run report 27/7/19

For Whom The Bell Tolls – Bury St Edmunds parkrun #309, 27 July 2019


The 309th parkrun at Nowton Park was a special one with a pirate theme for Kelvin Johnson’s 250th run. We saw 258 people running, jogging, and walking the hallowed 3.1 miles. There were 29 personal bests achieved; congratulations to all. This week, 118 athletes beat the poet (time 28:21), for whom the bell tolled after a tiring Twilight 10 k the evening before! It was lovely to see an array of running clubs and fancy dress for the high seas. I tried to find an inflatable parrot and had vague notions of fixing this to my shoulder somehow, but gave up on this as a logistical impossibility. Needless to say, a wooden leg was off the cards too….Kelvin was in his finest Jack Sparrow attire along with several salty shipmates. I managed to engage Kelvin in a swashbuckling sprint to the finish, the very essence of parkrun.

Run Director Susan Dunne delivered a sodden briefing, akin to the late Rutger Hauer’s drenched monologue in Blade Runner - All those personal bests will be lost in time, like barcodes in rain…..Susan imparted a shocking piece of news – the electric livestock fence was to be avoided at all costs. It was Claire Brown’s last run as Event Director. She was heartily thanked by all pirates in attendance. 

I love the freedom to explore that running brings, and with it find inspiration for poetry. To link creativity and running, I tour around different parkrun venues (as the unofficial parkrun poet!) each Saturday, writing a short poem or two. I'm currently trying to run every parkrun course in East Anglia (Cambs, Norfolk and Suffolk); a feat I'm calling East Ran-glia (36 events)! I'm only 23 parkruns to the good, but well on the way to completing Tour-folk (11/16 events), Suff-ok (10/11), but some way from tucking into the Camb-which (2/9)!

We now enter the artistic portion of the run report and we’re inspired by the English poet and cleric John Donne (1572 – 1631) who wrote poetry for Sir Robert Drury of nearby Hawstead. Drury even gave him an apartment in his large house in Drury Lane. Donne travelled extensively, fighting alongside the Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Raleigh against the Spanish at Cadiz (1596) and the Azores (1597). These nautical adventures fit the theme of today’s piratical run well. His poetic exploits on the return to England are the stuff of legend too. One of Donne’s famous poems is For Whom The Bell Tolls. Here I give it a Bury parkrun makeover (with apologies to Donne or any surviving descendants!).

No park is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each run is a piece of the continent,
A part of the stats.
If a stopwatch be washed away by the rain,
Nowton is the less.
As well as if a run director were.
As well as if a barcode of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each week's time diminishes me,
For I am involved in Garmin-kind.
Therefore, send not to Run Britain
For whom the PB bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.


The event was well supported by 13 volunteers, a highly commendable effort in the pouring rain.



Tim Gardiner

aka the parkrun poet (twitter: @timgardiner3)