The start of a new year is typically a time of reflection and planning. For parkrun, 2016 was a fantastic year with over 3 million registered parkrunners now onboard, 1.1 million individuals taking part in a parkrun, prestigious award wins, a new partnership with Women in Sport and parkruns popping up all over the world - thanks, in part, to some Bedfontos (more on that later...).
Over to our wonderful parkrun Founder, Paul:
"I still find it hard to believe that a concept as simple as a free run with friends and family has captured the imagination of more than 1,000 communities across 14 countries. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to so many generous folk, not least everyone who has worn the high-vis this year and marked out courses, timed, scanned, processed results and everything in between."
Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE
So down in our little parkrunning corner of the world last year, we continued to set and smash PBs, join milestone clubs, be awesome at volunteering and run through all sorts of weather (ice, rain, frost, sunshine, fog, wind, plus any combination of those conditions). It's also evident that just like in previous years, we still love a celebration... and we still love CAKE!
So what was new for us in 2016? In a nutshell, we said an emotional farewell and bon voyage to Co-Event Director Rory Murphy, we congratulated Ian and Caroline Cockram in their increased Ambassador capacities, we smashed our attendance records for runners AND volunteers (then smashed them again!), we bought some new parkrun equipment, the smaller car park was extended (woo hoo) and we had the pleasure of a refreshment van next to the finish line during the summer!
So let's reflect on a few key highlights for Bedfont Lakes in 2016...
Milestone and special runs
We saw some amazing milestone runs last year, for juniors and seniors alike, with many of you joining the 10 (juniors), 50 and 100 club and even the 250 club - well done to Wayne Sarten, David Lloyd, Graham Shaw, Guilaine Sheward, Fiona MacNeil, Caroline Cockram, Bob Bannister and Alan Lees who ran their 250th runs in 2016. It's really quite an accomplishment to get that green T-shirt, requiring at least five years (or more) of solid parkrunning!
Some other memorable achievements included:
- Debbie Hazell and David Humphries who both joined the 50 club in January and ran all 50 of them at Bedfont
- Junior Mia Mukasa who ran her 10th parkrun on the same day her mum Sarah Butcher ran her 50th (with Mia's grandad John Butcher on lead bike who has now volunteered 200 times)
- Junior siblings Lewys and Carys Poole who took their 2015 achievement of 50 parkruns to over 100 in October 2016 - and they're not stopping any time soon!
- A special day for the Russell family when Grant took first place overall, Ethan was first junior home and Julia, also a junior, celebrated her 100th parkrun
- Matt Bough who is regularly spotted buggy-pushing his children Emi and Oli very speedily, has run over 135 'buggy runs' out of his 150 total
- In February, two of our first four finishers were under 14 juniors who also went under 20 minutes - well done to Kieran Desmond and Rachael Pharaoh
- In March on our 350th parkrun we ran the course in reverse - Carol Paton was the only runner present on both Bedfont's first and 350th run!
- At our record turnout in September we also saw the highest number of PBs... a grand total of 71!
Well done to everyone who walked, jogged or ran at Bedfont Lakes in 2016 - you've been part of a fantastic year
Balloons, cakes & fancy dress
We have a great community spirit at Bedfont and this is down to the friendly, fun and generous people (you!) who make it what it is. We love a celebration, and had fantastic numbers of runners and volunteers for our 7th birthday in May, then welcoming home Team GB in the summer, followed by International parkrunday on its 12th anniversary.
We also love an excuse to dress up, so Halloween and Christmas were particularly colourful and impressive... plus Paul Davis' 50th run in August brought out some fantastic costumes!
In August we had our biggest turnout with 208 runners, but this was soon surpassed in September with a record 314 runners and 37 volunteers, when it was sadly time to say goodbye to our co-Event Director Rory Murphy who emigrated to the States. It was an emotional parkrun to say the least - even he was lost for words (not for long though!!). Ambassadors, tourists and well wishers came from near and far to show the parkrun love for Rory! He is doing excellent work with the parkrun team in Washington DC helping support the existing events, plus actively working on setting up a Baltimore parkrun. He's been back to visit Bedfont more than once though, so hasn't forgotten us!
Contributing to our impressive turnouts every week were first timers, visitors and tourists from both the northern and southern hemispheres.
Heartwarming feedback on the course and community has included the following:
"Those flying the flag for Bedfont Lakes had also given lots of good travel advice, talked of a warm welcome and how friendly the event was; one had even offered to make sure there would be cakes. As we headed to the car we paused to take in the views. This is the sort of place where you expect to turn a corner and find a buddhist monk, sitting crossed legged, contemplating life."
Kevan, parkrun tourist, April
"By Friday night when I got home, I was wound tight and exhausted. Then Saturday morning dawned. parkrunday."
Rory Murphy, Bedfont ex-pat, May (before he left us!)
"What I didn’t expect was to find such a beautiful oasis that is Bedfont Lakes. A gorgeous location for a parkrun for sure, attended by some wonderful people."
Graham, Poole parkrun RD, visiting in October
"A friendly buzz soon developed as more and more people arrived...this really was one of the most welcoming and friendly parkruns that I’ve been to."
