What am I doing here? Thoughts of a Conkers parkrun non-runner

Conkers parkrun #441 was a pleasantly cool one, after a number of rather warm ones recently. This week 563 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 57 were first timers and 85 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 33 different clubs took part. Seran Bradley was your Run Director.

This week’s fastest male runner was Richard Martin, with a time of 18 minutes and 14 seconds, followed by Alex Benfield, with a time of 18 minutes and 24 seconds.We had a number of milestones this week. Nikki Reeves completed her 250th event, timed with her 100th volunteer - she paced 25mins; a fantastic double achievement, Nikki. Ross Ballinger marked off his 200th run, and Jessica Sturgess and Ross Clarke marked his 100th. Deb Holmes, and Megan Mcerleon completed their 50th. We also had juniors completing their 10th event.  Lilia Beresford (marking hers with a new PB), Joseph Moloney and Lewis Weinman. Well done to everyone.

This week’s fastest female runner was Sally Higgs with a new PB of 19 minutes and 36 seconds. Hollie Elliot, completing the Conkers parkrun for the very first time, was second female home with a time of 20 minutes and 47 seconds,

No PB for me today, but I was absurdly thrilled to complete the course in 36 minutes and one second, after a few weeks walking while recovering from illness. It’s still minutes faster than the first time I ran the course. A few weeks ago, during the friendly chitchat before the parkrun started, a lady asked me “How long have you been running for?” I looked at her blankly and said “Oh, I don’t run”.  That is not strictly true-I actually do run if I might just catch the 07.34 train to Birmingham New Street, when the alternative is waiting for the 07:50 train. But otherwise the only time I move with any degree of rapidity is the Conkers parkrun. So that got me to thinking, why do people come to Conkers parkrun for the first time? And what keeps them coming?

I’d always assumed parkrun was for people who run-after all the clue is in the name. I came for the first time on Christmas Day 2018 because my daughter needed a lift. It was too cold to sit in my car. Perfectly logical-but why did I come back? I was pleased to find out that I could jog 5K, wondered if I could improve on my time, and was totally blown away by the amazing community atmosphere, the marshals who told me (with apparent sincerity) that I was doing well, the military organisation, and the fact that everyone was having fun at this fabulous, completely free event. I still thought that everyone else was probably a runner though.  So, for this week’s run report, I thought I’d ask around. Here’s what I found out (apologies for any and all mis-spelled names).


Penny is one of this week’s High Viz heroes, providing the briefing for new runners. Thank you, Penny! Penny first went to a parkrun because she was staying with a friend who did it and thought she might as well go along. She walked that first time and then decided to come locally. She prefers Conkers parkrun to any other because it is so friendly.


Everyone knows Jen-queen of the volunteer roster, making sure week after week that everyone else has an enjoyable, safe, impeccably organised run. This week she was also one of our two timekeepers (this looks like a horrifyingly responsible role-but I’m assured that if you would like to try it, you will be given full support and training). Jen first went on a parkrun because her Facebook friend regularly posted parkrun pictures. Intrigued, she googled parkrun, found the parkrun website, discovered Conkers parkrun was on her doorstep and started coming. Sadly, Jen cannot run anymore because of a knee injury but she comes as Volunteer in Chief because she loves the community spirit. And, apparently, because she feels she is skiving if she isn’t here on a Saturday morning. Jen is always looking out for more volunteers to fill her rota, especially over the summer. There are even roles which mean you can still run (like writing the run report. Why not give it a go!). A huge thank you to Jen!


Ken held up the 35 minutes plus sign for the run today. Thank you, Ken! I was excited to hear that Ken, like me, had hated running as a child, and also sometimes asks himself “What am I doing here?”. He first came to Conkers parkrun because running 5K was on his bucket list. He keeps coming because of the community spirit and because he feels there is something very special about Conkers parkrun.

Claire and daughter Catherine (aged 2.5 years)

Claire is one of those runners that I look at every week in awe-because they run not only with a buggy but also with a child in that buggy-no mean feat up Cheeky Hill! Claire first came to parkrun because she liked the fact that there was a route with a measured, specified distance. She keeps coming because Catherine loves it and urges her on.

Paul and son Adam (aged 10)

Adam started doing the parkrun with Mum, Sarah. But then he found his pace a little, ahem, restrictive, (this is no slight to Sarah as Adam’s PB is an enviable 21 minutes and 40 seconds) and asked his Dad Paul to step up. Paul keeps coming because Adam wants to keep coming. But when pressed, he admitted that he would probably keep coming anyway when Adam hits the magic age of 11 because he wants to keep improving his PB. Oh, and because of the community atmosphere of course.

(Another) Penny

Penny first came to Conkers parkrun because she joined a Couch to 5K group who did the parkrun as the culmination of their training. She keeps coming because she loves Conkers parkrun because of the atmosphere, wants to chip time off her PB and to feel good.

