Centre Vale parkrun will be staging an extra event taking place on New Years Day at 10am. As Watergrove parkrun is starting at 8.30, if you so wish you can do 'the double' for an energetic start to the year!
This was my first visit to Centre Vale, and what a great experience it was. I'd come 'oop norf' with friends Emma Davies and Carly Kirkby to mark a double 50th parkrun celebration for local runner Harley Beecroft (and her barkrun companion Bob) and tourist Emma. We chose Centre Vale for the event to gain their red tshirts as we wanted to see if us Southern softies were able to manage the three hill repeat course. The answer, just! We'd inadvertently chosen a fantastic date to do so, as Centre Vale's 28th outing was also parkrun's 15th birthday and we all know what that means... Cake! More on that later. Perhaps this was the reason for the great turn out of 151 attendees, the largest in 17 weeks. It was also the occasion of a take-over by the fantastically friendly Todmorden Harriers who were out in cheerful force keeping us on track on the 2 loop followed by three (hilly loop) track.
It was a perfect autumn morning, the rain held off and the mist lifted by 9.30am to show the beautiful Vale. The mixed paths course was largely dry and the combination of paths, loops and trails in the view of the beautiful hillsides made for a perfect parkrun venue. Onto the cakes and bakes, never have I seen so much cake to be shared so generously between so few, we must have averaged around 3 items per person (or was that just me?). Great to see the vegan/ gluten free cakerunners were catered for too. And, I can't resist including a side note here for the maker of the most delicious carrot cake ever.
The combination of the Todmorden Harriers takeover and the birthday celebrations may explain the large number of first-ever-timers, 16 in total - welcome to the parkrun family! I just hope your cakpectations weren't set too high for the coming weeks. A special hello too to Rod and Maria who we met in the car park and have promised to return next week. The Todmorden Harriers brought 3 pacers with them and it was great to see options given to a mix of pace abilities - 25, 30 and 35 mins. They were probably responsible for the phenomenal 45 new PBs this week! Congratulations all. It was also great to see 27 under 18s taking part too.
Written by Lee Barnard.
Centre Vale, as the song says, will you still love me when I’m 64? (64th different parkrun for me today)
Encouraging volunteers line the course
New parkrunners and tourists are talked through the course route.
Timekeepers walk to the start.
Ready, set, go! The 24th Run is underway!
Every parkrunner runs, jogs or walks over the start line and is hunting down those 5kms.
Volunteer Marshals cheer the parkrunners on around the course, high 5's and smiles aplenty!
A runner appears from down the slope, it’s Diarmuid Pritchard who maintains a good lead at the front and finished in a time of 18:20.
Lady number one to finish is Eleanor Edwards, in a time of 24:25 and in 16th place
Everybody crosses over the finish line, followed by the Tail Walker Louise Smith and that’s it for another week!
This week 100 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 25 were first timers and 28 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 13 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 14 volunteers:
William WORBOYS • Beverley WRIGHT • Emily RAWLINS • Sandra VAN EMPEL • Francine WARREN • Daisy Clear CLEAR • Dawn DOWDING • Anita PARROTT • Peter EHRHARDT • Louise SMITH • Brenda URQUHART • Mark WISBEY • Sam ILLIS • Tom HODGKINSON
To me, parkrun is a force for good. I leapt at the chance to get involved when Will sought volunteers to help get parkrun established in Todmorden. I’d already downloaded Couch to 5k in recognition that I had let my fitness and health, both physical and mental get very out of control.
Let me explain. I’d been frantically combining an OU degree in Classical Studies with working full time in a role involving long days with commutes to Leeds, Newcastle and London. This deadly combination meant Saturdays were my lie in day. And long lie in day unsurprisingly resulted in monstrous weight gain. Then a dreadful stress induced spate of infected eczema led to sepsis and I knew the fight back to health had to start. I began with a walking challenge at work and steadily built up to an excess of 10,000 steps per day. Then in March this year, event number 2, I became a non- running parkrun volunteer at Centre Vale.
You might wonder what I get out of not running our lovely course? Well first and foremost I no longer lie in. I get up early and report for duty at 8am for event set up. I love setting up the upland flat section from the bottom of the cricket ground path, up through the woodland section then downhill to cone off the John Fielden statue.
Then, after a speed walk back to the bowling green for the volunteer briefing we disperse to our various marshalling points or down to enjoy the atmosphere at the start line. The second thing I’ve got from parkrun – my confidence in public speaking has returned. That’s because after a tricky first go I’ve found my outdoor voice and a joy in the first timer briefing. After main briefing and three, two, one go! I either head back to the finish line and funnel congratulating runners as they pass me by. Or, more often than not I head back up into the woods and my favourite marshalling point.
