Welcome to Heaton parkrun's 11th Birthday. Like so many things in the current situation, we can't celebrate in the way we would like to, but it's a great opportunity to think back over those 11 years and reflect on the great times we've enjoyed together. I asked you to let me know about your favourite and most memorable moments at Heaton parkrun and you didn't let me down. A big thank you to everybody who has contributed. It's been a joy to hear your stories and I'm sure everybody else will enjoy hearing them too. I've tried to include as many photos as possible, including lots from our ninja hero Paul Taylor, so many thanks to him as well.
On Saturday 20th June 2009 Rick BENNETT presided over the first ever parkrun event in Heaton Park.
"The day arrived for our first run, I hadn't advertised it as such, just a bit of word of mouth. When 32 parkrunners crossed the finish line that morning I knew we could make it a success. It wouldn't have happened without our marvellous volunteers. I have to say I'm glad I also had the great man himself, Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, helping me out on that day too."
Ruth FEARN made her Heaton parkrun debut on 24 August 2013 and is currently on 238 runs.
"I fell in love with parkrun from the very first day! It has become part of my life".
Janis EDEN became a parkrunner on 3rd March 2012 at our 123rd event and has 226 runs to her name.
"My most memorable run is the first when John Consterdine was the tail runner. He kept telling me the finish was just around the corner as I had no concept of how far 5K was. He was my inspiration to come back the following week and I'll never forget that. I love parkrun with a passion even though most of my stints are now volunteering, but I will get to that magical 250!"
Jay SHAW tells us: "My very first parkrun....I had the best time and went on to ten more. I'll be there for the restart!"
Megan ORMROD began parkrunning earlier this year and enjoyed introducing someone else to Heaton:
"Taking my mum Beverley to her first ever parkrun after having to convince her that it wouldn't take her 2 hours to complete. She did it in 37 minutes, which I thought was brilliant for a first time up Angina Hill!"
Sue PORTER's first ever parkrun on 22 September 2012 coincided with a very special occasion as we welcomed the Olympic Torch to Heaton Park. Rick WESOLOWSKI had taken part in the official Torch Relay before the London Games and many of you, like Sue, were lucky enough to get a photo with him. Sue said: "I had no idea what an impact parkrun and its people would have on my life. If I have one regret it's that I didn't start sooner."
Phil EVANS was due to make his first parkrun appearance on 9th January 2016, but things didn't go according to plan.
"Jan 9th 2016 - miserable wet morning, set off on my pedal bike to do my first ever parkrun, a 3 mile ride to Heaton Park. Whilst slowly navigating the potholes on Bluebell Lane I hit one that was completely submerged and hidden under rain water, went over the handlebars and broke my collarbone. On 30th Jan 2016 I made my first ever parkrun - albeit 3 weeks late. Felt amazing to complete it so soon after my mishap and I was hooked."
Couch 2 5K programmes have regularly come to Heaton parkrun to introduce people to running. Pamela BERRY and Angela THELWELL both cited their graduations as favourite moments and Run Leader Sue TICKLE from Run Together Whitefield said:
"My proudest Heaton parkrun moments are the numerous Run Together Whitefield cohorts of Couch 2 5K graduating at Heaton Park to amazing crowds each time. We have done this at least 3 times, graduating approximately 70 people, and the people on the course continue to impress me with their determination.
I'm also proud of volunteering 24 times at Heaton. That t-shirt eludes for a little longer but will be all the more special when I reach it!. I love nothing more than cheering all the runners and walkers on every week".
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHASING THAT PB
Once you've started parkrun of course, it's very difficult to stop! Next up is the urge to improve and the lure of that new best time - the PB!