(Fun fact: before I started coming to parkrun, I hadn’t seen Penny, a friend of a friend, since we graduated from Cardiff University in 1991. Despite the intervening years we still recognised each other).


Nikki was celebrating a tremendous double milestone of 250 runs and 100 volunteers-an inspiration to all of us. Thank you, Nikki!  Nikki started coming to parkrun in 2011 because she had just started running and thought she’d give it a try. She made friends, joined South Derbyshire runners, and started running marathons. Nikki keeps coming to parkrun for the general friendliness, and because it’s better than lying in bed on a Saturday morning.

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Nikki on her 250th parkrun/100th Volunteer!


There you have it, folks-there are lots of reasons why people come to parkrun for the first time; some even come by accident like me. But without exception, everyone keeps coming back to Conkers parkrun because of the friendly, community atmosphere. See you all next week.

A big thank you to this week’s 35 volunteers:

Steve EDGAR • Janet POTTER • Nikki Aka Tigger REEVES • Chris OSBORNE • Douglas COURTNEY • Jenny COURTNEY • Laurence KINGSCOTT • Jennifer CROSS • Seran Catherine BRADLEY • Lyndsey HILL • Chris HANMAN • Mary SHARP • Ollie THURBON • Karl PHILLIPSON • Tracy EDGAR • Thomas HILL • Chris POTTS • Steve PICKERING • Iris STURDY • Clare PICKERING • Nigel PICKEN • Penny MARSDEN • Ruth BOAM • Mic STEPHENSON • Katie DENNIS • Chris ELSEGOOD • Sarah BOWEN • Maureen DANVERS • Marie CHAPMAN • Matt CHAPMAN • Sam CHAPMAN • Kenneth ASHTON • Naomi EARL • Richard SMITH • Mark SMITH • Fraser CRICHTON


250 volunteers and a who’s who of parkrunners.

What rhymes with ‘he’s volunteered a lot?’ It’s ‘Laurence Kingscott’ of course! 250 parkruns is an impressive effort but volunteering 250 times is something else. On behalf of everyone at Conkers parkrun, thank you Laurence, and here’s to the next 250!

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How does one celebrate 250 volunteers at Conkers parkrun? Well some, it seems, hug their favourite tree.

This week we had 569 people for Laurence to manage in the funnel, 52 first timers of which 28 were having their first go at a parkrun for him to shout encouragement at and 87 he inspired to set a new PB. Is there no end to his talents?

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Now we know why Laurence was hugging the tree for some comfort. "How do I squeeze this lot through the finishing funnel?"

Besides Laurence, we had another 31 nice people that ensured this week’s parkrun didn’t end in disaster.
Nikki Aka Tigger REEVES • Cinzia DUNACHIE • Laura GRAVES • Christopher John MASON • Dawn STORER • Chris OSBORNE • Laurence KINGSCOTT • Jennifer CROSS • Carol GILL • Grania TOWLE • Yvonne FELTHOUSE • Ian BOAM • Samuel HILL • Ollie THURBON • Gregg MAYLES • Karl PHILLIPSON • Tracy EDGAR • Kevin BORLEY • Tony STONE • Andrea ALLEN • Amy STORER • Susan MAYLES • Elspeth DICKINSON • Dennis DICKINSON • Samantha PHIPPS • Harry PHIPPS • Ruth BOAM • Barbara CULVER • Dave WATTS • Chris ELSEGOOD • Naomi EARL • Teresa SWIFT


Despite Laurence’s efforts, not everyone will finish first, set a PB or be celebrating a milestone. For most parkrunners, this was just another ‘normal’ week on the Ennstone Trail. Let’s celebrate this normality by taking a closer look at six of this week’s parkrunners, chosen by a complex random number generator (my 9-year-old son).


Position 33 – Neil Holland

Neil is in the VM40-44 age category.

He has done 57 parkruns, all at Conkers.

He first ran in February 2018.

Neil has improved his PB an impressive 27 times!


Position 144 – Simon John Dunn

Simon is in the VM50-54 age category.

He has clocked 170 parkruns.

He has done three other parkruns, including one in Poland!

Neil joined Santa’s festivities by running on Christmas day last year, proving he isn’t a Grinch.


Position 255 – Verity Parker

Verity is in the SW20-29 age category.

She has completed 137 runs.

She has done 11 other parkruns, including the splendidly named Parke parkrun!

Verity first ventured onto a parkrun course way back in July 2012.


Position 329 – Mae Stenson

Mae is in the VW40-44 age category.

She recently reached 100 runs – well done!

She also likes Tail Walking!

Mae ran at Hafan Pwllheli last week, which had just 37 finishers.


Position 498 – Leo Wileman

Leo is one of our younger runners, in the JM11-14 age category.

