Highbury Fields parkrun is cancelled on 6 June 2020: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Olivia Desborough


Meet Olivia, London Heathside member, marathon runner, and Highbury Fields parkrun record holder!

What prompted you to join parkrun?

My mum has been doing parkrun since 2011 and finally convinced me to join her in 2013 for my first parkrun in Princes Park, Liverpool. I have always loved running, but it wasn't until 2015 when I moved to Islington, with Highbury Fields around the corner that I started doing parkrun more regularly and have not looked back since.

What’s your most memorable parkrun?
My most memorable parkrun is the New Years Day Double parkrun! Starting at Highbury Fields parkrun and then a big group of people make a dash for the overground to get to Southwark for the second parkrun of the day! Nothing like running a total of 10km before 11am on the first day of the new year even if feeling a little delicate from the night before.

What do you like most about parkrun?
The parkrun community is the best! Everyone I have met at parkrun has been so encouraging and friendly and I love that everyone turns up on a Saturday morning with different goals they want to achieve, whether it be to enjoy it and get round the course or push to get that PB. I also love a post run chat with the other parkrun regulars and often plan to meet up on Sunday morning to do a long run together. I have also joined a local running club, London Heathside, off the back of parkrun which I found out about by speaking to some other runners on a Saturday morning.

Volunteering at parkrun - any thoughts? Favourite volunteering role?
My favourite volunteering role is barcode scanning. I love chatting to people that have just completed parkrun and congratulating them on their achievement. I don't think that there has ever been anyone that has ever finished and regretted doing a parkrun!


How are you coping without parkrun?
Not very well! I miss the routine of getting up on a Saturday morning, heading to Highbury Fields without having to think, running 5 and a bit laps, having a chat with other parkrunners and being home by 10am. It is such a great way to kick start the weekend so I cannot wait for it to be back on and order to be restored.

What are your parkrun goals?
My parkrun goals are to reach 100 runs as soon as I can, whilst also being a bit more adventurous - I have never even run Finsbury Park parkrun and it is only up the road! I would also like to retain my 'Most First Place Finishes' title at Highbury Fields....not that parkrun is competitive in anyway!



Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Danny O’Reilly


Danny pacing


Meet Danny O'Reilly, parkrunner, marathon & half marathon runner, super-pacer & more! Danny has run 49 parkruns to date, mostly spread across the London parkruns. As well as all that running, he has also found the time to volunteer at parkrun, including a few stints at Highbury Fields. He recorded his overall parkrun PB of 16.36 at Kraków parkrun in October 2019.

When & where did you start parkrunning?

Highbury Fields in 2016. My new obsession is to do as many different parkruns as possible & to tick off as many unique ones as possible. My friend Fei, who also started at Highbury Fields has run 36 parkruns, all at different locations.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I’d never heard of it, but occasionally my Saturday morning runs would include a lap of Highbury Fields -  I had no idea what was going on, but hundreds of people were lapping it, it seemed friendly and fun. It took me a while to pluck up the courage to go along as I had been to many events, but once I did, I never looked back.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

I’d never ran a hard 5k before and it hurt like hell. That burning in your lungs, legs hurting and the voice in your head telling you to stop - “maybe I’ll fake a  hamstring pull ” but then you get a cheer from a volunteer and you temporarily forget the pain. I was hooked after my first visit and spent the next few months convincing my friends to join me.

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

Highbury Fields on the morning of my good friends Kate & Nick’s wedding day back in 2017. The happy couple and a fair few of the guests ran it too. We made Nick wear a bowtie and the Run Director made an announcement at the start to embarrass them. Most importantly I got a PB.

Danny HF Kate & Nick's wedding

How does parkrun fit into your schedule of pacing events, half marathons, marathons etc? 

In terms of training, it really complements it. A weekly 5k is a great way to mark your fitness as you move through a marathon plan and the routine of getting up and out on a Saturday morning is a great habit to get into too. Sometimes I’ll incorporate a parkun into a longer run when I get to the business end of training, and then volunteer the day before a big event. It’s also a very much a social event for me, so I arrange to see my friends and go for breakfast afterwards and catch up with some of the amazing people I’ve met through parkrun and running over the years.



What do you like most about parkrun?

If you go to a running club session it can all be a little bit intimidating. Lots of people doing professional looking stretches and drills, lots of complicated lingo that no one explains - parkrun eschews all of that - it’s friendly, inclusive and really is for everyone.

Volunteering at parkrun - any thoughts?

My favourite role is marshal, especially at the (former) sunken drain at the bottom of the hill (if you know, you know!). You get to hand out high fives, encouragement and there’s no pressure.

How are you coping without parkrun?

