Billericay parkrun is cancelled on 15 August 2020: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Profile #20 – Oscar

Thanks to Oscar for this week's profile! Oscar started out running at school and junior parkrun. Now aged 14, he wrapped up the last parkrun weekend before lockdown as first finisher at both Billericay parkrun and Lake Meadows junior parkrun.


parkrun vital statistics
Number of parkruns: 54
Number of junior parkruns: 108
Number of different events visited: 7 different parkruns, 2 different junior parkruns
Number of volunteering stints: 4

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How did you first start running as a hobby and get started at parkrun?
I started by being in the cross country team in year 5 (aged 9). At first I found it really difficult and it took me a while to get used to the cold weather.

On 3rd April 2016 when I was 10 years old, I went along to my first junior parkrun over at Chelmsford, since then I’ve made improvements of almost 1 minute 30 seconds.

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(L) Oscar's first junior parkrun at Chelmsford junior parkrun in April 2016 and (R) completing his 100th junior parkrun at Lake Meadows junior parkrun in December 2019

I went to my first 5k parkrun on 26th August 2017 at Billericay parkrun’s 10th event and absolutely loved it.

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What made you decide to join Billericay Striders?
In year 7 when I first started secondary school, in PE we had to do cross country to figure out who should be in the cross country team. I wasn’t expecting to do well at all but to my surprise I managed to get first and was hooked by the buzz of that.

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At the end of 2018 I was desperate to join a running club to take it a bit further. In January 2019 I went to my first training session at Billericay Striders, where I discovered that I didn’t know how to pace myself at all!

The coaches and members are really friendly and supportive and have given me loads of tips that have definitely improved my running.

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What are your favourite memories from parkrun?
My favourite memory over at Billericay parkrun is getting a sub 20 minute in June last year. Alexa Joel paced me and I got so close with a time of 20:02! I was gutted I didn’t manage to get a sub 20 but knew it was in my grasp!

A few weeks later I tried to pace myself the same way as Alexa did the parkrun before and managed to get 19:56!

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Breaking 20 minutes

What’s your favourite distance and are there any distances or particular races you would like to do when you are older?
My favourite distance is the 3200m/ 2 mile.

Last year over at Baddow I did the 2 mile fun run in Chelmsford, I placed 8th and got a time of 10:56 which I’m really happy with. I believe I performed well in that race because there was a friend of mine there too and we’re both competitive so we pushed each other to the max. Unfortunately this year's race is cancelled and set back to next year.

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Because I’m only 14 I’m not yet allowed to run over 5k but can’t wait to give further distances a try. In the future I also want to give the 3000m steeplechase a go.

Oscar running through a puddle at Wickford parkrun Steeplechase water jump
(L) Water jump as part of a steeplechase event and (R) Wickford Memorial parkrun's own water feature after heavy rainfall... or should that be the other way round...

What do you do outside of parkrun?
To be honest all of my hobbies revolve around sports! I enjoy playing table tennis and going for bike rides but my main focus is on running.

What’s your favourite volunteering role?
My favourite parkrun volunteering role is being a pacer. I like being a pacer because I like helping other people reaching their personal best.

Although I’ve only done this role once or twice I would like to volunteer more in the future.

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What do you enjoy most about coming to parkrun and junior parkrun?
I enjoy coming to parkrun and junior parkrun because I love the atmosphere, everyone’s so friendly and encouraging and I think it’s a great thing for anyone to get involved in.

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What are your next goals at parkrun?
My goal for parkrun is to get a sub 19:30 and my PB at Billericay is 19:30!

Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be doing another junior parkrun because of what is going on, as I turn 15 in November, but if I had a few more junior parkruns my goal would be to get sub 7:00 as my PB is 7:02.

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What are you most looking forward to when we get back?
I’m most looking forward to improving my PB time, meeting up with the Striders and most importantly to get back to normal!!

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Thanks very much to Oscar! If you'd like to read more profiles, here are the others from this series so far:

dh linda and james The Halls
alexa 94351089_1559908744180199_2806183506374295552_o 1F7F57D0-EBA9-42A4-B738-A7813057F3B9
smiths Sinead
98185706_1583710028466737_7745896999198654464_o olly dave
rachel lucy ellen Rachel The Salakos
keith small sam lizzie_Small dadds_tn
stephenquyen_small

If there's someone you'd like to nominate for us to profile, drop us an email at billericay@parkrun.com

Until next time!


The Billericay core team are:

David Hayday : Rachel Varnam : Samuel Hill : Dave Sweet : Maggie Topliss : Alexa Joel

Please check our Volunteer Roster to see if you are able to help out at anytime, there are plenty of roles available to do and all are rewarding and great fun. If you want to volunteer, email us at billericay@parkrun.com

As well as checking on this site regularly for the latest information and updates, don't forget you can also find us on Facebook.

Have you got a question? Try the FAQs section on our website. If you are still stumped send a lovely email to billericay@parkrun.com and we will do our best to help.

Why not trade up your paper barcode to some of those snazzy plastic barcodes and wristbands? You can get them at the parkrun barcode website and never worry about soggy paper ones again! ICE details can also be printed on them as well.

