Charting the ups and downs and a flour at Hilly Fields #392

Whilst not consciously trying to visit all London parkruns (to become LonDone), the tame volunteer and I are enjoying visiting friends, family and parkruns around the city.

Following a back injury, my preference is for a not many lap course with even camber, a range of speeds including walkers (!), marshals understanding the concept of micro conversations (I’ll explain in a sec) and something fun to look at. Hilly Fields was to be my first attempt at a predominantly non tarmac parkrun in the UK since September.

My cousins live about half a mile away, if that, so following a curry in Ladywell and a late night, we managed one of those rare things for tourists – a sleep in. Arriving before 0830, we met Stephen, the RD of the day and got signed in and had a chat. Then I had a chat with (Graeme) doing first timers briefing before attending that brief and walking to the start. Of the 72 parkrunners at Hilly Fields for the first time, there were 35 new runners or just under 8% of the attendees at their first parkrun. That is super fantastic, well done everyone. Well done also to the 59 who ran the course faster than before – great job.

Injuries suck – but from my recent and not very scientific experience – I had my best parkrun in ages due to the sheer friendliness of everyone. I have lost any shame in walking up hills (though I did have a go the third lap on the big hill to run part of the hill) and I smiled, trotted, walked, gasped, smelled the pine needles, slithered in the mud and smiled again around the three laps. I didn’t even mind getting lapped on the big hill the first time. A delight to watch athletic bodies doing their stuff. I didn’t quite understand the route to start with but understood “big hill x3 run to finish” and it all worked. When injured, the micro conversations that marshals provide “looking fine” “have you seen the kite” “third time? Turn right” make what can be a difficult experience enjoyable. It’s not just about the “looking strong” or “come on you can run this bit”. I am truly grateful that I can still walk – but the tiny part of my competitive brain that likes a finish with a flourish is grumpy that what was achievable is now an effort. A genuine enormous thank you to every marshal – you were amazing and I had the sense that I could have completed the course with much less speed and still you would
have cheered me.

And having finished with half a flourish, which I’m now calling “a flour”, I stayed near the finish funnel and cheered the rest of the run in. Did your parkrun end with a flour or a flourish today? I’m pretty sure that a flour finish totally justifies cake or pancakes. It’s definitely a thing. To the clubs: this is the best bit and a big field meant a number of awards.

Well done to the new member of the most exclusive Junior 10 club. Luke OVERETT SOMNIER, wear your tshirt with pride and around every parkrunning adult who found parkrun later in life. Well done to brand new 100 club members Lorna MEINS and Ricky BOYCE and to one of our original runners, John Barron, who joined the 250 club. Even more specially than the running clubs, congratulations to Layla MATHERS and
Stephen CORRY who joined the purple volunteer 25 times club. May your tshirt links go live quickly.

We didn’t get time to have a coffee in the café but walked back to breakfast full of the buzz of an amazing morning. Thank you EVERYONE.

Pippa White, Queen Elizabeth

 

Christmas and New Year

We are planning to hold our usual Christmas and New Year's parkruns again this year. As in previous years the New Year's Day run will be at 10 am which gives you the chance for a lie in after the night before or maybe a parkrun double with Peckham Rye or Beckenham if you haven't over indulged!

 

Run Report, Event #356

It's amazing how many people will turn up on a cold, windy and slightly drizzly morning, to run around our challenging 5k course. Today we welcomed 308 finishers! A very big thank you to our fifteen volunteers, who definitely felt the cold as we cheered, timed, handed out and scanned tokens and tail walked - if this is something you would like to try, please let us know, we love welcoming new volunteers into the fold!

Top Team!

Top Team!

Milestones

Out of those 308 finishers, 39 were joining us for the very first time and a whopping 40 people managed to achieve a personal best time - wow! We had some runners at very different stages of their parkrun journey, with Nigel joining us for his first ever event. He was encouraged and supported by regular runner, Monica and kept motivated by tail walker Emer - really well done Nigel!

First-timer

First-timer

Marking a different milestone was Chris, who was completing his 100th parkrun! He has run 69 of those with us, so is a loyal Hilly Fields runner, but also enjoys some tourism, having visited 14 different parkruns in total, with Belfast Victoria and Ormeau being the furthest afield.

100 parkruns!

100 parkruns!

