Pitchcroft parkrun – 43rd Edition – 14 April 2018

No flood: gates open

The waters of the Severn having subsided somewhat, the new two-lap Pitchcroft course was available to us for the second time, on a day when paradoxically the promise of spring finally seemed to be lived up to, as the threat of nuclear winter increased.

And, for all the planning, preparation and safety risk mitigation in place to squeeze our runners through the bottleneck right-hand turn to traverse the racetrack, the large gates guarding that crossing were again found to be not locked, allowing us a safer means of negotiating the only really tricky part of our course.

And the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the trees were in bud and blue skies were abundant, which made for a reassuring change from the previous several weeks when grey skies, cold winds and miserable precipitation have been the Saturday order of the morning.

Blue Skies

parkrun partners - Alzheimer Research UK
Having communed locally with the Coop last week, this week we allied with Alzheimer Research UK, our charitable partners.

Caroline Attwood-Reusser, a regular parkrunner herself, commanded due attention from the itching-to-get-on-with-it runners at the pre-event briefing, describing very succinctly the work of the charity, and in particular its current fund-raising campaign, Running Down Dementia.


This campaign sees participants aiming to run or walk 100km between April (so it’s only just launched) and 31 August, with the goal of raising a minimum of £100 through sponsorship. 100km: that’s 20 parkruns, and though there are probably not quite enough weekends to hit the target on the basis of parkrun alone, for many people this level of activity would be fairly easily achievable.

Caroline herself returned a respectable 31-minute-plus-change run, showing off her official parkrun Run Down Dementia technical t-shirt, which is available to all people signing up for the campaign.


Big (vegan) cheese Stateside
It’s rare weekend that Pitchcroft parkrun big (vegan) cheese Sam Payne is not present.

For this week Sam and his brother had booked a holiday in Boston, Massachusetts to watch the Celtics playing the (I think) Milwaukee Bucks (possibly the team of choice of Laverne and Shirley, or perhaps Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World).

What Sam and brother James hadn’t realised is that there is another minor sporting event taking place in New England this weekend: the Boston Marathon.

So, Sam Payne, obsessive runner, will have travelled 6,000 miles to watch basketball in a city where one of the world’s premier marathons is taking place in which he is not participating.

He is doing has done the local parkrun though

Worcester Mass.?

Had Sam decided perhaps to keep his money in his pocket and his carbon footprint in check, he would, along with 208 runners, 27 volunteers and numerous family & friend supporters, have enjoyed the sunshine, blue skies and refreshing light breeze that Worcester UK (rather than Worcester Mass.) had to offer this morning.

That meant no need for runners and volunteers to huddle for shelter like bedraggled pigeons around the pavilion before the race start, and a Worcester mass (did you see what I did there?) of smiling faces and socialising at the finish.

Jan Golding - Volunteer of the Week

Hitting the 25-event mark this week is Jan Golding who is our volunteer of the week.

Completing 25 volunteerings sees Jan able to claim, yes, yet another technical t-shirt - but one which speaks to a willingness to contribute to providing the parkrun event from which so many people benefit.

Jan often provides the briefing for Pitchcroft first-timers, as well as undertaking some of the technical admin tasks after the event that ensure our parkrunners have prompt and as accurate-as-possible results as promptly-as-possible.

Jan - in the words of Bob Dylan - you can have your cake and eat it too.



Easter Parkrun – The New Course!

Easter is a time for new beginnings.  And so it was that we said goodbye – for now at least – to our familiar ‘horseshoe’ course and welcomed our new course, which is two clockwise loops of the racecourse.  This change was brought about by having been given permission to use the access road across the racecourse and to run in front of the grandstand.

parkrun 3

As Easter is traditionally a Christian holiday, did you know that the Bible has a reference to an Easter parkrun?  Well, sort of.  In John’s gospel, chapter 20, it says that on Easter Sunday, Mary Magdelene went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried and when she saw that it was empty she ran to tell the disciples.  Then . . . Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  They didn’t have barcodes then so we can’t be sure what their times were, but at least we have a record of what order they finished in.

