Leamington Parkrun #443 – Fantastic! Uplifting! Thrilling!

28th September 2019

We were very lucky this week to have two run report writers:  Shannon and Duncan.

We'll start with Shannon's report:

This part of the report may cause you to feel emotions. You have been warned.

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Today (and every Saturday this month!) you may have noticed that there has been a van by the start line,  and varying numbers of people dressed in red Search and Rescue uniform! I am one of those "red people", I am also a parkrunner, and had the great pleasure of running my 4th Leamington parkrun this morning, getting a (Leamington) pb by a minute and 25 seconds!

It's relatively rare for a "tourist" to contribute to a parkrun report, and being a "dual report", I'm going to leave the normal run report bits to my co-author! Instead, in a controversial move, I'm going to share a little bit of my story, and show you the impact you're having on others!

Nearly 4 years ago I moved from an Island, to Nuneaton. I knew before I arrived that I wanted to join Warwickshire Search and Rescue (WarkSAR); I had a couple of friends in other teams, and had essentially been waiting until I passed my driving test to sign up. WarkSAR is part of a national governing body called Lowland Rescue. Lowland Rescue teams exist primarily to search, as requested by the police, for high risk vulnerable missing people. In real terms this often means people with Dementia, and those that are suicidal or depressed. I could talk A LOT about what we do, how we train, why we all do it, but instead I'm going to cheekily say our website is www.warksar.org.uk, and you can find us on the usual social media channels if you want to find out more!

Anyway, fast forward a year or so, and I became an operational member of the team, which meant I had passed my training and could go on live callouts, life was looking up. 2 weeks later a very close friend died by suicide. Having done the WarkSAR training I had been around discussions to do with suicide, and don't shy away from the topic with friends. I thought they all knew they could come to me to talk if that's how they were feeling, but unfortunately it's just not that simple.

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I ended up having a very long and deep conversation about it with the infamous Tess, known well to both WarkSAR and Leamington parkrun. As I'm sure many of you lovely readers are aware, exercise is a great way of processing thoughts and emotions, as well as releasing endorphins that generally make you feel better about yourself. Tess, armed with this knowledge, eventually convinced me to come along and give parkrun a go. So I got up early one Saturday, and got thrown into an absolutely crazy world of parkrun. That first week was... Eventful. My first parkrun was 58 minutes, and involved helping with a first aid incident. I've been to enough parkruns now (I'm close to completing "the double" of 25 volunteers on the same week as 50 runs!), to recognise that Leamington is special, and different - in a good way.

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I can't quite put into words what makes Leamington parkrun different - but I'll try! I've never been in a briefing with party poppers before. I've not been to a parkrun that so consistently truly celebrates the milestones and the birthdays. Regular tourists will understand when I say this next part; I love that everyone listens to the briefing, pays attention, joins in, and makes it feel like an event for everyone! I know that parkrun is usually a friendly place, but Leamington has just got it right, in bucket loads. So pat yourselves on the back, and keep doing what you're doing!

If you hadn't shown those qualities, on that first parkrun of 58 minutes, I doubt I would have then started going to my local parkrun. I doubt I would have introduced my housemate to parkrun. I doubt I would have run 2 Half Marathons and a Full Marathon. But more than that, I doubt I would still be alive today.

I adore days like today where I get to chat to people about WarkSAR, while doing one of the things I have grown to love. We've been around as your charity of the month for all of September, being on the very grateful receiving end of your donations! So far this year, our already busy members have volunteered a grand total of 5,725 hours, to give you an idea of how much work we put in as a team.

However, with nothing being free in life we do rely on donations and grants! We can often get grants for the big things (new radios, kayaks and the like), but we can't get grants to cover general operating costs. We need to restock the kit that gets used on every callout and training such as medical gloves; the fuel for our support vehicles; the printer ink and paper for printing out the maps that we use, and a million other tiny but important consumables.  All these expenses add up, and it's those sorts of things your donated money will be going towards!

