Conkers parkrun is cancelled on 19 September 2020: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

A bit of history and fingers crossed for a restart

Conkers parkrun non-run run report  -  September 12, 2020    


Here we are on the 12th September 2020, unfortunately, I have nothing to report this week as the cruel Covid-19 virus has stopped parkruns for the past 26 weeks. It is hoped, however, that subject to the great British Public behaving themselves and obeying social distancing and other lockdown rules we may have the virus sufficiently under control to resume running our beloved Conkers Saturday event towards the end of October.


Of course, it will not be quite the same, as the Team have had to rejig the route to create more room at the start, this has necessitated a fairly big change whereby we now turn right at Canal Turn and return to the bottom of Cheeky hill via a path previously unused by us.


As I had nothing else to report at this moment, I thought I would look back at the happenings on some of the runs around this date over the previous 9 years.

Back in 2011, Conkers held its 22nd run. Sixty-three runners, joggers and walkers graced the finishers list, and they were shepherded round by a stalwart group of seven volunteers; yes, I did say seven!


First man home on this occasion was Cory Ian Parker in a time of 17:26 and First Lady was Louise Insley in 20:05.


Roll forward a year to event 74 and we find that the field has pretty well doubled to 122 with twelve volunteers in attendance. First home was Jamie Fletcher in 16:49 and first lady was Laura Johnson in 20:52.


2013 brought event 128 and yet another large increase in numbers to 193 and 20 volunteers with John Tilley taking the honours in 18:05 and Rebecca Hobbs being first Lady in 20:57.


Jump forward 6 years to 2019 and event 450. Numbers had soared to an impressive 641 with 35 volunteers, Callum Abberley being first through the funnel in 15:56 and Paige Stevenson first lady in 20:43.


Finally, our “last” proper parkrun before Covid stepped in was event 478 with a slightly lower participation of 556 but with a massive 55 volunteers in attendance to witness Jamie Fletcher break the beam in 17:13 with Christina Hawtin being the leading Lady in 21:19.


As you will see from the above figures, the attendance has grown immensely over the 9 years and the fact that we have such successful event with an amazing atmosphere is down to the sterling efforts of the Core Teams over the years and the amazing selfless attitude of our volunteers who ensure our safety every week whatever the weather.


To get the event back up and running is going to mean a lot of organisation with new challenges to overcome in order to ensure continued safety, meet the requirements of the recently published parkrun framework and minimising the risk of further spread of Covid. The logistical challenges they face are immense with trying to segregate participants successfully at the start and safe guarding the volunteers,


In the mean time Keep Running, keep obeying the social distancing rules and keep your fingers crossed that all goes well for the coming weeks.




Music and park(run)life

Non-run run report     September 9, 2020

Hans Christian Andersen is attributed to the quote “Where words fail, music speaks”. It’s fair to say I’ve lived my whole life so far with this at the very heart of who I am and what I do. The very first run report I ever completed back in 2017 combined my greatest love of all - music and parkrun - interweaving song titles into my report for people to find. Something I was reminded about by Laurence’s run brief today. (I thought it was a blockbuster run brief Laurence.) That day was not only my first run report, but it was also the first time I volunteered. I had opted for a ‘double’ of tailwalker and run report writer. I remember Tony Stone was partnered up with me in the tail walker role - you’ll never walk alone as a tailwalker and we chatted away.

If memory serves me correctly, it was at the end of the canal stretch I first met Elliot. He joined into our conversation, along with other marshals returning and we chatted all the way back to the cafe where Elliot and I discussed the song titles for my report over tea for two and a slice of cake.

It’s been a fair few months since I’ve been able to teach the world to sing in my normal way, but with schools now reopening, this greatest love has now returned. I read the weekly updates from parkrun and can see the work going on behind the scenes to bring parkrun back when we can and as safe as we can, so that mine and many others can have another great love return into their lives.

