Here is another positive parkrun story kindly sent in by Dan Morrison...

I've been running at the Tod parkrun as often as possible since it started and it's become a really important part of my week. I'm in my
late-fifties now and was starting to feel really slow and creaky in my everyday life. I have always been fairly active (although not sporty)
but a combination of plantar fasciitis, arthritic knees, sciatica and an old motor bike injury had really taken the fun out of moving myself
around. My wife persuaded me to get along to the Parkrun and since then it has played a major part in getting me back up and bouncing again.
The first few times I found myself walking bits of the course but then I learnt not to set-off so enthusiastically and keep a nice steady pace
and since then I've gradually got faster and faster. I don't feel like an old man any more!

It's a really friendly event that encourages people regardless of age or ability. The buzz of all the different people taking part gives you a good boost to do your best. But it is not a race and is just about doing it for yourself. It's become a real Saturday morning ritual waiting for the results to come through after the run to see if I've beaten my personal best (while I have my extra large, well earned, guilt-free breakfast!)

If you've not tried it or considered running before, just get yourself down to Tod park at 9am on Saturdays and do whatever feels comfortable. You'll be surprised how much better you feel and how much fun it is.

 

A running journey

The second of our positive parkrun stories series. Here is one of our regular runner's journey...

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I’ll start with a small confession - I used to do a bit of running. In fact, fifteen years ago, in my mid-twenties, I signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon, despite the fact I hadn’t so much as run for a bus since my school days. I remember sticking a beginners training plan to the fridge and ticking off each run as I completed it. All went well for a while but about two thirds of the way through my training, I developed a hip injury along with shin splints and was not able to complete most of my longer training runs in the weeks leading up to the marathon.
Stubbornly resolved to complete the challenge I had set myself, I duly hobbled round the marathon course when the big day arrived, in pain from mile six onwards. My family were incredibly supportive, cheering me on at various stages around the route and I do remember an incredible sense of achievement when I finally made it over the finish line some five and a half hours later. The next weekend (still very sore) I dragged myself round a charity 5k I had signed up for many months earlier and then, after that, nothing, nada, zilch – I quite literally never put my trainers back on or ran another single step for many many years.

I don’t really know what happened and why I let all that fitness just slip away - I guess training had taken up too much of my free time and, in all honesty, I think I found the pressure (totally self-imposed) of training for a marathon quite traumatic. I certainly hadn’t come to love the feeling of running and it hadn’t made me a happier person.
Fast forward 15 years to January 2019, now aged 41, feeling the excesses of the Christmas revelries and more than three stone overweight, I knew I needed to make some changes to my lifestyle and resolved it was time to have another go at a bit of running. So I downloaded the Couch to 5k app, headed out on to the canal towpath and started running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds alternately.

I felt a small sense of achievement after that first run and quietly committed to myself to keep going with the programme. In Week 5, delighted to now be running for 5 minutes at a time, I bumped into a neighbour who said; ‘You should go to Parkrun – they’ve just started a new one in Todmorden!’ ‘Sounds great’ I replied breezily, internally telling myself there’s no way I could ever be ‘good enough’ to run with other people.

But this word ‘Parkrun’ kept popping back into my head and when I found myself googling it a few days later, there it was, Centre Vale Park Run, only a few weeks old and right on my doorstep! So I made a commitment to myself that when I completed the Couch to 5k programme I would go and try a Parkrun and, sure enough, on 6 April 2019, I turned up on my own and completed my first ever parkrun in 36 minutes and 1 second!
I found it really tough but I definitely experienced the runners high that day and what I remember most was how encouraging the marshals were as I ran round and how many runners came up and made the effort to say ‘Well Done’ as I finished, gasping for air and legs like jelly. As I recovered, I remember thinking what a lovely buzzing atmosphere there was and how happy everyone seemed – and all this in my local park at 9am on a Saturday morning!
So that was me hooked and I was back again at Parkrun the following weekend, this time completing the course 90 seconds faster. I didn’t know anyone but I got chatting to friendly folk at the finish line who told me about a Beginners running group which meets on a Monday night, organised by Todmorden Harriers.

It took another eight weeks (and a few more Parkruns under my belt) before I was brave enough to turn up on my own to the ‘Monday Runday’ Beginners group but I’m proud to say I’ve been to nearly every session since. And, of course, I had nothing to worry about – this group is also full of friendly, welcoming folk and caters for all abilities, including those right at the beginning of their Couch to 5k journey. By December 2019 I was a fully-fledged member of Todmorden Harriers and was very proud to wear my Harriers running vest for the first time this weekend at Todmorden’s very own annual 10k Road Race – the Red Hot Toddy!

