Pitchcroft parkrun – 69th Edition – 10 November 2018

Storm Stands Down as Window Opens

Worcester Pitchcroft’s Saturday ‘parkrun window’ is renowned for more frequently providing half-decent weather conditions than the Faithful City’s typical meteorology might otherwise suggest.

And today was no exception, with the overnight storm standing down to allow 286 parkrunners and 25 volunteers to enjoy in sunshine and a light breeze the weekly, life-affirming event that is Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun.

 

Stand-Out Individuals

Among a great mix of regular and occasional Pitchcrofters, along with visitors and new faces, James Thomas from Cirencester (who seems to variously circulate around a range of about ten different parkrun locations) crossed the line as first to complete the two-loop course.

Jennifer Cashmore, a respected Pitchcroft frequent flyer, was the first female participant over the line, and registered the highest age-graded performance of the day.

Jennifer was closely followed by JM11-15 category runner Elliott Beard who, avoiding a back-marker-induced collision with a stout lime tree on the home turn, improved his already sub-20 PB by a notable ten full seconds.

Crossing the line ahead of Elliott, and in higher-but-nonetheless-junior age categories, were Worcester runners Sam Davey, Samuel Lea and Ben Harle, occupying three of the top five finishing places.

 

Stand-Up Groups

We welcomed another Couch-to-5K graduation group, all of whom were being carefully monitored by their coach and mentor Claire.  Their trepidation at tackling 5km was truly discernible in the minutes heading up to the start, but all completed, and did so with only a few short stretches   taken at walking pace.

The (now ex) Couchers were joined by a group of runners from Cleobury Mortimer Running Club (pronounced ‘Klibbry’ to those who know) whose regular parkrun is Wyre Forest.

[Pitchcroft should enter into a twinning arrangement with Wyre Forest, as each is truly the topographical antidote to the other, with the warm, appreciative vibe being the reassuring constant.]

We also had a representation of Poppy Appeal runners whose presence was most welcome as Europe marks the centennial of the end of the Great War.

And we could go on and on dissecting the data and drawing due attention to noteworthy performances, but those were the ones that caught the eye today.

 

Runs, Damned Runs and Statistics

The stats, the percentages, the placings, the numbers, the trends that parkrun throws up every week provide a mine of data for every participant, to the extent that no matter how you might think you’ve under-performed or not done yourself justice, there’s almost always some small    personal indicator that can put a smile on your face.

Look carefully at the results sheet: there’s always something that shows you’re achieving      something.

  • 41 Personal Bests were recorded this week.
  • The spread between the first finisher and the tail walker’s time of 32 minutes and 47 seconds.
  • 42 people took part in Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun for the first time.
  • 18 were taking on a parkrun for the first time ever.
  • 17 participants crossed the line, but for various reasons appear as ‘Unknown’ in our results.

I’m not sure what these numbers tell us, if they tell us anything at all.

What I do know is that by 10:04am everything was put away, the pavilion door was locked and no casual observer would know that more than 300 people had given themselves a great start to their Saturday.

And they will likely do something similar next Saturday.

 

Soap-box moment: Integrity of the Result

That 32-or-so minute spell from first finisher to tail-walker crossing the line is where the our finish-zone volunteers are tested to deliver as accurate a result as we can for our participants.

Our timekeepers, funnel managers, finish-token handlers, number checkers, ‘naughty-book’ scribes and barcode scanners are all focused on fulfilling their part of the event to the utmost   efficiency to ensure the integrity of our results.

But when parkrun individual human behaviours are the variable in which you deal, there will           inevitably be occasions when an error slips through.

And that’s where our results processing gurus come in, making sense of what has been logged in the stopwatches in relation to the finish tokens that have been dished out, the number checking jottings and the problematic barcodes written down.

This Saturday’s reconciliation, happily, was fairly straightforward.

A couple of weeks ago it was less so, with Jonathan Phillips seemingly sweating pure coffee to work out something equivalent to a prize Sudoku without having the benefit of knowing what the numbers were.

The appeal goes out for the following parkrun human behaviours.

  • Cross the finish line once and once only.
  • If you cross the finish line, stay in the tunnel all the way to the finish-token handlers and take the finish-token you’re given.
  • If you have forgotten your parkrun barcode and have crossed the finish line, stay in the tunnel all the way to the finish-token handlers and take the finish-token you’re given.  Then hand it to the barcode scanners (who will simply put it in the collection box).
  • If you are not registered with parkrun (which makes it highly unlikely that you will reading this!) and cross the finish line, stay in the tunnel all the way to the finish-token handlers and take the finish-token you’re given. And then hand it to the barcode scanners to put in the collection box.

 OK. That’s this week’s soap-box moment.

