Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Lizzy Muggeridge

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Lizzy Muggeridge has notched up 314 parkruns since she first started parkrunning in January 2010. She is also a former Highbury Fields parkrun Event Director, has volunteered 266 times at 164 events and has been featured in Runners World. Here's her story.

When & where did you start parkrunning?

I spectated at the very first Finsbury Park parkrun on October 31st 2009, as my friend Claire was running. It was another couple of months before I ran at a parkrun myself, on January 2nd 2010, again at Finsbury Park.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

Claire got me to go along to start with, but it took a while for me to get going myself as I’m not really a morning person!

What did you think after your first parkrun?

I fell over going up the icy hill in Finsbury Park, so it wasn’t the greatest experience! I didn’t go again for another 3 and a half months!

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

There really are so many! The first that comes to mind is when I got my all-time PB of 23:54 at Highbury Fields on December 12th 2015. I never dreamed I could ever run that fast and I hadn’t even planned it that day. And it got me in a Runner’s World article too! Other notable mentions are my 250th parkrun, timed to coincide with Stephen Hey's 250th parkrun and Martin Black's last day as Event Director.

Also memorable are all the anniversary runs and a couple of times when my running club, Mornington Chasers, staged volunteer takeovers - stressful to plan but so rewarding when it all came together.

What do you like most about parkrun?

I love the community, both at my home parkrun (Highbury Fields of course) and when I go somewhere where I don't know anyone. Everyone is so welcoming! And the fact that it’s free and accessible to everyone is so great too.

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Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

Speaking from my experience as an Event Director, I know that without volunteers there would be no parkrun! Volunteering is a great way to meet people, it’s very rewarding and it gives a totally different perspective from running.

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How are you coping without parkrun?

I was disappointed at first, since I’d been planning to try and run 50 parkruns in a year and do a bit more parkrun tourism in 2020. But now I’ve got used to my Saturday morning lie-ins so it will be tough to give those up again. But I’m looking forward to parkrun coming back. I’ve done a few (not)parkruns but it’s not the same!

 

Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Meseret Grela

Our featured parkrunner this week is Meseret Grela. Since she made her parkrun debut in August 2012, Meseret has run at 113 events, 94 of which have been at Highbury Fields. She set her very impressive parkrun PB in 2017 at a speedy 20:26 but remains terribly modest about her running prowess. Here she tells us about what parkrun means to her.

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When & where did you start parkrunning?
I first joined parkrun on August 18th 2012 at Highbury Fields.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I really enjoyed running beforehand and observed a few parkruns in the past. I saw a sense of community and friendliness during and after the events and I wanted to be part of it. So I thought why not enquire and join. From then on, I have been a part of it.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

My first parkrun was extremely exciting; it was nice to have a sense of competition as well as enjoyment. It really pushed me to try my best. I met two of my friends Jessica and Jonathan on my first run and we have had friendly rivalries from time to time ever since!

What was your most memorable parkrun?

My most memorable parkrun was my 100th. It was great to run it alongside Jen Glassford who was also completing her 100th. We also had a lot of support from her children Ruby and Felix, as well as my sons, Joseph, Lucas and Nathan. It was great to finally reach the milestone and earn the t-shirt!

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 What do you like most about parkrun?

I love the fact that there is always someone there to chat to, whether it’s before or after the running. The conversation is about encouragement, personal PBs, training and many other things. It is also great to see new faces every week, and to see parkrun grow. Not only this, but also the fact that the parkrun team of volunteers invites you to the post-run catch-up/coffee location each week which is so uplifting.

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 Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

Volunteering at parkrun is great. It is well organised and it’s nice to give back to those who helped at the start. It’s heart-warming to see new runners and it’s a time to really cheer on those trying to break their PBs.

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How are you coping without parkrun?
I’m missing it so much! I can’t wait for it to return and I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces again.

 

Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Lorna Stevenson

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Introducing the co-Event Director of one of our neighbouring parkruns, Lorna Stevenson of Finsbury Park fame. As well as being fully committed to the smooth running of a rapidly growing parkrun, Lorna has managed to squeeze in some parkrun tourism here and there (including junior parkrun with her nephew), and, more recently, can be found volunteering at one of the Covid Vaccination Centres in Hackney (which by sheer coincidence is just a stone's throw away from the fabulous West Reservoir where she swims whatever the weather).

When & where did you start parkrunning?

