Our extended Indian summer seems to be continuing well into October. Usually the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, there have certainly been a few, gentle, early-morning mists in the last few days, but so far there has been no need to dig out the winter running gear from the back of the cupboard.
Sometimes the parkrun attendance numbers go down a bit in winter, which could of course be due to some people not enjoying running in the cold, but it could also be that some people feel a bit down-in-the-dumps as the dark nights and mornings draw in. Although this seasonal lack of motivation is not really classed as ‘depression’ it is on the outer fringes of the more severe condition known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
SAD affects around 2 million people in the UK and more than 12 million people across northern Europe every year, including children. However mental health problems can affect anyone, any day or time of the year, and the 10th October was International Mental Health Day. As a Forensic Mental Health Practitioner I am a believer in both medical and psychosocial interventions, separately or in combination, and there is widespread acknowledgment for the role of exercise, natural light and getting out into the fresh air as a way of beating the blues, and helping to alleviate the symptoms of even more serious forms of mental illness such as schizophrenia.
In recognition of World Mental Health Day and the power of exercise, our lovely Run Director Ally showed her support for better mental health and looking after your own emotional wellbeing, by narrating a conversation between two of English Literature’s wisest sages, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet:
"Piglet?" said Pooh.
"Yes Pooh?" said Piglet.
"Do you ever have days when everything feels... Not Very Okay At All? And sometimes you don't even know why you feel Not Very Okay At All, you just know that you do."
Piglet nodded his head sagely. "Oh yes," said Piglet. "I definitely have those days."
"Really?" said Pooh in surprise. "I would never have thought that. You always seem so happy and like you have got everything in life all sorted out."
"Ah," said Piglet. "Well here's the thing. There are two things that you need to know, Pooh. The first thing is that even those pigs, and bears, and people, who seem to have got everything in life all sorted out... they probably haven't. Actually, everyone has days when they feel Not Very Okay At All. Some people are just better at hiding it than others. And the second thing you need to know... is that it's okay to feel Not Very Okay At All. It can be quite normal, in fact. And all you need to do, on those days when you feel Not Very Okay At All, is come and find me, and tell me. Don't ever feel like you have to hide the fact you're feeling Not Very Okay At All. Always come and tell me. Because I will always be there.”
It was a great turnout today with 422 runners, 26 of whom were first-timers. I can’t mention you all but here’s a shout-out to a random few of you: Jack FINNEY, Helen FINNEY, Alison SHAND, Jason HODGE, Barney WILSON, Ashling SHAND, Filip PROCHAZKA, Keith WRIGHT, Ian BOWLES and Harrison YOUNG. Welcome all of you to the best parkrun in London.
There were also several experienced parkrunners visiting Richmond for the first time including Graham LE GOOD who finished in a brilliant time of 23:15. Graham is a bit of a parkrun tourist but mostly runs at Oxford. He is worthy of mention this week though because although this week was his first run at Richmond, it was also his 200thparkrun in total.
For the men, Omar PARSONS, James SUMPTER and Louis HODGE were the first three over the line in 17:07, 18:05 and 18:26 respectively. Louis’ achievement is particularly impressive because he is a Junior (11-14) and this was his first parkrun!
The first three ladies over the line were Justine DAVENPORT with a new PB of 21:08 (congratulations Justine), Alice LITTLER in 22:05 and Propella WOODWARD GENTLE in 22:15.
One of our regular (brilliantly funny) report writers Ian HARRISON ran his 250thparkrun today, as did Kate TURNBULL. Graham LE GOOD and Sue CAMP ran their 200th parkruns and Reza RAM ran his 100th. Other milestone runners were Richard FEIL, Wolfgang ECKLEBEN and Julie FORSYTH who all ran their 50th parkruns.
Commiserations go to Jonathan DICK who had to pull out just after the halfway point, and then had a painful walk back up to the start against the flow of runners with a sore knee. Our lovely tail-runner (one of the most enjoyable volunteer roles) Carol AIKIN, made sure Jonathan was okay before carrying on with her responsibility of supporting the slower runners up the hill to the finish.
Another important message Ally put across during her race briefing, was that parkrun depends entirely on volunteers; that is, parkrunners who give up running just three times a year to man barcode scanners, stop-watches, manage the funnel and act as tail-runners to support slower runners and nervous first-timers. We are extraordinarily lucky to be able to take part in a weekly event which is not only timed and recorded but free, and the only way this can happen week after week without fail is if parkrunner volunteer around three times a year. However, so few people do volunteer regularly (perhaps through the assumption that someone else will always do it, or perhaps through lack of confidence or shyness) that there often seems to be a hard-core of people doing more than their fair share of volunteering most weeks.
If you are a bit shy, or lack confidence and worry you might mess things up, rest assured not only will you be fully supported to take-up whatever role you volunteer for but it is a great way to meet likeminded people. And if volunteering has just never really occurred to you, give it a go anyway. You will enjoy it and the majority of people are so grateful you will definitely feel the love! You get your name in lights too - well, perhaps not in lights, but you do get a mention on the official Richmond parkrun page and in the race report too. A big ‘thank you’ for this week’s volunteers who made it all happen!
Ally PICKARD • Amy ENGLEHARDT • Ben RUSHBY • Carol AIKIN • Clive LESTER • Edward FRANCIS • Fiona WHATLEY • Francesca CREASY • Gillian SANDY • Hadi KHATAMIZADEH • Imogen LEE • John GRAHAM • John LOWIT • Jonathan JACKSON • Joshua GLASER • Kyoko MURAKAMI • Maia RUSHBY • Serge LOURIE • Simon TAYLOR • Susy BEAN • Timothy HUGGINS • Victor LI
Just in case the Pooh and Piglet quote resonated with you or on behalf of someone you know, you might find the following links helpful.
Hope you all have a great week and manage to get a few runs in as well.