We were also joined today by a couple of tourists from Fulham parkrun, one on her 40+ different parkrun and one running her 69th different event (sorry, I didn't make a note of your names)! We hope you enjoyed our course, it must come in the top ten out of all those runs, surely? :)

Those of you who come regularly will know that we like to hang out in the cafe after the run, processing the results, catching up and sorting through the tokens. This morning we found that five of the tokens were missing, five! It's important to take a token at the end of the finish funnel, but if you don't have your barcode please hand the token in to one of the barcode scanners - we need to reuse them each week.

Team Token

Team Token

parkrun Practices

In the past year, over 800 different events have partnered with their local GP surgery as a parkrun Practice. This means that staff at the practice will signpost patients towards parkrun and junior parkrun, encouraging them to take part either as a volunteer, or joining in as a walker or runner. This social prescribing is a great way to encourage increased activity and reduce isolation. We are delighted to share the news that we are now partnered with Hilly Fields Medical Centre, who are situated just at the edge of the park. On Saturday June 1st we will welcome staff along to experience the event for themselves and, if you work as a healthcare professional, or know someone who does, why not share this pledge? Alongside this partnership I will be leading a walking group, meeting each Tuesday morning at 10.30 outside the surgery, for a chatty walk around Hilly Fields - feel free to come along or to tell friends and neighbours, who might benefit from some fresh air and exercise in friendly company.

Quite a few of today's volunteers were resting their legs ahead of tomorrow's Crystal Palace Triathlon. It's a lovely local event and great fun to watch, as it takes place completely within the park. Best of luck to all of those taking part, swim, ride and run strong!

Adele :)

 

Run Report, Event #348

It was so windy up at the top of the hill this morning, that I had to add a bungee to the sign on the tree!

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A bit of wind wasn't going to stop play today though, with a number of milestones to celebrate. I was very pleased to have sign language support for this morning's pre-run briefing - the first time we have done this - thank you to Sarah, who did so well to keep up with my waffling! If you are able to sign and would like to take on this role in future, please let us know, we want to make Hilly Fields parkrun welcoming to everyone. Today's event was made possible with the help of seventeen volunteers, who worked very hard to stay upright, as Storm Gareth whipped around!

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Today was one for celebration on an epic scale, with three 'unofficial' milestones being run by Sarah and Andrea, who ticked off their 200th parkruns and Tien, reaching an impressive 300th run! Our official milestones, to be rewarded with a lovely t-shirt, were by Manpreet, reaching his 100th and Lisa, who celebrated her 250th parkrun. Amazing!

Manpreet has run 20 of his 100 at Hilly Fields, with a lot of tourism around the country. His local parkrun is now Hackney Marshes, so how lovely that he and the family joined us to celebrate at Hilly Fields.

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Lisa started her running with us in our first year, when she was awarded 'parkrunner of the month'. Over those years, she has knocked a whopping eight minutes off her 5k time and last week bagged herself a PB at the Big Half! Not only is Lisa working hard on her own running, but she is Event Director at our Hilly Fields junior parkrun, encouraging and supporting our junior runners on their active journey.

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Anyone who has ever been to Hilly Fields during one of our celebrations will know how much we like to share treats and today was no exception, with all sorts of lovely post-run/volunteering snacks to enjoy!

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There was one cake in particular that caught everyone's attention, a beautiful '250 t-shirt' created by Heather, using her much-loved chocolate and Guinness recipe.

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Today's run was completed by 315 participants, 44 of whom were first-timers! Some of those were visiting from other areas and one person I spoke to had chosen to do his first ever parkrun with us, having travelled from Newcastle for the weekend! Our Saturday morning wouldn't be complete without a post-event chat and coffee (and cake), while the results were processed. I'm sure you'll agree that these look like some very happy parkrunners!

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Next week we will be back for more, hopefully with less wind, so keep your barcode handy and keep those legs limber for another uplifting event.

Adele x

 

Run report for 2 February

Not our normal run report (which we accept are rare) but a lovely report on last Saturday's run from Alan who was visiting from Eastbourne:-

Thank you Hilly Fields

Travelling up from Eastbourne to visit our daughter we were expecting to attend Catford parkrun - but icy paths meant that we turned up to hear the disappointing news that the event had been cancelled. On no! - what no parkrun? Well, credit to my daughter, alternative plans were hastily put together and by 9.00 we were attending the first timers briefing at nearby Hilly Fields parkrun.