Eddie EDWARDS remembers seeking that improvement in April 2015:
"I had heard there were pacemakers but didn't really know how it worked. A big target for me was 28 minutes, so when I saw an official with a bib on I asked if he helped with pacemaking. He looked at me like I was stupid and pointed to the big number 28 on his bib and told me to keep up with him. By the time he encouraged me to push to the line I beat 28 minutes (27:38 in fact). The pacer was Michael Connaughton, someone I've always looked on as just one of the excellent volunteers that help make Heaton the unique, inspiring spectacle it is. Long may it continue!"
Vicki O'HARE recalls:
"I visited Heaton parkrun from Glasgow in February 2011 (Strathclyde was my home parkrun at the time). I was not expecting the hills...Strathclyde is completely flat! But they must have agreed with me because I knocked a full minute off my overall PB. And I got a lovely welcome shout out too!!"
Vicki POWELL has recent PB memories:
"I love seeing all the dogs, being in the park and being part of something that has helped me set goals. Right before lockdown I'd finally broken my PB three weeks on the trot and without Heaton parkrun I would never have continued running."
Lyndsey-Ann THOMAS says:
"My best moments were when I completed 12 consecutive parkruns when I had planned to do 12 in the year! Also when, on my 15th run, I finally got under the hour mark. The support and encouragement from everyone at Heaton parkrun is amazing."
Jonathan KEYWORTH has fond memories of setting a PB in 2015:
"I remember setting a PB that stood for the best part of 4 years on a day when I was overtaken by a man pushing a pram up Angina Hill. I stubbornly tried to keep up, but didn't manage it!"
Sarah THOMAS is one of our most successful parkrunners with 49 first finishes to her name. She credits her dad Brian with getting her up and running, having been "Unfit, unhealthy and struggling with bad asthma symptons". Then came parkrun and 4 years on this is her latest PB story:
"I set myself a target for 2020 to achieve a sub-19 minute parkrun. On 18th January I stood on the front line knowing there was some tough competition at the side and I did it. First female finisher and a PB of 18:39. I think I'm still on a high but I haven't finished. I'm fighting for sub-18 now!"
It wasn't a PB, but Jack MARSHALL-GRINT's happiest memory is watching Rachel LEES crossing the finish line at Event 472 on 14th September 2019 and setting an amazing landmark. Rachel's number 492 finish token meant she was our 200,000th finisher at Heaton and our parkrunners had completed 1 million kilometres in just over 10 years!.
And to round off this section, we return to the subject of pacing with a contribution from one of our most regular pacers, Charlie WHITE:
"I love pacing when people come up to you afterwards and say thank you when you hadn't realised they were following you....and Lucy calling me a hero!"
SNOW, RAIN, PUDDLES AND LAUGHTER
The weather featured quite prominently in your memories, with two days in particular generating a lot of comments.
First up is Event 393 on 9th December 2017. I remember this one quite well as I was the Run Director on the day who made the decision to let you all run!! But, in my defence, it was clear at the start!
John BLACKBURN: "It was a very cold day but the ground was found to be clear of ice so Duncan declared the event was on. But then shortly after the start the snow came down in torrents. Whilst accepting a level of risk now had to be considered, it was an absolutely beautiful sight to be doing parkrun with thick snow falling around us - really magical. By the time we finished the main snow flurry had finished but there was a layer of snow on the ground, enough for my son James to gather up and chuck a snowball at us as we cheered him past the finish line."
Lynn SHAKESPEARE: "My 100th run, started in sunshine and finished in the snow!"
Maria WALL: "It seemed like a real winter wonderland. The ground and day was clear at the start and within 30 minutes of finishing it was covered in snow, all within the space of running a 5K. Still my favourite parkrun memory."
Sara CASTELLANO: "That was a magical run. I remember it well."
Rose MEDWELL: "This was my favourite all time parkrun. It started snowing at the start and by the time I got to the lake it was thick snowflakes and the park went silent. What a memorable feeling that was!"