My first parkrun was 16/05/2015 at glorious Finsbury Park.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I had done the classic mid-20s (okay, maybe late 20s) move to London and realised that it's actually quite a big place! I had friends scattered across the city but realised that unless I wanted to spend my life on the tube I'd need to make an effort to get to know people near me. I knew I wanted to put down roots around Finsbury Park, so parkrun attracted me as a community event where I might get to know my neighbours.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

I wish I could remember! Probably that I was too hot, since I've got Scottish blood that doesn't like running in temperatures over double figures.

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

So many! I was very fortunate that my mum and my sister were able to come down and run my 100th parkrun with me at Finsbury Park, which was awesome. We were also really pleased to be able to throw a proper party for Finsbury Park's 10th birthday, with cake, party poppers and an appearance from Paul Sinton-Hewitt himself.

In terms of one-off events, Cambridge the day before ex-Finny P Event Director Diane's wedding.

New Earswick (near York) when I'd got up at 5.00am the day after my MSc exams finished to get a train early enough to meet an old uni friend for parkrun before continuing on to see my sister (you could smell the cheap prosecco sweat from the end of the funnel!)

Seaford Beach where I was the only member of the tri-club willing to get up pre-breakfast to get a bus to parkrun and then ran home over Seven Sisters.

Christmas Day at Fort William which is now a 'Stevenson Family Takeover Tradition' (always fun to do the first-timers briefing as Run Director having never formally run the course yourself!).

My nephew's first junior parkrun and the brass band on Christmas Day, both at Huddersfield.

And of course, Highbury Fields, particularly my first parkrun back after I broke my neck in a small bouncy-castle incident. No photos were taken (I was very hot) but I sometimes wonder how many other people have completed a parkrun in a full neck-brace!

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What do you like most about parkrun?

The people! My 'meet the neighbours' goal has been firmly achieved. My parents (who live in a small village in the Highlands) find it amazing that I can pop to the shops and bump into several friends on the way. So many of these are parkrunners and you've never known true friendship like people being willing to come over to your house at 7.00am to try and walk a birthday balloon arch to the park (strongly not recommended, I still have nightmares about the balloon arch!)

Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

As Event Director, my life would be impossible without volunteers, from the people who jump on scanning when they can see we've got a big queue to the Run Directors that have spent hours sat with me and my co-Event Director, Andrew trying to work out the best way to overcome the various logistical challenges that a growing event presents.

For me, volunteering was the key to getting to know more people at parkrun. I recognised a few faces after some runs, but it was only through volunteering that I got to properly chat and get to know people. Again, the broken neck was actually a big help - I had an eight week run of volunteering most weeks and a pretty memorable look. For that reason, it's really important to me to try and maintain a great experience for volunteers as Finsbury Park grows. With turnouts sometimes over 800 the stress can sometimes show, particularly for our fabulous timing and tokens teams, but I always try to get round and have a chat (and normally offer some cake) to say thanks.

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How are you coping without parkrun?

Both the Finsbury Park co-Event Directors have taken the opportunity of parkrun's 'off-season' to buy (separately!) our first flats near Finsbury Park - something almost as stressful as waking up on Saturday morning to find there's a sinkhole on the route.

Over winter I definitely found I missed parkrun more - all my races were cancelled, there were no Wednesday night beer runs or Thursday night guide runs and no parkrun. I was really struggling to motivate myself to run. James Tavener, one of the Finsbury Park Run Directors runs a brilliant (but hard, quite a few of the other teams have been on Only Connect!) online quiz that gave us a little bit of parkrun sociability every week and then for exercise I decided to give myself a bit of a break from running and break out the home Zumba, HIIT and Box Fit classes. I'm not sure how much our downstairs neighbours appreciated it, but it provided a much needed break and I've now got my running mojo back. Also, if you've spoken to me for more than 30 seconds you'll know my first love is swimming. I've been spending a lot of time hanging out at West Reservoir, often bumping into parkrun friends, old and new.

Any other thoughts?

The question on everyone's lips at the moment - when is parkrun coming back? At Finsbury Park, we're working towards parkrun's national re-start date of June 5th but we know from previous experience that the current situation makes forward planning tricky. We're waiting to see what the situation looks like closer to the time before making any solid plans.

