It's a mystery
I've been a Run Director (RD) at Tring parkrun a fair a few times now and it's a mystery to me quite how I get away with it! So it was especially rewarding to see so many smiling faces yesterday, so many personal achievements, so many family memories being created (and so many celebratory cakes being consumed!) despite a storyline worthy of a kids cartoon developing rapidly behind the scenes.
The first mystery was "where are the cows?". They were nowhere to be found. With the benefit of hindsight, sending the Cow Marshals off with the vague instruction of "I'm sure you'll find them" wasn't very helpful. Not surprisingly they returned later reporting that "we couldn't find them either". At this point I had slightly less vague visions of them hiding behind the trees, cartoon style, and ambushing the Tail Walkers at a critical moment. More on the cows later.
The next mystery is why I failed miserably to post a marshal at Gate 1. Seriously! I did think it was strange to be left with one too many marshals at the start line. My solution was to ignore this obvious anomaly and send the spare marshal off to look for the cow marshals. The Gate being closed must have come as something of a surprise to the fastest runners and I appreciate Tom North coming to the rescue and opening it before most others arrived. Where is Jim Maple when you need him?
Don't even get me started on the "parking" on Hastoe Lane!!! This will be the topic of a stern, "go and stand in the naughty corner" message later in the week.
So, how many took part this week?
On the face of it this is a reasonable question that should be easy to answer.
I should start by saying that with such a busy finish line, with lots going on, our timer/token numbers seldom match exactly at the first go. Our heroic Timekeeprs and Finish Token volunteers have to contend with "double crossers” (people who cross the line more than once), "funnel duckers” (who duck out of the funnel without collecting a token), ”token magpies”, and various random non-participants who get in the mix somehow. These we can normally sort easily.
Yesterday, however, we had a few ludicrous discrepancies that defied all known human logic and common sense. I was absolutely baffled and after much head-scratching in the Akeman had to admit defeat. Another mystery. It took the combined brain power of Andy Evans (who can calculate Pi to 5 million decimal places in his head) and Ross Lambert (who thinks of differential calculus as a recreational sport) to solve the mystery. Thanks guys.
Officially we had 301 participants cross the line.
The comedy continued when I confidently asserted this was our 2nd highest turnout. It wasn't. It was the fourth highest (still very impressive) and the highest on the new course. Whoop!
Of the 301 finishers 43 were very welcome "first timers" at Tring, of which 15 completed their first ever parkrun. Well done.
At the other end of the scale our very own Andy Evans was the most experienced parkrunner, completing his 214th. And visitor KC Lloyd was our most experienced first timer on 180 parkruns.
We also had several special milestones to celebrate. First of all we had an amazing five people join the junior 10 club - congratulations to Nicole Giraldo, Thomas Lipscombe, Matthew Kuht, Ruby Dack and Connor Farquarson. Matthew marked the occasion with a new PB, and Ruby was running her first parkrun at Tring. Great to see.
And very well-done to David Severs, Samantha Lindars and Will Drath who all joined the 50-club, with Will being the youngest to achieve this at Tring (he's only 7, bless his little running shoes).
46 runners achieved a Personal Best - really great on such a humid morning. Of these we saw 2 PBs in 2 weeks for Amy Billington, Karen Morton-Smit, Ian Shenton, Chris Nicholls, Charlotte Owttrim and Stephen Brookman. We also saw 6 PBs in last 6 appearances for Nathan Cook, 4 in 4 for Jo Glass and Callum Hunter-Whitehouse, 3 in 3 for Dan Butler and Emily Ford. Epic stuff!
We also witnessed other notable times: Betty Huggan set the 3rd fastest ever VW70-74 time and Tilly Green improved her own 3rd fastest ever JW15-17 time by 1 second.
Of the runners who have run at leat 5 times, 5 improved by over a minute - David Taylor (2:43), Callum Hunter-Whitehouse (1:33), Jo Glass (1:14), Nathan Cook (1:14), and Lucie Repova (1:07)
As usual we had a really great volunteer team. Without them there would be no Tring parkrun.
A big thank you to Chris Bill, Alison Bill, Melanie Brookman, Chris Dalton, Grace Fensome, James Foskett, Claire Hallissey, Keith Henderson, Sidney Hudson, Frances Leff, Richard Long, Sam McCormack, Paul McCormack, Richard Murphy, Chris Nicholls, Heather Painter, Andrew Powell, Dennis Raffety, Phil Roger, Charlotte Severs, Christina Stevens, Philippa Storr, Charlie Summerson, Adrian Summerson, Jake Summerson, Dominic Veal and Emma Weller.
A special mention goes to Alison Bill who volunteered for the 25th time and qualifies for a lovely, free, parkrun volunteer's T-shirt (on the subject of which...the new ones are really great!!!)
Several of our volunteers have never ran a parkrun nor intend to do so. It's a great way to get out and be part of a growing community. If you know anyone that might be interested, connect us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteering makes you more attractive to the opposite sex and increases your mental and physical dexterity. It's a bit like the Crystal Maze sometimes on the Finish Line. You are also much more likely to win the lottery after having volunteered, or to discover that the old vase your auntie Maud gave you is actually priceless. But, most importantly, it's easy and it's fun. Email us at email@example.com to find out more.
One of the things I really like is the way so many of our spectators throw themselves into the fun. Cheering, applauding, hi-fiving, cow bell ringing all helps create the friendly, encouraging atmosphere parkrun is famous for. This week we had an exceptional team of informal volunteers and helpers making the morning just the bit more special for everyone. Thank you.
We didn't have an official photographer this week but we did have a couple of videos, one of the brilliant finish line support and the other of the entire new Tring parkrun course by international running vlogger Baze187 (Richard Bazeley)
Special facts bonus
We know you love this stuff.....
Not content with 2 weeks ago become the 66th person to run 66 times at Tring (and helping sort out our results processing!), Ross Lambert becomes the 67th to run 67!
28 people finished in minute 30 - the 2nd busiest minute we have ever seen. The busiest being when 29 finished in minute 31 at parkrun #144
1st time we have seen 4 Clares, 3 Victorias, 3 Darrens, 2 Caroles, 2 Waynes and 2 Lucies
1st time we have seen the names Magnus, Bryn, Loui, Leighton and Carissa
The 100th time we have seen On the Run, Aylesbury
1st time we have seen the London City Athletics club who, if you didn’t know, are based in the heart of London at Southwark Athletics Centre
So, what happened to the cows?
We're still not very sure!!!
They were reported up in the trees above the grass (see pic) and then they were reported across the road in the new land acquired by the Woodland Trust.
It remains a very real mystery. If there are any super-sleuths out there, let us know.
Something to look forward to
We have a lot going on at Tring parkrun over the next few weeks, starting with next Saturday the 9th of June. The NHS is celebrating its 70th anniversary and have teamed with parkrun to celebrate. Getting out and enjoying a healthier lifestyle is what parkrun is about.
Later in the month, on the 23rd, we're helping support the "This Girl Can" campaign. We want to encourage females of all ages to join us - volunteering, supporting or running/walking. Watch out for more info on that soon.
That's it for another week.