“barcode”

If you would like to donate to this parkrun you can find out more HERE

 

Profile #19 – Stephen and Quyen Page

Number of parkruns: 134 by Stephen, 80 by Quyen
Number of different events visited: 6
Number of volunteering stints: 18

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You both first joined us at event #9 but you’d been at Chelmsford before that. How did you first become involved in parkrun and then start coming to Billericay?

Quyen: A number of friends had mentioned parkrun and I wanted to be healthier so we went down to Chelmsford parkrun one sunny Saturday for the very first time..... and bumped into a few familiar faces. I remember talking to a total stranger while we were waiting for the briefing and thought how friendly and nice everyone was.

When Billericay opened it was a natural move over as we wanted to reduce our use of the car..... I am hoping for a parkrun in Hutton Country Park to open...

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Stephen: I’d read about parkrun and wanted to give it a go. I think Quyen actually did her first parkrun before me. It was definitely her that got me over the “I should probably give it a go” and into registering and turning up. I was blown away by the numbers of people running together (Chelmsford parkrun is huge!).

I think I knew it was special after my second run chatting to the very friendly Run Director in the cafe. Some chap by the name of David...

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As original Billericay parkrunners, you’ll remember our old course with the bonus hill (x4)! Be honest: do memories of that hill fill you with nostalgia or do you prefer our ‘new’ course?

Stephen: I remember slipping and sliding down the far side of the hill! I think I was quite pleased when we changed. It might be fun to go back to it as a one-off though just to see what we’ve all been missing.

Quyen: Err no thanks. The old course was tough! I never realised there were so many hills in Lake Meadows!

Stephen: Technically, South Weald is our “local” parkrun. Billericay is flat in comparison!

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What goes up... must come down

What are some of your favourite memories from the event?

Quyen: Highlights for me were sharing my 50th parkrun with my good friend Vicky, watching Stephen run his 100th parkrun and watching the boys run on the rare occasions that they joined us.

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Stephen: Going for a coffee after the event with a pair of brothers I met at South Weald, one of whom had won that day’s tourist shout-out by turning up from Australia. As you do. It turned out that we’d both attended the same school in Upminster, albeit a few years apart.

One very wintery day I was down to volunteer, and was stationed at the back of the park before the runners turn left and head down to the lake. There was snow on the grass all around, and about 50 hardy souls running the event. To say I was cold was an understatement. Then a very kind lady living in one of the houses behind saw me and brought out a thermos flask of hot coffee, which somehow captures the spirit of parkrun.

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Talking of spirit, there was the completely mad New Year’s Day parkrun a couple of years back. Family Page had left a party sometime in the early hours, and it was still early hours when we turned up at Lake Meadows, having somehow bet ourselves that we would. Despite the hangover it was great fun.

What have you most enjoyed about volunteering?

Stephen: Well, there was the time I stayed to listen to the run briefing, thinking I would have enough time to walk around the lake to my station afterwards. I was approaching the bench when I saw the lead runners charging up the hill, the turn after Sophie’s Corner. I panicked, started sprinting to my spot, running directly towards some very confused leaders!

Seriously though, volunteering brings a whole new perspective – seeing the tremendous efforts the core team put in every week to organise the event. Getting to see and encourage the whole field, not just those few runners at the same pace as yourself.

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You’ve visited quite a few other events apart from Chelmsford and Billericay. What have been some of the highlights?

Stephen: Sheringham parkrun, which we visited whilst holidaying in Norfolk, is breathtakingly beautiful. And hilly. Oh my goodness, is it hilly. It makes South Weald look, well, like a walk in the park! Which, co-incidentally, is what I did quite a lot of at Sheringham. Quite possibly my slowest ever parkrun.

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Amazing views (and inclines) at Sheringham parkrun

At Whitstable during the pre-run briefing, the Run Director asked the assembled crowds of runners to wish his wife a happy birthday. Not right then, but as we ran past her volunteering position. Cue hundreds of people singing Happy Birthday as we all run along the promenade. And one very embarrassed lady.

Quyen: Sheringham parkrun was so beautiful but there were no mileage signposts so I walked the last part and didn’t realise that I was so close to the finishing point!

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Whitstable parkrun in Kent

Name one thing that’s changed for you since being part of parkrun
Quyen: I think I am slightly healthier. I couldn’t run 5k before parkrun.

Stephen: Volunteering. I started off by being asked by one of the team at Chelmsford to sign up and thinking that yes, I should do my bit. I soon found that volunteering is a richly rewarding activity in its own right. Experiencing everyone else's enthusiasm, determination and enjoyment - seeing all those families running together - brings home what an amazing inspirational thing parkrun really is. Volunteering means knowing that you do a small bit to make it all happen.

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What do you do outside of parkrun stuff?

Quyen: We like playing badminton and cycling. I love my garden and have made 3 new vegetable beds this summer.

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Stephen: More running! Countryside hiking. We’re also both involved with the Scouts.

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What do you enjoy most about being involved in parkrun?