I’m still running lots but I haven’t had the motivation to push myself for a hard 5k. Hundreds of other people doing the same is a real motivator. I can’t wait for it to come back.

Any other thoughts?

Like a lot of people, I'm struggling for motivation at the moment. I thought I'd spend this hiatus getting as fit as a fiddle but it's been quite the opposite. To get back to it next month I'm setting myself some challenges, things like run a mile or 5k at the start of May and then try and better it at the end of the month.



Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Nick Baines (Peanut Kaiser Chief)

Peanut 1

Peanut Kaiser Chief Nick Baines is the focus of this week’s parkrunner profile. Nick has run 108 parkruns & has a PB of 19.50. We’ve missed him since he moved back up north but love the fact that he still has Highbury Fields as his ‘home’ parkrun.

When & where did you start parkrunning?

I actually did my first parkrun at Highbury Fields on 24/10/15.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I wanted to get into running for fitness - a running friend had mentioned parkrun to me and I’d seen a little bit about it online too.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

Loved it. Was nervous beforehand but I had no need to be. It’s a brilliant event.

How did Highbury Fields become a part of your parkrun life?

I used to live just up the road, about halfway between Highbury Fields and Finsbury Park so it was really handy. My Saturday mornings were never the same again.

Is Pickle (Nick’s dog) a reluctant or willing parkrunner?

Haha! She’s a parkrun ‘visitor’. Happy to come along for the extra strokes and meet people but definitely a spectator. I’ve tried a short run around the garden with her but she wasn’t too interested and our walks are, let’s say, pedestrian. I think tailwalker would be her ideal role!

Peanut 2

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

There are 2, both because they are the parkruns I managed to get a sub-20 time. Once at Highbury Fields (19.59) and once at my now local parkrun which is Woodhouse Moor in Leeds (19.50). There’s no ‘winning’ parkrun or anything like that but it was a huge milestone for me. Having parkrun in my weekly schedule helped so much and gave me something to aim for.

How do you manage to fit parkrun into your schedule of gigs, recording, media activity etc?

I’ve done a bit of parkrun tourism on tour but only various UK locations. Sadly nothing further afield. Sometimes I miss weeks and weeks at a time, especially during festival season and then I can do weeks and weeks in a row. If I’m around, then I’ll be at parkrun on a Saturday morning.

What do you like most about parkrun?

I like the inclusiveness of the whole thing. All abilities are welcome and no-one finishes last. I recommend it to all types of people, no matter whether you want to walk, jog or run it, or a mixture of all three. I’ve met loads of great people through parkrun and it’s a brilliant way to start your Saturday. I feel so positive minded after doing it. And you can totally earn your generous breakfast of choice when you return home.

Do any of the other Kaiser Chiefs parkrun? Has there ever been any chat about a group parkrun?

Ricky runs but he admits he’s far too competitive to run with other people (I agree!). Not sure we’ll get a group run together to be honest!

Volunteering at parkrun - any thoughts?

I’ve volunteered a few times. It totally opens your eyes to the amount of work that people put into it for free. If you’re a regular parkrunner then you should be a regular volunteer too.

How are you coping without parkrun?

Missing it tbh :(  I’ve been doing occasional short runs on my own but I’m also a bit injured and my physio has said no running for 6-8 weeks. Rubbish.

Any other thoughts?

During lockdown it’s important to keep active if you are able to. Exercise is good for the mind as well as the body, so if lockdown has given you time to get into running then I can’t recommend parkrun to you enough in the future. Come join us!

And lastly, the ‘Peanut’ question

It’s an old nickname from school days, due to a badly drawn picture that I drew of myself. I’ve had the name for over 30 years & I’m certain more people around the world know me as Peanut rather than Nick!


Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Eliza Flynn

Eliza 2

This week's parkrunner profile introduces you to Eliza Flynn who is a parkrunner & a personal trainer. Eliza has run 13 parkruns to date, all at Highbury Fields.

When & where did you start parkrunning?

Oh gosh! It must have been at least 4 years ago before I had my children. I remember it so well - it was a gorgeous day and I found it SO hard. I’d mistakenly believed that it was just one round of Highbury Fields (my concept of distance was not strong!) so imagine my horror to discover it was FIVE! I’m not a natural runner but I was so happy to finish.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I’d been thinking about it for a while. And then one day I psyched myself up and decided to go for it!

What did you think after your first parkrun?

That 5km is a LOT FURTHER than I initially thought!

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

Probably the time when I did it with one of my Warrior mums who had a 3 year-old at the time. Her child was supposed to hang out with mine at the playground but he had other ideas so he came along for the ride too, in this massive, wonky-wheeled, heavy pram. I took over ‘driving’ for the last couple of laps and I was determined to keep up the pace. It was one of the hardest things I think I’ve ever done and I burnt more calories from it than an hour’s boxing class!

