The team will be taking a well deserved rest on New Years Day and will not be offering a parkrun.
What an amazing event this morning's parkrun was. The weather was chilly, but it was dry and bright, which made for perfect running and volunteering conditions. A fantastic 356 people took part in the event - 19 first-timers, a whopping 34 new PB's and some great milestones too – just brilliant!
Many participants and volunteers sported superb festive costumes, totally embracing the Christmas spirit. There was also a festive food table with lots of goodies and an all-round feeling of festive good cheer. Here's a few of the fab costumes we spotted.
Mark and I offered to write this run report because we wanted to share with you what a difference volunteering and running at Arrow Valley parkrun has made to our lives.
This time last year we didn't even know parkrun existed! We thought PB stood for pigs in blankets and had no idea that just down the road from us was this wonderful free event called parkrun. An event where amazing people venture out in wind, rain, snow, sleet and shine to volunteer so that parkrun can happen. An event where anyone can run or walk around a 5k route in safety and even better get a time at the end of it (provided you've got your barcode that is). It's a totally inclusive event where many of the volunteers are also the runners and it's just amazing that it's right here on our doorstep – who knew.
If you'd known us a year ago we were very different people. We were couch potatoes, neither of us had run in years. If I'm being completely honest I was suffering with my mental health and well-being and Mark wasn't in great shape either. What a difference a few short months can make. I ran my first parkrun on the 28 April 2018 and, for those who don't know, I'm visually impaired so always run with a guide. You can read about my first parkrun here if you want to. Mark ran his first parkrun on the 14 July 2018 and he ran it with me because my guide runner was injured.
Arrow Valley parkrun has been a regular feature in our lives ever since and we've met so many amazing and inspirational people because of it. What's struck us about the running community is how inclusive and supportive it is. Everyone just wants to help and support each other – which is amazing. Over the last few months people have come to know us, shouting out hello's whether we are running or volunteering, we both run regularly in the week too now and we both feel so much better for it.
Since starting at parkrun, many people have also stepped in to support me because of my visual impairment. There's always someone who'll make sure I'm safe with a supporter if Mark runs and I don't. Another thing that's totally blown me away are the people who run with me as my guide. They give so much and I honestly don't think they realise what a huge difference it makes to my life as without them I wouldn't be able to run at all - it's just amazing.
It's also lovely catching up with our new running family afterwards for a cuppa too. Our Saturday mornings are not the same if we can't make it and we just wanted to say thank you! Especially to the core team and to everyone who has helped us, made us feel so very welcome and made us part of the parkrun family.
Merry Christmas to you all and a very happy and healthy New Year too.
As well as Mark and myself, the volunteers were: Liz ADEY, Rashida BASHIR, Christopher BIRD, Raymond BOYLE, Neil BROWN, Clare CARMEN, Beth DRISSELL, Sally EVANS, Norma FOX, Wendy GARDNER, Dylan GOULD, Melba JONES, Adam KNOWLES, Gary MANDERS, Pamela MORETON, Willow MUGGLESTONE, Katie MULHALL, Hannah PRZYBYLAK, Stephen REA, Robert SARGENT, Nick SECKER, Abigail SWARBRICK, Simon TAYLOR, Andy TERRY, Philip THOMAS, Katie THORLEY, Leigh WALTON, Ian WIDDOWS, Paula WIDDOWS, Ricky YOUNG – THANK YOU!
Six full hours after the 'witching' hour, the clock ticked around to 9 am, otherwise known as the Dead of Night' to teenagers, 419 runners lined up for the Arrow Valley 'Spooktacula' to appease the Spirits. Looking at the state of some of them they had been drinking plenty of spirits last night.
It had been hoped to offer a sacrificial virgin but the search was in vain as you don't find many of those in Redditch. Fittingly, there was a chill in the air and if you listened carefully enough you could hear Wagner's 'The Ride of the Valkyries' dancing across the Stitch Meadow.
