Run report for April 21st – victims of our own success?

It looked like this week’s run report was going to take an unexpected turn from the theme that I had envisaged when I started to give it some thought a couple of days ago, but then the more I looked around that corner I began to realise that I was seeing further evidence of my principal subject (concern).

Sometimes, perhaps when you least expect it, probably through complacency, you realise there is a risk of being a victim of your own success.

As we have said before, we are very fortunate at Rushcliffe that we very rarely have to issue a request for volunteers. The ones we have are magnificent and most weeks our roster is largely complete by the Monday before, with a mixture of those who don’t want to run, the long term injured and our group of D of E students. It is the same names filling the slots each week. And that is fine, except a couple of our long term injured are now running again, and understandably, and quite rightly, want to get back out on the course as often as possible after missing several months because of their various ailments. Our D of E students are reaching the end of their 26 or 13 weeks with us and, equally understandably, as teenagers they want to get back to lying in on a Saturday morning. The latter group will be replaced, but most likely that won’t be until September and we don’t want to see any more of the first group!

All of which means we have a roster with an increasing number of gaps into May and beyond. We would really like to encourage more people to volunteer and experience the pleasure and fulfillment of a Saturday marshalling, timing, scanning or one of the other roles.

But here are the concerns generated from being victims of our own success.

Firstly, when it is the same group of people meeting in the Education Centre at 8.15am before heading off to set up the course, they know one another, their names, their children, their parents and the conversation flows freely. That can be perceived as ‘cliquey’ to new volunteers. ‘Cliquey’ is a polite way of saying unwelcoming. And, to quote another well-known phrase ‘perception is reality’. We try really hard to be welcoming and encouraging of new volunteers, we need them, we want them to enjoy the experience and tell their friends so that they will also join us one Saturday. We're trying and, maybe, not succeeding.

Secondly, the run report is probably the last place to be making this point. Those who are engaged enough to read our weekly offering are probably engaged enough to volunteer. We are preaching to the converted. (Just how many clichéd well known phrases can I get into one run report?) In marketing terms, we are not reaching the target market for this particular message. Nor does the so-called volunteer email. Of the 8,575 parkrunners registered to Rushcliffe parkrun less than 300 ticked the box to receive the volunteer email each week. (For those of you re-reading that last sentence, yes, we have 8,575 people registering Rushcliffe as their home parkrun. Imagine if they all turned up one Saturday!!)

Now there is a circle to be squared!! On a positive note, the request for new volunteers included in this weeks pre-run brief has been successful and maybe is a pointer for where we should target our message.

The potentially unexpected turn from being victims of our own success came from the incidents we had in the funnel this week. However, the successful inclusive appeal of parkrun to all does include those who maybe don’t buy in totally to the parkrun ethos. Which probably contradicts our own philosophy, because we are not welcoming and inclusive of those who don’t support our family friendly, it’s a run not a race objectives. I’ll leave that there other than to say the overwhelming positive comments on facebook show that 99.9% of our parkrunners do understand our philosophy and the support is reassuring and heart warming. Thank you.

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Now lets get to the good bits. Starting with tourists – we had two families from Australia and they didn’t know one another. Apparently it is a big country and those living is Brisbane do not know those in Melbourne. Welcome to the Raniga’s from Brisbane (Bharat is on the left) and the Kennedy’s from Melbourne (Gabriel on the right). I managed to discover that the Kennedy’s were over here for a sister’s wedding – I think Gabriel’s Aunt - and will be jetting back to southern Australia by the time you read this. Other tourists were from Telford and Bedford.

Our Telford tourist was Nicky, pictured above with Jacob. The t-shirt gives it away, but Nicky is Running Down Dementia in support of Alzheimers Research UK, which is the charity partner of parkrun. The Running Down Dementia campaign is encouraging parkrunners to run 100km before August 31st to raise £100 to support the important work of Alzheimers Research UK. You can find more details on their website via this link.

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It was a lovely morning for running and 86 achieved personal bests out of the field of 424. Obviously too many to mention, but I will draw attention to a few ‘old stagers’ (they’ll love that description) that delivered a PB after many months, even years of trying. In no particular order congratulations and well done to Jonathan Cross (159th parkrun at Rushcliffe and first PB for 2 years), Lindy Clarke (108th , 6 months) and Darren Fisher (141st, 18 months).

We know that 30 minutes can be a target for many. Will paced quite a bunch around to that time, and hopefully a few PB’s too. Thank’s Will and we hope you enjoyed your Sunday jog around London (he’ll have finished by the time he read’s this).

The day was captured superbly by John’s photograph album. If you haven’t seen it yet follow this link to the full album on Flickr. Just admire the smiles, waves, grimaces and sheer effort on some faces.

Ho hum. Hopefully this run report demonstrates that the positives will always vastly outweigh the negatives. We hope you had fun and look forward to doing it again next Saturday.


Run report for April 14th – this time Spring has really arrived!

I started my previous run report (on March 24th) with ‘Spring is Sprung?’ I was wrong, it hadn’t!

On Saturday, however, spring was definitely with us in Rushcliffe Park. Geoff was in his shorts, the local birds were singing and the volunteers fingers were not frozen by the end of the run. I think everyone in South Notts woke feeling like they had a spring in their step and we had a massive parkrun turnout of 512 runners.

The 512 included over 60 Rushcliffe first-timers, one of whom was David Jackson (pictured) my own personal all-time Nottingham Rugby hero! Over 60 ‘PBs’ were achieved today. Will Meredith ran a PB on his 220th parkrun and Taylyn Yule on her 3rd. The turnout of 512 runners was actually the 4th highest here since our parkrun began in 2012. The highest was 634 at Christmas 2016 (we ran out of finish tokens and people were queuing to cross the finish line!) and the lowest was 33 runners in January 13. The 33 that day included the aforementioned Will Meredith, and Tracey Clay who was one of our tail runners today.

Families running together (often involving several generations) is a feature of our parkrun. Often it is young children running with parents, and the youngsters are often straining at the leash by the time they reach the age of 11 and are allowed to take off at their own pace and leave their parents behind. Reviewing the results today I can see loads of repeated surnames - Sawicka, Coggin, Zarfas, Nettleship, Yule, Delahay, Cockman, Knights, Brown, Rawson, Marshall, Walker, Oldfield, Sosin, Cranton. Apologies to any I’ve failed to spot, and also to any on the list that aren’t related but just share a surname!

Sarah Smithies celebrated her 100th parkrun by bringing us some cakes, and Katherine Wilson and Elise McGhee ran their 50th. Yvonne Walters also celebrated by running here on her birthday.

As usual, the volunteers did a brilliant job. There was a mixture of old-hands, young Duke of Edinburgh volunteers and brand new people. Welcome and thanks to Keith and Louisa Langton helping for the 1st time, and Jenny Aitchison who returned for a 2nd go after giving it a try last week. They had a baptism of fire with today’s large number of runners but I’m sure that they will return! Send us an email or talk to the RD on run day if you would like to give it a go yourself.



Run report for April 7th – brought to you in black and white.

One of the objectives of the run report is to highlight the unusual and unique happenings at that particular week’s event. To provide some background and explanation to things you may have seen, or bring your attention to something you may have missed, as you completed your two laps of the park. Perhaps to add some colour – well, if that is the case this week’s run report is most definitely coming to you in black and white. I have so many questions about this week’s parkrun and yet so few answers.

Let’s start with Paul Wheatcroft, pictured above with his backpack. I know that Paul completed his parkrun in 34 minutes and that he carried his packpack, weighting 16kg, all the way round. A tremendous effort, but it does beg the question why? I don’t know why he was doing it. Is he in training for another event? A marathon? A half-marathon? Why 16kg? If only I had thought to ask him.

Then there is this group from the Bingham Tri Club, pictured just after completing round 2 of their parkrun cup. What (or maybe where) was round 1? How many rounds are there? Do they have similar challenges for swimming and cycling? I fear my journalist career may be very short lived!!

It gets worse. Adrian Bunting achieved a PB with us this week in an excellent time of 22.09. And that wasn’t even the highlight of his day – he married Alice later on in the day. He chose to start his wedding day with a parkrun at Rushcliffe and I didn’t even manage to get a photograph of Adrian before, or afterwards. He normally parkruns in Newcastle, and that may explain why we had so many tourists from the north east (or it could just be coincidence – I didn’t ask), so why was he running in Nottingham? Maybe Alice originates from these parts?

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There are some things I do know about this week’s parkrun. Lots and lots of milestones, again. Congratulation to Lorna Pilbin on her 100th. Lorna is seen above with her family just before setting off to complete her milestone run. Having paved the way for the Pilbin family in 2014, she is now joined most Saturdays for a family get together.

Other milestoners this week were Una Thorpe, Robert Thornton-Jones, Rob Morgan, Louis Massarella – all achieving 100, and Steve Lowe his 50th.

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We love it when Notts Womens Runners have a couch to 5k graduation Group at parkrun. They always bring a party atmosphere with their ‘sea of purple’, their rapturous encouragement and mutual support for each other, and their cake. They always bring lots of cake. Congratulations to the ‘Ruddy Rebels’ section of NWR and in particular those completing their first 5k parkrun. You were all absolutely brilliant. There were 35 first time parkrunners this week with many of them listing NWR as their running club. Bring you happy smiling faces back soon – please!!

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Lots of tourists too. Many from Newcastle – presumably to support the bridegroom, others were from Liverpool, Brierley Forest, Ipswich and St Andrews. We hope you enjoyed your time at Rushcliffe.

We even had a tourist volunteer (or is it volunteer tourist?) and were delighted to have Rory Marriott (pictured on the right of our volunteer photo) as one of our Funnel managers – Rory was in the area to visit his son and kept up his parkrun volunteering by joining us for the first time. First time volunteering at Rushcliffe, but 466th time in total. I think it is fair to say, and an understatement, that Rory is a stalwart of parkrun. Thank you for joining us at Rushcliffe and we hope you will be back next time you are in Nottingham on a Saturday morning.

The other volunteers were magnificent too, but then they are every week so no ‘colour’ required.

There were lots of smiles and waves from our 415 parkrunners, captured here by one of Jo Thomas' excellent photos. You can see many more on our flickr page. Unlike this run report Jo's pictures are in colour.

See you next Saturday.


Run report for March 31st – the highs and lows of parkrun

The ups and downs of parkrun come in many different shapes and sizes. The Rushcliffe ‘parkrun office’ has recently experienced pure joy (we don’t get out much theses days, except on a Saturday morning) when we received the above letter from Elizabeth. She had been to Rushcliffe to take part in a cross-country event and as she was leaving found our position token no.128. Elizabeth is clearly a budding detective and, as a regular participant at Hucknall Juniors parkrun, she recognised what she had found and where she had found it and knew how delighted we would be to get it back.

Thank you Elizabeth (and mum Sarah) for taking the trouble to contact us and reunite token 128 with its friends in our token box.

Our finish tokens are very precious to us. We only have one for each finish position and, whilst we can cobble together replacements when they go missing, the substitutes are never as reliable when presented to the barcode scanners, hence our excitement at 128 being returned to the fold. The finish tokens are, arguably, the glue that holds together our results process. They are the essential link between your barcode and your finish time. Without them we would have a list of parkrunners and a list of times, but not be able to match one with the other. Each returned token helps us, and the whole Rushcliffe parkrun community, to operate effectively.

We always welcome back any of our missing tokens and if you happen to know where one or two may be hiding please, please bring them back. Hand them to any of the volunteers and be thanked, or just drop them in one of the ice cream or washing powder tubs that we use to keep them in each week after scanning and before being returned to the Education Centre for re-sorting into order, ready for the following week.