I say return, but actually it’s never really left in some ways. Okay, we don’t all congregate in our hundreds every Saturday morning but I think of all the ways in which parkrun and specifically Conkers have made these unusual times that little bit brighter. At the start of every week, an email pops into my inbox from Jen. It makes me smile. On a Friday, Dennis reminds us to complete our non parkrun for him to collate. It helps us to keep on running. It’s clear that many other people really appreciate the things you both do from your nominations for the North West Leicestershire Activity Heroes - Congratulations! There are the videos from the run directors. The posts. Seeing everyone on Facebook, Strava, Twitter. Messaging people. It goes on, but I’m sure it makes people feel happy. It’s these actions and acts that the parkrun community do that really matter to everyone. It’s like we are family. I watched with interest the other week at our new suggested course. I’ve been missing you and hope that I see you shiny happy people soon to try it out!

I started with Hans Christian Andersen, but using his quote as inspiration and updating it slightly for these unusual times. I leave you with:

Where words fail, parkrun speaks. (Andrea Allen 2020)

(Hopefully it won’t be too long until we’ll meet again) X

The CHASE IS ON!!...



Just a Non- run parkrun, none report! Or, something like that…

Non-parkrun run report no.24 - August 29, 2020

Hello again. Over the past three years, since I started my park running career I have written 6 “official” parkrun reports covering actual events, and this is my second attempt at a ”non-parkrun” run report.

Of course, writing reports for the actual events is fairly easy, cobble together a few facts and figures, throw in an odd humorous anecdote or two and the jobs a good ‘un. Then some people are naturals and manage to write things that are both interesting and amusing with moderate ease.

Not me! Still here I am again with a load of waffle about this years happenings.

Back on February 2nd I wrote for Conkers parkrun #472:

“We woke up this morning to a brave new world. Having had the liberating experience of leaving the EU at 11:00 pm on Friday evening, life will never be the same again – or will it? After all it is Saturday and Saturday is parkrun day.

Has that changed? Thankfully NO”

How wrong could I be? A short 6 weeks later, on 14th March 2020 we ran parkrun #478. This was to be our last parkrun for the last 24 weeks and, possibly for the foreseeable future. On that day in history Jamie Fletcher was the first man home in a time of 17;13, an enviable PB and our first lady was Christina Hawtin in a respectable 20:35. Tracey and David Parchment were our honourable tail walkers, there were 556 participants including many faithful regulars and we had 57 Hi Viz Heroes helping make the whole thing possible.

So suddenly our Saturday stability had gone, the friendship and camaraderie of our regular meet had been taken away. We were “Locked Down”, banned from meeting our friends and fellow runners, barred from the cheers, congratulations and high fives from marshals and other runners / walkers as we achieved what ever we were aiming for on our Saturday morning. Gone was the half hour to an hour post run, sitting in the café rejoicing about a new PB, complaining that the puddles on the Ennstone Way were too big today, planning the team event for the following weekend or a mates meet up to do a mid-week trot round the tracks. and no much awaited “ping” on the phone as the weeks results arrived with details of all the combined efforts of the day.

So what could replace that hole that had appeared in our routines? Well the first answer to come out of that is that nothing will ever replace parkrun for lots of us. We are all hoping and praying that things will improve sufficiently soon and we will be able to restart our joy. We know that behind the scenes the folk at Head Office are working hard on safety protocols to enable us to commence as soon as possible. Our own Core team are working hard looking at rejigging the course to make it more viable when we can restart – I think most of you will, by now, have see the suggestions that are being tested and I know a number have run the “New” course already.

Image may contain: plant, tree, grass, outdoor and nature

If you have tried the new course, you will have passed this point on the way from the canal to the bottom of Cheeky Hill.

