Special Edition Run Report, 23rd October 2021

Former Event Director Martin Black, now a parkrun Ambassador and an active parkrunner when circumstances allow, very kindly wrote a Run Report for us after yesterday's event.

Saturday saw my first running return to parkrun since International Women's Day in March 2020. I made it back to Highbury Fields on its first event following Lockdown in July to carry out my favourite volunteering role of barcode scanning. But due to family care issues that have arisen in the past year, yesterday was the first opportunity to actually run at a parkrun event. And a joyous occasion it was. Taking full advantage of the new course I finally bettered my PB set in May 2013. But that wasn't the reason for my joy. No that was from catching up with so many members of the parkrun community that I had barely seen the past 20 months. Unfortunately I couldn't spend as much time chatting as I would like and certainly no post parkrun coffee. Since turning up at Highbury Fields in December 2011, it has been the community spirit that has kept me coming back to parkrun. The friends I have made here over the years have been very important to me and have been even more so the past 20 months.

The spur to organise things so I could attend was to celebrate Kathryn Donkersley's 250th parkrun. A milestone, like so many others, delayed by more than year. Kath, as well as a regular at Highbury Fields, is a stalwart at juniors at Highbury Fields and Caledonian Park. During lockdown Kath created the Cally-Camden (not) parkrun route. She started running it on her own but as rules allowed more than 2 dozen of us would run it at some point over the following 12 months.

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Also reaching milestones this week were Jeff Eaton (50), Roisin MCKEON, Mark Benjamin JACKSON, Paul GOODSTADT, Frances AMBLER, Shiobain O'CONNOR (25). Yes 25 is now a milestone and qualifies for a purple t-shirt! Log on to your profile to see your milestone progress and t-shirts that you can order (you will find a link to your profile at the bottom of your results or volunteer thank you emails).

As always a huge thank you to this week's volunteers:

Melanie ARMSTRONG, Ben BOND, Amna BUSHRA, Alex CHASE, John EVESON, Luke FRANKLIN, Michael GRAY, Lucas GRELA, Stephen HEY, Thomas HILL, Sean HODGES, Alice KANU, Colleen KRENZER, Paul MAKIN, Ella MARSHALL, Joseph OLIVE, Julian OYESIKU, Chris PEACOCK, Lizzy POLLOTT, Adrienne QUARTLY, David RANK, Deborah ROBACK, John ROBACK, Theresa WHITE, Emma WRIGHT

volsIt's wonderful to see so many new volunteers (as well as long standing ones!). I'm biased of course as I'm more likely to be seen in hi-viz than in running kit at parkrun. There is so much to gained from volunteering that I would entreat everyone to give it a go. It should be seen as a positive act and not giving up a run/walk. Of course if you are not able to volunteer at parkrun then that's fine, there is certainly no obligation to do so. I would recommend listening to Jaz Banger (Head of HR & Volunteer Management at parkrun) in the 8th October Free Weekly Timed podcast to get some more positive messages on volunteering which you can find here

I hope to see you all soon,

Martin Black

 

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!

 

Highbury Fields park runner profile – Erika Orsagova

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Erika Orsagova is a familiar face not only around Highbury Fields but around the UK and overseas. She has run a total of 268 parkruns and completed 40 volunteer tasks at 36 parkrun events. She's even bumped in Paul Sinton-Hewitt along the way! Here's her story....

What prompted you to join parkrun?

One of my hobbies is playing chess. I played a game and as is often the case you have a social drink in a pub with your opponent after the game. We got chatting and my opponent mentioned he had being doing parkrun since March 2006. This opponent and now long-time friend was Neil Davies, who has done an impressive 566 parkruns and has also been a regular visitor to Highbury Fields parkrun over the years. My first parkrun was 3 weeks later as I wanted to use it as training for a 10k charity run I was about to do. Since then parkrun has become a healthy addiction.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

My first ever parkrun was on 28th June 2014 on Hampstead Heath. I was very impressed as to how friendly and welcoming everyone was. It was exactly how Neil had described it. I got hooked.