And the (miniscule) readership of this diatribe are almost certainly the people least likely to be the alleged offenders.

And ultimately participant-induced parkrun event stats errors truly are a First World problem.

There are plenty of bigger problems facing humanity.  Some of which, happily though, parkrun seeks to play its part in tackling.

 

Battle of Gheluvelt Remembered: 

The pre-event briefing faced its usual slightly impolite indifference from the large bunch of parkrunners who prefer to talk amongst themselves just prior to the start of the event rather than actually take part in the spirit of parkrun by tuning in just for those couple of moments it takes to welcome visitors, thank those who volunteer their time to allow the event to take place safely and efficiently, and to pay tribute to the achievements of others.  It’s a free world.

Today though, as Run Director Dai Morris changed tack to talk briefly about the 1914 Battle of Gheluvelt, most people did seem to stop chatting and listen.

Dai speaking afterwards indicated his gratitude and surprise that in the post-event finish-line mingle a number of parkrunners took the trouble to thank him for talking about that battle so important to Worcester, and for linking our parkrun event to the greater occasion of the centennial of the Armistice.

For those who did not catch his words, Dai reminded everyone that Pitchcroft parkrun has its    ‘office’ in the cafe in Gheluvelt Park, a public space established to commemorate the Gheluvelt action in which the Worcester Regiment lost 187 out of 370 men.

Yes, the losses were heavy, but this counter-attack in the large-scale Battle of Ypres closed a   critical gap in the British and French defensive lines which otherwise would have given the       advancing German army an unfettered route to the Channel ports.

Dai said that in reading about Gheluvelt he had learned that the decision of the commanding   officer to runthe troops across exposed open ground below Gheluvelt village, and the speed with which they crossed this stretch, was what caught out the German army occupants, allowing the Worcestershires to re-take this strategic position and close the gap.

Securing the high ground, the Worcestershires also relieved the remnants of the South Wales Borderers, coincidentally the regiment based in Dai’s home town of Brecon.

Dai connected these courageous soldiers running towards enemy positions with what we as parkrunners do at liberty, every Saturday, whenever it takes our fancy, as a given part of our     freedom.

‘Whatever your own speed of progress across the open ground of Pitchcroft parkrun today’, said Dai in the briefing, ‘on the day before the 100th marking of the Armistice, please take a moment to think of all those people who have given their lives in the name in too many conflicts down too many years to protect the freedoms we enjoy.’

 

 

New Years Day – Pitchcroft parkrun Special Event

Great news folks... you will be able to start your 2019 with a Pitchcroft parkrun event.

News Years Day is a Tuesday, so we know it will feel a bit strange, but parkrun HQ have given us permission to run a special event.

We know what your thinking... "9:00am on NY's Day - pfffft"... we don't worry, we've got you, and your partying mates covered as we are starting 1 hour later for the occasion.

We look forward to seeing you at 10am on New Years Day in the usual location... and every Saturday leading up to it; obviously.

 

Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun #68

A tourist visiting Worcester 2 weeks in a row; Worcester Woods last week, and the mighty Racecourse track this week: so here’s some stuff about the course for future tourists and my apologies if this has been done before.

Driving home to Gedling in Nottingham I wondered about the origins of the word ‘pitchcroft’, but had little success in my Google search. I did however learn that this lovely venue has 2018 as a special year for Worcester Racecourse, as it celebrates the 300th Anniversary of racing at Pitchcroft, making Worcester one of the oldest racecourses in the country.

Pic 1

Pitchcroft has seen a host of events in those 300 years, including bare knuckle boxing in 1824, a record 229 runners on an 8 race card in January 1965 and HRH The Princess Royal riding her own horse Cnoc Na Cuille to victory, before the racecourse became the home of summer jumps racing as it is known today.

The team realised with barely 20 minutes to go that the standard 1 and ¾ loop of the racecourse couldn’t go ahead because of the bonfire, fairground, food stalls and fireworks scheduled later in the day. So they reverted to Plan B ‘ The Horseshoe’ which looks like this on Strava!

Pic 2

This was a good day for a run; not too cold and certainly no need for gloves! Mild 12 out there, bit of a breeze, but dry with fluffy white clouds. I now know that there were 16 fresh faced, parkrun newbies today; well done and please return for the tricky 2nd and tough 3rd runs as soon as possible.

The call for milestones met with tumbleweed, to coin a phrase used earlier in the summer, but I believe Vicki Russell ran her 50th today. There were a few tourists sporting their cowls, already clocked by Dai Morris with clipboard, feeding details to the outstanding RD David Gray. I hadn’t appreciated that Tony Privitera, über tourist, was here or I would have had a chat.