Quyen: I like the fact that parkrun is for everybody and it's free. I always love a bargain!

Stephen: Belonging.

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What are you most looking forward to when we get back?

Stephen: That feeling on a Saturday morning when I wake up – that I have a place to be; a proper start to the weekend. I’ve probably run most Saturday mornings during lockdown anyway, but it just isn’t the same.

Quyen: I have been running on and off in the last few months so I would be so happy if I can do parkrun in under 29 minutes. I am also looking forward to the routine that parkrun brings.

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Thanks very much to Stephen and Quyen :) If you'd like to read more, here are the other profiles from this series so far:

dh linda and james The Halls
alexa 94351089_1559908744180199_2806183506374295552_o 1F7F57D0-EBA9-42A4-B738-A7813057F3B9
smiths Sinead
98185706_1583710028466737_7745896999198654464_o olly dave
rachel lucy ellen Rachel The Salakos
keith small sam lizzie_Small dadds_tn

If there's someone you'd like to nominate for us to profile, drop us an email at billericay@parkrun.com

Until next time!


The Billericay core team are:

David Hayday : Rachel Varnam : Samuel Hill : Dave Sweet : Maggie Topliss : Alexa Joel

Please check our Volunteer Roster to see if you are able to help out at anytime, there are plenty of roles available to do and all are rewarding and great fun. If you want to volunteer, email us at billericay@parkrun.com

As well as checking on this site regularly for the latest information and updates, don't forget you can also find us on Facebook.

Have you got a question? Try the FAQs section on our website. If you are still stumped send a lovely email to billericay@parkrun.com and we will do our best to help.

Why not trade up your paper barcode to some of those snazzy plastic barcodes and wristbands? You can get them at the parkrun barcode website and never worry about soggy paper ones again! ICE details can also be printed on them as well.

“barcode”

If you would like to donate to this parkrun you can find out more HERE

 

Profile #18 – Team Dadds

Thanks so much to the Dadds and especially to 'Team Spokesperson' Lauren for this week's profile - another fantastic Billericay parkrun family!


parkrun vital statistics
Number of parkruns: 95 by David, 52 by Lauren, 35 by Mia (plus 1 junior parkrun) and 25 by Jack (plus 14 junior parkruns).
Number of different parkrun events visited: 6
Number of volunteering stints: 43 by Lauren, 41 by David, 36 by Jack and 32 by Mia

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Lauren, how did you first hear about parkrun and start coming as a family?

A few years ago, David made the decision to become healthier and fitter and completed a couch to 5k. He then had a friend suggest that he try out parkrun in Chelmsford, which he liked the idea of because it was a measured course with a time at the end. Mia and David went along, enjoyed it and from there heard that one was starting in Billericay on 24th June 2017. They both went to the first one, Jack and I joined in a few weeks after and then we were hooked.

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Up until then, I was a total ‘non-runner’, but with the London Marathon to train for in 2018, parkrun was the perfect start to my training.
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What are your favourite memories from the event?
As a family, we all agree that our favourite memories of Billericay parkrun are the birthdays, special events and the fancy dress events, plus the annual trips to other parkruns. David has particular memories of being crazy enough to run dressed as Winnie the Pooh for the 1st Birthday!

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What are your favourite volunteer roles?
My favourite volunteer role is fairly obvious, photographer! I just love the challenge of getting good photos around the course of the runners and then waiting to see how they have come out later on that day.

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David particularly likes pacing, as he enjoys helping people achieve their target times, although he would like to apologise to anyone that hears him shouting – he does like to encourage people to get the best out of them!

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Jack also enjoys photography and barcode scanning and Mia enjoys barcode scanning or time keeping as she finds them to have a good social side to the role where she can chat to people.

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Just a quick interruption from the editor to say thank you to Jack, Mia, Lauren and David for volunteering a hugely impressive 152 times at parkrun - an absolutely brilliant contribution :-)

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David, having been a running mayor and always busy with lots of different ventures, what have you found to be the best ways to build exercise around having a full work and family life?

David – I always make time for two essential things in the day for my well-being – eating well and at least 30 minutes exercise. For many years, I didn’t do this but after deciding to become fitter and healthier, I found that no matter how many plates are spinning, the world doesn’t change because I paused for a short while to make time to myself. The plates continue to spin, and you just come back to them later.

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What do you all do outside of parkrun stuff?

Outside of parkrun, we are all quite busy. David works as a Solicitor with his own practice, but also is a Magistrate and volunteers in the local community, squeezing in reading when he can.

Mia is part of Billericay Air Cadets, plays Rugby at Billericay Rugby Club and enjoys time with her friends as well as playing cricket for Chelmsford Willows u15's, Chelmsford Willows Womens and also trains with the Under 15's development squad with Essex County Cricket Club

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Jack is a Scout, also plays Rugby, enjoys swimming and is rather fond of playing on the Xbox! As for me, I volunteer as a Cub Scout Assistant Leader, try to help out with a local mental health charity, Motivated Minds, when I can and make sure Mia & Jack are where they need to be!  Mia's even manged to get me involved in cricket - but I am most definitely a beginner!

