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!
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.
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.