He has 65 Senior parkruns AND 63 Junior parkruns – nice one Leo!

He set his latest PB in April 2019.

Leo ran on New Year’s Day this year!


Position 568 – Amy Storer

Amy is in the SW20-24 age category.

She has done 35 runs.

She first ran in May 2015.

Amy has done one other parkrun, a trio of runs in Manchester!



Feeling hot, hot, hot

Conkers Run Report No. 439  – Saturday 29th June 2019


29th June. You may be forgiven for thinking the most significant thing about this date is the birthday of global pop star Nicole Scherzinger, or even that 12 years ago today Apple released the first version of the iPhone; a variant of which I’m using to write this very report (feeling old yet?). Well…not today. 29th June 2019 marks something much bigger, something much more powerful. Something that hundreds of thousands of people around the globe have been looking forward to for days. 29th June 2019, is parkrunday! And, what a parkrunday it was…!!

The morning started in the usual fashion we all know and love. You arrive at parkrun; friendly marshals guide you swiftly into a parking spot, get out of your car, quick nosey around for someone to talk to... ”excuse me, where are the loos please?” pick a hi-vis hero to chat to – Hey Iris!

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Nice to meet you! Iris Sturdy was in charge of the walking group at Conkers and told me all about the famous Cheeky Hill (we will come to that a bit later), the route, where the shady spots on the course would be. “It’s going to be a warm one” could be heard in stereo for the next 30 minutes by various people as they all began to arrive...and then we got down to the important stuff...parkrun time!

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Paul Parsons delivered us the first timers & tourists briefing, up stepped Roger onto his char for the main brief. Milestones congratulated, tourists welcomed, best wishes sent, couple of safety bits, and off we headed to the start line.

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Adam Kinson looking chilled on his 50th parkrun

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Three, 2, 1...and we are off! Sure enough, the Cheeky Hill greeted us like an old friend.

The sort of old friend who has just eaten your last Rolo...! However, you love them all the same.

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We hit the trails, glided along the canal, and made a dash back to the finish line. Token collected, token scanned, token sorted, volunteers thanked. Job done.

The course looked stunning in the sunshine, didn’t it?

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Celebrating Armed Forces Day by running with a 35lb rucksack.

The statty bits...

A mighty 535 of you ran, jogged or walked in the glorious sunshine!

There were 12 people BRAND NEW to parkrun! Welcome to the family Benjamin Abbott, Gemma Hiatt, Jack Harrison, Jess Glenny, Kiera Radford, Kieran Philpott, Paul Barnett, Paul Stevens, Philip Goodchild, Rosie Randall, Thomas Green. We hope to see you all again very soon!

We had 37 tourists with us, including parkrunners from Bromley, Leeds, New Zealand, Tees Barrage & York. Thanks for joining us, and tell your friends how wonderful Conkers parkrun is!

Despite how warm conditions were, a whopping 57 people recorded new personal bests! A huge well done to you all! Did that bell even stop ringing?

Four people joined the ever-growing 50 club. MASSIVE congratulations to Adam Kinson, Craig Rome, Sean Bullock and Wayne Gobey! Here’s to many more...

Representatives of 40 different running clubs took part.

Last but DEFINITELY not least. A MASSIVE THANK YOU to all the wonderfully brilliant volunteers. parkrun simply cannot happen without the time you a generously donate to ensure the events run smoothly and safely. (Fancy giving it a go? Easy! Just get in touch with us and let us know what role you would like to try. The hi-vis will look great on you, I promise!)

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The event was made possible by 35 volunteers incuding Christina Hawtin operating the hot desk.

Nikki Aka Tigger REEVES • Roger COBB • Laurence KINGSCOTT • Christina HAWTIN • Jennifer CROSS • Romain CHAMBARD • Tracy DAVIES • Sam MCDERMOTT • Emily ATKINS • Tracey GLOVER • Vince ALEMAN • Ollie THURBON • Tommy DICKSON • Gregg MAYLES • Kevin BORLEY • Robin THORNE • Iris STURDY • Cian DOUGLAS • Ellie DICKSON • Lucy MCDERMOTT • Alice MCDERMOTT • Adrienne COLLARD • Susan MAYLES • Rod BARLOW • Dennis DICKINSON • David ASHMORE • Katie DENNIS • Paul PARSONS • Sophia ASHMORE • Sarah BOWEN • Marie CHAPMAN • Matt CHAPMAN • Sam CHAPMAN • Linda Kay DAKIN • Naomi EARL

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Conkers parkrun Results Page.

That’s all folks….

Tommy Dickson, Horsforth Harriers (Leeds), crazy parkrun tourist, A779748.