It’s been just over a year since I ventured out on the towpath for that first painful session of one-minute runs and I can now run comfortably for an hour or more. Since April last year I’ve done 29 Parkruns and my current PB is 27 minutes & 38 seconds, more than eight minutes faster than my first Parkrun. It’s such a great way to start the weekend and has become a kind of anchor in my week, something I try to prioritise and plan other things around. If I’m away for the weekend, I’ll look up the closest Parkrun to where I’m visiting and try and build it into the plans. More important than any of the above though, is the fact I can now genuinely say I love the feeling of running and I am a much happier person than I was a year ago!
So what’s been different this time around? I am absolutely convinced Parkrun has made all the difference. To become part of such an inclusive running community where everyone is encouraged to take part, no matter where they are at on their own personal journey, was absolutely invaluable, especially in those early days when I was running very slowly and feeling very self-conscious. Fifteen years ago when I was marathon training, I never met anyone else who ran and would never have dreamt of being ‘good enough’ to join an athletic running group. This time around, all my mini Parkrun ‘victories’ have bridged that gap for me and helped me become someone now confident enough to proudly call myself a runner.

Parkrun is also where I met my new running buddies and found out about the Beginners group and the Harriers. I still like running on my own sometimes but running with other people is always great fun and means I always make the effort to be there when I can, even in bad weather or dark winter nights when I would be very unlikely to go out alone. I’m sure running with others has helped build my fitness faster too; sometimes I’ll push myself hard to keep up with the quicker runners in front and we’ll run up hills I would never choose to run up alone, whilst other times I’ll run at a much more relaxed pace and chat with others, quietly celebrating the fact I can now run and hold a conversation at the same time. Like many people, I’m sure, my work does not connect me to my immediate community and so Parkrun and the running groups also help me feel more connected to my local community and other people who live here.
The other lesson I’ve learned this time around is that I don’t need to have a ‘marathon sized goal’ in mind for running to feel worthwhile or purposeful. It’s absolutely more than enough just to keep showing up for Parkrun, week after week, slowly and steadily getting fitter and stronger and chipping away at my PB (but without any of that self-imposed pressure). This time around I am running because I love the feeling and freedom of running, and I have discovered that running really does make me happy.

What else has changed since I started Parkrun? Well that three and a half stone I needed to lose has disappeared, I’m addicted to Strava rather than wine (who wants to get up and do Parkrun after sinking a bottle of wine on a Friday night?!), I feel a lot more confident in myself and, most of all, I feel a renewed energy and desire to make the most of life and all the opportunities that come my way.
I’m also delighted that my nine-year-old son has begun showing an interest and we’ve been using the school run to leave the car at home and work our way through the Couch to 5k app. He’s done three Parkruns so far and he’s been a real support to me so I look forward to seeing where his journey takes him this year too.
And what’s next for my Parkrun journey in 2020? I have a few mini goals in mind; I’d like to reach my 50th parkrun milestone by the end of 2020 and I’d like to edge closer to a PB somewhere around the 25-minute mark. I want to volunteer at Parkrun at least once a month too; I’ve been tail walker a couple of times and have really enjoyed meeting people just starting out on their own fitness journeys. I wish I’d been brave enough to show up a bit earlier and would urge anyone reading this who’s worried about fitting in or about being fast enough just to come along and have a go – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

So Happy First Anniversary to Centre Vale Parkrun – you’ve made a massive difference to my life this year and I’d like to say a huge thank you to Will and all the volunteers who make Parkrun possible, week after week, in all weather conditions! I’m sure you will continue to make a hugely positive impact on many more lives in your second year and beyond … in the meantime, did someone say there might be cake this Saturday?!

Katy (Parkrunner)

 

Parkrun improves lives

With our 1 year anniversary coming up this Saturday we are going to publish articles from a few of our regulars who say Centre Vale parkrun has a had a positive effect on their lives. This starts today with... me!
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It was the summer holiday’s after the end of the first year of my university course in Occupational Therapy; a major career change from many years of unsuitable, unrewarding jobs. I had been struggling to find summer work and finding it difficult being away from my son following a break-up. I was feeling quite low in mood and anxious; feelings which tend to regularly come to the surface when my life is lacking firm routine and direction. My slowly budding but still primitive understanding of OT told me I needed a project that interested me and would drag me away from negative thoughts and feelings and increase my self-esteem, something to concentrate my thoughts on. This is when I decided that I was going to have a go at setting up a parkrun in Todmorden. I had not been in the area long but had already wondered about the park as it seemed ideal for an event. I saw a few comments on the local facebook groups; others had thought about setting it up in the past but never quite getting it off the ground.

