Basingstoke parkrun #621, 28th December 2019
Run Report by Avi GOVIND
The year is coming to an end, so this report takes a look back at what has been going on in the last 12 months.
But before you start thinking that is going to be about things like Brexit, England winning and losing in two World Cup finals, climate change and another General Election – think again: this is going to be from a parkrun perspective – far more interesting…!
When the red, red Robbins...
I asked a, hopefully representative, sample of people to tell me their main running memory of 2019 – and their responses are below. But first, here’s a retrospective of what happened at Basingstoke parkrun this year:
We started the year strongly, with our second highest ever attendance on the first Saturday of January as 678 people took part. The next Saturday saw tokens 694 and 695 used for the first gtime by Tail Walkers Tommy Millar and Luxmi Govind as our record attendance was beaten by two. The week after also saw a momentous occasion, with Lynn Brastock’s 500th parkrun – former Basingstoke Event Director Lynn became the 40th person and 8th woman to reach the 500-run milestone.
As snow descended on Basingstoke during the morning of 1 February, we were hopeful of being able to put on parkrun on our “snow course” the next day. But further heavy snow later that day and overnight led to only our second-ever cancellation, as it was too dangerous to go ahead. The first cancellation was in February 2009 for the same reason. That led to a delay in the implementation of the new, and current, course until the next week – I hope you agree it was worth the wait.
The names Paul Brandreth and Scott McNeice may not be familiar to you – but they visited Basingstoke in February, with Scott becoming our first ever wheelchair participant and Paul (who I know from an online cricket game…) going on since then to complete a remarkable world record of 15 parkruns in 15 different countries on consecutive Saturdays.
Hold your tongue...
One of our run reports made it big - Natasha Minto penned some prose on the ‘power of parkrun’, piquing parkrun HQ’s attention with an inspiring tale of how parkrun, running in general and her club Hook Runners have made such a difference to her life. Well worth a read: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2019/03/20/the-power-of-parkrun/
We were saddened to hear of the death of Basingstoke parkrunner, and latterly volunteer, Clive Stacey, who had taken part in 30 parkruns here. An emotional tribute from his sister Ros was read out during the run briefing by core team member Frankie Wellings, who along with her husband Richard had helped Clive volunteer for the first few times. On a lighter note, Lynn Brastock organised a gathering of 10 out of the (then) 11 women who had done 500 parkruns – never have so many blue t-shirts been seen in the same place…!
Now a blue t-shirt owner!
Your pace or mine? Not an offer, but for the first time we held a pacer week, with volunteers from Hook Runners pacing 20-38 minutes. It’s fair to say that some of the pacing was slightly suspect (there was some overtaking going on!) and that it probably helps to wear a watch when you are pacing, but it was a great success and there was a second pacer week later in the year. Erstwhile marshal Ross Pollard was also seen wearing a “34” pacer bib, as opposed to official hi-vis, for weeks afterwards…
Those lanyards can be complicated, even for a Hall of Fame winner
We welcomed a number of GPs, practice staff and patients from the Acorn Health Partnership and Chineham Medical Centre as part of the #GPparkrunPledge. This was a nationwide event to raise awareness of the important contributions they make, and to try and get 1,000 GPs to take part across the country.
Basingstoke parkrun turned 11! We celebrated our 11th birthday at our alternative site, Crabtree, on the “skylark” course that never seems to have a flat section, possibly why I was glad to be Run Director that day! The event also saw the second annual “Hall of Fame’ awards, which this year were won by Denise Hope and shared by Mark Norris and Wally Thorpe for their contributions to parkrun. They were popular winners, and the celebrations went on for some time…
Hall of Fame winner
We celebrated our own milestone with our 600th event this month, and saw the first of our regular sign language support person Paloma Dyer, who has been signing the first-timer briefing and also main run briefing most weekends since. She did some thorough preparation to avoid being caught out by phrases like “Tennis Court Hill” and “No barcode, no time”.
More celebrations were in the offing as we had a parkrun wedding to celebrate - Penny Metcalf and Alastair Bridgman ran parkrun in the morning and got married in the afternoon. Penny then wrote a run report on how parkrun helped their romance blossom – unsurprisingly it’s the most-liked (in Facebook terms) run report we’ve had.
Chineham Medical Practice were also back for more – this month doing a partial volunteer takeover as well as encouraging their patients to take part having recently become Basingstoke’s second parrkun practice – as with the Acorn Health Partnership, who were first, the intention is to create stronger links between GPs and parkrun, allowing the former to ‘prescribe’ parkrun to their patients where they feel it would be beneficial.
Sign language support
We saw our third “Club Day” this month, where eight of our local running clubs attended to showcase themselves to prospective members and allow parkrunners to find out more about them.
We also saw the launch of the Basingstoke group of 5k Your Way Move Against Cancer, which has a monthly event alongside parkrun, and provides support for anyone affected by cancer who would like to participate or volunteer at parkrun.