As always, huge credit and thanks to the volunteers who had turned up early and made sure the course was safe - mainly adjustments to direct people off of paths onto the grass to avoid icy patches. So not only did we have hills we also ran mainly on grass - a very different experience to the tarmac paths of Eastbourne's very flat course. Plus, as the name suggests, Hilly Fields involves hills - a long slow incline as well as a shorter, but much steeper, uphill - and you do each of these three times! Quite a shock for soft seasiders, where an ornamental bridge represents a category one climb!

Everything was as you would expect at parkrun - friendly, fun and just a great way to start the weekend. But given the circumstances, the volunteers were even more amazing than usual, not jut making sure we were safe but also providing huge encouragement all around the course, especially at the start of the hills. Also, big thanks to Stephen Robson, as Run Director, who had been checking the course during the week and was clearly at the park very early on the Saturday making the necessary adjustments to the course. He was also very clear regards the conditions and the focus on safety as the priority issue - no PBs please and just be sensible. And it was his birthday as well!

Thank you again Hilly Fields parkrun and we look forward to running up that hill again soon!

Alan O'Connor
Eastbourne parkrun

 

Our good friend, Lucreta

Those of you who have become friends with Lucreta over the past few years, will picture a woman full of energy, enthusiasm, joy, compassion, generosity, kindness, creativity and a wicked sense of humour. She has been a central part of our Hilly Fields community, running alongside us, volunteering, sweeping up the leaves outside the cafe (yes, she would come up early to do this, before everyone else arrived) and being a champion for all our junior runners on a Sunday morning, turning up, rain or shine, sunshine or hail, to stand in 'position number one' to high-five and cheer each child around the course.

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We remember a time, around Christmas (we think New Year's Day), where she had walked out of Lewisham Hospital - where she was receiving treatment for Leukemia and had spent a period in an isolation ward - telling the doctors she was 'going for a walk in the park'. Little did they know, she was on a mission, marching up Vicars Hill to come and volunteer! Little did we know that, under all the layers of warm clothing, she was in a gown and very definitely not supposed to be out in the cold December wind! It's this sense of determination - and her defiance - that got her back running with us, following chemotherapy, that got her powering back up the hill and chasing the times she ran before her illness.

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A little while back, a few of us visited Lucreta at home and I was stopped in my tracks as I entered her living room. Displayed along one wall were an array of medals, trophies, cups, certificates and a beautiful photo of Lucreta, with her son Andrew, at Buckingham Palace, where she was collecting her MBE for volunteering and fundraising (she has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Sickle Cell Foundation and, more recently, the Anthony Nolan Trust).

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When we have seen Lucreta in the past few months, she has said many times 'I miss my family', meaning us, her parkrun family. We will definitely miss Lucreta and her incredible energy, but let us remember her positivity at this difficult time, she said herself that she wouldn't want us to be sad. I know we all feel that Lucreta is 'ours', but you know she could be found all over the wider Lewisham community, volunteering at Brockley Max, over at The Albany on a Tuesday 'helping the old people', leading walking groups, making stylish clothing, or sharing her other passion, for performing at poetry slams. What an incredible woman!

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Christmas

Yes we know it’s still October but people have started asking so this is to confirm that we will have our usual festive period extra runs - 9 am on Christmas Day and 10 on New Year’s Day

See you all there

 

Happy 6th Birthday!

6 years! Where has the time gone?

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Even the most hard of heart would have struggled not to feel a little bit emotional this morning as Event Director Stephen said a few words to mark the occasion. The big take-home message was not so much about the running (although that does have an important place in all of our hearts!), but about the wonderful local community that has built up over those six years. The fact that lots of us can’t go out for a run during the week without crossing paths with someone we know from parkrun. And the friends. Some of those friends from the early days have since moved away, so it was very special to see some old faces return today - in particular Caz Manning all the way from Stockholm, former Hilly Fields RD Emma Malcolm visiting from Hampshire and junior parkrun RD Natalie Aldham visiting from Wanstead.

