For the first time since writing my first ever run report I am nervous... I shouldn't be as since the start of the year I have written the run report for each of the parkruns I have been to. So I should be experienced! In fact I could even reuse an earlier report and with ctrl + h to just change a few details it would be done in no time. As my last parkruns have been all over the East Midlands regions I could get away with it... But not this week. One of the Rugby RDs (Not today's) had read a few of my reports before and is looking forward to reading this week's missives from my keyboard.
Over the last two years when I go on my parkrun tours, I have no idea where to go and blindly follow the postcode from the website to a new park. Adding a new venue to add to my total of different events. However today was a little different – I still followed the postcode (any tourists reading this the postcode is spot on for the carpark as it is right by the finish and only 2mins at a really leisurely stroll to the start which you can see) - but to a parkrun that I have run before. In fact, since the inaugural it has become my family's most visited parkrun – so is this now our home run?
What really made today different (and some more observant runners may have noticed – well the wearing of red and white quarters really sticks out) is that Rugby parkrun was chosen to be a handicap races for Massey Ferguson RC. One of the joys of parkrun is that parkrun can be so many things to any runner; a way into fitness, a slow recovery run, a speed session or a chance to try and chase down a club mate or fellow runner that you try and beat each week, all this whilst following the parkrun code and showing respect to other park users.
So I, along with 25 other runners from my club made our way over to Rugby however no one else from my club arrived at the carpark before 8am, before any of the superb volunteer team turned up. Tourism habits die hard – who wants to play find the start and chase the tail runner if you arrive late!
So to fill the time I tried to help with the set up – well I was allowed to put up one side of the finish funnel – whilst my daughter decided to stay in the car until nearer the start time and sow!
As I was chatting to the marshals and getting a team snap in my home made parkrun frame the news came out from My Running Club App that Coventry parkrun was cancelled – the wintery weather over night and the low morning temperatures meant that black ice was on course. I felt a little nervous that Rugby could be called off – safety of runners is always a priority – but the team had checked the course identified a slippery patch of tarmac – and positioned a marshal before it to warn runners. In fact if you listen to the run briefing carefully – or watched the signing you would have known all about it in advance. Which is why showing respect for the RD and your fellow runners during the prerun briefing is so important.
The new runners to Rugby parkun briefing was very busy – well 13 of my club were Rugby first timers and were joined by 13 others and 8 people who had never run another parkrun before! I always feel that those who turn up to their first parkrun in cold damp drizzly conditions are very keen and hopefully will return very soon to do that tricky 2nd parkrun. So welcome Sarah HAYWARD-BRADLEY, Roy HEALEY, Mark MACLEOD, Sophie BERRY, Irma Romina GALINDO LOZADA, Monika STANKIEWICZ, Rebecca IZZARD & Matthew KIRK I hope that parkrun becomes part of your regular Saturday morning routine.
Rugby parkrun was chosen for our handicap race as it offered some great trail running opportunities – before descending en masse we did ask permission as we wouldn't ever want to swamp a parkrun and risk it's future. We all love parkrun far too much for that. We came for the mud! I might not have mentioned the slight hill but I did warn them to bring good trail shoes!
Over the last year I have no previous time to beat so I just turn up and run. Each week I try and fit parkrun into my training plan – but more often than not it all goes out the window with the loud beep of GPS watches that signals the start of a parkrun especially if there are pacers wearing vests. Today, I needed to go hard to validate my handicap timings for the other Massey Ferguson Runners.
By the first turn onto the path the runners had started to spread out and my heart rate started to rise having run the course before I knew what to expect. After the wide start followed tarmac paths around the first field, through the gates and down the path (listening to the marshals warnings) and into the sapling woodland – downhill before switching back in the muddy corner to tackle the hill. With heart racing and gasping breath you enter into the next field to circumnavigate the football pitches and head back round to the start.
The course looks confusing on the map and my description makes it sound even more complicated but great use of cones and helpful marshals on route make it dead easy.
These on course marshals are the main reasons I started writing my run reports. I found that in writing them I sharing my enjoyment of the parkruns I visit (If anyone actually read them but far more importantly, it gives me a proper chance to thank those Hi Viz Heroes on course. As by lap two my gasped thanks have turned into a signed thank you gesture – but as I am tired and gasping it might look like I am blowing them a kiss as I pass! So I offer a huge THANK YOU to Samantha BERRY, Sophie BERRY, Morgan BRADSHAW, Marianne BUTT, Sarah BUTT, Amy CHASE, Lee CHASE, Tom CRAIG, Lisa CRAIG, Dinesh FERNANDO, Chris IDLE, Lisa JAY, Aidan JAY, Leo JAY, Helen JONES, Anna KIRK, Helen KIRK, Joel LEWIS, Oscar MASON, Mike PAYNE, Barbara PEARSON, Jasper RANSFORD, Paul SAUNDERS, Lawrence SAUNDERS for making this run possible today.
On lap two I glanced at my watch... and surprised myself with the time and distance it showed. Seeing club mates a few runners ahead of me all the way round the first lap had forced me to work a little harder. Forced me to try and keep them in touch. In fact, I even managed to run pass one on the downhill section - They should have heeded my advice on trail shoes
I was on for a decent time maybe even a PB. But what was my PB for Rugby?
School boy error – I had no idea. Normally this doesn't figure on my radar as a new events time is always set as your PB. So I just kept going, trying to catch the runner ahead and not be overtaken.
As I crossed the line, I pressed my Garmin button to stop my watch. I felt pleased with my morning's efforts and was feeling strong.
I wonder if that is how Rugby & Northampton AC's Dean OLDFIELD (VM40-44) felt as he crossed the line in 19:14 as the first finisher today? Or Maree Blossom JESSON (VW45-49) felt as she crossed in 24th place in 23:12 as first female?
Post run is where the really enjoyable side of parkrun kicks in. Well, it is once you have regained your breath, and are able to speak to others in sentences made up of more than three words. The chatting, sharing of experiences and cheering in your fellow runners.
The last time I came to Rugby the post-run drink and breakfast was at Butlers Leap, however no more. The venue had changed to Home From Home Café – again a little drive away from the park but so worth it. As I sat in the café enjoying a bacon roll and a latte – I am sure that this is just as an important part of my training plan as the hill reps I ran last week! – I waited for that text. Would I experience that joy 5 letters can bring? NEW PB!
Alas for me it wasn't to be... On my daughter Elizabeth's 9th run at Rugby she saw those words on her text just like Olly CATFORD, Sophie SHAW, Amber MERRICK-POTTER, Sarah PATRICK, John ELLIOTT, Paul GRACE, Steve WILKINS, Lisa UNWIN & Shyam LAMA. So a huge WELL DONE to you.
I was 3 seconds off! I should have tried just a little bit harder. Maybe used my arms more to drive up the hill? Maybe be I need to work on slinking through the gates better. Or maybe not indulge in so many lovely post parkrun breakfasts! Well, there is always next time!
Thank you to everyone at Rugby for being so welcoming to us all.
parkrun tourist (or maybe not?)
As with parkruns around the world, Rugby needs volunteers each week to make it happen. If you want to put something back into parkrun or you have a Cross Country Race in the afternoon and you know that really running parkrun isn't sensible, or you just fancy giving scanning a go, or want to be in charge of the stopwatch as timekeeper, please look on the roster and e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org There really is a role for everyone and you will be shown what to do.