Unverified reports suggested that there were some mysterious tourists in attendance from Gravesend, Coffinswell, Devil's Dyke, Upper and Lower Slaughter.
The runners gathered to listen to the briefing given by the Clare 'Pussy-Cat' Grennan. You could see that the spooks were huddled in groups including Zombies, Vampires, Skeletons and there were several Mummies in attendance. An eerie silence descended over the participants like a blanket as they waited for the run to begin. It was broken by the roar of the monsters and blood curdling screams of the masses as the race started.
The marvellous Marshals were in place at strategic points to encourage the runners and point them in the right direction. This was particularly important as the Headless Horseman from Headless Cross were in danger of taking a wrong turn into the Forbidden Forest.
Some of the runners were slow, dead slow, and some were fast, frighteningly fast. Non mores so than the mightiest of monsters. Typhon (aka Chris 'Batman' Lockhart) who showed super-human strength, stamina and speed, accompanied by the three-headed hell-hound, Cereberus (aka Ronan), completing the course in an amazing PB time of 16 minutes and 7 seconds.
A clutch of mortals, running for their lives, or maybe just trying to keep warm, sped over the finishing line ahead of the first ghost, Sammy Taaffe (who also won the prize for the spook with the most vowels in his surname).
There was no denying that the ghosts were the fastest, followed by the witches and then the vampires who were no doubt in a hurry to get back to their coffins before the sun burst through. Predictably, the Mummies were hampered by their bandages and bringing up the rear were the Zombies who shuffled around as fast as they could go; not bad considering that they had only just risen from their graves. Just ahead, in honour of the festival of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) was a well-known gentleman doing the 'Monster Mash', it was the Graveyard Flash (Well done Ken).
The runners came streaming in, relentlessly stomping home. All the heroes made it to the end, thankfully unscathed and living to fight another day.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who turned out on such a cold day and who made this event happen: William ALDRIDGE, Richard BANKS, Rashida BASHIR, Scott BEVERLEY, Raymond BOYLE, Diane Mary BRIAN, Victoria CARUANA, Janet CRIPPS, Natalie CUTLER, Barry DREW, Paul EDWARDS, Clare GRENNAN, David HARRISON, Anita HARTLEY, Alison HIGGINS, Adam KNOWLES, Rebecca MOORE, Pamela MORETON, Willow MUGGLESTONE, Katie MULHALL, David OLDAKER, Stephen REA, Andy SCOTT, David SNAPE, Lauren SYKES, Kate SYKES, Andy TERRY, Katie THORLEY, Pauline TIMMINGS, Lizzie TOVEY, Mark TOVEY, Rhona ULYETT, Matthew VAS, Mark WEAFER, Clare WEAVER, Ian WIDDOWS, Paula WIDDOWS, Shantell WILLMOTT.
Thank you to the pacers who did a great job: Scott BEVERLEY, Richard BANKS, Mark WEAFER, Andrew WAREING, Ricky YOUNG, David SNAPE, Diane BRIAN, Katie THORLEY, Anita HARTLEY, Kate SYKES, Clare GRENNAN and Natalie CUTLER.
There were an incredible 92 PBs. Were they inspired by the pacers, running fast just to keep warm or petrified by the presence of spooks? Who knows? Any PB is a great achievement but it is even more sweeter if you finish in the first 10 or when it dips under one of the notable benchmarks, so congratulations to:
Chris Lockhart 16.07, Oscar Barbour 16.33, Phil Wells 18.41, Frazer Slade 19.15 and Ellie Burrell 23.48 who all finished in the top 10 for male and female categories and Richard Kemp 24.45 (on 64th parkrun), Simon Smart, 24.53, Michelle Taylor 29.24, Ken McMullan 29.44, Paula Widdows 29.49 (on 83rd parkrun!), Eleanor England 39.54, Claire Reid 39.12, Lynda Aharp 39.37, Monica Smith 39.38 who all dipped under the time benchmarks.