Andrew, parkrun tourist, April 2016
"So grateful to the amazing friends we have at Bedfont Lakes parkrun for making it happen. A v emotional morning with lots of cake, chat and fabulous people. #loveparkrun"
Emma Poole, on the day her two young 'bonkers' children (her words!) ran their 100th parkruns
That's what parkrun is all about - supporting and building a running community, something we're great at and should all be proud of
As we all know, no volunteers = no parkrun! At Bedfont we do have an amazing core team who pull together every week to make it all happen, overseen by Run Directors Maria Jovani, Ian Cockram, Caroline Cockram, Jin Jhooti, Carl Moran, Rima Chai, Jules Harman, Carol Paton, John Paton, Gary Clements, Dave Duggan, Iain Law and Zoe Ostley. Dave also co-ordinates the volunteer roster every week, taking over from Ian Charlton who 'retired' in March after seven years' volunteering.
We even had a new younger generation of Run Directors! Carys, Mia and Eloise all stepped up to the big role to brief runners and help organise the event from start to finish. So if you're thinking of donning the silver and blue jacket in 2017, let us know (full training is provided and you won't be expected to do it every week).
Of course, there is a whole team of volunteers who put themselves forward to help the RDs every week who all deserve a MASSIVE mention! In 2016 we saw many familiar faces, as well as new ones, and in 2017 it would be great to see even more new faces! If you're injured or having a rest day you could still enjoy the parkrun atmosphere and give volunteering a go. Even being pregnant didn't stop Kelly Davis from marshalling and tail running last year! How to get involved? Just register for the (no obligation) volunteer email invites on your parkrun profile or email email@example.com.
In volunteer news, Ian Cockram, our current ED became Lead Ambassador for Greater London, a role shared with Andrew Lawrence from Gunnersbury parkrun. Caroline Cockram was appointed as an Event Ambassador, supporting events across the same area. Ian also won 'Outstanding Service to Sport' in the Runnymede Sports Awards in November - a fantastic and well-deserved accolade which made the parkrun blog.
Cake, so much cake! Enough for an entire gallery - see below! We also got a brand new cake sign, to spur us on for the final 400m. Thanks go to David Duggan for sorting that one.
Helping to grow parkrun
As mentioned, parkrun has been launching new events all over the world thanks to volunteers who liaise with all necessary parties, design the course, test it etc. which can be a rather long process! This year in the vicinity Hanworth and Laleham junior parkruns were born and both have been successfully attended, directed and marshalled by many Bedfont regulars including Emma Poole, Event Director at Laleham, who worked hard with Rory Murphy to launch this weekly local junior event. Homewood parkrun also launched in the autumn under the expert guidance of Bedfont Ambassadors, and has been well supported by Bedfont runners!
Couch to 5K
Throughout 2016 Shepperton Running Club and Runnymede Runners brought their 'Couch to 5K' graduates to Bedfont Lakes for their inaugural 5k runs. We've seen many of them become regular park runners, volunteers and PB smashers! In fact, our highest representation from athletics/running clubs is from Runnymede Runners, SRG and British Airways AC, and we love to see them at parkrun.
Duke of Edinburgh
As parkrun is an Approved Activity Provider for the DofE Award, we had 11 participants join us throughout the year, some running and some in a volunteer capacity. They were of great help to the core team, with Eloise even taking on the role of Event Director! Many thanks go to volunteer Zoe Ostley (appointed volunteer DofE assessor) for her work over the past year mentoring the young people that join us. We hope to take on more participants in 2017, and well done to those who have completed their Award.
In the past year Bedfont Lakes parkrun has been fortunate enough to receive some generous donations, allowing the core team to buy several new items to improve the parkrun/volunteer experience! These include posts to create a better finish funnel, a big trolley (for set up and close down - transporting the all-important signage around the course) and a laptop (to process results and ensure everyone gets the right finish time!). If you want to read more, find out about the donations and how they have been used.
A picture says a thousand words...
We are lucky to have so many budding volunteer photographers and now have no less than 14,534 photos on our flickr page!! Our snaps have been retweeted, liked and shared by parkrun UK on Twitter and Facebook and make the run reports so much more interesting 'Photographer' is an official volunteer role, so if you're interested, let us know!
In addition to all the socialising we do every Saturday at the park and the cafe, the Christmas party at Caffe Gondola in Staines was a great success, thanks to organisers John Paton and Bob Bannister, with plenty of carb loading and cake. John created a parkrun quiz... so in case you missed it, here are 3 sample questions to test your knowledge (answers at the bottom of the page and quiz master's decision is final!)
1. Two regulars at Bedfont Lakes also participated in the first ever run at BL. Who are they? (clue: one male, one female)
2. What was the lowest attendance at Bedfont Lakes parkrun?
3. What was parkrun originally called?
At the end of the year, it all started with a parkrun...
Bedfontos participated in many races in the UK and abroad in 2016 including the London Marathon, Great North Run, Great South Run, Wedding Day 7K, Barcelona Marathon, Boston Marathon, Kosice Peace Marathon/Half Marathon and Ride London... not just participating as athletes but marshalling and volunteering too. Great work Team Bedfontos, especially those who completed a new distance or event! Remember, if you've got a Sunday race planned then Saturday is the perfect opportunity to volunteer at parkrun.
Finally, looking back over the year's APTOTW (Aesthetically Pleasing Time of the Week), the grand prix goes to Paul Davis back in February who ran his 25th event at Bedfont, pacing 25 minutes and finishing in 25:25.
So goodbye 2016. It's been a blast, it's been emotional... bring on 2017, us Bedfontos are ready! See you on 7 Jan for our first parkrun of the year
1. Carol Paton and Wayne Sarten
2. 20 (Dec 2009)
3. Bushy Park Time Trial