In the meantime it was down to a number of individuals to try and generate some motivating activities which we could do in our daily hour of personal exercise to try and get us out there, keep our minds occupied and our bodies a bit fitter, I know that Kev Clark organised some brilliant individual challenges for Swad Joggers, he then put the results of these together to create an air of fun and competition until the lockdown eased enough for small group activities to recommence. Andy Hawtin and the SDRR crew did similar things with virtual relays etc and Overseal also did sterling work in keeping members motivated.

However, for many nothing has replaced that Saturday staple of parkrun, the achievement of completing that 5K to the cheers of other runners congregating round the funnel, the joy of reaching the 50, 100 or 250 run tally and proudly wearing your new commemorative t-shirt a week or two later. Similarly for those who marshal, those who give their time for a variety of reasons, from duty, injury, love of the atmosphere or whatever and receive their purple t-shirt for marshalling 25 events, there is no proper replacement and we all wait with bated breath for news of us being able to restart in whatever format we can. We may have to accept some fairly big changes depending on what initial limits are placed on mass participation events, things like timing and scanning may well have to be done via the app on volunteers own smart phones, again something which will take a fair amount of sorting out before we restart. I am sure, however, that most people will celebrate that day as much as I will and will do everything they can to help make it possible by complying with what ever restrictions we have placed upon us.

In the meantime let’s hope that my assessment of us not restarting in the foreseeable future is as inaccurate as my statement on the 2nd February and that we will be back on the trails soon! To all parkrunners, joggers and walkers I would say please keep up the effort and get out there at least on a Saturday morning , to enjoy the fresh air and exercise that we all value. Many of the regulars are now getting together in small groups with other parkrunning friends and acquaintances to do careful, socially distanced runs, jogs or walks and often ending up having a sociable coffee and chat afterwards and I totally commend those who are doing this, it is helping keep the spirit of parkrun alive and kicking and helping maintain good physical and mental health.

So roll on the “New Normal” allowing our “Old Normal” to return as soon as possible and I will see you all on the start line then!!

Dennis x


The Feat of our Feet!

Conkers Non-Run Report - August 22, 2020

I’ve returned to my roots this weekend with a trip to my late grandfather’s childhood home, Malborough. I would never ordinarily run when I’m away- I’m a proud Conkers parkrun purist- but because the legend that is Dennis Dickinson looks for non-parkrun results on Strava, I’ve been doing more holiday running than ever!

Anyway, while running through Malborough this morning, I had a thought. Relieved to stop at 5km, I did a cool down walk back to the Premier Inn. My thought was this: I think about (and sometimes do) warming up, stretching and cooling down - all for my legs- but I never really think about my feet.

So, I’ve trawled the Internet and found some interesting (well, I think they are) facts about feet. They are in no particular order (and some might not even be that accurate) but they tickled me and I hope you enjoy them too.

1. The human body is made up of 206 bones and 52 of these are found in your feet- that’s 26 in echo foot. That’s a quarter of your bones - housed in your feet!

2. Each on of your feet has 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons in.

3. Why are your feet so ticklish? This is because we have 8,000 nerves in our feet.

4. Why are your feet so smelly? Your two feet have 250,000 sweat glands that are capable of producing half a pint of sweat in a single day!

5. Morton’s toe is the name given to the condition where the second toe is longer than the big toe. It affects 20-30% of the world’s population. Does that include you?

6. The average person walks 110,000 miles in their lifetime.

7. The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body.

8. It takes 12-18 months for a toenail to completely regrow

9. Over the course of a day, your feet take a cumulative force of a couple hundred tons.

10. Shoe sizes were originally measured in barleycorns. This unit of measurement originated in the UK during the 14th century and is still being used today. Based on the length of a grain of barley, each shoe size adds a third of inch, corresponding to the fact that there are three barleycorns in an inch.

11. Each foot takes 1.5 times your body weight while you walk.

12. When running, your feet take up to five times your weight.

13. The first shoe dates back to 3,500 BC. Made of a single piece of leather (sorry vegans), it was recently found in present-day Armenia.

