Alton Rookie Runners graduation parkrun (June 1 st 2019)
The Marshal’s perspective by Fran Light:
(Alton Runners coach Fran Light coached the Alton Rookie Runners through the 9-week 0-5 k programme).
After completing Alton Runners 9-week 0-5k programme, the Alton Rookie Runners were nervous and excited in equal measure when they gathered for their graduation parkrun. Having coached the team, I was really excited for them as I appreciated how very hard they had worked for this
moment. After leading the rookies in a 10 minute warm-up routine and staying with them for the first timers briefing I headed off to my marshalling post from where I had four opportunities to shout encouragement to them and other parkrunners as they ran past. The first time the rookies went
by they looked understandably pensive, but I was glad to see that they were all following the strategy we had practiced and that no-one set off too fast. As they passed me for the fourth and final time, they all looked tired, but happy … no doubt because they knew that they didn’t have much further to go! The rookies all did brilliantly and I am super proud of each and every one of them. We had done a parkrun simulation in training a couple of weeks ago to prepare for the big day, but there wasn’t much we could do to prepare for the hot weather and the sandy terrain, both of which they coped with admirably.
Afterwards, with varying degrees of coaxing, the rookies each rang the PB bell, to rounds of applause from their team mates and other runners. Alton Runners chairman then presented each rookie graduate with their personalised completion certificate and then we all settled down for a well-deserved picnic. Lots of Alton Runners came along to support the rookies and to celebrate the fact that Alton Runners member and coach Richard Taylor was completing his 50 th parkrun. Well done Richard -
and thanks for the homemade guacamole, it was delicious!
The runner’s perspective by Lou Morrish:
(Alton Runners member Lou Morrish has supported the Alton Rookie Runners throughout the 0 – 5k programme and ran alongside them on their graduation run) A warm sun shone down from a flawless blue sky as the Alton Rookie Runners arrived at Hogmoor Inclosure. Fran led a low-key warm-up session in a corner of the park and as nine o’clock neared, more runners arrived, and the atmosphere of excitement grew. There were nervous faces amongst the Rookies, and some last-minute concerns (would sand get in their shoes?) but on the whole everyone was feeling positive, in large part thanks to Fran’s unceasing mantra of ‘Smile! It will all be okay!’ The run began, and very soon the Rookies found their individual paces, just as Fran had advised
them to do. Hermione and Lou, along with Dominique, were soon off ahead, and I ran with Jenny, Esther, Sarah and Janine. But after about 2 k, Jenny’s pace (and her slightly longer legs) took her ahead as well.
The Rookies all ran steadily around the first lap, and Esther in particular was incredibly chuffed to have completed a lap without stopping. Sarah kept a good steady pace, watering her head at intervals, and Janine used her speed walking to best effect, as the three began their second lap.
Morale was still very high, helped along by the wonderful volunteer marshals. We all laughed and danced at the ‘music spot’, smiled widely as we passed Fran for the third time, and were buoyed up by the many encouraging remarks from other runners on the course. Everyone was tiring by the final kilometre. The sand was dragging, and the sun was now really
rather hot. But the determination amongst the Rookies was palpable, and if anything the pace picked up. The final hill was conquered, and the finisher’s funnel was in sight. As the Rookies crossed the line, the crowd cheered and clapped. They had done it! Thanks to Fran’s comprehensive training over nine weeks, the group had succeeded in achieving their goal – to complete a parkrun. Having shared their journey, I have learned so much, and hope to continue helping Fran and new runners to achieve their dreams.
The supporter’s perspective by Nicolle Carver:
(Nicolle took part in the latest rookie programme. Unfortunately, due to injury, couldn’t take part in today’s graduation run but she came along to cheer her team mates in as they came across the finish line) Having to take a break from running myself didn't stop me from taking part in the graduation run
for my fellow rookies in a different way.
Catching people's eyes, I could sense that they were quite nervous, but these nerves soon turned to excitement as the infectious buzz from the other runners spread, and then they were off! The change I saw when they came round the first lap was great. Although they were all a little more tired than when they set off, you could tell they had settled into their rhythm. By the next
time I saw them next, as they were coming to the end of their graduation run, the elation on their faces was wonderful. The encouragement from others gave them an extra spring in their step and added an extra inch to their smiles as the finish line came into sight.
When we all met up afterwards and everyone shared their experiences around the course there was a very strong team spirit and the talk soon turned to future running plans.