When I arrived at my first parkrun back in September 2012, inspired by the Olympics and complete with cargo shorts and a woefully inadequate pair of trainers, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’d never really run before and remember skulking around near the back of the field at Black Park before we set off, hoping no-one would notice ‘the new guy’. Thankfully everyone seemed preoccupied with what looked to me at the time like ‘extreme stretches’ so I needn’t have worried! I genuinely had no idea how long it would take me to run three miles and was very relieved when I spotted my first kilometre marker – and even more relieved to discover that it was the 4k mark!
It’s become a bit of a cliché these days to say “parkrun has changed my life”, but I suppose spending two hundred and fifty Saturday mornings jogging around the UK is evidence that that’s certainly the case for me. I’ve a lot to be thankful for, not least for the opportunity to get a bit fitter, to discover that I don’t actually mind running and for me to spend over half my parkruns chatting (wheezing) away to my children as I push them around in the buggy. I wonder now what I used to do on Saturday mornings…
So with that I’m going to take this opportunity to thank parkrun for simply existing in the first place and to all the volunteers at Tring and elsewhere who make it possible. On a personal note I’ll say thank you to my family who all turned up to surprise me by coming to the run at the weekend, especially my wife Clare who has been dragged around the UK in the early hours of the morning to visit new parkruns and to my brother Peter Woodward who got me into it in the first place (and as it turns out quite likes being dragged around the UK in the early hours of the morning to visit new parkruns!)
If you’ve only ever run at Tring parkrun you might not realise just how fantastic and welcoming our community is. Certainly, other parkruns are lovely too but since day one (or parkrun number two for me) the friendly nature of Tring and the volunteers here has really stood out. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped set up, cheered us round or did any number of the different jobs that makes it all just happen. This week they were: Andrew Powell, Andy Evans, Angus Evans, Carole Page, Chris Dalton, Chris Nicholls, Claire Hallisey, Gary Evans, Helen Porter, James Foskett, James Maple, Jos Bartlett, Josie Drath, Katie Haines, Kirsty Dance, Louise Bladen, Maria Cumming, Matthew Foskett, Richard Long, Richard Murphy, Robin Attfield, Ron Yaxley, Rosa Drath, Sarah Foskett, Steve Bladen, Stuart Page, Tamsin Leybourne, Wes Ball and William Crane.
If you’ve never given it a try I can wholeheartedly recommend volunteering at this or any parkrun. You don’t need any experience and there are a host of different roles to choose from. Just e-mail us at email@example.com if you’d like to help out.
Some of you might have noticed that there was a slight change to our course this week in honour of our 200th parkrun. If you missed out on running the course backwards then never fear, all being well your next opportunity will probably be sometime around May or June 2020. If you were one of the
16 runners completing their very first parkrun on Saturday then you’ve got time to bag your 50 and 100 shirt by then!
Speaking of shirts, congratulations to Damien Fortune and Ellie Bates who both ran their 50th parkrun this weekend and to Matt Foskett who completed his 100th. Claire Hallisey became the 103rd person to complete 50 parkruns at Tring and whilst you’re not likely to get a t-shirt for this one, James Whittaker became the 69th person to run 69 times at Tring. What’s that? Oh well if you insist. I suppose I’d better mention that yours truly, one Harry Bryant did his 250th parkrun as well…
Perhaps it was that downhill finish or just the result of having rocket fuel for breakfast but wow did we have a quick first finisher this week. Well done to Jake Smith of Axe Valley Runners who was visiting us for the first time and almost broke our all-time course record with a time of 16:38. 16:38! I hadn’t even made it to the bottom of the hill by that point! This of course highlights the beauty of parkrun – it doesn’t matter if you’re fast or not we all get to take part and enjoy/endure it in our own way.
This was the first time since June 2017 when we’ve had three runners complete the course in under nineteen minutes and following behind Jake was Aran Davidson in 18:46 and Colin Seymour in 18:57. First lady home was Junior Anna Cuthbert who set a new PB of 21:25. She was followed by Claire Hallissey in 21:53 and Scarlett Wager-Leigh in 22:24. Well done folks!
Alongside Anna we had a further 32 PBs this week, including Ian Shenton who went faster by 1:07, Euan and Darcey Hudgton who both improved by 2:33 each and Marie Young who absolutely smashed her PB by going 7:06 faster. Ian Middleton continued his run of four PBs in the last four weeks, whilst Robert Stevens clocked his third and Morgan Billings and Chris Parker had their second PB in a row. Fantastic – good work everyone!
Here’s something you might not know: Tring parkrun started on 1st November 2014. Since then 5,894 participants have completed 33,741 parkruns covering a total distance of 168,705 km, including 5,907 new Personal Bests. If you thought that was a good statistic, wait ‘til you read these:
• We saw the surname Patterson for the 400th time, Hanson for the 100th time and Robinson, Margetts and Davidson for the 50th time.
• We saw the name Steve for the 300th time and Claire the 200th. We also had Carolines and Charlottes both for the 100th time.
• This week there were 7 Evans’, the highest number of surnames since the 7 Lindars at event #172.
• Matthew and Thomas were the most seen male name (5 of each) with Sarah the most seen female (with 4).
• This was the first time we have seen 2 Freyas and 2 Ambers and the first time we’ve ever seen the name Lotte or Piquita.
• Minute 28 was our most popular this week (thanks for the invite) with 20 runners finishing in it.
• This was the first time that we have had a Harry finish next to a Potter in the results.
I usually end my reports with a look at some of the most aesthetically pleasing times of the week and of course this will be no exception. I’ve got to tell you, we’re spoilt for choice; in any other week Simon Conway (22:22) or Ed Wright (23:45) would have cleaned up. Instead, we’re going for a nerdalicious run from Chris Parker who finished our 200th parkrun in 7th position in a time of 20:07. Nice.
By the time I write one these again I think the total distance run at Tring parkrun will be equivalent to half-way to the moon. That’s not bad for a free run on a Saturday morning. I hope you enjoyed your run this weekend and you’ll be back next week for more. As for me, I’ll see you for the next 250!