How do you manage to fit parkrun into your schedule of coaching sessions?

Building a community and support network of mums is important to me and as part of @TheWarriorMethod - mums and babies fitness classes I run - I decided to invite mums to run together at parkrun. Getting back into running is a big thing for mums and I wanted to help support mums in this journey - helping them understand where their weaknesses lie, and how to strengthen physically. Plus, I’d gathered a group of mums to take part in several obstacle course races so this was fantastic training. I prioritised this because it was important to me and the community of mums. And if I’m being honest, it gave me a bit of time to myself, away from the kids!

What do you like most about parkrun?

So many things! Mainly how it unites people. I am constantly inspired by the people taking part.

Volunteering at parkrun - any thoughts?

I have a lot of appreciation for volunteers but as of yet, I haven’t had the opportunity to do so as I only ever get an hour for myself on Saturdays!

How are you coping without parkrun?

I miss it! I miss the buzz and running with a crowd. However, I’ve run more than I usually would do and I always want to get my 5km in now when I run. That’s thanks to parkrun!

Anything else to add?

The current situation is extremely strange and scary. Running helps a lot of people reduce anxiety and stress. I’d like to emphasise though at this time it’s important to run responsibly. In my opinion, this means giving others, including runners, a clear berth (ideally 3m), running when it’s least crowded and being particularly aware of older people and those with limited mobility.

For postnatal women looking to get back into running, I’d advise waiting until at least 4 months after giving birth, longer if you’ve had a Caesarean. Place priority on re-strengthening the muscles which have been most weakened by pregnancy, such as your glutes, deep core muscles and single leg strength. And finally, women should know that leaking during running is common, but not normal - there are many things you can do to support a weak pelvic floor. I run an ‘Introducing Impact’ online postnatal class for those looking to get back into running and every person who joins automatically gets exclusive access to ask myself and a women’s health physio I work with any questions they might have.




Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Connie Osbourne

Screenshot 2020-04-27 at 10.04.13

This week we introduce you to the parkrunner who emailed us when we asked you all for ways we can stay in touch with our community during lockdown. She suggested we start a weekly blog profiling our parkrunners. Take a bow Connie Osbourne - what a great idea!

Connie is relatively new to parkrun, having run 7 in total so far, split between Finsbury Park & Highbury Fields. Her parkrun PB is 31.45, recorded at Highbury Fields on February 8th 2020.

When & where did you start parkrunning?

My first parkrun (my first ever run actually) was in nearby Finsbury Park in late August 2019. I started parkrunning at Highbury Fields at the beginning of 2020 as it is closer to my sister’s so it’s easier to drag her out for a run!

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I decided to start running when I came across a small local marathon finish line while visiting my mum in France. Many participants were 3 times my age and I had so much respect for them and jealousy of the community they were part of that I wanted to start! My flatmate told me about parkrun when I mentioned I wanted to start running and my sister and I went along the next Saturday! Luckily the weather that day warranted an official photograph.

Connie 3


 What did you think after your first parkrun?

Honestly my sister & I were both shocked that we managed to run 5k at all. Having never run anywhere before I had no concept of how far 5k was, all I knew was that it was an official race distance which scared me straight away. As soon as we entered the finishing funnel we decided to sign up for a 10k race to raise money for a charity that means a lot to us. All we had to do was double the distance! We did our first 10k in Victoria Park in December and I’m now signed up for the Hackney Half (whenever it ends up happening).

Connie 1


What’s your most memorable parkrun?

My most memorable was actually an unofficial parkrun. During storm Dennis we headed off to Highbury Fields without checking the website or social media for a cancellation - a rookie error that we won’t be making again! On arrival we were told that the event was cancelled but it seemed that a group of "diehards” were running anyway. Since then I’ve pushed through every long run by telling myself that I am an official diehard!

What do you like most about parkrun?

Like most people, I love the atmosphere and camaraderie. Being part of such a dedicated group means you see many of the same people there every week. No one I have ever come across at parkrun has been anything less than completely lovely!

Volunteering at parkrun - any thoughts?

I’d love to be part of the volunteering team at some point. The main thing holding me back is the desire for merch driving me to get my milestone 50 T-shirt as soon as I can!

How are you coping without parkrun?

As with many people I’ve spoken to, lockdown has brought with it a severe lack of motivation - the cancellation of organised runs/races stopped me running throughout March. The sun and the advent of virtual races has pushed me back out the door so I’m getting back into my stride.

Any other thoughts?

I can’t recommend virtual races enough. As well as the companies sending out merch (which may be enough of a reason alone), the online community surrounding them is so supportive. The feeling of community is renewed when you run past someone wearing the same race top as you.

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