A Mid-Summer parkrun

Conkers parkrun No. 438 Run Report    -    June 22, 2019

The Car Park is empty

It’s eight twenty-two

The Core Team are ready

And waiting for you


The Hi Viz is sorted

Our Jen’s on the ball

Ready and waiting

For our heroes to call


The car park crew beckon

And point us the way

To park nice and neatly

For the start of our day


The crowds start to gather

There’s buzz and there’s chatter

As friends get together

For their weekly natter


There are new ones and others

Who have come from afar

To try out our parkrun

Hope it’s up to par


Now Miss Katie Dennis

Is doing her spiel

For all our first timers

So nerves they don’t feel


A few more short minutes

And briefing takes place

Given by Laurence

Stern look on his face


Remember to keep

Small kids by you there

Dogs on a short lead

And buggies take care


Hail our first timers

And milestoners too

And give a big cheer

For our Hi Viz Crew


So off to the start

And gather for fun

For those who seek times

In this friendly run


Whether running it fast

Or walking it slow

It’s Three, Two, One

And away we do go


There are Hi Viz Heroes

At every junction

“Thank You” dear Marshal

For doing this function


And so we have reached

The finishing straight

The funnel is ready

Timekeepers await


Keep in your order

And up at the top

It’s a token thing

And then you can stop.


Relax, stretch or chatter

Or ring on the bell

First time or a PB

Didn’t you do well?


It’s off to the scanners

Got your barcode? Hurray

And then to the café

You go on your way.


All over for this week

Bring on the next

As we await our result

In that little text.


86 got their PBs

21 First timers and then

Callum Abberley

Was first of the men


Abby Halcarz

Was our leading girl

Ahead of Mrs Hobbs

Who gave it a whirl

35 Hi Viz heroes

Helped us on our way

Without them we would not

Enjoy parkrun day
So next week or soon

Give volunteering a try

And help Super Jen

Get ample supply.


A few Stats.


Ann Gardener, Jayne Bradshaw, Roman Crichton, Jimmy Bland, Lee Warsop and John Thompson all reached their 50 Run Milestones and Lisette Naylor made it to her 100th – Well Done all!


First Male:  Callum Abberley 16.09 from Burton AC

Second Male: Joe Godwood 17.06 From Witney Road runners


First Lady: Abby Halcarz 19.43 from Ivanhoe runners

Second Lady: Rebecca Hobbs from Tamworth AC


We had 638 participants

21 First timers – hope to see you again

86 Personal Bests – Ring that Bell!

35 Hi Viz Heroes – Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

35 Clubs – Love your support.


Dennis D.


Conkers parkrun – major tourist destination.

Conkers parkrun Run Report No. 437 -  June 15th 2019

Well - summer solstice is on Friday... meaning that summer is imminent with our longest day (hopefully full of sunshine!!!)  Although not quite summer weather, the weather was comfortable for running and the weather fairies made sure the pesky rain that’s been drenching the area stayed away!!!, today there wasn’t many of you staying away as 641 had managed to stay dry and made your way to Conkers!!  A special well done to 100 first timers that have decided to join us - we love seeing all you new faces coming and jogging or walking our trails - hope to see you again in the next few weeks. These included 27 brand new to parkrun and 73 tourists from as far away as New Zealand, Norwich, Exmouth and several from Kingsbury Water who unfortunately had to cancel.

We had representatives from 38 different clubs today, so if you feel like joining in with a bit more running there is bound to be a club local to wherever you are from - this parkrun is central to many different clubs, so would be many choices for those of you that would like to join in more. 


Our speedy guys today were representatives of 3 local clubs - Liam Bradbury (South Derbyshire Road Runners) with a new PB, Karl Wideman (Ivanhoe) also with a new PB and Rob Mace (Peel Road Runners) who joined us for his first time - where have you been??  Our storming ladies today were Sally Higgs, Ingrid Stevenson and Lucy McDermott, all three ladies got shiny new PB’s - they are on fire!! They weren’t the only ones, another 92 runners also celebrated with new PB’s (hope you rang the bell!)  A local group led by Michelle Darlaston - Michy’s Marvels joined us today from nearby Tamworth - hope you all enjoyed it!


Not many big milestones reach today, but a few smaller ones.... Starting with our juniors, they get the pleasure of a 10-parkrun milestone and T-shirt - today Taylor Olsen and Josh Deacon reached theirs!!! Next comes 50, and we had two reaching this milestone - Richard Boyce and James Bullock.  Hitting 100 parkruns were Mark White and Katie Fox - well done to you all!

A huge Mexican wave of thanks goes to our 35 volunteers who make this event possible - if you haven't volunteered, please have a go! There’s nothing difficult, just enthusiasm and arriving early are the only requirements!!


Hope to see everyone next week, hopefully in some sunshine and slightly less rain than we’ve had last week!!! We have asked Roger to please limit his singing to the hours of 10pm - 4am and only during the winter, so we can but hope!!


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