 

Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Jonathan Pegg

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One of the reasons we are so pleased to profile Jonathan Pegg is that he always manages to appear in the finishing area at Highbury Fields just when he's needed most. It's like he has a sixth sense that we need an extra barcode scanner or finishing funnel marshal and suddenly there he is. Usually wearing a running shirt customised for the occasion.

Volunteering at Highbury Fields and other parkruns at 44 events (45 volunteering tasks) hasn't stopped Jonathan from also completing a massive 451 parkruns, making a lot of parkrun friends along the way.

When & where did you start parkrunning?

My first parkrun was at Banstead Woods parkrun number 99 on 11th April 2009.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I saw the results for Banstead Woods parkrun printed in the local paper and thought I would like to do this.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

I absolutely loved it and went back to Banstead the following 2 weeks, had a couple of weeks off, then went back again on 30th May.

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

My most memorable parkrun to date has been my 250th at Banstead Woods.

What do you like most about parkrun?

I like the fact that parkrun is for the many not the few. Looking at my photos, they tell this story so well; groups of happy, smiling parkrunners united by something that appeals to us all.

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Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

I never realised how much enjoyment you can get and give by volunteering at parkrun until I tried it. Editor’s note: we have certainly appreciated Jonathan's appearances on Highbury Fields barcode scanning or finishing funnel marshalling after finishing his own parkrun, for which we are always so grateful.

How are you coping without parkrun?

In the absence of parkrun I am going out visiting different parks in my local area every weekend and sometimes during the week, to get my own unique parkrun experience.

Any other thoughts?

It is so good that parks have stayed open during the pandemic so that the general public still have somewhere to go in their spare time, to breathe fresh air and exercise.

 

Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Neil Davies

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Neil is a parkrunner from the early days when barcodes weren't a thing and parkrun tourism was just a dream. Oh how things have changed!

When & where did you start parkrunning?

I started in March 2006, in the BBC (before barcode) days of shivering after the finishing line waiting for them to find your name on the printouts!

What prompted you to join parkrun?

My friend Chris Read had been on the second ever parkrun and told me about it. But in those days you had to get up early on Saturday & register in person at Bushy before your first parkrun..... my love of Saturday morning lie-ins meant I didn’t make it to Bushy parkrun for 17 months, parkrun number 78!

What did you think after your first parkrun?

I felt slow & unfit! The proportion of serious runners was much higher in those days - I finished 82 out of 116, with a time of 24.01. I struggle to beat 30 minutes nowadays but my relative position has hardly changed. But it is when barcodes came in and new parkruns such as Wimbledon Common started that it really took off and started to appeal to a much wider range of runners and parkrun became the phenomenon it is today.

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

Difficult to say, there have been so many happy memories, I love the Christmas Day runs particularly, but pacing on my 500th run at Fulham Palace Park in February 2019 with parkrun friends from over the years was the most memorable day. It's sad that with 566 runs under my belt, the next milestone is now about 9 years away!

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What do you like most about parkrun?

I love the fact that wherever you are it is a reassuringly familiar format, with great organisational teams & friendly local runners who are always happy to chat. I've not been a serious parkrun tourist like last week's profiled parkrunner, my good friend Erika Orsagova. In pre-Covid days I preferred having a shortlist of six or seven London parkruns and seeing which one I felt like running on the day. Particularly high on the shortlist are the ones closest to Central London - Fulham Palace, Highbury Fields, Southwark, Burgess which all feel like an oasis of calm on a busy Saturday morning in London.

Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

I love pacing at Highbury Fields parkrun when my visits coincide, as the the 5 lap format is ideal. I miss the post-parkrun breakfast & chatting too! But my most memorable volunteering event was marshalling at Bushy; it is really difficult not to get your spirits lifted by having 1,000+ runners saying a cheery thanks & good morning as they go past.

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How are you coping without parkrun?

I'm really sorry to do this to you all but I have actually run some parkruns during the pandemic! I have been working on the Isle of Man for the last two years & with my regular trips back to London impossible, I have been living here full-time, so have been very fortunate to have run at least another extra four months of parkrun than I would have done in London! The Isle of Man is back in lockdown now but I was privileged enough to be able to parkrun there between October 2020 & January 2021. A massive thanks to the Great Nobles parkrun team who made it happen. If any Highbury Fields parkrunners want to visit when the borders lift, please let me know!

Any other thoughts?

Just that I can't wait for travel restrictions to lift and parkrun to restart in London. I will be cursing the Highbury slope the six times I have to run up it but it will be well worthwhile!

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