Visiting an old friend…

Picture the scene... It's February, 2021, it's -3C and we are all stuck in our houses due to the lockdown. It's cool to exercise with one other person but it's also -3C so it's also too cool to exercise with anyone. You probably dreamt of being able to rock up at your favourite parkrun (even in your tights and bobble-hats), run around, get warm, have a chinwag with your runner mates and have a post-exercise coffee with even more chinwagging. Well that moment is back! (P)parkrun has returned to England for a month now, and it almost feels like it never went away.

I have to admit I felt quite emotional driving to Hogmoor (the best parkrun IMHO) for the first time in over 18 months on Saturday. I'd been excited about it all week but I almost felt kinda numb when I got there. Maybe because I was spending most of my time picking up my two spaniels' poop but probably because it felt so surreal, like nothing has changed in the world but also everything has changed at the same time.

I love Hogmoor because it's the perfect mixture of everything for a course... some fast flat bits, some challenging sandy bits, beautiful woodland and you get to run by everyone at least twice and say hello to the parkrun community. The volunteers are always awesome (especially Christine who runs 'rave corner' most weeks) and it's the ideal blend of people looking to run fast, going for PBs, just looking to get round, meeting up with mates, people pushing buggies, running with doggos - all wrapped up in that beautiful environment. It was so nice to see lots of friendly faces for the first time in ages, even if I did feel a bit overwhelmed due to the dream-like state this scene had conjured in my mind.

Run wise - I really enjoyed running with my dog, Frenzal. He's a little bonkers (just like his owner) and we went crazy off the start line but soon settled into an easy pace with a few stops for puddle-drinks. My other dog, Jeff, was attending his first parkrun but only managed one loop with my friend, Ian, because he saw me on the second loop and wouldn't run anymore. LOL. Frenzal also brought shame on the family by doing a massive poo in the finish funnel out of his thinnish tunnel. After the run it was great to be able to visit the new cafe and have a coffee and chinwag with my friends - just like I'd dreamt about in those chilly and dark February times.

SUMMARISE: Turning up to parkrun feels like visiting an old friend you haven't seen for sometime. At first, it's kinda awkward but after a while it feels like the most natural thing in the world. Thanks Hogmoor, looking forward to running with you again soon. And sorry about my dog pooping on you.


Do I need to bring the mud back?

Way back in 2019 before things went a little crazy I was lying on my sofa (literally, I was really good at it) my exercise included those high impact sports such as TV channel hopping, walking to the kitchen to liberate an emergency pork pie or walking all the way across the lounge to the CD shelves to find a suitable album to play! Yes, I know, I’m old and don’t get this new-fangled download thing – where you buy music and then don’t have a new shiny CD to look at and file … alphabetically of course… in the library – I mean what is that all about?

Anyway, sorry back to my story, I had been away with my partner Alyson and I happily watched her run off into the distance every other morning whilst I strenuously opened my laptop and vigorously hit key after key. She eventually introduced me to Couch to 5K, at the start of 2020. I remember being told by my mother that I would stop growing when I got to early 20’s, but my friends I can confirm that despite being considerably well passed my twenties, this is not true. During 2019 I did in fact continue to grow and piled on around 3 stone, which was most unhelpful. How did that happen?

Initially I could not even do Week 1. I had regular arguments with the App and answered back to the helpful support voice! However, with brilliant support, I did persevere and eventually I manged to “get with the programme” and move forwards. It took me from the start of January 2020 to April 2020 to complete the 9-week programme, eventually completing my very first 5Km on 6 April 2020 – I was very happy and found that my legs actually didn’t detach as I had always feared.

As a couple, we had always planned to do a parkrun together once I got to 5Km but events overtook us, so we focused on our own challenges and have so far completed a number of monthly virtual run challenges, with me running up to 75 miles per month for which the nice people send me a medal through the post and plant a tree on my behalf – which is awesome. My pace does often actually allow me to watch the tree grow as I run past which is helpful.