Maureen LATCHFORD: "There was a small amount of ice on the course but otherwise a lovely crisp morning and then it started snowing. I was completing the first lap with Jan and Wayne and Nellie and avoided one patch of ice before I went flying on another patch flat on my back. Wayne rushed over to help me and he landed flat on his back too and Jan set us all off laughing. Then we heard Julie shouting "Don't move, I'm a nurse" and her dog Chiefy was running round us all while we were in hysterics and lovely Julie was examining us for injuries. The best parkrun for laughs ever.
NB: No parkrunners were injured!"
Yes, that was definitely a memorable morning. I even have a snow-globe with a picture from that day in it!
Probably even more memorable is Event 450 on 16th March 2019. BBC Radio Manchester had been recruiting a Couch 2 5K group led by their Breakfast Show presenter, Chelsea Norris, and came to parkrun for their final run. So we had a live broadcast, lots of novice runners and, as it turned out, a torrential rainstorm.
Julie DONLY: "My favourite moment is when it was knee deep in water just after the start and we had to run through it three times...well, it's only water!"
David LYNCH: "Has to be the PUDDLE!!!"
Sarah JACKSON: "Marshalling when it flooded."
Sheila JONES: "I'll never forget the Chelsea's Chasers run when Ruth Dempsey and I ran/walked round at the back with a lovely lady and we just laughed all the way in the rain". (That lady was Val LENFERNA who was doing her first parkrun that day and has now done 33 runs)
Kathy TAYLOR: "Who can forget the giant puddle we had to run through three times with everyone laughing and screaming!!"
Jenn BARLOW: "It was one of the wettest runs ever but also the day of the cake sale for Jim's bench. I'm still amazed that in 2 hours we collected over £700, just for cake. Amazing generous people of Heaton."
So that was clearly a memorable day, but Jeff DAWSON recalls an equally wet day:
"Boxing Day 2015, 158 hardy parkrunners running in the worst weather conditions I've ever run in. I remember Jim Smith marshalling near the 3K marker, absolutely soaked to the skin with his brolly blowing all over the place. Great memories!"
A HEATON INSPIRATION - JIM SMITH
Both Jenn and Jeff mentioned Jim Smith in their posts about the weather and I know that lots more of you have very fond memories of the man who continues to inspire us at Heaton parkrun. We remember him every year at this time through the presentation of the Jim Smith Inspiration award, and every week at the bench erected in his honour on Angina Hill. Say hello to him next time you're passing.
Linzi LLOYD-HENRY: "It's the coneheads here. So many memories it's so hard to choose. We love this picture on Jim's Bench. Can't wait to be back so we can create more memories."
Sue PORTER: "On my 50th parkrun I had the joy of tailwalking and the absolute honour of bimbling round with the wonderful, amazing and much missed Jim Smith"
Ruth DEMPSEY: "There are really too many special memories to mention, but I will single out Jim because we spent a lot of time with him at the back of the field when Lara was only 6 and smaller than me! We spoke about everything, he inspired Lara greatly and he watched her grow. It was an absolute privilege having him with us in those days. He even practised maths with us!"
I know Jim was a very modest man and embarrassed that we made a fuss of him, but I'm glad that we did, especially when he reached his 100th parkrun. It was 16th May 2015, just after Jim's 76th birthday, and we formed a guard of honour for him as he reached the lions. Not a dry eye in the house! Great day.
Another inspiring character who has visited us on several occasions is Doctor Ron HILL, champion marathon runner. Ron has been very generous with his time, presenting prizes and posing for endless photos with our parkrunners. His reputation for running every day had grown over the years and in 2014 he was approaching a 50 year unbroken streak. We could scarcely believe it when he asked if he could come and complete that 50th year at Heaton parkrun.
Rick BENNETT: "Event 257 on 20th December 2014. I have so many memories but the one that stands out is when the legendary, world class Ron Hill MBE ran at Heaton parkrun and completed 50 years running every day. His record running streak went on to 52 years and 39 days and will take some beating."
Mark KNIGHT: "It has to be 20.12.14. Ron Hill completes 50 years of running every day at Heaton parkrun."
