Here's a really lovely parkrunner profile from Emma Kilmurray with some extra special news at the end....
I first got into parkrun when I moved to Harrogate in 2015. I'd been playing netball for years, but the house move meant leaving my club and my husband persuaded me to try running instead. The first time I went to parkrun on The Stray I was nervous about whether I'd be able to run the distance, but everyone was so friendly and encouraging - it didn't matter one bit that I walked some of it. A few years down the line and my local parkrun is now the slightly hillier Conyngham Hall.
parkrun was the start of what has become a new hobby for me. It's built my confidence, not only in terms of my running ability but also through meeting lots of lovely new people. Last year I joined Knaresborough Striders, a wonderfully welcoming and inclusive club. Being part of parkrun and Striders has helped me get to know Knaresborough really well and feel part of the community.
My favourite volunteering role is marshalling. It's great to see everyone running past, saying hello to new and familiar faces and cheering those on who need a little boost.
Saturday mornings have looked a little different lately, not only because of lockdown but also because my husband and I are expecting twins later in the year. Running has given way to walking for the time being, but I'm looking forward to getting back to volunteering and running when time allows!
Me with my oldest school friends at Fountains Abbey parkrun. We live dotted across the UK, but when we meet up once or twice a year we always make sure we fit in a parkrun. It's fun visiting different parkruns, even if it's somewhere you've never been before it somehow feels so familiar.
Marshalling last summer. I like this spot next to Mr Squirrel as you get to see everyone enjoying the down hill bit!
Thank you Emma and huge Congratulations!
If you've enjoyed reading this, why not sending in your own profile. We want to know all about your parkrun history too
Sat 16th May would have been our 1st birthday. We might not be parkrunning at the moment but we'd still like to mark the day when it arrives. We'd like you to send in memories from the last year.
Photos, favourite part of the course, toughest part of the course, most memorable event, a special parkrun moment, a favourite view, a funny incident. Either post them on our facebook page or email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll pull them all together and then share it back with everyone. Raid your memory banks and get posting/sending, thanks.
And that's why these are brilliant. I just always assumed Knaresborough Striders Supremo and parkrun Run Director and regular volunteer James had been a constant runner throughout life so far.
Shows how much I know. Over to you James...
I first got into parkrun due to a Doctor telling me I had to get fitter as I had very high blood pressure. I had seen runners on The Stray on a Saturday morning so typed “runners on stray on Saturday morning” into Google and up popped parkrun! I persuaded a mate to come along and I was hooked from that very first run. The friendly atmosphere, the people I met and the challenge every week of trying to get a PB was just the tonic I needed to get out of bed early on a Saturday!
parkrun really means a lot to me. It triggered me to get back into running after a number of years hiatus after school based athletics. It allowed me to meet new people, that in turn encouraged me to head down to Knaresborough Striders running club (the best running club in the area ;-) ) where I have a fantastic set of friends. It has helped me with confidence also - getting up on the bench on The Stray or down at Conyngham Hall to do the run briefing is very daunting the first few times!
My favourite volunteering role is marshalling. I love being able to help encourage people around the course, especially if they are new to parkrun. It feels great when you can see someone maybe struggling a bit but you give them a clap and some encouragement and off they go again to complete the course!
I’ve not been out as much as I would have liked to on Saturdays for my “parkrun replacement bus service” run (although the “bacon sandwich at the Black Mulberry bus replacement service” has been taking place!) but I’m going to make a determined effort in May to get out for a 5km each Saturday morning!
Story wise, on my 100th parkrun (on Xmas day 2016 at Harrogate parkrun) I was tripped up by a dog just after the start line and went flying in the mud alongside the start area.
My most annoying parkrun moment was having to stop to tie up my lace half way through the second lap of Temple Newsam parkrun...I’d have bagged the coveted no1 token if I hadn’t stopped!
Favourite part of any parkrun course I’ve done - crossing the bridge at Conyngham Hall meaning you get to pass other runners and encourage them as they go out onto the top field (me, well my back, in the foreground!)
Hurrah, a new profile. This time from super speedy Nicola Carter.
I ran my first parkrun at Harrogate in 2014 and, to be honest, I didn’t quite get the bug for a little while. It was the following year before I became more of a regular.
Now, of course, I love it! Most Saturdays are spent running or volunteering, particularly since Conyngham Hall started - I think it’s of huge benefit to the town, local and not so local runners and to the wider community, encouraging people who would not normally participate in an ‘organised event’ to do so.
My favourite volunteer roles are tail walking ( particularly with our puppy) and I also like marshalling as you get to see and cheer every single runner or walker on. As a member of Knaresborough Striders, it’s a great opportunity to meet up with friends and we have ‘ticked off’ all the local parkruns for miles around, although Conyngham has to be my favourite!
My husband and I like nothing better than hunting out dog-friendly hotels near a picturesque parkrun and sneaking off on a Friday night to enjoy a night away and a different run the next morning. On one such trip at Rutland Water, we found every other guest at the hotel was part of a wedding going on there- we had a great night chatting to the guests and wedding party and enjoying the music and entertainment! Unsurprisingly, we were the only ones running the following morning
Although there are obviously much wider and serious matters surrounding the current covid 19 situation, I am really looking forward to parkrun resuming and meeting at the ruins once again on a Saturday morning!
We’re not very proficient at taking photos but this is my husband and I in Paris a couple of years ago, when nearly every other runner was part of a hen party from London.
What fabulous weather we had over the Easter weekend. Saturday would have been a glorious day to set us all up with a good old 9am parkrun around the Conyngham Hall summer course! Instead we all ran solo runs or joint runs only with members from the same household. The weather was still beautiful for a walk/run/jog/cycle or whatever else you did for your daily constitutional exercise hour.
