This week we have a special treat for our run report, if the form of a guest reporter, thanks to tourist Daniel Connolly for the following...
Over the last few years of parkrun tourism I have developed and revised a few key rules.
Check the volunteer roster on the website
This I have found to be a sure fire way to see if a parkrun is on. It has also helped me fulfil my New Year's Resolution I set at Colwich on 1st January and then expanded upon at Bedworth on 5th May – to try and write a run report for each new venue I visit this year. As I have been on tour since the beginning of 2016 and haven't yet repeated a venue it has meant 41 reports this year. By now I should be something of an expert at them... or at least have a bank of statements I could use but whilst parts are similar each report has to be different, just like the parkruns I visit each week. As each venue is the same – a free 5km timed run entirely run by volunteers – it is unique; trail / tarmac, in a park / not in a park!, city / rural.
Arrive at 8:10!
Yes, I know parkruns start at around 9am BUT after a dreadful experience of being unable to find the start of the parkrun before it started and then having to run after the tail for 15 minutes I am keen not to repeat that again!
For ages my wife and daughter have commented that they could have had an extra 30minutes in bed (or longer!) My son has never made this complaint but that is because he was the one who had to play catch the tail runner as it was then!
Programming the postcode into Google Maps we had a dream drive up the M42, A42, M1 & A61 - I doubt many over the Christmas period will be saying those words and at ten past 8 we arrived in Cobnar Road – with no sign of a carpark! STRESS! After parking up and zooming in on course maps and Google Maps – we headed off to Bunting Nook Car Park (S8 8JU) and still arrived on time to capture a picture of most of today's #HiVizHeroes in our homemade picture frame.
Carry both trail and road shoes in the car
I could cover up this rule by saying that conditions can change and a dry field can become boggy – but the truth is I never read the course descriptions beforehand. Hilly or flat, 5 laps or one – it is always a surprise to me and the family. If I was as quick as Monday Night Club's, Bruno BECKETT (VM40-44) who stormed over the line as first finisher in a new PB of 17:53 this week – so a double well done - I would need to know where I am going but with lovely marshals on the course directing me and the pace I move, I do have lots of runners to follow!
So normally a quick question of a regular or a marshal helps make the choice and as a completely tarmacked course road shoes were definitely the order of the day.
The number of laps is always easy to find out as there is always a first timers briefing for new parkrunners and tourists alike so listening carefully to Martin DOWNHAM today I discovered the second lap was shorter than the first and a marshal and signs were positioned read for the short cut! Whilst I have heard over 100 first timer briefings :- Scott HUKINS, Laurie NICHOLAS, Wes JACKLIN, Jessica BIRD, Daisy NICHOLAS, Grace NICHOLAS, Gregg DALE & Wendy GRAY all had their first as Graves become their first ever parkrun. So a huge welcome to them.
At the main run briefing the shout went out for tourists, despite driving from Coventry we were certainly pipped at the furthest travelled as although Hong Kong was mentioned... Daisy QUIGLEY ran her first Graves parkrun all the way from Cairns in Australia!
For the first time in a year, much to my great regret 1km into the run, I haven't worn my much prized milestone T-shirt, today Steel City Striders RC's, Rowena YATES ran her 100th parkrun so with holidays and disrupted deliveries hopefully she will soon be the proud wearer of her black 100 t-shirt very soon – currently you will just have to enjoy seeing the red 50 logo on the results being replaced by a black 100 icon.
After the formalities were out the way the run started with the all too familiar beep of hundreds of GPS watches being pressed at the same time. And soon hundreds of festive parkrunners stormed off around the park. Thankfully many of them also in Christmas themed clothes as I had encouraged my family to all dress up as Elves – which seemed a great idea at 6:15am but soon after 9am I realised why cotton wasn't a great technical running fibre as I started to melt as I thudded up the first short steep slope.
Before the loop back uphill from the park keeper's cottage I was blowing. I could barely manage a grunted thank you to the marshal and from each marshal after that it went downhill - mainly due to the uphills! – my grunts replaced with a signed thank you.
My report writing started for this very reason as no matter how much I try and tell myself to take it easy and just enjoy a gentle run round I get caught up in the moment and my brain makes demands that my body just can't fulfil so I end up huffing and puffing round. Don't get me wrong; I still enjoy it – well maybe not at the time as it hurts – I just can't breathe, run and speak – something has to give.
So writing the reports is my way of thanking the team of #HiVizHeroes – the volunteers that I fail to do during the run or afterwards. So I offer a huge THANK YOU to Amy ALLCARD, Julie ARMSTRONG, Magdalena BOO, Marnie BUTCHER, Keith BUTCHER, Andrew CALLAGHAN, Cath DAVIES, Martin DOWNHAM, Jo ECCLES, Sylvia ELLIS, Stephen GILMER, Everything's Run GREEN, Paul HIGGINBOTTOM, Jon HOWSON, Sarah HOWSON, Charlie LAST, Catherine NEEDHAM, William NEEDHAM, Gavin NEWHOUSE, Liz NICHOLAS, Neal PATES, Gillian RAY & Carol SPEIGHT for making this run possible today for myself and the 270 other runners.
Heading up the hill towards the cattle and church a beautiful rainbow filled the darkening sky. And running round the second lake a light drizzle started. Many might have hated the idea or the rain but dressed in a full elf outfit the cooling drizzle felt amazing; however it was short lived and I had to try and power up the slope to finish the first lap holding up my rain and sweat soaked Elf trousers! Before taking on the shorter second lap.
As I was taking a short walk break up the hill by the keeper's cottage at the far end of the park, Steel City Striders RC's Lucy BROOM (VW40-44) crossed the line in 23rd place in a time of 22:36 to be the first female finisher. Great running.
Heading back up towards the church I decided to capture the glorious view and the rainbow, but alas by the time I had accidentally taken a couple of mid run elfies... it was no longer in sight but the finish funnel was! So with one last push and a much needed walk break halfway up the final hill I crossed the finish line and stood at the top of the hill waiting for the other three Coventry Elves to finish!
As I waited a young marshal offered me the last slice of rocky road before carefully checking on the crumbs for quality purposes. As a one-time tourist, I am not sure if Graves has a regular cake marshal but it is a role that I certainly would like to see at other parkruns I visit!
After the whole family had completed the run the next (or for my son the important) part of our parkrun adventures happened - the café and what a treat – superb cakes and a great breakfast selection. The huffing, puffing and struggling around the last lap today forgotten so a full English Breakfast and a flap jack was washed down with a latte or two as the volunteer team sorted tokens and processed results.
As with parkruns around the world Graves needs people to help each week to make it happen, so if you fancy giving scanning a go, being the time keeper, marshalling and encouraging others or are happy to help out in any role please send an e-mail - email@example.com You might even fancy writing a run report or taking some pictures of the runners. You will be shown what to do, it is lots of fun!
My family and I had a lovely time at Graves this morning. Thank you for being so welcoming!
Merry Christmas and Happy parkrunning.