Sat 22nd Dec come along dressed up to celebrate Christmas. We want to see a plethora of Santa hats, Santa outfits, elf costumes, fairies, angels, shepherds, wise men (we'll be lucky), cows/sheep (one per parkrunner on a short lead), Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus (within arms length of a responsible adult) and any other costumes even vaguely related to the Christmas period and in however a manner you choose to celebrate it. This is your Sunderland parkrun family and it's our Christmastime parkrun together. Everyone, it's time to twinkle twinkle and sparkle like a little parkrun star.
Ever since I’d started doing a bit of parkrun tourism, I’d been looking forward to finally getting my original home town Sunderland’s parkrun done. I’d ticked off nearby Durham, Riverside, South Shields, Whitley Bay, and Newcastle - but not Sunderland for various logistical reasons. As a child, Silksworth Ski Slope had been a landmark visible from the car when visiting my grandparents, almost on a par with Penshaw Monument, but I’d never actually been to the sports complex or to the ski slope.
So my wife and I came up from York on Friday, visited family in Sunderland and Penshaw and checked into the Grand Hotel at Seaburn on Friday night. I left the hotel just before 7:30am Saturday morning with my wife still sleeping, and jogged along the sea front to the city centre. When I say jogged, in reality it was a very difficult battle against the wind which separated me from my running cap on a couple of occasions. Finally, Fawcett Street was reached and handily there was a bus to Silksworth just about to leave – the parkrun gods were on my side. After a relatively quick journey the driver told me where to get off, and I jogged up the path to the foot of the ski slope. I was a bit early so had a jog around and went to the top of the hill to get a view back to the sea. Hopefully I was in the right place, but not entirely sure at that point.
Then the run director arrived and I had an inner sigh of relief. I helped set up the funnel but the wind was constantly testing the tape’s strength and pulling at the poles. Then a few more volunteers and runners arrived, all commenting on the wind. I said at least it’s not raining, shortly followed by a mini shower! Should have kept my mouth shut. I got to see where the Sunderland team go to do their results, and have a cuppa – it looked great, and I felt a bit sad I’d need to head back quickly after finishing rather than join in.
Lots more people started to arrive and chat now, the same thing happening in hundreds of parkruns around the country and indeed the world. Warm ups, stretches, discussion of niggles and injuries.
Soon it was first timers briefing for those just joining the cult of parkrun and for the tourists. A nice lady gave us a warm welcome and the low down on the course and how parkrun works.
A man with a suitably loud voice gave the main briefing and the RD got the 149 runners underway with a 3 – 2 – 1 – GO!
It’s always a bit strange doing a course for the first time as you don’t really know what’s coming. So it was off to the right, along, round a tree and back. Then some down-hill, a bit more and another bit of down-hill! That was nice, happy with that all day long! A longer, flat stretch and then we arrived at the lake, I knew from the briefing we had to go around twice, so took the first lap steady and then tried to speed up a little bit on the second one. Once the second lap was done I though right time to speed up a bit more and see if you can catch up with one or two runners further ahead. It was feeling relatively comfortable but then I could see a man up ahead who had slowed down to a walk. Hope he is okay! Then you realise why – it's hill time. It felt like a long, long climb back to the finish. My legs were very heavy by now – battling gravity to get back to where we started. Then what a relief to finally enter the finish funnel and get a token. I needed a minute or two to recover before I could find the strength to get my barcode out for scanning! Then you get scanned and the endorphins start to flow. What a great parkrun and what a way to start the weekend! Volunteers you are heroes, thank you!
The conditions made it tough, but 7 incredible runners achieved a PB, they all deserve a mention: Gavin Cowen, Claire Moss, James Ballantyne, Wah Tang, Tracy Cowans , Peter Simpson and Christine Cass-Evans. There were a few milestones achieved. Roger Moore reached 300, now there is a man who deserves a P007 token. Sean Walton and Brian Charlton joined the 100 club. Congratulations to all 3. First male finisher was Tim Field and first female finisher was Madeline Squires – incredible running from them.
I’m looking forward to coming back in the future and giving a better account of myself on that hill finish. If any of the Sunderland regulars fancy a flat PB course then I can strongly recommend York and Heslington (also in York) – no hills maybe just a speed bump or too!
A big thanks to all of the volunteers who organised and set up the event, briefed, started, marshalled, timed us, handed us a token, scanned us, and gave us a result:
Jane NIVEN • George William HURST • Stephen WILSON • Stephen SNOWBALL • Mark Andrew ROBINSON • Stephen BARRY • Martin BALDRIDGE • Linda DODSWORTH • Elizabeth COLEY • Jo DOWSETT • Peter LAWSON • Sophie SNOWBALL • Maisie ILEY
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Sunderland parkrun Results Page.
The male record is held by Liam TAYLOR who recorded a time of 15:26 on 6th August 2011 (event number 90).
The female record is held by Aly DIXON who recorded a time of 16:46 on 9th February 2013 (event number 165).
The Age Grade course record is held by Aly DIXON who recorded 89.37% (16:56) on 2nd September 2017 (event number 403).
Sunderland parkrun started on 10th October 2009. Since then 6,355 participants have completed 63,331 parkruns covering a total distance of 316,655 km, including 10,092 new Personal Bests. A total of 515 individuals have volunteered 5,095 times.
Our regular Sunderland Foodbank collection takes place on the first Saturday of each month. Our collection on Saturday 1st December will therefore be our last collection before Christmas.
If you are able to and you wish to contribute, it would be lovely if we could donate some Christmas related items. The foodbank does Christmas hampers so we could help create those. We're getting this note out earlier than usual to hopefully give you plenty of time to get whatever you would like to donate, and as always, please do not feel that you have to do this, this is entirely voluntary and we put no pressure on anyone. It is more to provide the facility so that those that wish to donate, can do so.
For the Christmas hampers, some nice tinned ham would be very welcome.
Other items might be stuffing mix, bread sauce mix, Christmas pudding, Christmas canned veg, cranberry sauce, or even Matchmakers, Toblerone and Chocolate Orange. I'm sure we all have our Christmas regulars. Maybe crackers (biscuit or the pull apart kind), chocolate coins but no satsumas please since everything needs to be long life.
Sunderland parkrun will not be holding a Christmas Day run, but we will be holding a New Years Day run at 9am.
Happy midweek everyone. This coming Saturday will be our first parkrun of November and hence we’ll be holding our usual Sunderland foodbank collection. There is absolutely no expectation that you will donate, but if you are able and you would like to, the foodbank is most in need of Tinned Fruit, Tinned Fish, Coffee, Custard, Rice Pudding and Tinned Potatoes/Instant Mash. (They have plenty of Beans, Dried Pasta, UHT milk, Cereal and Biscuits). Thank you. Please note, we will also have a student coming along who is making a film for Sunderland Foodbank.