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

It is difficult to narrow it down to one as I have run 268 parkruns in total so far, in 111 different locations across the UK and abroad. Some stand out for different reasons, for example very muddy or extremely difficult weather. Here's the most memorable of my parkruns:

Highbury Fields. To my surprise, I won best costume, dressed as a pirate. This encouraged me to dress up for future running occasions.

Mile End. A pleasant surprise as I met the parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt.

Fulham Palace. My 250th parkrun where many friends from all corners turned up to celebrate my special day.

Castle Park parkrun. This was on parkrun World Tourist Day.

Newport parkrun. I met Nick Davies (bus driver) and the following week he came for a parkrun at Bushy Park with his family and I introduced him to my biggest parkrun inspiration, Neil Davies (no relation!).

Krakow parkrun. My first parkrun abroad. Since then my journeys abroad have been and will be planned around parkrun locations!

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What do you like most about parkrun?

So many things! Through parkrun I have met a number of wonderful people who have become friends - I would never have met them otherwise.

The concept of the parkrun is amazing! I like the fact that you can recognise fellow parkrunners from a distance by what they are wearing and then start a conversation. It is a community that keeps each other in good spirits not just in a good times. It inspires and encourages people with health issues to change their habits to improve their physical and mental health.

It has become part of my training for longer distance runs, so much so that I have completed a few half marathons and a marathon.

Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

I initially volunteered at parkrun when I was injured, I felt that I should give back to the community. My favourite volunteer roles have been as tail walker and running as a buddy with a blind partner. My pregnancy did not stop me from running and jogging at parkrun and in the later stages I continued walking and volunteering.

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How are you coping without parkrun?

Never in a million years did I think that I would have such a long break from my favourite morning. It has not been easy without parkrun but as parkrunners do not give up, they created an unofficial parkrun instead – (not)parkrun.

I have to admit that since then my biggest inspiration for running is my little buddy runner, my son, who enjoys being pushed in the stroller but lately wants to run alongside mummy.

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Any other thoughts?

Covid has highlighted the potential for parkrun’s very important role in the community. Highbury Fields parkrun has always been a great leader in this respect, both with their foodbank events in prior years and recently their vaccination volunteering activities.

 

Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Rachel Day

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Rachel Day has run 56 of her 93 parkruns around Highbury Fields but sadly (for us) moved to Norfolk (pre-pandemic) before reaching the 100 parkrun milestone.

She has also completed 53 volunteering tasks at 44 events, all but one of them being at Highbury Fields parkrun or Highbury Fields junior parkrun (the 'one' was at Catton parkrun in Norfolk).

Rachel's infectious smile and happy demeanour is remembered as fondly as her hotdog and mustard fancy dress outfit.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I signed up for parkrun and got myself a barcode long before I finally made it to Highbury Fields parkrun many years later in September 2016. A friend of mine talked about her local parkrun and it sounded like a way to motivate me back into running.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

I was amazed that such a well-run event was happening every week led completely by volunteers. The friendly welcoming atmosphere could be felt as soon as I arrived.

What’s your most memorable parkrun? 

One of my most memorable may have been tail walking in the rain while very inappropriately dressed in 70s gear, made all the more pleasant by a lovely chat with regular parkrunner Manal. The editors think that the parkrun when Rachel was dressed as a hot dog with mustard was pretty memorable too!

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What do you like most about parkrun?

The people of course! When I decided to leave London, I knew that one thing I would miss the most would be rolling out of bed on a Saturday, hungover or not, with the knowledge that I'd be spending the next hour or so in great company while getting in some good exercise, breakfast and coffee!

Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

I love volunteering as much as I do running at parkrun (sometimes more!). It's a great way to feel more involved and get to know people better. I loved learning how it all worked and I was genuinely flattered when I was asked if I would join the core team! Editor’s note: any time you want to make a guest appearance back in the core team you’ll be welcomed with socially distanced open arms!

