Thanks to Matt Kay and Sue Thorpe for the following extended report/blog.
First Matt…...Nothing beats a bit of parkrun tourism especially at Christmas. After giving my word to James at Sale parkrun back in November that I would make a Christmas appearance at Marple, I kept true to my word ably assisted by my old man, Geoff, to help marshal everyone round.
Congrats to Stuart Cameron who was first over the line and Anna Mackenzie who was first lady in challenging conditions. As a proud runner of Ealing Eagles it was also pleasing to see a Serpentine runner, Victoria Basquill, and great to meet Helen Melluish a regular at another tough parkrun, Hilly Fields. It turns out Helen and I share a few mutual friends at Osterley parkrun. In addition to the parkrun tourists such as myself there was a solid core of Marple Runners and Stockport Harriers in attendance to help the numbers despite the cold and wet conditions. Well done to Mark Ardern completing his first parkrun, extra brownie points for picking the toughest one I've done as his first.
With regards to the course I can have no complaints, I’d been pre-warned that a PB would be very difficult to obtain on the trail focused course that is Marple parkrun. However, I was not to be deterred and set off at a canter with the lead pack of runners. I quickly realised though, after flying over the first mini divot, that it was not going to be a quick time. As I reached my dad, doing his bit on the course, I took one look to his right at the continuing mudpools and aborted my pace in favour of a leisurely trot - after all its parkrun not parkrace!
I continued to splatter through the various puddles with lots of Santa's and elves slipping from side to side as I, along with many others, tried to remain on my feet I then heard a cry from behind me "I've lost my shoe" I think this was the point where I truly realised how tough the course was, certainly not for the faint hearted and could easily be mistaken for a competitive cross country course as opposed to a parkrun. That said, with the championing and continued cheer of the volunteers, all the runners including myself got round.
That leaves me to my closing point, Marple still needs a few volunteers for New Years Day so if you're able to help out please put your name down; if not please find some time to help out in 2018 because without the volunteers we wouldn't be able to experience this great event each week. Whilst there is always a strong core as a backbone to keep things ticking over if everyone else does their bit then that will ensure the smooth running of the event on a weekly basis.
Well done to this week's runners and thank you to all of the volunteers.
And from Sue……….I started coming to the Marple parkrun in September 2016 and decided to volunteer as a Tailwalker on Christmas Eve.
I found that I like being the Tailwalker, you never know who you will be running or walking with. As a new runner, I was worried at first that I would not be able to keep up with the last runner. But I was assured that did not matter - my mission was to come last! As it says on the parkrun Volunteer Roles page: "The Tail Walker stays at the back of the field and should be the last person to cross the finish line, ensuring that everyone is accounted for."
I was handed a hi-vis jacket and a lanyard with instructions and contact details. I stored the Marple parkrun mobile number in my own phone in order to save time should I need it in an emergency.
So that first time, I set off with an experienced runner who was walking due to injury. Walking? I had to scurry to keep up with her, she is a lot taller than me. Luckily for me we caught up with an octogenarian (Brian Platt) who was struggling a bit with a cold and asthma so I had an excuse to slow down a bit. It was nice running with Brian as he told me a lot about parkruns - he should know as he has now done over 460 of them.
Running with children can be fun! I saw that the Marple Junior parkrun was desperate for volunteers one Sunday so I volunteered to help by Tailwalking. First of all, I joined in with the warm up exercises - that was harder work than running! Then we set off, most of the time I was with two small children and their dads. Part way round the second lap the little girl sat down and removed her shoes and socks so that her dad could wring out the water. A bit later the boy stopped to pick flowers. He was actually a fairly experienced parkrunner, just not in the mood for running much that day.
Another time on the Saturday parkrun I was with a mother and her daughter who didn't want to run that day, although I looked at her stats later on and she can actually run faster than me. We did have a nice chat during the second lap though as we alternated running and walking.
On another occasion the tail enders dropped out and I ended up with pb's for 1km and 1 mile as I ran all the way from the start of the second lap to halfway along the river to catch up the next person!
I have also walked with a man carrying a very young baby strapped to his chest. We chatted all the way round.
There are a couple of other things to remember - as you approach the end of the first lap the faster runners will nearing the end of their run, so the Tailwalker has to try to keep the people they are with to one side - often new parkrunners will not be aware that they will be passed - at speed.
And finally, to tell the marshals out on the course know that they can collect nearby signs and leave their post. Although one time my nephews were visiting and ran/walked the second lap with me, insisting on collecting all of the signs as we went around. The youngest even ran through the finish line with his arms full of the signs - I told him not to as he hadn't run the full course - but he was ahead of me and I couldn't stop him! The stats were adjusted so he received his volunteer credit but no run time.
And so to my last Tailwalk of the year - my 15th time as a volunteer and also my 40th run. A dull drizzly day with lots of slippery mud but quite pleasant for running, not too hot or too cold. Today I was accompanied by James Ignotus who is a Duke of Edinburgh volunteer with Marple parkrun. We donned our high visibility jackets and waited for the start.
As we went along I explained about Tailwalking and asked him to remind me to tell the marshals that they have finished their duties when we pass them the second time. I once forgot to tell my sister-in-law who was new to parkrun and had to ask the next marshal to let her know as she was passing on her way back to the start. In my defence, I was distracted by the aforementioned nephews!
Despite the mud, this was a fast run today with only a little bit of walking, at 41.55 it was a Tailwalking pb for me. Well done Heather, I knew it would be a good time because we were near the end of the first lap when the first finishers started to pass us.
So in summary, being the Tailwalker is a fun way to volunteer and a good way to get to know the other parkrunners and marshals as you, and the person you are with, always get a lot of encouragement. And as a bonus you receive both a run credit and a volunteer credit.