Why the woods? Despite the midges I love the variety of nature. I’ve heard the woodpeckers get ready to welcome their young, I’ve seen an occasional deer and I get to chat with many of the town’s dog walkers. Then just as I get my breath back our fastest runners streak past on the first of their three laps in this section. And then comes the really cool bit; welcoming runners, joggers and walkers to the top of the woods. Some in family or friendship or sporting groups. There are parents pushing buggies and people with their canine companions. Some are fleet of foot, some cautious and some decidedly unsteady. But more than anything else what I see is achievement. People are out taking control of their well-being. I’ve seen people lose weight and become fitter. I see reluctant juniors develop confidence and technique. And I see strangers to Todmorden revel in the beauty of our park and the friendly atmosphere of our event. Some stick around for the market or a brew or a little retail therapy. Others understandably dash back to their busy lives.
Then, after the tail walker comes through for the last time, we course marshals strip the course. Importantly though this is only done after our last participant goes past..
Some lovely runners accompany us to the café for a post run breakfast, cake, brew etc as we process the times and reflect on what a great morning we’ve just had. parkrun has helped me become happier, fitter (albeit still fat) and more connected with my community. Will I ever run our course? Don’t tell anyone but I’ve finally plugged in my couch to 5k, and even been seen to break into a very slow jog on our woodland section.
There’s music in the names of towns, plus there’s a bit of drama and poetry too. I remember the first time I read the word ‘Todmorden'. It was on a post-it note with the number ‘345678’* and someone at at work had it as a password - they wrote it down to remember it. I also worked with someone at another place where a colleague always talked about how nice Todmorden was and that I should visit but I never did.
On Saturday morning about 6:30 am, I did that thing I always do when I’m away from home and in a hotel room. I found my barcode bracelet in my case and I put on my running kit which I always take just in case. I checked my app and found that the nearest parkrun was 15 minutes down the road - Centre Vale - and it came up with that word, that place. Todmorden. And I also did that thing where I just got distracted and talked myself out of going to parkrun several times until I hit the very last minute where I had to go. Just one more coffee and hopefully my hotel breakfast will be there when I get back.
Entering the edge of Todmorden, I thought the air was filled with smoke and then I thought it was fog but it was a mist and with the car window open the tiny droplets of water fell on my face refreshing me and waking me up a bit. The mist covered the park entrance and much of the park but then the sun started to shine. The view of the hills above the park were stunning and Centre Vale ranks as one of the prettiest parkrun I’ve ever done.
If you’ve run it then you’ll know. Two small laps followed by three bigger laps with the challenging ascent into the trees - for me**. The great thing about Centre Vale is the marshals are not only positioned to ensure everyone is safe, they are also in the right places to keep you going, providing that much needed motivation to keep you going. It’s challenging up that hill but when the marshal at the peak gives you a thumbs up, a kind word and a smile, it makes it all okay and you can feel yourself lifted by their words. And all that climbing is worth it too when you’ve got cowbells at the bottom of the hill near the statue.
By the time I’d finished, I’d not only low-fived most of the wonderful marshals, the sun was shining and I was finishing near the lovely bowling green. Despite finding it really tough up that hill - I’m injured at the moment - it was just amazing, breathtaking even, and not just because I struggled that hill. A beautiful park.
Centre Vale parkrun was made by 17 amazing people, many of whom volunteered on Friday night when the roster was looking a bit empty. They were: Amanda BROWN • Andrew MCFIE • Beverley WRIGHT • Brenda URQUHART • David SALTIEL • Dylan WORBOYS • Emma WEBB • Hannah-Louise HEALD • James BROWN • Jo WOODHEAD • Paula MACLACHLAN • Rachel TERRY • Sam ILLIS • Sarah FARNELL • Susanne COPLEY • Tony HUNKING • William WORBOYS. They made it happen and they made it special for each and every runner, walker and jogger. 98 people - including 4 unknowns - ran, walked and jogged Centre Vale parkrun #22 with 8 people doing their first ever parkrun and 26 people visiting this parkrun for the first time. There were also 25 PBs which is awesome.
Not only a beautiful sunny morning but also a beautiful park and parkrun. Thank you to everyone who made our parkrun morning possible and - I have to say this - it was brilliant to see a fellow visitor Gail, who I’ve seen many times around the country including Bushy and my home parkrun at Stretford. See you soon and hopefully the next time I’m at the Trades in Hebden, I will see you all again and, in case you wondered, I did get my hotel breakfast when I got back but the best bit? I finally got to Todmorden - which will be forever in my heart.
* number changed to protect the innocent
** I usually run at a very flat parkrun