For our own Easter parkrun, we had a fantastic turnout with 290 runners, our 3rd largest field ever.  We had an amazing 62 people running Pitchcroft parkrun for the first time, of whom 13 were running their first ever parkrun.  Welcome everyone!  Peter Aldis and Nigel Scott chalked up their 50th parkrun, and 24 runners achieved PBs despite a bit of a headwind on the riverside path.  Very well done.  And two Easter Bunny runners were also spotted.

First impressions were that the new course works well.  I’m sure we won’t miss the three U-turns we have to make on the horseshoe course, and somehow it seems to help to be able to focus on getting to the end without the ‘false dawn’ of running past the finishing line with a kilometre still to go!  It has also been measured precisely to make sure that we get our full 5 kilometres worth of parkrun.

Lots of people were chatting afterwards and as they walked back to the toilet block, so maybe this layout will be a bit more sociable too.  Please tell us how you found it on our facebook page.

As ever, many thanks to the volunteers who make parkrun possible, and get up early come rain or shine to make sure everything is ready and we are all safe.  If you haven’t volunteered before, please do.  It is a different way to enjoy parkrun and give something back.

parkrun 2


Run Report: Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun. Event 39

Told we surprisingly had a parkrun visitor from Warsaw, the reaction was that at least they’ll be okay with the cold, cold weather.  It turned out they were in fact from Walsall, but they still coped with return of the icy blast from the East.

And it was cold.  One of our parkrunners who seems to flit between Pitchcroft and our older sibling at Worcester Woods suggested that we always have bad weather.  Which is a little harsh. 

We’re all looking forward to those beautiful, blue-sky spring Saturday mornings, which supplement the feel-good everyone inevitably enjoys from finishing a parkrun in sky weather. 


But, for now, we’re dealt the weather the warming planet gives us, and, it certainly wasn’t so cold today that 177 parkrunners plus 29 volunteers couldn’t dislodge themselves from their beds to make a positive start to their Saturday. 


So whatever the weather - exceptions being ice and extreme flood - Worcester Pitchcroft will seek to put on our event.  By the way, the river was looking particularly high today ... 


Gratitude as ever goes to our volunteers, and this week’s occasional ‘transparency and integrity award’ goes to one of our regular Pitchcrofters who mooched along during the run with his wife and their two greyhounds to admit with a sense of shame that he couldn’t face the cold conditions this morning.  


Others, happily, were made of sterner stuff ... 


Parkrun Report ~ Event 32: Bring a Parent

“Fancy going for a run in the freezing rain?”

You might not need to think twice before grunting and getting back under the duvet, but in spite of the conditions we had a good turnout in response to the “Bring a parent” theme. We think there were 11 pairs of runners or volunteers from across the generations with plenty of Dad’n’Lads, some Dads’n’Daughters, a few Mums’n’daughters and one Mum’n’Son.

Here is the grid;

Bring your parent Grid

Sorry if we’ve missed anyone (or incorrectly matched people with the same surname!).

Our glorious leader, Sam, had been invited to advertise the theme on local radio on Friday morning, and we had a good response, so maybe this is the first of many themed runs we might try. What’s next? “bring a goat”, “run with your lawnmower”, “pyjama run” . . . The list is endless.
So from the hi-tech world of local radio we were back to our lo-tech, battery powered megaphone . . . which wasn’t working. So Sam had to shout instead. This week we had 33 first timers to Pitchcroft and 12 people doing parkrun for the first time ever. Welcome!

And then we were off, dodging giant frozen puddles on the gravel track (we must fill them in sometime!) and around the final tree. Then settling into a steady rhythm for the long loop to the next, slippery U-turn and pacing ourselves against the rowers who were either bombing downstream with the current, or battling upstream against it. Something for everyone.

Most people were opting to stay on the gravel track until the last possible moment to avoid mud-skating their way along the home straight, and then into the long funnel with time to recover, chat, be glad it’s all over and wallow in the warm sense of satisfaction.
This week’s second innovation was a proper PB cowbell - an upgrade on our fun size version - which should have been rung 47 times, which is an amazing proportion of PBs. So well done - you know who you are. Let’s keep that cow bell ringing!