Congratulations also to the following runners who reached important milestones:
50 runs: Richard Latham, Richard Banks and Kelly-Rose Rignall
10 runs: Ryan Oldfield
At Arrow Valley we pride ourselves upon being proactive in the visually impaired running community.
We have a number of enthusiastic VI guides that are waiting to assist anyone that requires it.
If you would like a guide to assist you at Arrow Valley parkrun please contact us in advance of the event by email:
Almost 10 weeks ago I started on my couch to 5k journey and today, Saturday 28 April, I ran my first 5k parkrun. I can't believe I actually did it! It's not been a simple journey as it took me almost a year and a half to find a guide runner - but I'm so glad I didn't give up.
I've not posted anything on my blog before about my new running adventures, after all it is a baking blog. BUT I'm so chuffed and feeling really proud of myself. I'm also hugely grateful to my wonderful (and very patient) guide runner and his wife for helping me.
I decided to try running as I mostly work from home and had begun to feel quite low and isolated. I knew I was on a slippery slope to depression after suffering a major set-back with my sight and I knew I needed to make a change. So, I decided to try a sport that would help me meet new people and get me out in the fresh air - running seemed like the perfect solution. I thought it would be easy to find a guide runner locally, but it wasn't. But I'm not one to give up and after almost a year and a half I was finally put in touch with a guide runner through a local sight loss charity Worcestershire Sight Concern.
10 weeks does not seem such a long time to get to this point - but we've worked so hard. Indeed, if you'd have asked me 10 weeks ago I'd have said I'd never be able to run a mile, let alone 3.1 miles (which is 5k). Being visually impaired you can't just pop on your trainers and have a jog, everything has to be planned and as much as I hate it I also have to rely upon the help and goodwill of others.
My guide (Corin), who is a seasoned runner and a complete inspiration, and I met for our first 'run' on the 18th February. I was so nervous and worried, I thought I might fall and not be able to do it. Funnily enough Corin was equally nervous. But neither of us needed to have worried! We hit it off instantly!
We decided on a couch to 5K plan as a starting point. On that first run I thought – ‘Oh My Goodness I can’t do this!’ I couldn’t run more than 45 seconds without looking and feeling like a tomato!
We persevered, we followed the programme and I quickly got bitten by the running bug. I started running on a treadmill once a week too and very soon I was running for 5 minutes at a time and on week 8 I ran for 5K without stopping!
Although I can only run with a guide, it's amazing the difference running has made to my mental health and my sense of independence. Today, Saturday 28 April, we took part in our local parkrun for the first time and I was totally blown away by the support and friendliness of everyone. Friends who I used to work with also came to cheer me on - which was amazing. I've been introduced to a whole new circle of friends and the whole experience has given me a new drive to not let anything stand in the way of achieving my goals.
It's early days for my running adventures - but we are not going to stop now that we've reached the 5k target. Our aim now is to inspire others with a visual impairment to feel brave enough to run with a guide. We also want to encourage experienced runners to volunteer to become a guide runner.
With the aim of raising awareness and hopefully raising some money in mind, I applied for place at next year’s London Marathon and am delighted to have been given a place to run for The Guide Dogs for the Blind. Corin is going to run with me. We are absolutely determined to do it!
I'll be posting more about our running adventures - I hope you don't mind!
We are delighted to announce the addition of Ruth Burton & Clare Grennan to the Arrow Valley Core Team. Both are experienced parkrunners and core volunteers and well known faces at Arrow Valley. They bring an enthusiasm and dynamic from Hanbury Hall and Wythall where they both helped within the core teams. Please could everyone support them both in their volunteering and Run Director duties.
Thank you Ruth & Clare it is good to have you on board.
It's that time of year when the event team need to consider their intention for additional runs over the Christmas period.
This year Arrow Valley & it's wonderful runners will be providing a Christmas Day run at 10:00.... that is provided we have enough volunteers to fill the rosters.
New Year's Day the team are taking a break but the parkrun compendium will list other fabulous running opportunities and perhaps possibilities for the famous "double".
