A Run report of two halves - First time Run Director Ian and parkrun tourist Daniel. That should inspire you to join us next parkrunday volunteer, walk, jog or run: parkrun your way.
part-1 It is now over a year ago since I, Ian Wakefield was sat in the Great Yarmouth Activity Board meeting and we were discussing the possibility of a parkrun in Great Yarmouth and what an asset it would be to the community.
Since that time, with hard work from members of that board including Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Active Norfolk and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group we’ve got the funding together, the course permissions and all the parkrun admin done. The biggest challenge was actually to get enough volunteers together to enable the event to take place.
I’m pleased to say that we now have a great bunch of dedicated and friendly volunteers. We always need more and will never turn down an offer to volunteer.
To see the first parkrun start filled me with pride at being part of it, and helping it to become a reality. The second was very touch and go with ‘Storm Dennis’ looming in the background, but after consultation with fellow volunteers we agreed it would be safe to go ahead. This week 77 determined parkrunners lined up to battle the wind and the dunes and we had runners joining us from as far afield as Bury St Edmunds, Coventry, Derbyshire, Nottingham and even Swaffam.
I was particularly inspired by an senior gentleman who had never done a parkrun before and had read about it in the local newspaper. Living with a long term condition he wanted to get some fresh air and exercise to improve his fitness. Whilst battling the strong headwind our marshals reported that he had almost given up but with a little encouragement; a simple clap, cheer and a smile motivated him to finish. His smile as he crossed the line lit up a very gloomy day. Sir you are an example to us all. Well done to everyone that took part, thanks to all the volunteers, we look forward to seeing you all again soon.
part-2 I win! by Daniel Connolly
Not parkrun as it isn't a race but in finding an amazing parkrun for Valentine's day weekend.
Since 2016 I have been a compulsive parkrun tourist, travelling far and wide to different venues all over England. After 188 venues I have virtually exhausted any within an 1½hrs drive.
Whilst I will happily wake at 5am to head off with my barcode my wife won't. So when a hotel chain offered a one day special 20% discount I randomly booked rooms two to three hours from home. To my wife I am going to claim that 14th February - Valentine's Day - was the plan for a romantic seaside get away. In truth it was the cheapest day in February!
Although my hotel was less than a mile from a parkrun that I could jog to and from, I wanted to run by the sea. My home parkrun of Warwick Racecourse is about as far from the coast as possible; I wanted to be able to see the sea waves roll in and hear them break on the shore as I ran.
Having seen comments about how tough the Inaugural Great Yarmouth, North Beach was from Facebook reports, being only 15mins away in my hotel room, it became my venue of choice.
Waking up in the morning, I checked Facebook and the parkrun cancellation list to make sure that Storm Dennis wasn't affecting Great Yarmouth. Thankfully despite the long list of cancellations, North Beach wasn't on the list so we were good to go.
Pulling up along the blustery esplanade the energy windmills were busily turning out on the grey wintery sea, generating electricity for a good post parkrun drink.
Whilst my wife went off for a warm up, I warmed up my jaw with a lot of chatter to fellow parkrunners; locals, tourists and a few newbies - well if a parkrun starts in your town and there is no longer any need to travel to run, jog or walk 5km on a Saturday morning, it would be rude not to join in the fun.
Speaking of first timers a huge welcome to the parkrun family to:- Gary DURRANT, Louis DELAY, Gary BALL, Jayne CROWE, Carl WARD & Shirley WILLIAMS. I hope you enjoyed your parkrun at least half as much as I did and that we will see you back at a parkrun soon.
Soon a siren (not a temptress from the sea but the sound from a loud hailer) called over the 77 hardy parkrunners for the safety briefing. Despite having run 188 different events this was the first time I have been warned about sandcastles… okay maybe children digging holes - to be honest I was slightly disappointed not to see any on route so maybe I have a good excuse now to break my run of different events and return in the summer?!
Normally in my run reports I make a comment about the start of the run being signalled by a chorus of GPS watches but today that would be a lie as Storm Dennis blew any beeps away, but still the runners charged off down the beach towards the sea - not to dive in but to take a turn right around the dunes into a fierce headwind and the beginning of the first lap.
Like a line of penguins marching over the frozen wastes, runners quickly settled into their own pace, using other runners as windshields.
I have come up with many excuses as to why my time was so slow for me:- the sand under foot making it trickier than normal to run, Storm Dennis blowing a wicked headwind, being just at the start of a return from a Achilles injury or mainly being heavier and less fit than a few months ago.
Whatever the reason, the extra time on the course gave me longer to enjoy the wild beauty of the beach in the winter and spot the seals bobbing along the shoreline. If I had rushed along I would have missed out.
One thing I didn't miss out on was to thank those marshals out on course, who despite the wind kept up their cheery comments and clapping to motivate everyone round. So a huge thank you to:- Stephen EAGLEN, Georg ENGELHARD, Manjari ENGELHARD, Anthony HARRIS, Michelle HARRISON, Rachael LACEY, Mark LIM, Fiona LOMAX, Grainne MCADAM, Trevor RAWSON, Russell RAY, Tanya RAY, Alyson REEVE, Lyn SNOWLING, Pam SPYCHAL, Paul SPYCHAL, Lisa STEER, Richard TAYLOR, Manda TIMBY, Andy TROHEAR, Ian WAKEFIELD who wore the hiviz so we could all enjoy a marvellous run along the beach. As with parkruns around the world if you fancy giving scanning a go, fancy being the time keeper, marshalling and encouraging others or are happy to help out in any role please look on the roster and e-mail in, your help is appreciated.
After getting my token scanned, I retreated to the Furzedown Hotel to warm up with a latte as the team finished up on the beach before returning to the hotel to process the results over a drink and a chat. The pre and post parkrun chat is probably the best part so if you haven't yet taken that step, come back for a coffee after.
Driving back to our hotel my wife commented that this was one of the best Valentine's day weekends ever and I had chosen an amazing parkrun venue!
Definitely a win! But how am I going to top Great Yarmouth, North Beach next year?
Happy parkrunning #Loveparkrun