about parkrun: I love how everyone is cheered on whether they take 16 or 56 minutes to complete the course. Lots of people at Redcar wait at the end and cheer me on down the finish straight. I also love that my whole family do parkrun together. Even our dog Alfie runs with us. I also love orange juice and biscuits in the clubhouse afterwards!