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How are you coping without parkrun?

I miss the smug feeling you get after a Saturday morning parkrun and running alone or in small groups is just not as much fun!

 

 

Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Paul Kelland

This week’s featured parkrunner is Paul Kelland. He started parkrunning at Finsbury Park in 2011 but has done the vast majority of his 295 parkruns at Highbury Fields. 
A long time runner, he tells us how parkrun has added to his running life and about the joys of age-grading as you get older.

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Roll through the decades of running mostly by myself and competing in the few races that were about. The early London marathons were really wonderful, as was the first unified Berlin marathon. No shoe chips to contend with, you just had to get near the front to get a good time.

My first parkrun was Finsbury Park and it felt like the very first cross country schoolboy race I ever did. A few weekends later, on 3rd December 2011, I joined Dave Mason at the 4th Highbury Fields parkrun, with 22 of us going round and round and round and round and round and a bit.

The field of runners back then was so small I even came in first a few times. 
It wasn’t long before I realised that the age graded % was a thing - this is a way of measuring a runner’s performance taking into account their age. The higher the percentage, the more impressive their running ability. I know it’s a niche market but for some of us it allows competition across all ages and genders. Aged 50 it only gets better if you keep running! Editor's note: Paul’s age grading stands at well over 80%!!

The post-run coffee in a local cafe is also a way of talking running when my whole household got bored of that decades ago.

I think that parkrun is such a brilliant idea. It allows all types of runners to participate and on behalf of the overly competitive ageing man gang I am allowed to get on with it.

Over the years I have run all over the country. The most beautiful parkrun I have done is Mount Edgecombe in Plymouth which you get to by ferry. 

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Through parkrun a speed training splinter group has developed, which has also nourished several quick young runners. 

We also have a long run Sunday group that goes all over London searching out historical sights and sounds. I now have a whole group of parkrun friends and a real highlight of this year was helping some of them in the virtual marathon. 

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It is not overstating it to say parkrun and its spinoffs have kept me sane through the pandemic. My work as a GP in Hackney has been so challenging and these runs have allowed me some respite from the stress. Some of my patients now participate in parkrun as we are a prescribing practice.

Whilst I know that competition is now officially frowned on, segment sniping on Strava is a real thing, and I can't wait to get 500 parkruns done – and more.

 

Highbury Fields parkrunner profile – Jen Glassford

 

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Jen Glassford is a parkrunner at home and overseas, a HighburyFields parkrun volunteer, a HighburyFields junior parkrun volunteer, an international parkrun volunteer, a Mama Mermaid, a member of the #hackneyvaxpack and all round bundle of happiness and positivity.

She tells us how, for her, like so many others, parkrun is so much more than a 5k run on a Saturday morning.

When & where did you start parkrunning? 

My first parkrun was at Highbury Fields in October 2014. I arrived nervously and early at the start line as I had never participated in an organised run. A friend had told me about this free community run but I thought I must have misunderstood as no one was there.  I was so relieved when I realised that people congregate at the finish line and only arrive at the start a couple of minutes before 9. It was so exciting to see more than a 100 people arriving for a morning run.

What prompted you to join parkrun?

I was never a runner - it was always something that other people did...until my husband bought me an amazing book 'Running like a girl'. I loved Alexandra Heminsley's story of learning to love running and it encouraged me to give it a try. A year later (I am a slow learner), I bought running shoes and slowly started to run around my neighbourhood. I started to enjoy myself but I also knew that I needed some structure and goals in order for it to become a routine. My friend Andy, a very keen runner, was the one who recommended parkrun.

What did you think after your first parkrun?

I was amazed that I had finished 5k and that I wasn't the slowest person there. Even though I didn't know anyone I felt this wonderful feeling of achievement and fun. There was also the atmosphere of welcome and encouragement which made me want to go back. So before I knew it, no matter how many other activities we were doing as a family, Saturday always started with parkrun.