Sean 25

Head over to our facebook page for the latest updates about our parkrun...https://www.facebook.com/worcesterpitchcroftparkrun/

We also have a swanky new instagram profile which can be found here... https://www.instagram.com/parkrunpitchcroft/


Event #5

This week’s parkrun began with our Event Director, and so called ‘leader’, showing his true student colours by oversleeping his alarm and rocking up some 30 minutes late for the agreed 7:30am set up time. It should also be noted that it is he who holds the keys to the equipment cupboard, and so his tardiness left the rest of the team helplessly waiting for him to clamber out of bed and cycle down to Pitchcroft Pavilion… Some leader! The offending student, who may or may not be the author of this news report, would publicly like to apologise for this rookie mistake!

Set Up parkrun

Unflustered by this setback and determined not to be late for the universal start time of 9:00am (briefing at 8:45am), the core team hastily dispersed to different corners of Pitchcroft park carrying various ‘CAUTION RUNNER’ and ‘KEEP RIGHT’ signs. A true testament to their abilities; and by 8:30am the course and newly altered finish funnel were set up and ready to go - leaving plenty of time for us to assign the 25 brilliant volunteers to their vital roles. And a ‘right on the money’ 9:00am start time.

The run itself appeared to run like clockwork. Beaming sunshine lead to equivalently bright smiles from most of the participants; the rest looked like they were trying to smile but favoured a full inhale of oxygen instead. As requested by our natural first time Run Director John Drew, runners seemed to politely navigate their way around the non-participant park users, throwing a cheery “good morning” as they did so. Thanks a lot for that as it really helps us avoid negative encounters.

Although Pitchcroft parkrun is, and will always be for everyone, it is the triumphant stories from first timers who make it all worthwhile for us. Stories like the blond lady wearing a plain black vest (sorry we didn’t catch your name) who finished somewhere inside 49 minutes despite just 8 weeks ago not being able to complete the 5k distance.

Or the other tale of a lady, new to the immersive world of running, who has wound up with a charity entry into none other than the London Marathon. Welcome to parkrun and we would love to hear how your training goes as the weeks progress.

Kudos goes to all those who reluctantly missed / delayed their viewing of the apparently quite significant rugby game that clashed with our start time. Our resident Welshman on the Lead Bike included in this category. Hope you enjoyed the game that you all presumably recorded.

As efficiently as it was set up, soon after the father and son team of the Baily family came across the line as our Tail Walkers, the course was packed away into the storage cupboard from whence it came.

It wasn’t until we processed the results at the Pump House Environmental Café afterwards that we realised the, surely record-breakingly low, number of forgotten barcodes… Just 3 out of the 226 runners. That deserves a clink of the team's coffee mugs for sure.

Once again, thank you to all who participated, supported, or volunteered this week and we look forward to seeing you once again soon. Although not next week remember as Pitchcroft parkrun is cancelled to allow for the operation of Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life / Pretty Muddy events. Good luck to all participating.

On the subject of brilliant charity events, Steve Jones is heading up the Sanlam GoDadRun event on Sunday the 23rd July – held on Pitchcroft. There is a 5k and a 10k event where the lads are issued big blue pants to raise money for 5 wonderful charities that support Prostate Cancer.

Colin Jackson CBE states….

“I’m excited to announce that Go Dad Run will be returning to the Worcester Racecourse on Sunday 23rd July to host our third annual 5K and 10K races! 

This year we’ve teamed up with local charity, St. Richards Hospice, who do some incredible work to support the local community.

Over the last few years our runners have helped raise thousands of pounds for our charity partners however we want to make this year the biggest and best yet, but we can’t do it without your help. So please sign-up to participate and join us and hundreds of men and boys on July 23rd!

See you there"  

Entries are still open, as is our parkrun the day before on the 22nd… Who’s got the legs to do both?

As always, email the following address to volunteer... worcesterpitchcrofthelpers@parkrun.com. All our roles are dead simple and offering up your services really does make the parkrun world go round.

Why not drag a non parkrunning friend to our next event on the 22nd July. As you already know, they can register via the following link... http://www.parkrun.org.uk/register/

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