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Lauren, you’ve taken some amazing photos at the event. Which are your favourites?
I think it almost goes without saying that my favourite ever photo is the one I took one autumn of everyone walking up to the start with the sun shining through the trees. I'm not the world's most technical photographer, but when I see something I think may make a good photo, I take it and hope for the best.

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Other favourites are the photos from a very snowy event that took place in March 2018, when up until 5 minutes before the start, there were more volunteers than runners! I just loved how the photos looked in front of the snowy white backdrop.

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Mia and Jack - be honest, who needs more encouragement to get to parkrun on a Saturday morning on time?

They both agree that its Jack! No hesitation with answering!

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Lauren, what have been your favourites of the other parkrun events you’ve visited?

We have been fortunate to visit Clacton, Bushy and Fountains Abbey parkrun in Yorkshire as a family, with David and Jack also attending Barry Island too. My personal favourite was Fountains Abbey as it is set within the ground of a National Trust property so its quite scenic. Obviously Bushy parkrun was great as it’s the home of parkrun, but a bit less wind and rain would have been nice!

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What are you all most looking forward to when we get back?

We are looking forward to coming back to parkrun as a family. During lockdown and the enforced break, we have been running and exercising more individually and by ourselves, so coming back to parkrun will mean all four of us, up and out together on a Saturday morning, at one event, that suits us all as it accommodates our varying paces, times and abilities and of course seeing the great friends that we have met through parkrun.

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Thanks very much to Lauren and all the family, not only for yet another great profile, but for so much support for Billericay parkrun from day 1 :)

If you'd like to read more, here are the other profiles from this series so far:

dh linda and james The Halls
alexa 94351089_1559908744180199_2806183506374295552_o 1F7F57D0-EBA9-42A4-B738-A7813057F3B9
smiths Sinead
98185706_1583710028466737_7745896999198654464_o olly dave
rachel lucy ellen Rachel The Salakos
keith small sam lizzie_Small

If there's someone you'd like to nominate for us to profile, drop us an email at billericay@parkrun.com

Until next time!


The Billericay core team are:

David Hayday : Rachel Varnam : Samuel Hill : Dave Sweet : Maggie Topliss : Alexa Joel

Please check our Volunteer Roster to see if you are able to help out at anytime, there are plenty of roles available to do and all are rewarding and great fun. If you want to volunteer, email us at billericay@parkrun.com

As well as checking on this site regularly for the latest information and updates, don't forget you can also find us on Facebook.

Have you got a question? Try the FAQs section on our website. If you are still stumped send a lovely email to billericay@parkrun.com and we will do our best to help.

Why not trade up your paper barcode to some of those snazzy plastic barcodes and wristbands? You can get them at the parkrun barcode website and never worry about soggy paper ones again! ICE details can also be printed on them as well.

“barcode”

If you would like to donate to this parkrun you can find out more HERE

 

Profile #17 – Samantha Leftwich and Lizzie the Guide Dog

parkrun vital statistics
Number of parkruns: 38
Number of events visited: 10
Number of volunteering stints: 4

And Lizzie has been at all parkruns Sam has been at!

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Photo description: Photo of mum and I at Lake Meadows after running Billericay parkrun. We are standing on the main path by the cafe with the main field and trees behind us. Lizzie is sitting looking up at me with a ball on the floor. Both mum and I are smiling and laughing.

How did you first get into running?
Running was always something I enjoyed back when I was at school, through college and then as a way to de-stress after work.

In 2014 my life was turned slightly on its head when I was diagnosed with Diabetic Neuropathy and Retinopathy where my mobility was affected due to pain and my vision started to deteriorate.

Over the next three years I did very little exercise at all, gained a fair amount of weight, became depressed and isolated. This was a fairly dark and lonely time for me. When I was matched with my guide dog Lizzie my life changed.

Photo description: Lizzie sitting on a white mat with white background looking at the camera. This is Lizzie’s official puppy photo when she started her journey as a Guide Dog. It’s just a super cute photo!

I began to get out more independently and decided that I needed to do some more exercise. I was inspired by a VI runner who was doing the London Marathon and thought if they could do it then why not give it a try. To say thank you to Guide Dogs I signed up to run the 2018 London Marathon. With the help of mum we decided to try jogging again. It was an interesting time, lots of trial and error with makeshift tethers and a few trips and falls but on the whole it was a right giggle and it was so empowering to be back out there jogging!

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Photo description: Lizzie guiding me in her harness along Southend seafront. The tide is in, the sky is mostly blue on the left with clouds on the right and a seagull in the sky.
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Photo description: Me and my brother walking away from the Guide Dog cheer point along the London Marathon route just before mile 12. My guide is drinking and we are tethered. We are both wearing black running vests with the Guide Dog logo on them and a slogan that says “change a life.” Guide and Visually Impaired runner is also printed on our tops.

How did you first start running at Billericay?
I started running with Mark Scott, an England Athletics licensed guide who became a bit of a coach as well as my guide as he’s a master of long distance running!