I’ve never been a fast, or what you would call, natural runner. In fact, apart from a few brief forays in earlier times, I didn’t even start running regularly until I was just about into my mid-fifties. I think it was training for a 10K event in Redditch that triggered it. In those days there was no Couch to 5K or local parkrun to encourage me but somehow the bug took hold.
A few years later I ran my first parkrun in Coventry, well before AVPR started. About the same time I joined my first running club UKnetrunner, there was no Kingfisher Harriers back then (I’m a member of both these days).
After lots of 10Ks and few HMs over the years that followed (I‘m 66 now), I eventually found myself running my long anticipated 250th parkrun this week and a really enjoyable day that was - thanks everybody. Not to mention the exclusive green tee-shirt to come.
If you are just starting out or further settling into your parkrun journey, at whatever age or ability, I hope reading this encourages you to stick with it and leads you to all the running pleasures I have encountered so far i.e.
• The vast number of friendly people you meet and come to know in the Redditch running community, and beyond. And the many inclusive running groups around the town.
• The pure simplicity of waking on Saturday morning and heading to AVPR and then being back home, feeling good, having breakfast, before most people have got round to doing anything much.
At parkrun nobody cares who is fast or slow and you can talk to as many people as you like (or to nobody, if you so choose). You can rush off at the end to do the shopping or hang around to chat, have a coffee or do another lap. Every which way is always welcomed.
• The equally pleasant experience of going to an alternative local parkrun, or even better, being far away from Redditch for the weekend and finding a parkrun nonetheless. All you need is a postcode (and your barcode). Get there in reasonable time and follow the locals to the start line, a new course will reveal itself. I’ve done 31 different parkrun courses and enjoyed them all.
I think we should all be very grateful to the people who worked hard to bring parkrun to Redditch in the first place and to the core team members and volunteers who have supported it ever since. Similarly, away from parkrun, I personally would want to thank the group leaders of the various town running groups, particularly those I have intermittently attended; for their time, encouragement and humour (you know who you are guys ).
So what now? Well I’m looking forward to my first foreign parkrun next weekend in Copenhagen (I don’t count Wales) and the HM the following day but I’m equally looking forward to trying the new parkruns at Worcester Pitchcroft and Wythall, as well as cultivating a new determination to get some more marshalling in this autumn. See you all then.
On Saturday 19 August 2017, following the World Athletics Championships in London, the UK's National Lottery funded Olympic and Paralympic athletes are teaming up with parkrun to encourage the nation to get active with #teamparkrun
5k parkrun events offer a free and easy way to take your first steps into becoming more active. Walk, jog, run or volunteer - everybody is welcome!
To thank you for all your support for sport at all levels over the years, and being right behind them every step of the way, the UK's top National Lottery funded athletes will be right behind you on #teamparkrun, acting as tail walkers at parkruns across the country.
No one finishes last at a parkrun.
Our friends at Vitality are launching their new summer campaign #MySummerGoal aiming to help parkrunners set themselves health and lifestyle goals.
It should be a lot of fun, and we'd love for as many parkrunners to get involved as possible. To do this, we would be really grateful for your help in supporting this campaign.
Arrow Valley have received a small 'Pledge Board' whiteboard in the post. It will be taken to parkrun each week, starting on Saturday 8 July and we would love you to use it and make a fitness or volunteering pledge.
What do parkrunners need to do?
1.Set their health or fitness summer goal and write it on the Pledge Board
2.Take a picture with the Pledge Board
3.Post these images on social media tagging @Vitality_UK and #MySummerGoal
4.Go online to mysummergoal.co.uk and register their pledge
The goal could be anything from volunteering a certain amount of times, shaving a few seconds off a PB, inviting a friend along to parkrun, or simply getting out and being more active.
Whatever the goal is, Vitality are encouraging parkrunners to reach it and will be showing their appreciation by offering hundreds of fantastic fitness prizes.