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There was much buzz on social media during the week about the photos from the very first Hilly Fields parkrun back in 2012 - here are some of those people today who were at the very first event:

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[Full disclosure, this dog did not actually run the first event at Hilly Fields parkrun]

So as has become traditional, the course was run in reverse today. Much debate about which is the easier - the “right” way or the “wrong” way. Perhaps some of the statisticians amongst our runners can give us some insight. Basic maths calculations on today’s results gives us a PB rating of 13% - 40 PBs out of the 300 runners today. 34 PBs out of the 273 runners last week equals a PB rating of 12%. So perhaps the reverse course is easier. Or perhaps people just tried harder for the birthday event!

Congratulations to Bill Schomberg doing his 100th run today, to James Armstrong doing his 50th run today and to juniors Madalena Fernandez & Gabriela Fernandez who qualified for their 10 t-shirt today.

And it’s always lovely to hang out in the cafe for that post-parkrun chat, taking it full circle back to the impact that Hilly Fields parkrun has had on the community and the groups of friends that have grown from a run around the park on a Saturday morning. (And incredible to think that 6478 people have benefited from a 5km timed run around Hilly Fields on a Saturday morning over the past 6 years.)

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The phrase said by so many about Hilly Fields parkrun today was "life-changing". Enough said…

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Extra runs when it gets festive

As in previous years we will be holding extra parkruns at Hilly Fields on Christmas and New Year's Days - 9am on Christmas Day and 10am on New Year, giving you an extra lie in or the option of a double parkrun if you would like to run a neighbouring parkrun which is going at 9.

 

Run Report, Event #258

We had a feeling it was going to be an exciting event, with visitors gathering by the cafe in various shades of apricot, red and black. We set up the course with a few extras, such as bunting and some motivational chalk messages ('The chalk really helps!' was heard from one runner) and made our way to the start just before 9am. So, why all the fuss? You might have seen the milestone t-shirts around our course: white 10 for juniors, red 50, black 100 and, my personal favourite, purple 25 (volunteers). We occasionally have a visitor in a green 250 t-shirt and this week were delighted to mark our very first 250th parkrun at Hilly Fields.

Regular runners and volunteers will know Siggy, who has been with us from the start, with her first parkruns being over at Bromley (where she has run 90 times!). 130 of Siggy's runs have been here with us at Hilly Fields and she has been on tour to 20 other events, amazing! During her time as a parkrun addict fan, Siggy has also volunteered around 75 times, with some of those times being whilst injured - she is always happy and willing to encourage others, even when she is unable to run herself (she has been known to march around at the back, supporting fellow runners, who are making the step up from walk to run). As I mentioned in the briefing, what sets Siggy apart is her strength, determination and resilience; she really is a valued member of our parkrun 'family'.

Siggy's posse

The atmosphere was, of course, one of celebration, with marshals around the course, hi-fiving and encouraging our participants up The Hill. Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers, timing, scanning, handing out tokens, marshalling and tail-walking (and, of course, helping to set up the course and sorting through the tokens, the bits you don't see!). This week's volunteers were Sally, Adele, Brian, Steve, Maria, Gila, Anne, Aidan, Laura, Bill, Janette, Carrie, Helen, Monica, Sasha and Stephen. If you thought it looked like fun (it is), let us know and we'll let you help make the magic happen (opt in on your profile, or email hillyfieldshelpers@parkrun.com).

Oh yes, some people ran too! 273 people! An amazing 47 were first-timers (Siggy has a big fan club!) and an impressive 33 recorded a new personal best time. Well done! It was particularly exciting to watch the action up at the front this week, with one of our junior runners, representing Kent AC, taking the front position throughout. Pipped to the post in the last few meters, Isaac Maxwell (who is under 14!) made first finisher, Edmund Adigwe, work hard for his place, with our first two finishers crossing the line in 17.34 and 17.37, outstanding! Our regular women were kept on their toes by visitors from Siggy's club, Petts Wood Runners. Crossing the line first for the women was Hannah Roberts in 20.34, followed by club-mate Geraldine Schaer, with regular first woman, Jen Smith, close behind for Kent AC. We were delighted also to see visitor Neil Cole bagging himself a PB by going under 24 minutes, well done Neil.

Nearly there!

Through the finish!

So, with the running done, Siggy was very happy to get her barcode scanned, 'It's official!' and share prosecco and a beautiful cake with our runners. Thank you Siggy and we look forward to seeing you again soon for your 251st run :)

Scanning the barcode

Cutting the cake

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