14. Did you know your feet can keep growing? Even though your feet will settle at around age 20, their shape and size will continue to change over the rest of your life. In fact once you hit 40, your feet grow by as much as half a shoe size every 10 years! This is because feet flatten and elongate with age. Your feet may also grow slightly if you become pregnant!

15. Your foot’s sole has more sensory nerve endings and sweat glands per square centimetre than any other part of your body.

16. Compared to fingernails, toenails grow much slower-about 1mm/month.

17. Foot Cheese is an actual thing. If anyone’s ever told you that your feet smell like stinky cheese, rattle off this piece of trivia: It’s totally possible to make actual cheese with bacteria from foot sweat. In fact, Ireland held a Foot Cheese Exhibition in 2013 that featured several varieties of foot cheese, as well as varieties that evolved from belly buttons and armpits. Yum! (Don’t worry, the exhibition didn’t feature a tasting room).

18. Who needs feet? In the absence of arms or hands, many individuals have learned to do some pretty amazing things with their feet. In 2008, Jessica Cox became the first pilot to fly a plane using her feet.

19. The grasping toe helped our predecessors climb trees. Thanks to modern science, if you lose your thumb, you can now replace it with a toe: toe-to-thumb transplants.

20. If you’ve got this far, you can’t be suffering from podophobia- that’s the name for having a fear of feet.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this feeture and it wasn’t too cheesy! I think I’ve nailed it... (see what I did there!) Would love to hear who can follow in my footsteps with more feet-related puns in the comments.

Can’t wait to see you, and your amazing feet, all back at Conkers soon.



parkruns, holidays and tourism  

Conkers Non-run run report No.21 - August 15th 2020

As a family, we usually plan our holidays around parkruns; never travel on a Saturday unless there is one en-route.

Twenty-twenty has not only seen us not being able to do our home parkruns but also our holiday parkruns, or so we thought. For those of you who do not know, Dennis Dickinson has set up a non-parkrun results service.  Thus, our first Saturday on our recent holiday saw us doing our first non-parkrun tourism on the beautiful South West Coastal path near Crantock.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and water

The long drop on our Saturday non-parkrun certainly concentrated my mind on where I was putting my feet.

Over our post run coffee, this then had us chatting about the first holiday parkruns we had completed.

Where was yours? I am sure mine was Killerton near Exeter. I was so shocked when I realised I had to take running gear on holiday with me, and truly felt my holiday did not start until I had done the run; it feels the norm now!!!

Where was your favourite holiday tourist parkrun?  For me, it’s a bit of a love-hate with Lanhydrock parkrun, I loved the scenery, the lovely welcome, but oh, those hills!!! I also loved the Eden Project one – again more hills, but that has the great benefit of getting free entry into the domes. Trellisick was also good fun, we had to get a ferry to get to that one, and yes more hills. Seems like a trade-off between beautiful scenery and interesting runs for annoying hills!

As a slow runner I always check how many people usually attend, and the slowest time; it would be a big shock for the volunteers if they are used to around 50 runners and all do it in less than 30 minutes, then I tip up.  So, do you faster runners look at the fastest time and think "I could get a first place there? "

What do you research? – toilets, café, slowest time, fastest time, how lumpy it is, buggy friendly, dog friendly, how far away is it?  I try to put a 35 minute travel time limit, it takes me 15/20 minutes to get to Conkers, so happy to allow a bit extra.

Have you ever been able to take in an overseas parkrun when on holiday? Mentioning no names but one of our regular parkrunners took a very Wonki tour around Europe taking in a parkrun in different countries over a few weeks.

Have you ever arrived at a parkrun overseas and arrived late – again mentioning no names, but two Conkers regulars rocked up at a parkrun in Singapore for a 9am start only to find that they were on their own; Singapore parkruns start at 7am. They didn’t research that very well did they?

Looking forward to seeing you all at Conkers as soon as we possibly can and welcoming tourists back.

Take care and stay safe.

Jan Cobb x

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