So, it brings me to parkrun. I’ve just completed my third Hogmoor parkrun this morning and I am well happy…….although my run this morning was not without issue, it wasn’t an event free run.

The other 149 runners this morning will testify that it was a little damp this morning and as we approached the start my partner turned and said “ it will be wet this morning (it was!) and it might be slippery”

Now I believe the International Confederation of Commentators call this the “kiss of death”! Any sports person about to achieve something amazing always hopes they will not suffer from this curse. The test match cricket player at Lords about to hit the winning run, as the Commentator states “he has looked so calm and composed today he hasn’t given any chances… only then to see, with the very next ball, his wickets cartwheeling out of the ground…. The footballer about to take a penalty in the European Cup final who hears the commentator say – he has never missed – only to then blaze the ball over the bar and into row Z!!!

So anyway, how is this relevant?

Back to parkrun – as I started, I still had Alyson’s words ringing in my head ….”it will be slippery, make sure you don’t fall”.

You guess it correctly – yes it was slippery (very) and yes I tumbled just before the start line as I started my second lap……

So, the international convention of falling over requires the immediate action for the faller, in this instance me, to look to see if anyone saw the fall…. luckily no one had, phew. Second action is to check the phone and glasses…they were both OK (incidentally I have discovered that my ear buds still work with an ear full of water and sand…. I’m sure that will be useful information to some.

The final thing to do is briefly lie on the fall and then get up (the word “attempt” can be used here as well if required – it was required). So once back vertical the faller counts the limbs….yes all four still attached and then and only then is it OK to restart running.

For those interested it was a full-face plant followed by a shoulder roll (left side) to protect phone and glasses and it was all concluded with a small lie down, obviously in a puddle.

This was my third parkrun – I love parkrun and Alyson didn’t laugh at all when she enquired why I had mud between my eye and my glasses lens, why I had sand in my beard and approximately 3.2 kg of sand / mud inside my running vest. (Do I need to bring the mud back?)

Have a good day folks – be careful out there it might be slippery, and beware of the commentator’s curse.

See you next week. Mark Johnson


parkrun #107 Hogmoor parkrun Returns

After 496 days without our parkrun, it finally returned. The sky was hazy, the ground was damp, but the runners were ready.  As the volunteers prepared in the early hours the heavens opened and the thunder roared, but the weather didn’t dampen the mood.  As 9am drew nearer the rain passed and the excited runners rolled up ready to take on the muddy tracks of Hogmoor Inclosure.

The crowd listened carefully to the run directions and precautions. As the start time drew closer, you could hear the sounds of excited chatter and enthusiasm. 27 first timers were looking forward to the challenge, alongside many familiar faces.  My legs, 16 months older, stronger and hopefully faster, were looking to carry me through a successful 5km run and hoping for a PB. Today this historic restart saw 169 people take on the Hogmoor parkrun.

9am the start line was ready, eager 5km runners poised to go. 3, 2, 1 Goooooo and they were off.  The start was steady and people soon grew into the run and spaced out along the course. The fantastic volunteer marshals were spotted along the root cheering everyone on.  We ran through the mud and wet sand, but it was nothing compared to wet park runs we have experienced before.

The second lap always a mind game, legs tiring and the groups dispersing. The weather held, despite the dark clouds above. Sounds of cheers, clapping and laughter could be heard and many a smile seen. This is the point I had to keep going and find my inner energy; spurred on by the runners around me. As I hit the bat cave it was the start of my final push to the finish line.  Speeding my way past as many people as I could, I crossed the finish line relieved and proud.  Along with 26 others I got a new PB, well done everyone.

The Finish line is always my favourite place, not only to cross but also to watch and support other runners, friends and neighbours. First finishing man was David Jarrett with a time of 18.48 and first finishing lady was Nicky Thorneycroft with a time of 23:12.  Thank you to everyone involved in restarting this event. See you next week.

