Run Report Jan 4th 2020

Alice Holt parkrun 355

4 January 2020

Another wonderful day at Alice Holt – with last week’s report writer, Kerrianne Cartwright Forbes’ wish to see many New Year’s Day parkrunners back on the start line well and truly granted. Numbers were down from the record- and token-busting 756 on Wednesday – but with 452 finishers, today looks like the fourth highest since Alice Holt records began. It seems as if there is a ‘carry-over effect’ (or should that be a ‘guilty-of-too-many-mince-pies effect’?) of the New Year, that has certainly ramped up over the years.

And just to share a few historic stats, since I was rummaging to find that one – the three largest turnouts for Alice Holt parkrun have all been on New Year’s Days – perhaps not surprisingly – although this year was a very big increase. 1st January 2019 saw 523 finishers and 2018, 463; so today’s turnout was a very close fourth place. I haven’t been forensic enough to check the weather reports, which I guess might have some impact, but I think it is a mark of the increased awareness of the phenomenon that is parkrun over the last three years that, in deeper history, the New Year’s Day totals were 295 (2017), 229 (2016), 141 (2015), and just 55 in 2014. There wasn’t a parkrun at Alice Holt on New Year’s Day 2013 – but there were 69 finishers on 29 December 2012 (Alice Holt parkrun number 7) – including many who were out today. The volunteer list (all 12 of them) also included some familiar names.

So, enough of the history – what about today?

Of our 452 parkrunners who ran, jogged and walked the course, there were 57 first timers here at Alice Holt and 53 turned in a PB (that’s more than 10% of us) – very impressive everyone! 30 different clubs were represented. Our first finisher today, Matt SAKER, covered the course in exactly 19 minutes, just a shade over the PB he posted in October last year. There is also a special mention for Robin PYPER, whose stats indicate he is an occasional at parkrun, with six very consistent runs at Alice Holt over the past two years, but who today achieved the 20:20! And keeping with the :20 theme, our first lady home was Philomel BENNETT, who clocked 22:20. Another very impressive time. But it’s not all about the time, it’s about being out there and doing it. There were six other ‘and 20 seconds’ times spread across the results list – well done all for hitting that virtual target - Andrew BEDWELL, Simon BARKER, Rachel ADAMS, Simon SHEPPHERD and our two Tailwalkers Lucy and Patrick TUITE who wrapped the whole thing up in one hour and twenty seconds  :)

And while we’re talking of volunteers, the 27 people who helped make today happen are:
Gabriella TILL • Kathy BROWN • Geoff BROWN • Shirley PERRETT • Dan DAVIES • Jasper HENDERSON • Carys DAVIES • Neil AMBROSE • Lisa BLAYDEN • Rupert HOLLOM • Rosie LEWIS • Joshua KEMP • Tom DELLAR • Linda TYLER • Patrick TUITE • Rachel ADAMS • Stephen LAVERY • Paul SMART • Lucy TUITE • Ben SHEPHERD • Libby MALLETT • Ben SMITH • Jake LOWRY • Geraldine MCLEOD • Kathleen DIGBY • Penny SCHNABEL and Ewan MCLEOD. Thank you all!

The numbers attending today were perhaps a little more than we’re used to, but the Core Team’s (and some of us ‘last minuters’!) big problem was the entrance barrier to the forest, which decided to call time on one unfortunate car passing under it – and which was promptly taken out of action. So for the second time in a week, Alice Holt parkrun started somewhat behind the other parkruns up and down the country – to ensure that everyone who was queuing to get through the one remaining barrier was able to get to the start. Thank you Run Director and team – and everyone for their patience. Personally I’m used to be overtaken by other parkrunners, but not usually when I’m still in my car and others are walking! Here’s hoping that numbers and car park tech get back to normal for next week.

There were just three milestones recorded today: Freya JENNINGS, in the 11 – 14 age group, joined the 10 club, having been putting in a couple of solid appearances every month since last summer; and Louisa BRISTOW and Rob REYNOLDS who both made their 50th parkrun today. Amazingly, although Rob was a first timer at Alice Holt and Louisa has done 47 of hers here, they have both also got parkrun miles overseas; Louisa in Cabinteely and Poolbeg, Dublin, and Rob, according to his recent run history, when he hasn’t been at Queen Elizabeth parkrun down the A3, Hogmoor, Southsea, South Manchester, Brockenhurst, Severn Bridge or Forest of Dean, was parkrunning in Mbabane. Yes, that’s right, Mbabane. He certainly gets about! Shamefully, I had to look it up. It’s the capital of Eswatani. Sadly, I had to look that up too. As I’m sure most of you know, Swaziland, in southern Africa, changed its name in 2018. So congratulations, Freya, Louisa and Rob, and thank you Louisa and Rob for making me stretch the power of Google.

A drier few days brought better conditions underfoot today than for some while and the crisp morning air with the promise of a bright day ahead saw everyone enjoying the best of the route. For me, it’s not a ‘proper parkrun’ unless I’m overtaken (often on Dragon Hill) by what I have always thought of in my head as a ‘pushing parent’, one of those impressively fit people who can not only run quite fast, but can do so even whilst pushing a child (sometimes two!) in a buggy. Today was indeed a ‘proper parkrun’, although I was overtaken long before Dragon Hill. However, I learned at Hogmoor on Wednesday, that these super-people (or possibly their precious passengers) can also be referred to as ‘Fast Babies’, as in ‘Fast Baby coming through...’ I like that.

I also really like the friendliness, the caring and the camaraderie that is part of the parkrun DNA. That the whole thing is free and is run by volunteers is awesome enough, but over the relatively small number of parkruns that I have done, I have overheard many encouraging and informative conversations between total strangers both as we line up for the start and en route.

The marshals, today as always, were all very encouraging. Everyone who makes parkrun things happen – from course set-up and breakdown, through the marshals, the funnel to timekeeping, finishing tokens, scanning and token sorting, and all of the admin and liaison that goes on behind the scenes (someone has to upload the scanned barcodes and stopwatch times and had to have had the foresight to order 700 finish tokens at some point) – does so because they feel it’s important: they want Alice Holt parkrun to thrive and they want to give a bit (sometimes a big bit) back. It’s simple, but without volunteers it wouldn’t happen. If you, too, believe in Alice Holt parkrun, and you want some of that warm, fuzzy feeling that Kerrianne mentioned last week – think about signing up to volunteer soon.   The team needs nearly 30 people every week to ensure we are all safe and happy out on the course and that we get our all-important times, delivered to our phone or inbox, sometimes before we’ve finished our coffee and got home.

Every volunteer is valued hugely, and every new volunteer is fully briefed and supported in doing whatever role they have chosen. The logistics don’t work for everyone and the incentive of free parking isn’t the reason people do it; it’s just a GOOD THING TO DO. Some younger people add it to their portfolio or consider it part of their Duke of Edinburgh’s community activity. There are some roles you can do and still run and there are people who volunteer when they are sidelined through illness or injury but still want to share in the parkrun buzz. The opportunities are endless – or 30 x 53 (1590) for 2020 alone. What are you waiting for?

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Alice Holt parkrun Results Page.

Rosie Lewis