A new group
Another name that you will probably be unfamiliar with is Kemuel Dean Solomon – but he did his 100th different parkrun location when he ran at Basingstoke this month. He’s now in the process of returning to the other locations where he didn’t get a sub-20 time.
Once more we broke the Christmas Day attendance record, with 535 participants making it our first time above 500 people. What better way is there to get your Christmas under way than by listening to the dulcet tones of the run briefing in song from the now traditional parkrun choir, and then doing 5k? No need for presents…!
We said no need for presents!
Here are the personal memories and achievements – they’re anonymous, and written as they were said, but you can probably pick out one or two people you know:
- Getting a parkrun PB
- Competing in the South Downs relay
- Breaking 1:20 for a half-marathon
- Running 1,300 miles in a year
- Taking 30 seconds off my parkrun PB
- Running 31:22 at the Victory 5
- Finishing my first ever 10k
- Supporting new running friends
- Learning to run properly with a wheelchair
- Doing two marathons
- Finishing my first parkrun
- Doing parkrun in the mud
- Breaking 3 hours for the marathon
- Still running and loving it
- Completing 100 miles at Endure 24
A memory contributor
- Finishing Race to the Tower
- Doing my first parkrun
- An 800m PB
- Finishing Race to the Stones
- Doing the Disneyland half marathon with friends from Sherfield Park Runners
- Doing my first three ultras
- Not giving in and buying Vaporflys
- Doing my first ultra-marathon at the Salisbury 54321
- Getting close to last year’s PBs despite getting older
- Being able to run after coming off cancer meditation
- Becoming European triathle champion
- Not swearing at the rabbit at the end of the Hampshire Hoppit
Another memory contributor
- Running a half-marathon distance at the Greenham Arundelle event
- Running around the rim of the Santorini volcano
- Finishing Race to the Stones with no training
- Running my longest distance of 18 miles at the Greenham Arundelle event
- Getting 50 minutes off my marathon PB
- Starting to run
- Running 100km a week on average all year
- Surviving Endure 24
- Doing the Great South Run
- Getting a PB at the Gosport half-marathon
- Not dying during the Hampshire Hoppit
- Getting a PB at the Seville marathon
- Doing the first Basingstoke 10k
- Getting under 2:52 for the marathon
- Feeling the freedom of running across moorland in Devon
- Doing the Basingstoke half
- Making new running friends
- Finishing 8th in the county athletics championships for the 300m
Yes, it's two laps
I should probably add my own personal experiences of parkrun this year, from a number of different perspectives.
As Event Director, my highlight was how smoothly we were able to move onto the new course, and the positive impact that it had had on the number of issues and complaints that we had been facing before we started to use it. As you may have read in Matt Pillinger’s run report at the time, actually putting together the course is not a straightforward exercise, and involves a combination of innovation in formulation and design, forward-thinking in identifying potential issues, no small amount of measuring and remeasuring, and finally administration in identifying new signage and lanyard requirements, among others.
Another highlight, therefore, is the way that I have been supported by the core team of Caroline, Mark, Frankie, Grant, Michal and Ryan, each of which has contributed far more to Basingstoke parkrun this year than can be recognised by mere volunteer credits, and all of whom do an enormous amount of work behind the scenes. Thank you in particular to Caroline, who stepped into my shoes (not literally!) as Event Director when I took some time away from both work and parkrun early in the year.
Thank you for looking after my shoes!
I also get a sense of pride from what Basingstoke parkrun has done at a wider parkrun level - for example hosting the gathering of the ladies in the 500 club, partnering with health bodies such as our parkrun practices and 5k Your Way and getting exposure from Natasha’s run report mentioned above. We also had exposure on parkrun UK’s site of a photo of my Mum Luxmi completing her 100th parkrun at the tender age of 76. As a son, that also made me incredibly proud, and we worked out on Christmas Day that my Mum actually did more parkruns than me this year...!
43 parkruns in the year for my Mum
As a runner, I’ve managed to do 37 out of the 53 Basingstoke parkruns this year, missing 4 due to visits to other parkruns, 6 due to volunteering, 2 through illness, 2 due to being in other countries and 2 because of my son Jay (once when he was asleep and unrousable while my wife Sarah went to parkrun instead, and once due to his birthday party which, inconsiderately in my opinion, started at 10am on a Saturday – that was also thanks to my wife, and as husband I’m pleased and amazed that Sarah did her first-ever half-marathon in 2019 despite maintaining for years that she’d never do one).
My times have varied between a personal best of 19:55 and a ‘personal worst’ of 58:24 when tail walking. I’ve also had a span of 655 positions between a highest finish of 11th and lowest of 666th, and did my 250th parkrun in August, 10 years and 2 days after my first. Once more, I have been accompanied and supported during parkruns by a whole host of people during the year - relatives, friends, neighbours - and occasionally complete strangers!