Pic 3

Spending Power

So to the results, and being of an age, I tend to scan the Age Graded League, obviously for context, and learned that the magnificent Jennifer Cashmore was top after her excellent 19:46. This ‘league’ can throw up some interesting results, but that was an outstanding time for today’s 1st lady.

First Man: Adam

Poetic? Perhaps, but the man in the green vest almost beat the guy on the bike today. Adam Pollock didn’t let a bit of headwind spoil his run to record his first No. 1 position at Pitchcroft today, coming home in 17:18.

Pic 4

Finally, the last word must go to those who made our fun possible today. That’s the amazing people giving up their time to enable parkrun to grow, to evolve and to realise what makes us tick which is being part of one hell of a family: thank you all and thank you Worcester Pitchcroft x

 

Martyn Clarke (A489336)

 

* The Pitchcroft team here... We would like to add a massive thank you to Martyn for writting the above! We LOVE to hear what parekrunners think of our event and love it even more when people write sections for our website.

If anybody reading this would like to write some content for our website, please get in touch via the address below...

Email:  worcesterpitchcrofthelpers@parkrun.com

Thanks again Martyn and hope to welcome you back soon.*

 

Parkrun report, 13 October 2018

Windy.

If you were looking for one word to sum up today’s parkrun that would be it.

The reason was Storm Callum doing a bit of parkrun tourism, and blowing a gale with gusts of wind of around 40mph. In theory this should have helped on the back straight along the river, but I’m not sure many runners felt that it made up for the long slog into a headwind that they had to deal with.

In spite of the conditions, twenty runners managed a PB from a field of 196, including Samuel Lea finishing second in 18:26.

Rachel Brown reached the milestone of her 50th parkrun.

Dai Morris, our Run Director, told us that last week saw the 5 millionth person sign up to parkrun, which is an astonishing number. Apparently over the 14 years of the parkrun story so far the average time has gone up, which is a good thing in that it shows the growth in numbers has also been a growth in diversity of people taking part. parkrun is not just for people who already think of themselves as runners, it’s for everyone which is why we love it!

Part of that diversity is in the age range, and this week we had three runners in their 70s, 6 in their 60s, 17 in their 50s and 20 in their 40s. The rest we can categorise as officially being “young”!

Thanks to Dai and all of the volunteers for braving the wind and the rain to make it all happen, and doing it with a smile.

 

Parkrun Report: Event 60 ~ 8th September

A chilly, drizzly morning did nothing to put off dedicated parkrunners, with a turnout of over 250 for our 60th parkrun.

Even better, we had 16 people doing their first ever parkrun; welcome to the family!
Dai Morris warmed up the assembled crowd by announcing that this was David Gray’s 250th parkrun as a volunteer. This is an amazing achievement and commitment – equivalent to five year’s continuous service to the parkrun community. Alongside his wife, Ann, David is a member of the core group of volunteers responsible for establishing Pitchcroft parkrun last year, having previous been a loyal volunteer at Worcester (Woods) parkrun.
So a big ‘THANK YOU’, David, for all you do, week in and week out.
If you have never volunteered, please do. Parkrun suggests that everyone volunteers three times a year, and if we all did that we would certainly never be short of help. Think of it as like your ‘five a day’ recommended intake of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy – 3 doses of volunteering a year keeps parkrun healthy. There are lots of roles, including some which you can do as well as running – like helping to set up, pacing or writing a run report. If you want to volunteer, please email worcesterpitchcrofthelpers@parkrun.com or speak to whoever is Run Director.
With a rowing event on, we reverted to the ‘old course’, which is a big, out-and-back horseshoe. Some of us have missed it, and enjoy running past friends and familiar faces going in the opposite direction, and shouting – or grunting – encouragement as we pass.
Whether it was the change of course, the lower temperature, or a collective rush of adrenalin, 56 people managed a PB, which is one in five runners. I’m not sure I heard the PB bell ring 56 times, so don’t be shy and give it a ring every time you manage a personal best.
We had Chris Blackabee, a visually impaired runner, visiting and running with Andy Waring as his guide. Chris did a marathon last week and is off to the Great North Run tomorrow (which is the biggest half marathon in the world), where he was very confident of being ahead of Mo Farah for several miles. Arrogance? No! More to do with the fact that the visually impaired runners start half an hour before the elite athletes. Chris said that he just hears them gliding past after about 5 miles!
Jan Golding was running her 100th parkrun today. Well done Jan!
Other facts and stats from today;
 Ben Duncan finished first in 16:10
 Lauren Kennard as first woman home in 20:04
 16 first timers
 10 runners over 60, with Bryony Silcott topping the age-graded table with an amazing time of 24:01
 56 new PBs, with 5 of them from people who have run more than 100 parkruns
 19 unknown runners – don’t forget your barcodes!

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