Recently parkrun has linked up with the NHS, not just for the 70th year celebrations but because of the good it can do, both physically and mentally. In fact some doctors sensibly prescribe it! However my run report today may indicate that it is actually a highly addictive pastime!
With the glorious summer weather we have been having this year most families on a caravan holiday in Dorset would head for the coast: - Weymouth, Swanage, Studland (Other beautiful places in Dorset are available) but the only planning I have done for my holiday is around parkrun!
As soon as the term had finished, I was straight on the parkrun tourist tool – an unofficial website built by a keen parkrun tourist (Tim you are a genius) – that shows your nearest parkruns. With a few clicks the website can show the ten nearest parkrun you haven't done to a location – either where you are presently or even where you will be!
From our caravan site in Swanage we had four locations to pick from, Poole 8.1miles, Upton House 8.6miles, Weymouth and Moors Valley 18.4miles – as the crow flies. But once the digital magic of the tourist tool took over Weymouth, Upton House and Moors Valley were all about 45mins! If you are wondering Blandford wasn't on the list as we ran this parkrun in 2016.
1. How do you pick the 'right' parkrun to travel too?
As the perpetual tourist I have become, with so many lovely friendly 5km events on each Saturday at 9am across the country it can be really tricky. But as my Grannie was a Weymouth girl and having met my Grandfather there during the War... It got the vote!
Being unusually prepared for some tourism I even checked the roster and saw a couple of gaps – actually lots. I guess people who live in Weymouth don't have their holiday there no matter how lovely a part of the world they live in. So if you are a Weymouth regular parkrunner; maybe have run lots of times but not yet put your name on the roster now could be a great time to give volunteering a go. Nearly all jobs are dead easy and need no previous experience and training will be given if you are unsure. And as I was once told by an event director even if you go a little crazy on the timer guess what... You can always give the runners a full refund and let them run again next week for free!
One gap I particularly like is Run Report Writer – maybe living in Warwickshire for so long I think some of the writing skills of the bard have rubbed off on me. Or maybe spending a few hours tapping away about the weeks run extends the high I get from parkrun for a few more hours, and reduce down the time between my weekly fixes. Whatever the true meaning I have so far written a run report for all put one of the parkruns I have done this year.
My daughter loves the token sorting, so seeing that gap I signed her up – personally it isn't my favourite role but it all contributes to making parkrun happen each week. And guess what? If you find a role you don't enjoy as much you don't have to volunteer for it again!
Being only 45minutes away from a parkrun is a luxury that I am not used to as I have exhausted all the parkruns in the midlands! Parking at the Lodmoor carpark we had a decision to make...
2. How much parking to pay for?
Pay for an hour, run quickly and race off! Pay £2.50 and have a quick drink and natter with the volunteers after... Or pay £3.50 and have a leisurely café breakfast. Being in no rush to head home we went for the full 3 hour option.
Another gap on the roster was for New Runners briefing – I decided that I could probably give that a go! Okay the course explanations may not be as detailed as normal but with great marshals on the course, signs and a lead bike no runner would get lost as long as I made sure they started by facing the right way. However my worry that the course description wouldn't be up to scratch was unnecessary as Mags Almond, this week's parkrun Bubby, was on hand to help with the route for tourist and new runners alike.
So I did the welcome and other bits (there is a crib sheet for anyone wanting to give this a go!) for the 27 people using their barcode for the first time. So welcome Adam HALFORD, Graeme CAMPBELL, Karen GOODBY, Vanessa SHORT, Mayank MEHTA, Nusaybah ORME, Harry TIZARD, Gemma TALBOT, Nate ELLIOTT, Jack ROBERTS, Naomi BEVAN, Lucy BAYLIS, Shannon COUGHLAN, Evan TIZARD, Harvey ROLLS, Samantha HINKS, Ian LOWE, Jenna ROLLS, Harrison FORD, David CAMPBELL, Daniel HALFORD, John PENGELLY, Timmy PRICE, William GIBBONS, Sally PRESTON, Sarah ROBERTS & Kelly MINTER. I hope you found your first use of a barcode enjoyable and we look forward to seeing you return – either at Weymouth or any other parkrun around the world!
During the main briefing a call went out for a runner celebrating their 200th run but unfortunately they weren't there! However a few runners from Egdon Heath Harriers were celebrating milestones this week... Deborah FARN & Jim BRUMFIELD were celebrating reaching the first adult milestone of 50 parkruns – that red t-shirt calls; Simon RULE bought up his centuary of parkruns today so soon will be the proud owner of one of the new brand black t-shirt and although not an offical milestone Michael WILKINSON did his 200th run! Great running folks but if you want that shoutout and clapping at the start you need to let the Run Director know.