What’s your most memorable parkrun?

Like most people I have many memorable parkruns - getting my 1st milestone shirt, those 1st PBs, parkrun tourism in Montreal, Vancouver, Perth, WA and especially the girls weekend at Jersey parkrun - the list is wonderfully long. If I have to choose a specific run though I would select the New Year's Day Double - 9:00am Highbury Fields followed by 10:30am at Southwark. Even though I am not a huge fan of New Year's Eve there is this wonderful sense of optimism and new possibilities on January 1st. The idea of going for a run with my parkrun family is so uplifting and then the sense of adventure mixed with a little craziness as we all rush to catch the train to get to Southwark to do it all over again. I can honestly say it was one of the best ways to start a year.

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What do you like most about parkrun?

For me, parkrun is all about the people. I joined this community event in order to develop a consistent, healthy running routine and ended up forming lasting friendships with an amazing group of people. Although I have lived in London for more than 30 years, I can definitely say that the simple act of joining parkrun has transformed my sense of belonging. I know that every Saturday, whether running or volunteering, I will get to catch-up with some friends, meet new people and contribute to the parkrun experience.  At the end of every parkrun I leave with a smile in anticipation of the next parkrun event.

Volunteering at parkrun - your thoughts?

For me volunteering is the best part of parkrun!

In the beginning, volunteering was simply my way of giving a little back and making sure that the event could happen every week. I decided that I would try to volunteer after every 10 runs. I found that I really enjoyed parkrun even more as a volunteer, as I got to meet new people and I was able to contribute to the welcoming and fun atmosphere. It turns out that my extroverted Canadian (loud) voice works well for cheering & funnel management.  I particularly love being the funnel manager (cheering with a little bit of traffic management) or handing out finish tokens in which you can congratulate everyone for achieving another (or a 1st) parkrun.

Volunteering soon became a family affair, as my son Felix started volunteering as part of his Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) program. He started volunteering on Sundays at Highbury Fields Junior parkrun and by the time he was doing his Gold Award he had joined the Highbury Fields parkrun core volunteer team and his sister Ruby had started her Bronze Award. I injured my foot in 2019 so volunteering at parkrun turned into a family event that culminated in post-event breakfast & token sorting.

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How are you coping without parkrun?

Like most people, I really miss my parkrun routine, whether this was running or volunteering, I loved starting my weekend surrounded by my parkrun community. My family and many friends are in Canada and Australia, so not being able to travel has been a real shock to my system.

Even though we have not been able to take part in our regular events, I can't imagine what life would be like for me without my parkrun friends. At the start of the pandemic it was the simple joy of bumping into parkrun friends on the street as we adapted to local lockdowns. As we realised that the pandemic was here for more than a couple of weeks, we adjusted our routine so that we cycled, walked or swam in small groups. Big shout out to our #FridayWalkTalk group - 6 of us walking the co-editor of these profiles, Jo Hislop, to school on a Friday morning and #SwimmingFeminists - 4 of us who 'discovered' the Amazing West Reservoir and continued swimming until Jan 1st and a water temperature of 4 degrees! I can't wait for swimming to re-open and to be allowed to be with 6 people again.

Jen walk

More recently the kids and I have joined several other Highbury Field parkrunners (Alex Chase, Deb, John, Colleen, Anthony, Marina, Adrienne, Lizzy P to name just a few) by volunteering at Volunteer Centre Hackney. Once or twice a week we have the opportunity to use our parkrun skills of greeting people, briefing & marshalling them as they make their way through the vaccine process. After months of working from home, it has been such a joy to see people again and to be able to support and help, as well as to cheer the amazing NHS staff. So a big shout out and thank you to Alex Chase for getting the job coordinating the volunteers for Volunteer Centre Hackney and giving us an opportunity to give back and be there for our community until parkrun returns.

Jen collage 1

 

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