A complete stranger, I think. Don't be a what?!
As a volunteer, apart from the short break I mentioned, I’ve been communications person nearly every week, and tried to add another role to that each week. This year I did 15 different roles (including Event Day Course Check for the first time) compared to 16 last year.
Anyway, there is a whole host of additional statistics for the year further down the report – they’re not from me but from our resident stats gurus Mark Norris and Matt Pillinger – thank you both for your help.
Stats guru and Hall of Fame winner
Onto the event, and we had 545 people taking to our course for the last parkrun of the year. They included 16 people who have never done parkrun before (welcome – and we hope you will be back again soon!) and 22 who were new to Basingstoke (ditto!). They were led home by Jonathan Bradford of Burchfield Harriers in 17:04, his sixth first-finish in his seven runs at Basingstoke. Our first female finisher was Rebecca Reid of Hatch Warren Runners in 22:21 (and Rebecca got a PB in the process).
Perhaps we need to do the first-time briefing better if people are going the wrong way!
Completing the podium positions for the women were Basingstoke debutant Ami Nash, and Sara Robinson who also got a new PB, and for the men we had Tom Harding in an unusual second place (after his fourth on Christmas Day and fifteen first finishes in a row before that) and Tony Watkins in third, equalling his highest ever finish.
Tony also got the highest overall age-grade, with 81.79%, with the second highest going to Tilbikram Sambahangphe and third-highest to Jonathan Bradford. For the women, Tracy Wyeth was highest, with 70.71%.
Top age grade for Tracy
We had a total of 39 people achieving personal bests, including Rebecca and Sara already mentioned, with our most ‘experienced’ PB achiever being Gunther Schwob in his 68th run.
Well done also to the four people who reached parkrun milestones during the event:
• Izzabelle Trimmer (junior 10) – soon to get a white t-shirt for reaching the milestone
• Mikey Brucciani and Maria Lock (50) – red t-shirt
• Iona Strachan (100) – black t-shirt
We also had two people reaching unofficial milestones – well, multiples of 50 at any rate - Rebecca Willis (150) and Peter Baulch (350).
Finally for milestones, Eleanor Eason will soon be the proud recipient of a purple t-shirt having done her 25th volunteer stint this week. Thank you Eleanor, and indeed all of the volunteers today, for all your help – in particular Run Director Matt Pillinger.
Stats guru and Run Director
Total attendance – 28,440 (2018: 25,800),
Distance run – 142,200km, or 3.53 times around the equator (2018: 129,000km)
Total PBs - 2,998 / 6.74% (2018: 2,947 / 11.42%)
Total female runners – 10,450 (2018: 9,107)
Total male runners – 16,107 (2018: 15,144)
Female runner percentage – 39.3% (2018: 37.6%)
Nearly double-digit growth!
First timers – 1,904
Unknown runners – 1,668
Most first finishes - Male - Tom Harding (33) (2018: Tom Harding (15))
Most first finishes - Female - Alison James (27) (2018: Alison James (27) – yes, that’s the same as last year!)
Fastest run (M) Dave Ragan (31 August) 15:36
Fastest run (F) Lesley Locks (29 June) 18:37 (also won overall that day)
Fastest average time – 12 October (26:52)
Total running time (known runners) 544.27 days (2018: 500.21 days)
Most PBs – 30 March (101)
Highest PB % - 1 January (12%)
Highest attendance – 12 January - 695
Lowest attendance – 2 November – 272 (blame the Rugby World Cup Final and the bad weather!)
Average attendance – 537 (2018: 478)
Highest monthly average – January (605)
Will we beat 2019's attendance in November 2020?
And here are some statistics on our wonderful volunteers:
Number of different volunteers: 469 (2018: 457)
Number of different volunteer roles filled: 2,704 – 5.76 per volunteer, or 51 per parkrun) (2018: 2,089 - 4.57 per volunteer, or 39 per parkrun)
Some of our wonderful volunteers
Volunteers who have helped at 20 or more events - a big shout-out and thank you to them: Mike Athroll, Tamzin Blagbrough, Peter Chiverton, Hannah Erskine, Avi Govind, Mike Hedderly, Jack Hedderly, George Hedderly, Lisa Hedderly, Michael Hickey, Grant Hodgson, Denise Hope, Jane Lowe, Tommy Millar, Mark Norris, Michael Parker, Ryan Partner, Caroline Partner, Matt Pillinger, Peter Railton, Duncan Rounding, Mike Stanford, Frankie Wellings and Brian Worth.
A special thank you to Mike Athroll here, who has volunteered at every one of our 53 events this year and also to the 54 people who have volunteered but not taken part at any event.
Every one of our events this year!
Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy New Year from me, and also on behalf of everyone at Basingstoke parkrun - see you in 2020!