What a lovely surprise it was to learn that I would be in Oxford to collect my parkrun 'O' on Oxford parkruns 7th birthday and I could not let such a momentous day pass without offering to write a few lines in celebration. The 'O' is for my parkrun tourists A-Z challenge for those who may not have heard of it.
When I spoke to Evelyn your Event Director on Saturday she told me that 7 years ago she decided to start Oxford parkruns journey off with a BANG on November 5th 2011. Evelyn and the team deserve so much credit along with everybody that's supported them for dedicating 8 years to the event if you include the year long preparation that starting a parkrun needs. In a similar way I was offered the opportunity to start a parkrun myself on the South coast at Whiteley and we started Whiteley parkrun where I'm the Event Director on April 1st 2017! No joke!
As Event Directors and Run Directors we are all very appreciative of everybody's enthusiasm and help each week. So please take the credit and accept a huge thank you from the core team and the runners for every minute of time you dedicate to delivering parkruns success.
The beauty of parkrun would probably take an age to describe but I'll try to sum it up here with as few words as possible. Is it about keeping healthy, or is it feeling part of a community or delivering a sense of achievement and providing a challenge? I bet we all share the same feelings towards parkrun it has that X-Factor doesn't it! (drifts off.....X ....now where's a parkrun with an X for me....? ).
Sorry, lets get back on topic!
It was a pleasure to hear that some of the original team still support Oxford parkrun and looking at the course set up that takes a bit of experience and knowledge. It's usually a job that attracts people that are hugely dedicated to their parkrun and I know you have that at Oxford.
After some words of thanks from Evelyn, your Run Director then welcomed new runners, visitors from Australia and Yorkshire and was speaking to a larger than normal crowd. There were 41 people doing their very first parkrun and if you scan the results there were a lot more new runners that must of forgotten their barcode. Many people are still discovering parkrun for the very first time and I think that's so exciting. Across the world there are now over 5,000,000 barcodes that have been issued! That's staggering!
It was beautiful weather on Saturday and although crisp it was soon very warm in the sun when we got started, the two small loops were something I'd not experienced and it was an amazing sight to see a full circle of runners before we headed off past the model railway. These days I often start at the back just to wonder at the sight of so many people enjoying their free weekly run and that's what I did with my wife on Saturday.
The small uphill climb is a nice test during the larger loops and I found my inner coach urging me to keep it steady and not to stop at that point and then before I knew it, it was back past the model railway and to the finish funnel and cheers from the volunteers. Another parkrun completed and my 256th run done.
I wandered back down the hill to meet my wife and gently jog in with her and within a few more minutes she'd completed her very 1st parkrun and believe it or not she enjoyed it! Who would have thought eh!
On Saturday your first finisher was an unknown runner, I think he may have been new to parkrun, so finishing 2nd was Paul THOMPSON in a quick time of 16.52. The 1st female home was Laura JOHN completing her very 1st parkrun in a time of 18.47. Congratulations to them both.
Bashir HUSSAIN and Rebecca STYANT joined the 100 club, Rodhri JONES and Nathan BLUNDEN joined the 50 club and Samara WARDLEY and Ben SIMS joined the Junior 10 club. Congratulations to you all. Ben finished in a time of 18.14! He's quick!
My wife and I finished the event with a chat to visitors from Flatts Lane parkrun near Middlesbrough which is the 2nd most difficult in the UK I'm told. David ASPIN is a Run Director there and it was lovely to meet him and his wife who were visiting their daughter for the weekend.
So that was Oxfords 7th birthday and I'm sure this event will continue to grow, the 499 runners this week was the highest ever attendance and a lovely way to remember the day.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY OXFORD parkrun!
from Martin de Wied and Yasmin.
The lovely Clive Jones was on hand with his camera once again to capture all the fun: