Normally when I volunteer to write the run report, no one has a clue who I am, or has read any that I have written before. My long suffering proof reader (the wife) would say that is a total blessing for them. If I am organised, I will have seen a gap on the roster and e-mailed in my offer to the Run Director. They might scan my parkrun volunteer credentials and see that I have done this role a few times before, they might do a google search – parkrun report Daniel Connolly - and read over one or two to let them know what to expect! Or they might just be delighted that someone else will be doing that role for one week that they say yes.
That is if I am organised.
When I am less decisive of my parkrun venue – like this week - only deciding on visiting Rushcliffe when I woke at 6am, I might check the roster when I arrive in the carpark and notice a gap or try and catch the Run Director at a convenient moment before the fun of parkrun starts.
Today Matt PICKLES was on his Run Directing debut with lots of volunteers from the soon to be started Clifton parkrun. I was in luck – he gave up his extra role on the roster to me! It was probably the photo of team of volunteers just as they headed out to start the set up in my parkrun picture frame that swayed it!
My parkrun tourism to Rushcliffe was not out of any necessity as I was in area for other reasons, but I came to run Rushcliffe. You see, I am a parkrun tourist! One of this strange band of parkrunners that although have fantastic free parkruns close to their home (3 within 20mins) will think nothing of travelling hours to run a 5km run somewhere else.
· Alphabetters - like my daughter trying to run a parkun starting with each letter of the alphabet. G – Gedling, Y – York.
· Regionnaires - People like me that try and complete every parkrun in a Region. I am after a second region having done the West Midlands. So I have a list of venues I keep on a spreadsheet showing the parking postcode and estimated travel time leaving at 6am on a Saturday from my house.
· UBER tourists – those for whom the tourism has become almost a lifestyle. Spending time planning and many, many weekends traveling all over the world to new parkruns – perhaps not running at their home runs for years. In fact Rushcliffe saw 4 such UBER tourists today – Rosemary EGBE (264 different venues), Nicola TARRANT (262) Carol Muir (224) and Neil Parker MCDONOUGH (116)
I shall have to start adjusting to being an UBER tourist too as I only have 14 more until I have done 100 different venues!
Initially my tourism was out of necessary – I wanted to run parkrun, but my son found running Coventry or Leamington boring and so out of necessity I started doing the odd different venue. Then in April 2016 one of my friends found out I was on the most events part of the parkrun website (having run 20 different UK events - there is a worldwide version of this list but you have to run 30 different venues!) so invited me to join a virtual running group on Facebook – UK parkrun tourist. Rather than having a t-shirt like other running groups or clubs – we love our parkrun shirts too much to wear something that covers these up – we wear a Cow Cowl (or multifunctional headwear - nb can be worn on wrist as well) so we can spot each other at different events across the world. This item isn't a free item given out by parkrun but purchased by group members. Any profits made are donated to charity – the last donation was to the parkrun new events fund, because more events means more tourism.
So after meeting Rosemary, Nicola and Neil randomly at different parkrun events before and more deliberately (Bushy Park Dublin!) and knowing that they would be at Rushcliffe made my choice of venue easy.
My daughter and I met up with Rosemary and Nicola at the new parkrunners / tourist briefing. Even though we have heard lots of them it is always good idea to have a vague idea of the course – one lap, two, three... more! Although at my speed I will always have a hundred or so people to follow, and the marshals on the course as well as offering encouraging cheers and shouts help keep you on track. As I imagine with parkruns all over the country in January, the Rushcliffe first timers briefing was very busy with many people deciding that parkrun is a good place to start their new fitness regime.
How right they are!
Walk, jog, run or volunteer at parkruns all over the country you will find a warm welcome from so many smashing people.
So a huge WELCOME to the 36 runners Olly CLAYFIELD, Roderick BRADLEY, Callum COOKE, Imran ARSHAD, Warren HABLUTZEL, Garry HOLMES, James CLAYFIELD, Tom HARROP, Chris HANKINSON, Anita WELCH, Elizabeth SIDEBOTTOM, Andy JARMAN, Jamie FREEBOROUGH, Maggie HUTCHINSON, Evie ARCHER, Elizabeth NADEN, Benjamin MASON, Gurmit NAHAL, Joanne Emma HANKINSON, Graham LOWINGS, Michaela ALLEN, Kevin COOPER, Michele PRESBURY, Nicola MATTHEWS, Samuel YEOMANS, Angela YEOMANS, Evie SHEPPARD, Vikki HOWE, Rachel RICKWOOD, Charly RODGERS, Ben SHEPPARD, Phil REEVES, Hannah STONE, Deborah MACK, Bev LEWIS & Lisa PICKERING who joined the parkrun family today at Rushcliffe. You managed your first parkrun in rather damp conditions (!!) so I hope that you can now make parkrun part of your weekly routine and no longer will it be just a normal Saturday for you, but parkrunday! Whether you return to do your second run at Rushcliffe or travel to any of the other 484 parkruns across the UK I am sure you will be welcomed.
One disadvantage of being a tourist is knowing whereabouts to position yourself at the start of a new parkrun. You know your time, but are unsure roughly who is your speed – you can never tell just by looking at someone how fast or slow they might go. As it is a freindly run I know you can choose to start where you like, but if I start too near the front I am like an articulated lorry in the middle lane of the M1 – a huge obstruction that needs to be passed with great difficulty. Those Rushcliffe passionistas (parkrunners that are loyal to their home run) know the field of runners well and where their position rivals are – you know that runner who is just ahead of you each run every week that you are desperate to beat! I know parkrun isn't a race but it is always makes the rest of the day even better if you do pip them over the finish line!
I started too far back in the field, my post Christmas cheese and crackers belly wasn't as bad as I imagined – or maybe the protein in the cheese has helped my running muscles come back stronger! So rather than starting a parkrun like I normally do - going off like a firework and eventually coming to a slow, sputtering end, I had to maintain a gentle pace to ease into the run as a space ahead of me appeared and I could apply some speed to slide through the gap gracefully.
This sensible pace around the first lap meant I could shout a cheery thank you to all those marshals who had given up their time on a wet, chilly Saturday so we could run. After looping the lake and passing the composting toilets and although tempted to have another go on the slide in the amazing playground, I realised I was back at the start and the field had now spread out so I should increase my pace.
Passing the visitors centre a second time, I remembered the cakes I had seen as I left my bag. It has somehow become a custom that many parkrunners celebrate their milestone runs with cake. Today Nigel HARRISON joined the 100 and Ian BENSKIN, Paul THOMAS, George MAYELL, Peter MILLER, Roger GRIFFITHS, & Brooke THOMAS all joined the 50 club – Although only Brooke ran with her 50 balloons. Mingwei LU, Oliver HALE & Matthew BAILEY all became members of the 10 club today. Sorry Oliver COX & Ian MARLOW although you both also ran your 10th run today you aren't juniors so can't claim a white shirt! Hopefully the new parkrun t-shirts will be back in stock soon and you will be able to order and wear them with pride.
The one slight shame about being a unique parkrun tourist (Only visiting an event once) is that no matter how fast you run, unlike Ciaran HICKEY, Kate MEAKIN, Holly FIELDER, Caroline BUNTING, Jack BOLTON, Simon EVANS, Matthew BAILEY, Colin JONES, Katie KIRK, Lizzy STILLIBRAND, Mark VAN DER ZWART, Ellen KNOTT, Felix BOON, Malc PERRY, Darren GIRDHAM, Louisa LANGTON, Fiona PEARCE, Andrew THOMAS, Paul JOELS, Louise JOHNSON, Martin RAZZELL, Donna COMPTON, Kirsty WEST or Kayleigh DICKINSON you will never see the words CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW PB on your results e-mail or text, as your first run time sets your PB. So a huge congratulations to those 24 runners today that despite the festivities and puddles on course managed to set a PB at Rushcliffe this week.
With runners now nicely spaced out on the course, I started to speed up (well my Garmin tells me I did a good negative split) and my thanks to marshals became a gasp and then a hand gesture. Which is why I try and offer to write a run report, not just as a record of my travels but as a way of properly thanking all the volunteer heroes in hi-viz who sacrificed their morning parkrun so I along with 472 other runners could enjoy a lovely run. So Jackie BRADSHAW, Phyllis CAO, Scott CAWTHAN, Kate COPPINGER, Ella COPPINGER, Emma CRANE, Lisa DICKINSON, Geoff HARDY, Hilary HAWLEY, Bill HAWLEY, John HESS, Elliot HORN, Jane HORNSBY, Pippa HOWES, Helen JEKIEL, Lynne KELLOW, Mike MACDONALD, Deborah MACK, George MAYELL, Rosa MEREDITH, Shaun MOORE, Dawn NADIN, Suzanne OLIVER, Chris PEASTON, Matt PICKLES, Alison POVER, Emma SHAW, Parbinder SINGH, Laura SMITH, Jo THOMAS, Naomi WAYTE – many thanks. As with parkruns around the world if you fancy giving scanning a go, fancy being the time keeper, marshalling and encouraging others or are happy to help out in any role please look on the roster and e-mail - email@example.com
Breathing like Darth Vader with a heavy cold I made my round the lake, not even slowing up on the slight incline – charging through the puddles (well I was wearing my old trainers) so apologies to anyone within 5m of me as I did create a number of really big areas of water displacement – aka splashes! I even managed to hold off John REMNANT in the final sprint for the line to collect my finish token.
This week Rushcliffe has an unknown first finisher... #dfyb – did they forget their barcode? As with parkruns everywhere it is No barcode No result. Or was it their one and only time of being first finisher and they kept that No. 1 position token as a souvenir? Even if you forget your barcode please return the position tokens - They do clearly say 'Property of parkrun' on them. It causes the Event Directors a lot of extra work to make a replacement. So first named finisher was Holme Pierrepont RC's Duncan MARTINDALE (VM50-54) in 18:32 but even more impressively with this weeks top age grade of 82.19 %. First timer to Rushcliffe, Rebecca GRANT (Active Dog Cornwall) (VM35-39) finished in 37th position to be first lady home in 22:15.
Proper parkrun tourism always involves a trip to the Café afterwards, but Rushcliffe doesn't have a normal café, but an honesty box, wash your own mugs social point in the visitors centre. And today it had an excellent selection of cakes – especially the unicorn cup cake. I tried to take a picture of it but somehow I ate it before I could find my phone! I might be slower next week at parkrun if I scoff all food this way! Whilst I chatted to fellow parkrunners the team sorted the tokens ready for next week and processed the results so I got my text on the drive home. As I was drinking my coffee we chatted to one of the Rushcliffe team gathering information for the run report on the well-travelled tourist from London before I said I had volunteered to write this week's report and would try and include something about them. He and then commented that he enjoyed my report from New Year's Day! (Gedling's or Colwick's I wonder?) Hopefully this report lives up to my past effort.
Had I not seen the Facebook post earlier, I would have had no idea that the new team from Clifton were having a practise go before their inaugural run, I would have thought that you were part of the normal core team at Rushcliffe, which bodes well for the future.
I am sure that anyone who can remember back over five years when Rushcliffe started will remember the first few parkruns were tricky for the team on a completely new route no matter how much practise and experience they had with all the volunteer roles. I am sure that Clifton would love to welcome tourist from Rushcliffe, but maybe after a few weeks when they are more familiar with how their parkrun operates and can handle the extra numbers - best not to swamp them in their first few weeks - as on an all grass three lap course with the recent weather we are having they probably have enough of a swamp to contend with. Anyway with Rushcliffe passionista Louise ARCHER and regular Morgan ALEXANDER both due to celebrate their 50th run next time, which I bet they will want to share with their Rushcliffe parkrun family why would you want travel next week?
Thank you to everyone at Rushcliffe for being so welcoming to us all. To the team from Clifton good luck and I will visit you in a few months's time with my family and parkrun frame when you are properly established (and maybe drier underfoot!) hopefully you will let me write your run report then.
Coventry parkrun tourist.