It was definitely a memorable day. Not only because of Dr Ron's amazing feat, but also because Barbara Shuttleworth became the first Heaton parkrunner to reach the 250 run mark...and parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt was there to present her with her shirt!
Over the years we've become rather good at celebrating special days at Heaton parkrun. Milestone runs and birthdays inevitably bring forward balloons and cake, whilst Halloween and the annual Santa Dash give everybody the perfect excuse to get dressed up. The most recent addition was International Women's Day. Here's a selection of special day photos from the past 11 years.
And some days are special but also very poignant.
Sammy CHALLINOR: "My most powerful memory is of the first parkrun after the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017. There was a minute's silence before the start and I remember looking towards Manchester in the distance from the lions as 600 people - and even the dogs - all suddenly fell silent. It really showed what parkrun is about. Running, yes, but also community and togetherness."
FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
A recurring theme throughout your memories has been the fact that parkrun helps to bring families together and creates and reinforces friendships. Our final section shines the spotlight on some heartwarming moments
Calum BURRELL: "My fondest memory of Heaton parkrun was the morning of my wedding to Lynsey. When the bride was being dolled up for the big occasion, I had the pleasure of joining in on parkrun in a white dress, with a bouquet, and had a fab time with my running and parkrun community. Post-parkrun prosecco and cake was consumed and we all had a blast. Loved it!!"
Angela HANILY: "My 250th parkrun was so special to me. I felt like the Queen of parkrun for one day. Frank made a special video which I treasure and a surprise visit from my sister and brother in law was the icing on the cake."
Sarah KENNELL: "My memory is meeting one of my best friends (Rachel) that I wouldn't have met without parkrun and the friendship we have formed. Damian calls us the 'twisted sisters' and gives us a look every week when we're stood giggling at everything and nothing!
There is rarely a parkrun without a Kennell on the volunteer roster or running, we've formed so many bonds and Jamie has got rid of Saturday and now calls it parkrunday."
Helen KAY: "Just so many amazing memories and so many wonderful friends made. 10 years ago after months of nagging from my brother, Jamie Cook, I finally made the decision to run my first parkrun as I needed to lose weight to fit into my wedding dress. Little did I know that running would become my passion and Saturday mornings were never the same again. You can't beat the friendliness of Heaton parkrun."
Fay WHITE: "My dad whispering to me 'Good grief it's me' as you read out his stats for the Male parkrunner of the Decade!"
Eve HART: "My 40th birthday surprise earlier this year. Such a wonderful day (and so much cake in the café). A perfect day."
Charlotte BRETT: "This picture appearing in the 2015 Calendar, but none of us remembering what the conversation was!"
Leanne STIRLING: "When parkrun became a family affair. 'Team Stirling'"
Lynn WILSON: "Travelled from East Yorkshire to run my 250th at Heaton parkrun on a soggy November morning last year and received a wonderful welcome."
Sue PORTER: "My birthday in 2019, the first - and so far only - time I've run with both my boys and Becky. I am looking forward to the time we can all meet at the start, run round and cheer each other in before coffee and cake."
Jan MAKINSON: "The best thing about parkrun for me was getting my two besties to join me at the best club in the world. Lin was a pushover - she started the week after me in September 2010 and like me was hooked from the start. Maureen, however, was a much more difficult nut to crack. She always said she could never run and Saturday morning was swimming day. After 3 years of cajoling she finally caved in and turned up in January 2014. Saturday swimming was finally a thing of the past. Now, like so many of us, she organises her activities around parkrun and won't miss it unless she really has to. So looking forward to the return of our beloved parkrun."
Kathy TAYLOR: "Knowing that when I arrive alone I can guarantee I will always see friends and plenty of them."
Thanks once again for your special memories. I hope it's helped to bring Heaton parkrun a little closer to you all. We'll see you all very soon at the Lake.