Several of the Conyngham Hall clan have devised their own garden or local solo parkruns. Regular parkrunner, Andy Easton, ran 102 laps to achieve 5K in his inaugural garden parkrun. He has redeveloped the course to create a 78m ‘U’ shape and has extended his current distance to 10k. Wonder how far he can go………..?!
I managed to achieve position 2 in my inaugural 'lockdown 2020 bilton parkrun' (Dog sprinted past me in the last 100m!) and position 1, with a PB, in the second week (left the dog at home). The coffee is pretty good in the post parkrun kitchen, but the bacon butty just doesn’t come close to that in the Black Mulberry!
In recognition of the volume of people devising home, garden and solo courses, parkrun has given their apricot tees a makeover and they can be customised with your ‘home’ parkrun name (https://www.facebook.com/parkrunUK/videos/616513988935528/). They have also added ‘We’ll get through this together’ on the sleeve. So how many home parkruns do we think will begin with ‘X’ or ‘Z’! If you have devised your own home, garden or solo parkrun, we would love to hear all about them!
The kit was feeling a little lonely this week, so the Easter bunny borrowed some of it and made up a circuits course in the garden to make sure everyone felt they had earned their chocolate eggs and bunnies! Looked easy, but hurt more than a good half-trail, half-path 5K course that we all are looking forward to getting back to at some point in the future. In the meantime, stay safe, stay well and look after each other.
How did you get started at parkrun?
I started my parkrun journey in Harrogate about five years ago. I had not long completed the NHS couch-to-5k by myself and started running with a friend of mine who was doing parkrun; he suggested I come along as it was a good way of improving (after all, it is free, weekly & timed!) and I would know a few people there as well to chat to. The rest, as they say, is history. I have now run 100+ parkruns at 21 different parkrun locations across the country, plus volunteered on over 50 other occasions as well. Little did I anticipate in those early days that I would end up as one of the team of Run Directors, initially at Harrogate and now at Conyngham Hall.
What does parkrun mean to you?
parkrun has definitely contributed to my love of running but as the nature of that has changed over the years, so has my view of parkrun. It has gone from that initial, self-focussed ‘how to be a better runner’ to more of a community focus… in a running context. To me, first & foremost, people matter; so inevitably parkrun has become far more about the people and less about the running, although that is still a big part of it for me. It’s about friendships old & new, the parkrun & local communities and the positivity, openness and inclusivity of the whole thing. I still get inspired by the age range of people taking part, from the youngest of juniors up to those in their 70s+, all mixing and encouraging each other on… brilliant! And as a bonus, I get to visit other parkruns across the country when I can, enjoying the different nuances of character each one has. Oh and the coffee, I mustn’t forget the coffee!! Hmmmm coffee…..
Do you have a favourite volunteering role?
Aside from the expected RD answer, I find myself going back to Barcode Scanning quite a bit. I think it’s a privilege seeing such a variety of people when they’ve given it their all and finished; you can see the look of accomplishment in people’s eyes. Love it.
What did you do on Saturday instead of parkrun?
Apparently, there is a Saturday morning outside of parkrun. I didn’t believe it myself but have now found it to be true (not as good though)! I make sure I get at least a 5k run in, sometime, somewhere away from any parkrun course. I try to do so at 9am but the lure of the lie-in is strong in this one! I must admit to enjoying not having to get over St. Arbeck railway crossing before the red lights of the barrier start flashing, in time for Conyngham set up at 7:35-ish; I wasn’t always successful.
Do you have an amusing/odd/wonderful parkrun anecdote to relate?
You mean apart from being late for set up because I am stuck at St Arbeck crossing…? On only my 2nd occasion Run Directing at Harrogate, we had a record number of people (500+), followed by discovering the finishing tokens were out of sequence on the holder but having them put back in order very rapidly by Sean Brennan & others before the first runner appeared, followed by getting interviewed for the With Me Now podcast about parkrun, followed by stopwatch problems meaning an “interesting” set of downloads to put the results together from. I wouldn’t have managed it without the wonderful Sean, Caroline Rainbow and others. It was a real baptism of fire that day but, whilst being a near vertical learning curve, it was a great demonstration of the teamwork you find within any parkrun core team.
Do you have a favourite parkrun photo?
The favourite photo is from the inaugural Conyngham Hall parkrun, immediately prior to the 1st run brief & 1st start.
A lot of work had been put in by so many people (especially Linda!) and to finally have our own parkrun up and running in Knaresborough was a very special moment.
The second is the “oh £$%*” moment when the tokens were found to be out of sequence..
The third is one of the founding principles of parkrun – a drink in the café afterwards with friends.
I started parkrun in 2013 having lost quite a bit of weight and wanting to start exercising without joining an intimidating, expensive gym. A friend took me along to Black Park parkrun near where I lived at the time and I was hooked from the very start. I stopped twice on my first, stopped once on my second and cried on my third when I did the whole course without stopping at all.
When I moved home, my nearest parkrun was the first thing I found and I went the day after relocating South to North, just for something relatively ‘normal’. I have met so many new friends through parkrun and I have kept in touch with them since being back in Harrogate. I love the parkrun community, the sense of togetherness and the support whether you are 1st or 101st.
I don’t volunteer often as I prefer to run but I have pledged this year to volunteer once a month. I like scanning and congratulating everyone but I love token sorting! It plays to my OCD!
My favourite parkrun moment was my 100th at Fountains Abbey when my Southern buddies came up to celebrate it with me. They drove up on the Friday night and drove straight back down afterwards. I really appreciated them making the effort just for me.
Saturday is parkrun day. It sets me up for the day. I’m so glad I started it, and so pleased I have been able to beat others to join in too.