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Photo description: me and my guide Mark running around from the lake towards “The Hill” we are tethered and Mark is wearing a yellow Hi-Vis tabard. We are both smiling from ear to ear( I’m assuming we were nearly finished!)

We then met Rachel at a guide running taster event that was organised by BASIS and the Colchester VI running network. It was very clear that the team at Billericay were keen to support VI running and understood that for many VI runners we come with a four legged superhero.

From then Billericay has been my main parkrun. We have an incredible network of volunteers for guiding and looking after our incredible guide dogs. I think guide dog sitter is now an official role on the volunteer roster at Billericay...! I’m so very grateful for the support everyone at Billericay has given both myself and all of the other VI runners! The positive impact on my mental health has been phenomenal, it’s definitely one of my happy places!

Running and the odd gym session are also a way of managing my physical pain. I have to exercise as my neuropathy causes muscle weakness so I have to use and build my muscles to make sure they don’t deteriorate too quickly. Running hurts but for some reason I can tell myself it’s meant to hurt... everyone hurts running... particularly up those hills!

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Photo description: shows a large group of people. A mix of VI runners, guide runners and guide dogs, standing on the grass at the gazebo with a BASIS sign next to us. This was the VI parkrun takeover back in 2018.

You’ve visited quite a few other parkruns. What have been your highlights and what are the best things about travelling to other events?
I love doing a bit of parkrun tourism. The fact that you can go practically anywhere and not be too far away from a parkrun is brilliant! I was very nervous the first time I contacted a different event to ask about a guide runner and a Lizzie sitter but everyone I’ve met has been so wonderful and has made me feel so very welcome. I’ve realised that I can do all the things I used to do and more!

The furthest North I’ve ventured is Camperdown in Dundee now mum lives just down the road, and the furthest south is the Eden Project in Cornwall. (Maybe I’ll get to Lands End at some point?) I even make sure I go to parkrun when I’m on holiday...

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Photo description: Eden Project parkrun 2018- photo montage of me running with my guide Shaun with the biomes and heavily planted flower beds to the sides of us.

As a member of Colchester’s VI running network I’ve been lucky enough to visit a fair few parkruns across the mid Essex area with lots of other VI runners and their guides. My highlights apart from the crazy mud and hills at Camperdown would have to be our trip to where parkrun all began... Bushy Park! A crazy early start and the first time for Lizzie on a coach but it was certainly worth it. Rain a plenty, ant hills to dodge and Stags... what more could you ask for?

My personal favourite has to be Eden Project in Cornwall. For a VI runner it’s such an incredible place to run. The smells of the landscaped gardens outside the biomes is just magnificent and the sound of all of the plants, trees and grasses blowing in the breeze. It’s a real sensory experience! Bonus is free access to the Biomes after you’ve finished so the zig zag course and hills a plenty are well worth it!

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Photo description: Back at Eden Project parkrun in 2019 - photo is me running with my guide Colin and our spotter Shaun behind us at the finishing straight of the Eden Project parkrun. We both have flying feet!

I’ve made great friends with all of my guides from Cornwall up to Dundee and everywhere in between. The parkrun community is fantastically supportive.

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Photo description: Two of Lizzie’s sitters wearing yellow Hi-Vis jackets, my guide runner, a regular guide at Bushy parkrun wearing an orange guide jacket, myself and Lizzie sitting in front of me wearing her rain coat with trees and the park behind on a rather grey day.

What have been your favourite memories of Billericay parkrun?
There’s so many fantastic memories that I have from Billericay parkrun... I’ve really enjoyed welcoming other VI runners to our event from our local BASIS parkrun takeover to welcoming the guys from the Colchester VI running network. It was so great to have them all over to visit our event and show how fantastic it is.

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Photo description: Members of the Colchester VI Running Network in Guide and VI Runner hi vis at Billericay parkrun

Each week I love getting round to the lake on my second lap as that’s when the fountain seems to turn on. I can tell if I’m running too fast if I get there and the fountain isn’t on, although that’s not very often! The park has so many parts that are great to keep everyone engaged but especially for VI and guide runners.

There’s changes in surfaces, the new tarmac path is just wonderful, to the ever changing vista through the seasons. My favourite has to be springtime as the sun is just starting to warm up, feeling its warmth on your face, the sound of the crisp grass underfoot and smell of the early morning dew is so inviting! At this time the plants are beautiful, smell divine and make running up the hill three times all worth it! The best thing at Billericay is the incredible marshals, the support and encouragement you get from the whole community is wonderful!

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Photo description: A photo collage showing many of the volunteers who have looked after Lizzie

What has been your overall experience of parkrun?
Since joining the parkrun family it has made such a massive difference to both my physical and mental well being. Not being able to go to parkrun has been tough and as a VI runner I’ve not been able to run at all since before lockdown. The positivity is infectious and really makes you feel like you’ve achieved something which keeps me happy and looking forward to next week. My mental health is so much better since joining parkrun, I find it so freeing... I know that sounds strange considering I’m tethered to a guide but it’s very empowering to be running outside with so many other people, doing something which I once thought I’d never be able to do again!

