25th January 2020 – Medina parkrun Number 446

Each of the last two reports has noted the upturn in our parkrun’s numbers this month/year/decade. The trend has continued with today’s number of finishers being 400. Because of this I thought it would be interesting to see whether or not there has been a New Year boost/bounce in previous years. The average numbers of finishers in December and the following January were as follows, going backwards in time:

Dec19/Jan20: 255 -> 363
Dec18/Jan19: 198 -> 304
Dec17/Jan18: 243-> 283
Dec16/Jan17: 266-> 298
Dec15/Jan16: 199->247
Dec14/Jan15: 167->170
Dec13/Jan14: 141->109
Dec12/Jan13: 74->77
Dec11/Jan12: 92->100

The figures show the steady increase in numbers over the years, but also seem to show that the January jump is a fairly consistent phenomenon, becoming more pronounced in later years. The one occasion on which January had a smaller average was unusual – only 2 runs took place in January 2014, suggesting that the weather or conditions underfoot were particularly bad that month. In fact, according to my records, this was comfortably the wettest month my raingauge has experienced since it was installed in 2004. It recorded 213mm, compared to an average monthly total of around 60-70mm. For comparison, although we have just endured an exceptionally wet four-month period (September – December, each over 100mm), none of the individual months exceeded 144mm.

What causes the New Year boost? The most obvious explanation is the ‘New Year resolution’ effect, increased recently by RED January, coupled with the ‘being much too busy for parkrun’ effect in December. But feel free to speculate on other causes in your comments.

Turning to the results, the first three finishers were Russell Arnold on his first visit to Medina, Steph Boyd and Mark Walkey, timed at 18.48, 19.17 and 19.22 respectively. First female home, in 9th place overall was youngster Mabel Lewis from the JW15-17 age group in 20.27. Next was the even younger Maisie Kent (JW11-15) in a pb of 21.32 on her 86th parkrun, followed closely by Leela Dilkes-Hoffman (21.36). Steph Boyd achieved the highest age-graded score today 76.49%, with David Waller (76.22%) and Alison Hughes (75.25%) only slightly lower.

It was a double t-shirt day for the Eldridge family today with Rosie finishing her 100th parkrun and Nigel his 50th. Other ’50-achievers’ were Tom Forster, Gareth Driscoll and Helen Hopper, with youngster Aniela Niemiec finishing her 10th parkrun in a pb.

We were pleased to welcome 31 first-timers today. I hope you all enjoyed it and will be back many times in the future. An incredible 51 pbs were achieved – well done all. In addition to those already mentioned, the continuing improvements of Lisa Nolan, Andy Tickner, Louis Forster and Benita Cox after 85, 81, 62 and 59 parkruns respectively are noteworthy. With the new(ish) results format it is less easy to spot visitors, but those today included individuals from Lawley, Fairlands Valley, Hardley, Netley Abbey, and Blackwater Valley.

Finally, as well as it being Chinese (Lunar) New Year today, Robert (Rabbie) Burns was born on this day in 1759, so tonight is, of course, Burns Night. I hope that those of you celebrating have used parkrun to work up an appetite for your haggis, neeps and tatties this evening. You don’t have to speak Scots to appreciate that Burns wrote some wonderful poetry (and songs). Although Burns was writing a wee while before parkrun came on the scene, the following verse from one of his lesser known works, though a bit depressing, suggests that Burns would have appreciated being in the great outdoors on those winter days when the weather is not kind to parkrunners.

"The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,
The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!”

Ian J