I, as a tourist parkrunner, thank you for being who you are, for being generally lovely, and for being somewhere that people can turn up and be themselves. I, on behalf of Warwickshire Search and Rescue thank you for your donations, for thinking of us as your charity of the month, and for welcoming us each week. Finally, I, as someone who had just lost a friend to suicide, who was questioning all the big life questions, and "wasn't a runner", thank you, for changing my life.

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And now over to Duncan:

Just over 500 runners, joggers and walkers came together to enjoy our wonderful community parkrun on Saturday 29thSeptember. Despite the poor weather earlier in the week we were blessed with sunshine and a blue sky.

Simon Teale led a funny & loud (!) pre-run briefing which included one or two cheeky references to his home Stratford parkrun (where’s the challenge in running a flat course eh?!). News of the opening of the new Warwick Parkrun was met with excited whispers from the crowd, some surely keen to add a ‘W’ to their Parkrun alphabet challenge.

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Saffie ran her 10th parkrun, Frances OSBORNE her 50th and Jan BUCKLEY her 100th parkrun.

Fiftieth and 100th milestone bibs were handed out, and we celebrated the legendary Mrs Doyles' 21st Birthday with party-poppers and huge cheers.

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It was then off to the start line! I walked the course this week to rest an injured foot so took up my starting position at the back of the throng. With a blast from the Lowland Rescue siren we were off. My position near the back not only gave me the opportunity to take in the beautiful views across Leamington which normally I would miss, but I was also to see parkrun from a different perspective. What I saw around me were people helping others – a gentleman taking the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle encouraged by a friend; the ‘5k Your Way’ group talking, listening and supporting each other; a visually impaired runner with her guide.

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Also helping others were the wonderful volunteers who help make our parkrun happen.  I spoke to them as I made my way around the course. Everyone had had a positive experience - “Fantastic!”, “Uplifting!”, “Fantastic, just as good as running!”, “Thriling”, “Fun! Great!”. Perhaps if you haven’t volunteered yet you could have fun helping others too? email leamingtonhelpers@parkrun.com.

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Here are the stats:

This week 506 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 34 were first timers and 73 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 33 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 42 volunteers:

Sarah BARFIELD • Malcolm FRY • Michael BLACKMORE • John INGRAM • Mrs DOYLE • Simon SHEPHERD • Rebecca LONERGAN • Simon TEALE • Saty KANDOLA • Helen EVANS • Isabel COOPER • Helen TWIST • Seren HARTWRIGHT • Ross CAWS • Emma JONES • Duncan ROBERTSON • Martin BENNETT • Lucy MCAVAN • Tommy O'MEARA • Adam STRATH • Jeremy POPE • Tasha JAMES • Eleanor NABNEY • Morgan NABNEY • Portia NABNEY • Claire LUCAS • Mandy BARNETT • Jan BUCKLEY • Zoe CAWS • Christopher CATTO • Mark DOCKER • Joshua CATTO • Shannon STANNETT • Amy CATTO • Helen WRIGHT • Samuel INGRAM • Jamie FINNEGAN • Peter BARFIELD • Louis WYATT • Jay MADAN • Seb BARFIELD • Josh LUCAS

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Leamington parkrun Results Page.

The male record is held by Matthew ARMSTRONG who recorded a time of 15:22 on 6th October 2012 (event number 77).
The female record is held by Charlotte TAYLOR who recorded a time of 17:09 on 23rd February 2013 (event number 97).
The Age Grade course record is held by Monica WILLIAMSON who recorded 94.26% (19:44) on 29th September 2018 (event number 391).

Leamington parkrun started on 23rd April 2011. Since then 17,337 participants have completed 150,076 parkruns covering a total distance of 750,380 km, including 24,202 new Personal Bests. A total of 1,705 individuals have volunteered 10,868 times.