Run report by Dan Rickett
An icier than expected wind picked up, and parkrunners congregated at Thames Valley Park for Reading parkrun’s event #469. Having only previously run Reading’s alternative courses (the relocation-to-Dinton, the three lapper, and the ‘nurkrap’), today I decided to run wearing a running buff makeshift blindfold. I should clarify, for anyone who spotted this, it was not a wardrobe malfunction, nor was it a Sandra Bullock Bird Box challenge. Rather, Event Director Teresa CASWELL and I had last week taken part in Visual Impaired (VI) Guide Runner training, and were keen to put our theory into practice before being called upon to offer guide running to a VI runner in a real scenario. Hitherto, as Teresa passed her dog’s leash to husband Paul and exchanged it for my guide tether, we trotted off tethered arm-to-arm to the distant hilarities of dog-walking punchlines from some of the more comedic parkrunners in attendance (you know who you are).
So where I would normally now report how many parkrunners walked, ran and jogged parkrun, I am afraid I cannot. I did not see any. I can reliably inform you, however, that after the calming voice of Run Director Sev KONIECZNY’s run brief and the loud dog barks of anticipation, an impressive 308 parkrunners audibly stomped, panted and spluttered around Reading parkrun.
Well done to Martin Proctor who completed his 200th run.
First footfall heard in the finish funnel was that of Alexander WHITTAKER – who also scored a new PB – and first female to voice her thanks after taking a finish token was Hannah MAHER – great running Alexander and Hannah!
Heavy breaths of exertion could be heard from 37 people as they scored PBs, including Roshni PATEL, Kevin TANG and Juliet BRABBEN– congratulations!
38 first timers, including Richard SCRASE, Fiona CALLAGHAN and Ross MARDEN, clunked across TVP’s bridge for the first time, and 16 of these heard the bleep of their own barcode being scanned for the very first time, as this was their very first parkrun – welcome to the parkrun family!
And all of this while 26 volunteers clapped and cheered in their volunteer roles – thank you!
From where Teresa and I were running, we agreed mid-run that today was scary, fun and informative in equal measures. Running blindfolded and as VI Guide made us take note of every undulation and bump on the course, every change in terrain, the depth of each puddle, each stone underfoot, and the angle of every corner that Teresa had to describe. I became acutely aware of the sound of nearby runners and the direction of the sun through my blindfold, but surprisingly found these disorientating rather than helpful. It will come as no surprise to some of you that Teresa took the task of delivering a (literal) running commentary in her audible stride; she was a natural.
If we don’t mention, as we had agreed not to, the small mishap* where I ran at full speed into the side barrier of the bridge and ricocheted 30 degrees back on target towards the home stretch whilst the running commentary continued akin to, “oops – are you ok, Dan? – is that a laugh or a cry? – oh good, laugh is ok – sorry about that – keep going, no one noticed – act natural – uneven grass ahead – are you still laughing?” …then it was a complete success!
(*I jest, Teresa was doing an excellent job of describing the approaching slippery bridge when this happened, and no harm was done)
I thoroughly recommend Teresa as a guide runner, and would happily be guided by her again. Hopefully our newly trained VI guide runners at Reading, Prospect, Dinton and Woodley will allow parkrun to become more accessible to a new audience on a more regular basis. So should you happen to see Teresa or me, or any of the newly trained local guide runners please give them a wide berth, a friendly hello, and tell them to watch out on the bridge.
Whether volunteering or running, the Reading team look forward to hearing you next week at parkrun – enjoy the rest of your week!
Thanks to the volunteers who made this event happen: Marie ARONSSON-STORRIER, Andy ATKINSON, C James BARR, Russel BARRETO, Linda BOOTH, Andrew BUTLER, Teresa CASWELL, Patsy COLLIS, Peter COOK, Oliver DYSON, Alix EYLES, Peter HIGGS, David HODGKINSON, Andrew HOLMES, Jennifer HOLMES, Suzanne HOOKER, Sev KONIECZNY, Charlie MACKLIN, Ian MAY, Ted MCFADYEN, Amelie PREVOST-SNELL, Nicola RANDALL, Daniel RICKETT, Chris SMITH, Jessica WARDLE, Francesca WILLIAMS