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Photo description: The iconic start of Billericay parkrun. Me running with my guide Gary amongst hundreds of other Billericay park runners at the top of “the hill”.

And what is Lizzie’s favourite thing?
Lizzie absolutely loves coming along to parkrun! She has a bit of separation anxiety but seems to like being a supporter. She loves to cheer me and my guide on as we run past her... I’m assuming she’s thinking that it’s her job to guide me?

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Photo description: Lizzie walking with Kathy, who was marshalling and Lizzie sitting, on grass which has 2 yellow cones marking the route. There are trees in the background.

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Photo description: Lizzie standing wearing a rain coat and her harness in between two marshals both wearing hi vis jackets. The photo is from the side and she is looking out for all the runners.

She loves to go for a little walk around the park off of her lead after we’ve finished and having a lay down in the cafe while we are grabbing a drink. I’d have to say I think her favourite memory and certainly one of my favourite memories for her from parkrun would be running the whole course for the first and only time with Pete Hall in a rather speedy time of just over 25 minutes. I think they lapped me twice!!! I think she will enjoy giving it another go and seeing if she can beat her PB.

Pete with Lizzie
Photo description: Lizzie running with Pete on her debut at Billericay. Pete is holding her lead, there are lots of other runners all around them and Lizzie looks very happy with her tongue out.

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Photo description: Lizzie playing fetch at the picnic for Billericay parkrun’s 2nd birthday. She is mid twist going into a run with the tennis ball above her. There’s colourful bunting in the background.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering as a VI guide?
What can I say to people who are thinking about giving guide running a go...
Go for it! It’s not as scary as it may seem I can assure you. Almost all of my guides have admitted to being clumsy runners (after we’ve started running I must add) and we’ve always made it round. I think the best thing is not to take it too seriously.

Yes it is a very important role but we are normal people who like to share the joy of running. Have a chat with the person you’re guiding to gauge the level of assistance and always ask how they’d like to be guided, we are all different. I’d say more verbal information is better than not enough.

The best piece of advice I was given was to ensure my guide can run at least 2 minutes faster than me. This is important so you can still talk, it takes up more energy to constantly talk and run than you might think but still have enough breath to make and verbalise your decisions. Other than that, have fun. I know personally I love a chat and a bit of a giggle. Know that by being a guide you are enabling someone to do something which they would not be able to do without you. It’s great fun so please think about giving it a go.

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Photo description: is a montage of pictures of me running with many different guides at Billericay parkrun featuring Gary Clifford, Mark Scott, Jeanie Xhughes, Steve Shaw, Sharon Brown, Liz Cox, Peter Estates, Lorraine from Bushy parkrun and Linda Millar aka my brilliant and supportive Mum!

What do you do outside of parkrun stuff?
Outside of parkrun I spend every second of my day with Lizzie! Work, rest, play repeat.

We fill our time with a few voluntary roles. I’m on the Board of Trustees at BASIS (Blind and Sight Impaired Society) where we support people in South Essex with sight loss. I volunteer with the RNIB doing lots of external surveys and projects including product innovation workshops, art exhibitions and photography projects which raise awareness of sight loss.

I am a fundraising volunteer, engagement volunteer and I’m also a public speaker for Guide Dogs where Lizzie and I go into schools, youth groups and events to talk about what life is like as a guide dog owner. Lots of people enjoy getting to meet Lizzie.


Video description: Guide Dogs advert featuring Sam and Lizzie

Outside of this I love to take part in races... but not any race... muddy races! I love a mud run!!!

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Photo description: Mum and I after running the Pretty Muddy Race For Life at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Lizzie is sat in harness to the side looking very disapproving of us being so grubby.

Other than that my favourite thing to do is sing. I’m a member of a local community choir where we practice every week and perform together a few times throughout the year. Recently I’ve been involved with making an album with two other girls from my choir. I find singing relaxing and the same feeling as running. It’s so good for my mental health, maybe not so good for my husband's and neighbours' ears though.

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Photo description 1: Lizzie sitting on some grass at the edge of a kerb in her harness after she found the bin that had been covered up by overgrown trees! She’s a clever girl!

Photo description 2: Lizzie laying in a field with an aluminous pink and yellow ball in her mouth after she fetched it.

Photo description 3: Me and a puppy walker standing across from the St Luke’s Hospice Tree of Light in the Eastgate Shopping Centre meeting the public and collecting funds for Guide Dogs. We are both wearing royal blue polo shirts with the Guide Dog logo on the front. Lizzie is sat I front of me looking at the camera and Whispa a Golden Retriever Lab is wearing her blue puppy jacket standing up facing the camera.

Photo description 4: recording equipment and instruments including a keyboard and Double Bass at “The Log Cabin” Lizzie is laying in (Bessy’s, my choir directors dog) bed resting.


Video description: YouTube clip of Lorelai singing group performing A Thousand Years at our Christmas concert.