From organising the first meeting with some wonderful and willing volunteers, Centre Vale parkrun virtually dragged itself to life with only a little prompting from myself! This was thanks to the enthusiasm and work of the people who were to become the core team, the support and help from my girlfriend Daisy, the direction from Jude the local parkrun ambassador and a very supportive Calderdale council who agreed to put the funds up to pay for all the kit. After a few meetings, some debates about course routes and various admin tasks and risk assessments, it was time to get the event underway.

This was the bit I was extremely nervous about. Firstly, being responsible for assembling and organising all the volunteers into their roles and dealing with any sudden problems was quite a daunting prospect. Secondly, I have attended many parkruns going back to the early ones at Woodhouse Moor in Leeds in 2008, but never for a minute thought it would be me doing the shouty briefing bit at the start. I couldn’t even speak in front of a couple of people a few years ago such was my anxiety. Here I was allowing myself to be standing on my own and shouting orders at 200+ people. I still can’t really explain how I ever changed my mindset into thinking that may be a good idea. Anyway, I somehow did it and still do it and (almost) enjoy it at times these days!

We all know what a great thing parkrun is, and it is immeasurable how much it has helped so many people globally. I see it every weekend. People come up to me and tell me how it has improved their life, which is quite an amazing thing! For me parkrun has been my own Occupational Therapy project on myself… and it’s working! I have a stronger sense of my own role in life and self-identity which has increased my self-esteem and general wellbeing. It is helping me at university in giving presentations and as I have nearly finished my degree now it has certainly given me more confidence regarding working autonomously towards helping others improve their lives in the future.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has made this process fairly easy, especially the core team; and all the volunteers and runners for making it such a fun and friendly event. It has honestly made my Saturday mornings and I hate missing it (Only happened a couple of times). Mainly though, when I am not volunteering it’s great to just have a local parkrun down the road to go and have a run with friends on a Saturday morning!

Will (Centre Vale parkrun Event Director)

 

Next up Centre Vale’s first birthday!

This Saturday 14th March join us to celebrate our first anniversary. There will be cake!

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The following Saturday 21st March it is the Todmorden Harriers takeover event with pacers to help you round...

 

Join us to celebrate International Women’s Day!

Centre Vale parkrun is excited to be joining in the International Women's Day celebrations on 7th March 2020.

Some data crunching shows us that women and girls make up an average 45% of people running, walking and jogging at Centre Vale parkrun. On 7th March we'd like to really bump that up and get as many women and girls taking part in the event as we can.
We'd also love to have female pacers at this special event to help other parkrunners achieve their goals.

So please...if you love parkun and would like to encourage more women and girls to take part-spread the word! Speak to every woman you know; let them know you don't have to be fast (though you might be), you don't have to run (though you can do), you only have to take part!

Of course all genders are very welcome, as always, but for this day let's all try to get more women involved!

If you can help or contribute towards this exciting event please let us know on Facebook or by email at centrevale@parkrun.com.

And of course, your Run Director for the day will also be a woman!

 

Mayor presents banner to Centre Vale parkrun

Todmorden’s Centre Vale parkun has now entered its second year. Held every Saturday morning, at 9 a.m., the run takes runners round stunning Centre Vale Park on a 5 km course, welcoming runners of all abilities.

New Year’s Day saw an additional parkrun at Centre Vale Park, completed by an incredible 201 runners!

Marking the second year for Centre Vale parkrun, the Mayor of Todmorden, Cllr Ken White, attended the Park Run on Saturday 4 January to present a banner from Todmorden Town Council for display at all future events. The banner celebrates our stunning park, and invites runners to visit our incredible town too.

Councillor White welcomed the runners, and said how pleased he was to present the banner. Todmorden is a good place to live, and the parkrun adds to the many other activities which make Todmorden such a vibrant town.

The Mayor then set off the 143 runners, on a blustery morning. The youngest participants this week were two 10 year olds, the oldest was 77.

Parkruns are held each week, throughout the UK, as well as in other countries. Anybody is welcome to participate, and it’s free to enter. Details for the Centre Vale parkrun can be found on the web page, www.parkrun.org.uk/centrevale/thumbnail_2020.01.04 - Mayor_resized_20200107_090219509

The photograph shows Cllr White addressing the runners, with the banner displayed in the background.

Peter Ehrhardt
This week’s run director.

 

New Year

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!

 

Run Report Centre Vale event #28 by Anna Smith

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.

Thanks to all the volunteers and walker, joggers and runners who made this such an enjoyable event.
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7/9/2019 parkrun #24

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

 

Volunteer of the month

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.

By Brenda Urquhart
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