Josh Gardner 13


Hogmoor Inclosure 2nd Birthday Run – Route Reversal – 14th March 2020

We're really looking forward to welcoming you for our second birthday fancy dress parkrun tomorrow.  To celebrate we are going to run the route in reverse - huge thanks to the extra volunteers who have stepped forward to allow this to happen.

In order to run the course without bottlenecks there will be a few changes. The run briefing and start will be near the bat cave so please allow plenty of time to park and get there so we can explain the changes.  The course will be almost 2 full reverse laps - but with a twist at the end to get you back to the normal finish area.  Please do pay attention to the signs and marshals - we don't want anyone to get lost or take the wrong route on autopilot.

Stonehenge is still flooded - you will get your feet wet!  Please keep to the middle in this area to avoid the drainage pipe!

See you bright and early tomorrow morning - and don't forget those barcodes!

hogmoor reverse ROUTE


Hogmoor Inclosure Run Report 07/03/2020

I decided to write my first ever run report by starting with a pre-run poll. I pounced on 50 random parkrunners as they walked to the start and posed the following question – are you looking forward to the big puddle at Stonehenge corner? Turns out the big puddle is a real marmite feature with a near even split of 26 saying 'absolutely not' and 24 saying 'yeah, bring it on!'. I also had a few horrified newcomers and tourists asking 'what puddle?'. They were definitely in for a shock!

As Sunday 8th March 2020 is International Women’s Day, we were treated to a pre-race briefing from the inspirational Susie Chan. Susie has taken part in some of the world's toughest ultra and endurance events. She has completed the 6 marathon majors, taken part in an ironman triathlon and finished the Marathon Des Stables 4 times. This punishing 156 mile ultra event in the Sahara Desert takes place over 6 days in temperatures of 50+ Celsius. Susie also holds the world record for furthest distance run on a treadmill in 12 continuous hours completing 68.5 miles. This girl really can!

Today, a field of 243 runners embraced the lake and hopefully the 44 first timers enjoyed getting their toes wet! There were 28 PBs, 28 clubs represented and all made possible by 22 volunteers. Many thanks to all the cheery and encouraging marshalls who kept us safe today on the course.Lucinda Smith of Vegan Runners finished in 46th place today making her the 20,000th finisher at Hogmoor parkrun. Hogmoor parkrunners have together run a total distance of 100,000km which is 2.5 times round the Earth!

1st man home today was Max Powell representing Vegan Runners. Max finished in a speedy time of 18.03. All the more impressive is that he runs in the 15-17 age category.

1st female home was Louise Griffin, also representing Vegan Runners with a time of 22.27.

There were 3 official milestones to celebrate today:

Zachary Smalley in the JM10 age cat joined the 10 club and can now claim his white t-shirt. Zachary finished in 164th place with a time of 34.02.

Jonathan Bradbury finished in 110th position with a time of 28.44. He now joins the 50 club and can claim his red t-shirt.

Tom Bray represented Romsey Road Runners today for his 100th run. He finished in an impressive 2nd place with a time of 18.45 and will soon be seen in his new black t-shirt. 100 parkruns is like walking from Hogmoor to Gretna Green. That would take you 4 days and 9 hours!

Today you may have noticed a sea of green and black as over 50 Vegan Runners turned out in force to celebrate Mike Harper's 400th run. 46 VRs scanned in while other club members attended to volunteer.  Although not an official milestone, vegan runners need no excuse to break out the cake and there was lots on offer today. Mike has run at 118 different locations and tells me he hasn't missed a single parkrun since April 2017. The break in his streak was only because he was running Brighton marathon the next day and even then he was still at parkrun volunteering. That's dedication! As the crow flies, 400 parkruns is the distance of Hogmoor to The Westfjords - a large peninsula in northwestern Iceland. 'Til hamingju!'

“Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” –Unknown.
On International women's day, let's look at some of the world's most inspiring female athletes.
The current female world record holder for 5K is Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba with a speedy time of 14:11 – something to work towards maybe?!Back to parkrun and the first female finisher EVER was Rachel Rowan. She finished 1st of the 5 women at the Bushy Park Time Trial on 2nd October 2004 running a time of 21.01. Over 15 years later, a new female parkrun world record was set by Charlotte Arter with a time of 15.49 at Cardiff parkrun on the 1st February 2020.

Other female parkrun world records holders are Elaine Sherwin who holds the run assisted record. She ran with a canicross dog on 11th February 2017 at Kingsbury Water parkrun setting a time of 15:12 and Lizzie Williams who holds the wheelchair record set at Dulwich parkrun with a time of 15:27

How do these records compare to Hogmoor? The current female record holder is Rebecca Margaret Lord setting a time of 19:03 on 2nd March 2019

In 2017, 83-year-old Margaret Smith from Brueton parkrun became the oldest woman in parkrun history to complete 250 parkruns – hopefully we will all still be running in our 80s too!

Other inspiring female runners:

Kathrine Switzer - Kathrine bravely paved the way for women runners by entering the 1967 Boston marathon using just her initials, five years before women were allowed to compete. During her run, a race official attempted to stop Switzer and grab her official bib however, he was shoved to the ground by Switzer's boyfriend who was running with her and she completed the race. It was not until 1972 that women were allowed to run the Boston Marathon officially. Afterward, Boston Athletic Association director Will Cloney was asked his opinion of Switzer competing in the race. Cloney said, "Women can't run in the Marathon because the rules forbid it. If that girl were my daughter, I would spank her." Kathrine remarked on her accomplishment: ‘’I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26-plus miles. If I quit, it would set women's sports back, way back, instead of forward.’’ Switzer went on to run 35 marathons and win the 1974 New York City marathon.

Joyce Smith - You may be old enough to remember the first ever London marathon 1981 when Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen crossed the finish line holding hands in 2:11:48 but who was the first female? Joyce Smith was a 43 year old mother and full-time wages clerk from Watford. She was the first British woman to break the 2.30 barrier and still the oldest winner of the race. She then won again in 1982 at 44 years old and in 1984, she became the oldest female Olympic athlete by running in the first women's Olympic marathon finishing 11th at the age of 46.

Mary Keitany - Kenyan Mary set a new world marathon record in 2017, beating Paula Radcliffe’s previous record with a time of 2:17:01. That's like running parkrun in a time of 16.15 - 8.5 times in a row!

Fiona Oakes - Fiona holds 4 world records for marathon running. In 2013, she won both the Antarctic Ice Marathon and the North Pole Marathon and became the fastest female in aggregate time to complete a marathon on each continent (23h:27m:40s), the fastest female in aggregate time to complete a marathon on each continent and the North Pole (28h:20m:50s) and the fastest female in elapsed time to complete a marathon on each continent and the North Pole (225 days and 18 hours). She has a marathon PB of 2.38. She has achieved all of this despite losing a kneecap when she was 17 and having multiple knee operations. She has no coach, no physio and has never even had a sports massage! Fiona fits her training in around working full time by getting up at 3.30am every day to care for the 450 animals at her sanctuary - Tower Hill Stables. She is also an ambassador for The Vegan Society and is a founding member of Vegan Runners UK.

Hariette Thompson, a classical pianist, became the oldest woman to finish a marathon at the age of 92. Hariette ran the Rock n Roll marathon in San Diego in 7:24:36.
And if you fancy something other than running... In 2019, vegan athlete Dana Glowacka from Canada set a new female world record for the 'Longest Abdominal Plank', holding the position for a total time of 4hr 20min – go Dana!
Whether you're a record breaker or a tired working mum who still manages to lace her trainers and head outside for a jog round the block in the rain, we salute every one of you -  the women of the world!Next week is Hogmoor's 2 year anniversary and there may be surprises in store so don't forget your barcode!

Alice Baker

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