What are you most looking forward to when we get back?
I can’t wait to get back to parkrun. Having a bit of structure and knowing what day of the week it is will be great! I can’t forget it’s Saturday if it’s parkrun day! I am most looking forward to seeing everyone again and catching up as it feels like it’s been such a long time! I may not be all that fit (I’d say more fat than fit) but being around great people who love parkrun will just be incredible. I think Lizzie is looking forward to having another go at running too!

Massive thank you to everyone who makes parkrun possible and especially my guides and Lizzie sitters. You make what I thought was impossible, possible!

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Photo description: Sam smiling with her guide and other runners

Thanks very much to Sam :) If you'd like to read more, here are the other profiles from this series so far:

dh linda and james parkrun3
alexa 94351089_1559908744180199_2806183506374295552_o 1F7F57D0-EBA9-42A4-B738-A7813057F3B9
shane and judith smiths Sinead
98185706_1583710028466737_7745896999198654464_o olly dave
rachel lucy ellen 104998939_1614511322053274_6620051281348934043_o 104330518_1607430916094648_7635276705513917032_o
keith small

If there's someone you'd like to nominate for us to profile, drop us an email at billericay@parkrun.com

Until next time!


The Billericay core team are:

David Hayday : Rachel Varnam : Samuel Hill : Dave Sweet : Maggie Topliss : Alexa Joel

Please check our Volunteer Roster to see if you are able to help out at anytime, there are plenty of roles available to do and all are rewarding and great fun. If you want to volunteer, email us at billericay@parkrun.com

As well as checking on this site regularly for the latest information and updates, don't forget you can also find us on Facebook.

Have you got a question? Try the FAQs section on our website. If you are still stumped send a lovely email to billericay@parkrun.com and we will do our best to help.

Why not trade up your paper barcode to some of those snazzy plastic barcodes and wristbands? You can get them at the parkrun barcode website and never worry about soggy paper ones again! ICE details can also be printed on them as well.

“barcode”

If you would like to donate to this parkrun you can find out more HERE

 

Profile #16 – Keith Walker

Thanks to Billericay running legend Keith Walker for this week’s profile :)


parkrun vital statistics
Number of parkruns: 168
Number of different events visited: 14
Number of volunteering stints: 26

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When did you first become aware of parkrun and what were your first impressions?
As an established runner, long before parkrun became what it is today, I was well aware of its existence, but not how it might apply to me.

Since concentrating on endurance events, I had always considered 5K to be far too “eye balls out” for me, and hadn’t run ‘sprint’ races since leaving school. However, with ever increasing numbers of people telling me I must do parkrun, I obtained my barcode and rather tentatively arrived at Chelmsford one Saturday morning. By this time, it had become very popular and was already attracting large numbers.

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To my surprise I was greeted by an old training partner and long-time friend, Kevin Brushett, who had rediscovered his love of running through parkrun. We hadn’t seen each other for several years, so it was a massive bonus and real boost for my continued participation. The first run was not particularly competitive, but it was around 22 mins and it felt good to be in the upper range of finishers.

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As in all group running activities, you always benefit from being around others and this is no more true than taking part in parkrun, where the camaraderie and encouragement from those around you is so positive.

I can honestly say I really enjoyed the experience, together with the soon-to-become compulsory post run coffee with Kevin and Tracey. I was hooked!

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You’ve visited quite a variety of different parkruns. What have been your tourism highlights and do you have any ‘must visit’ targets?
Gorky Park, opposite the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, probably ranks as the quirkiest and was even more memorable for the mad dash to the airport immediately afterwards. If England had won the night before, I wouldn’t have had that problem!

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I have also been lucky enough to visit both Adelaide and Perth parkruns, where they start at 8am due to the heat. The Aussies, it has to be said, are just as passionate about parkrun as we are.

However, the highlight has to be Barry Island. I won’t eulogise too much about our collective experience of the day as much has been written previously, but it really was a fantastic occasion. Made more unforgettable by the horrendous journey down with Kevin and Tracey on the Friday night, culminating with the realization that they had booked the hotel room for the wrong day! Priceless.

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It’s difficult to focus on any ‘must visit’ venues at present, I’ll just be happy to get back to Billericay. I do intend to do more Essex tourism as soon as we are able, and I always check for local parkruns whenever I’m planning a trip. Carlisle was a good example of that, when we spent Christmas there a couple of years ago.

What are your most memorable moments from Billericay parkrun?
Reaching 100 runs at my local parkrun was quite special and the Billericay Striders Takeover, when every member of the Club was involved in some capacity or other.

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On a more personal level, leading and encouraging the members of the ‘Beginners and Improvers’ Group that I coach at Striders, to their (in most cases) first ever organized mass participation run, was really special. In previous years, the final evening of the 10-week course, was a 5K time trial. Given the location of our Club HQ, this meant 2 laps around the Rosebay/Queens Park loop, not an easy route. So, to be able to use the local parkrun as their 5K challenge was such an improvement.

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You’ve volunteered 26 times and earned that much prized volunteer milestone T-Shirt. What aspects do you enjoy and see differently when volunteering at parkrun?
What I see differently, from my now, very slow, perspective, is the pace at the front of the ‘field’. Unfortunately, I do feel that some of the faster runners, don’t always give enough consideration to the majority of us, who are there to enjoy our Saturday morning and are not treating it as a race.