The more typical ways of enjoying a parkrun high is to achieve one of our milestones. We had lots again this week with Ed Hodgkinson and Michael Miller completing their 100ths. Both only started their parkrun participation in early 2016 and have barely missed a week since with Ed doing 99 of his 100 here at Rushcliffe.

Mark Smith (above), Mark Filer and Beth Rushton all completed their 50th parkruns. We are always delighted to give name checks to anyone completing any of the regular parkrun milestones (50, 100, 250) in the pre-run brief. You just need to tell us!! Either in an email to, as Ed and Michael did; a message via facebook or a tap on the shoulder of the Run Director on a Saturday morning, as Mark S did. If going for the latter please do it before 10 to 9 as we can be a bit busy between then and 5 past.

It was Easter (had you noticed?) and there were clearly a lot of regular parkrunners away from home for the Bank Holiday and chose to join us as tourists. They came from Manchester, Bolton, Coventry, Oxford, Blackburn, Stevenage and Bishops Stortford. We hope you enjoyed your time with us and promise the paths aren’t always that wet.

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I’m not going to go on about the weather, for a change. It was much better than forecast and turned out to be ideal for running and volunteering as long as you didn’t mind getting a little dirty. Richard Harland made the point in a response to our facebook post that quite a lot of the gravel from the park paths was taken away on the back of legs and clothing. Are there any engineers out there that could devise a way of collecting the gravel as it is washed off and then returned to the park the following week? I’m sure Keith would be delighted to have it back on his well-used paths.

The volunteers were magnificent, as usual. We did have a little hiccup with processing the results caused by one of our scanner machines having an ‘off day’ when its data was downloaded. Thankfully nothing too drastic and, after a couple of emails from those affected, we were able to sort out the anomalies and get the results up to our usual standards.

See you next week. Spring really is going to arrive over the next 7 days.


Run report for March 24th – is Spring sprung?

Spring is sprung? At last we were blessed with some nice weather this week. No snow, no ice, no deep puddles, no wind and just a few droplets of water in the air to keep us cool. Conditions were ideal for running and many of you made the most of it by turning in PBs.

Those marshalling around the course need to be in place at 9am, but the rest of the volunteers take down the start funnel once the run is underway then amble over to the finish line, where we generally have 10 minutes or so to chat before the fastest runners reach us. We often speculate about the number of runners that have turned up (we’re pretty good at this now after 286 parkruns), we talk about what our favourite volunteer roles are (mine is marshalling, some like timekeeping, I’ve never heard anyone say that they like giving out the tokens!), and we chat about life in general and our own running and running ailments. Then the 1st finisher come into view and we all get into position and concentrate on our jobs and start yelling encouragement!

I ran the Rushcliffe 10k on the day after parkrun. It was very well organised, with a cast of many helpers and organisers in many roles all around the park. There were over 600 runners (compared to the 300-400 we normally get at parkrun), and loads of hi-tech equipment for recording times. It caused a few of us to reflect on how amazing it is that we successfully manage a large parkrun every week with just 20’ish volunteers, 2 stopwatches and a few barcode scanners! It works because we have a bunch of experienced and enthusiastic people who turn up regularly along with a sprinkling of new volunteers each week (thanks and well done to this week’s new boy, Simon Ripton).

We celebrated Alex Loach’s 250th parkrun this week. He has run at 28 different courses but is a regular here and we’re pleased he chose us for ‘The Big Two Fifty’. Also reaching milestones were Willem Knights (pictured below) and Nikki Dixon who both ran for the 50th time.

I wanted to finish by mentioning our new near-neighbour, Clifton parkrun. It’s only a few miles down the road and offers a very different experience to Rushcliffe at this time of year, with a ‘cross-country’ style course featuring mud, molehills, large puddles and more mud. I’ve both run and volunteered there in recent weeks and can confirm that it’s great fun and run by a friendly team, many of whom have previously been regulars at Rushcliffe. It’s an easy way to get a stamp in your parkrun tourism passport, and still be home for breakfast at your normal time. You can find more details on their webpage and facebook group. Just click the links. I am Run Directing there next Saturday and it would be great to see you.


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