The round started, as many parkruns do around the country, with the beep of GPS watches following the countdown which set off 379 runners on their 5km run in Lodmoor Country Park. Having visited many parkruns around the UK, I can see a lot of thought has gone into this route.
I loved having expected finish times at the start, although as parkrun isn't a race and you could start where ever you wish, it enables the faster runners to shoot off without accidentally jostling any slower runner and runners to set off with people of a similar desired pace to keep you steady and encourage you on. It may mean that if you are further back it takes you 20 seconds to cross the start line, but if you start in the same place each week you can still set your own PB as 38 runners managed today! It also tourist to have an idea of where they should start.
The initial lap around the park allows the pack of runners to spread out over the first mile, which means the out and back section allows free running in both directions. I forgot how much I enjoyed an out and back course as you get to see how the faster finishers make running at speed look so effortless as they pass you on their return. The description of the course makes no mention of the gradient – not hilly or flat... So this run was a little unknown for the tourist – and what is generally a flat course has a slight cheeky undulation (certainly not hills – especially as this is Dorset) that is there to test the pace in the legs of runners giving it their all in a 5km effort!
No matter how much I tell myself to take a parkrun slow and steady run, I can't help myself and set off far too fast and then try and hang on. This is the real reason I write my tourist run reports as after the first 500m I am gasping and blowing as I run barely able to grunt let alone properly thank the marshals on course with anything more than a signed thank you or thumbs up. So with my initial picture in my homemade parkrun frame sent to Twitter and my report writing allows me to say thank you on behalf of myself and the other runners to all those that made the run possible. So a huge thank you to:- Rachel ABEL, Mags ALMOND, Matthew AMES, Kevin ARCHER, Mike ASKEW, Karen BAYLIS, Mark BROWN, Lynn CALLOWAY, Geoff CALLOWAY, Judy CLARKE, Elizabeth CONNOLLY, Katherine DAVIS, Julian DILLOW, Erika FRY, Sarah GLOVER, Sue GREY, Phil HADDRELL, Fran JONES, Ruth KIRBY, Keith LATIMER, Ewan MCCUTCHEON, Ian MIDDLEBROOK, Sarah MIDDLEBROOK, Alison MOORE, Karen PERRETT, Steve PULLAN, Keith PULLEN, Celia ROBERTSON, Mark SALMON, Ray SAMWAYS, Norma SMART, Isabel WATKINS, Norman WHITE & Paul WYETH for volunteering this week so we could enjoy a run in the sun. As with parkruns around the country if you want to give 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 do what I did and e-mail in to - email@example.com or sign up on the board at the next parkrun.
Before he was 11 for me to parkrun I had to run with my son within arm's reach, although it may have been far nearer my easy recovery pace rather than a flat out effort as I would really have liked I enjoyed that father son time. I enjoyed our chats, running downhill with arms out making aeroplane noises and shouting monster under tunnels and bridges (I still do this part today! - although at my age without him it looks a little weird) so I can never understand why a parent would want their under 11 to run alone. In fact my son is responsible for my parkrun tourism after having got bored of running at Coventry and encouraging me to run all the parkruns in the West Midlands mainly with him in tow! In fact it was his 50th different parkrun event today – a massive tourist milestone. So well done Nicholas.
Now like my daughter he runs by himself – I like to think it is because it is his way of being a little more grown up rather than him being too cool to run with his old dad or that I am just too embarrassing. This week it was different! I am properly injured and under doctor's orders not to run marathons (cancelled 6 so far!) and take it easy! My son graciously let me run at his pace (well maybe slightly faster than he normally goes to prevent me from forgetting this advice.
As we passed the 2km the lead bicycle hurtled passed us chased by first timer to Weymouth, Karl WELBORN (VM35-39) of Tipton Harriers (on holiday?) who took the first finishers token in an impressive 16:11. Egdon Heath Harrier, Gina DEMONTIS (JW15-17) finished in 33 position in 21:06 as first lady. Finishing in 7th place over all Chris SUTER (VM50-54), Avon Valley Runners finished his 5km in 18:25 but with the best age grading of the day of 82.08 %. Great running.
As always a full set of today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Weymouth parkrun Results Page.
Thankfully as my children have grown my parkrun tourism has evolved away from a popular fast food venue for breakfast and now almost always involves a trip to the Café or in today's case a pub that the core team use for a breakfast. So it was that we spent a lovely hour eating a large cooked breakfast and more... well we are on holiday!
Thank you all for being so welcoming to me and my family, we had a lovely start to our holiday at Weymouth parkrun. Happy parkrunning.