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What I enjoy most, is the encouragement a marshal can give, especially to someone who is obviously flagging and helping them achieve whatever their goal might be. This is never more satisfying than when I have been a pacer and helped a participant get a PB.

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We know you've helped loads of beginner and novice runners as one of the great coaches at Billericay Striders. What are your 3 top tips for runners looking to achieve more consistency and incremental progress in their running performance?
Yes, it would make a good survey subject, to ascertain how many Billericay regulars, have at one time or another, been a member of my ‘Beginners Group’.

  • Best and most obvious tip, is not to be afraid of taking a rest when you feel you just can’t go any further. There’s no shame in it and we’ve all been there. One of the most common issues Beginners have, is with their breathing. If you feel out of breath, walk it off and don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. You’ll soon lose the enjoyment running can bring, so take it easy, recover and go again.
  • Once you have overcome the initial gasping experience, try being more disciplined with the walk/jog scenario. Walk for a minute, jog for a minute. When that becomes too easy or comfortable, increase the jog to 2 minutes and so on, whilst eventually reducing the walk. You’ll be surprised how quickly you won’t need to walk at all.
  • The main tip however, for anyone reading this who has only just started attending parkrun, or has yet to take their first stride is to join my ‘Beginners and Improvers Group’ as soon as it becomes possible. Sadly, it would appear that may not be until next year now, but please keep an eye on the Billericay Striders website (http://www.billericaystriders.co.uk/).

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Rumour has it that you've amassed quite a few sporting medals, trophies and titles - can you share a few of your sporting highlights / enjoyable moments?
Yes, I have accrued a few Essex County Road and Cross Country medals over the years. Several Podiums at British Triathlon and Duathlon Championships, the majority of which have led to my participation in the GB Age Group Team at both, for World and European Champs, pretty much every year since 1997.

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As I really enjoy travelling, visiting places for a purpose (race), has been a massive bonus, taking me to Australia, New Zealand, Honolulu, Beijing and even Newfoundland, to name just a few. However, major success has been limited to European Duathlon, with 2 Bronze and One Gold. You might think obtaining Top Step in Ibiza in 2018 would be the pinnacle, but given the amount of training required and that my sole aim was to complete the European Ironman in Frankfurt in 2009, managing third place in my age group must rank as my finest sporting achievement.

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What do you do away from parkrun and running?
I’ve been retired for nearly 10 years now, so thinking about my career in the construction industry, is now, thankfully, a distant memory.

In normal times, obviously watching Tottenham consumes a large part of my time, but unfortunately comes with a health warning!

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I watch very little TV apart from sport, but I am a keen gardener, have two allotments, keep pond and tank fish, enjoy DIY and indulge in my model railway when time permits. We also have 5 grandchildren, so I have no idea how I used to fit work in!

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Your extended family seems to enjoy running. Who normally secures Saturday bragging rights?
Yes, one of the most endearing qualities of parkrun is that it is for everyone. Grandson Alexander first came with me to Chelmsford and soon got the bug, very quickly realising he was actually very good for his age.

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Daughter Elaine, who had previously been a member of Striders and TSE, pre Children, gradually found more time to run again and also bring the other boys, Christopher and Lewis as they got old enough. Now the whole family, including Elaine’s husband Richard, my other daughter “I’m never gonna be a runner“ Denyse and her two children, Evan and Sydnee, all come to the park.

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Sadly for me, they are all improving, whilst I am suffering the vagaries of old age.

Bragging rights? parkrun is not a race. It’s just great to see them all running together, enjoying the camaraderie that is parkrun. Long may it continue!

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Thanks very much to Keith for all he has done for the Billericay running community :) If you'd like to read more, here are the other profiles from this series so far:

dh linda and james parkrun3
alexa 94351089_1559908744180199_2806183506374295552_o 1F7F57D0-EBA9-42A4-B738-A7813057F3B9
shane and judith smiths Sinead
98185706_1583710028466737_7745896999198654464_o olly dave
rachel lucy ellen 104998939_1614511322053274_6620051281348934043_o 104330518_1607430916094648_7635276705513917032_o

If there's someone you'd like to nominate for us to profile, drop us an email at billericay@parkrun.com

Until next time!


The Billericay core team are:

David Hayday : Rachel Varnam : Samuel Hill : Dave Sweet : Maggie Topliss : Alexa Joel

Please check our Volunteer Roster to see if you are able to help out at anytime, there are plenty of roles available to do and all are rewarding and great fun. If you want to volunteer, email us at billericay@parkrun.com

As well as checking on this site regularly for the latest information and updates, don't forget you can also find us on Facebook.

Have you got a question? Try the FAQs section on our website. If you are still stumped send a lovely email to billericay@parkrun.com and we will do our best to help.

Why not trade up your paper barcode to some of those snazzy plastic barcodes and wristbands? You can get them at the parkrun barcode website and never worry about soggy paper ones again! ICE details can also be printed on them as well.

“barcode”

If you would like to donate to this parkrun you can find out more HERE

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