Medina IOW parkrun – 18 September 2021

After last week’s tour-de-force from Jo Randall, I’ll content myself with a fairly mundane account of this week’s results plus a few early stats pertaining to the latest course at Appley, or should it be Upley since there seems to be more up than down in the route – yes I know it’s not logical, given that the course starts and finishes in the same place, but logic goes out of the window when you hit the big hill. The course showed its positive and negative faces today. Some of the terrain is a bit uneven and care is needed when navigating it, especially going down the big hill, where we had a faller today. Fortunately, there was no serious injury, but please be extra careful. On the positive side, Kate Kelly, a visitor whose home parkrun is Cannon Hill, Birmingham, and whose journey here was something of an adventure, was heard to remark ‘what a lovely course’ shortly after finishing. I had my own magic moment as a squirrel dashed past, going faster than any of the runners.

There was another minor event at our Seaclose home this weekend, but it did not distract 199 discerning runners who turned up at for their weekly seaside jaunt. First across the finish line was Liam Busby of Wycombe Phoenix Harriers and AC in a time of 18.47, followed by Mark Walkey, who has run in 34 different parkruns, many not in the UK (20.02), and Thomas Thain of Kent AC (20.18). Liam was also one of only three runners to achieve a pb today. The other two, Chris Hooper and Filip Anszckak are new to parkrun with only 3 finishes each under their belt, although Filip is in the JM10 age group and has also completed some junior parkruns. I’m sure he will continue to keep improving. Leading home the ladies were Kathryn Holliday (22.41) on her first visit to Medina, Leela Dilkes-Hoffman (22.59) who has a very similar collection of parkruns to Mark Walkey and Charlotte Everard (23.32) from Spa Striders RC. The best age-grade performance (73.33%) was achieved by our very own Peter Sexton, followed by Ralph Dadswell of Ealing Eagles Running Club (71.99%) and Roger Merry (70.21%) in only his 7th parkrun, all at Medina.

Since we returned from our 16 month break, three age category records have been broken: Ellen Weir, JW15-17, 18.11; Alex Morrice, SW20-24, 19.10; Nick Bowker, VM35-39, 16.08. Unsurprisingly, all these times were set before we moved to Upley, but it still merits massive congratulations to have run faster than anyone else in your age group over the course of 461 parkruns. I hope, though, that you were running and not racing.

Over 50 finishers are listed as first timers this week, but the great majority are visitors. Only two were doing their first ever parkrun at any venue. Welcome to Michael Yates and Paul Elliot –we hope to see you many more times.

There was only one t-shirt earned today. Congratulations to junior Mary-Rose Fleming on completing 10 parkruns. A few years older, but still in the SM20-24 age group, Harry Furmidge became the second Furmidge to reach the 350 milestone, though there are 3 more of them at 295 or more.

Here are the stats that I threatened you with. I was interested to know how much slower is the Upley course than the 2021 Seaclose one, or indeed is it slower at all? There are very few data to play with – five Seaclose runs and four Upley, but here are some thoughts. I will compare the times of the median runner for each run (the person who has the same number of finishers ahead as behind). The median is representative of the middle of the field where finishing times are generally most tightly clustered and is unaffected by any extremely fast or slow finishers. For the five Seaclose runs it ranges from 27.47 to 29.26, averaging 28.25 and for the four Upley runs 29.32 to 31.20, averaging 30.24. You can see that there is no overlap – the slowest Seaclose time is faster (just) than the fastest Seaclose time. With simple(!) probability calculations, which I hope I’ve done correctly, the chances of no overlap if both courses produced the same distribution of finishing times is 1/126 (0.008), suggesting pretty strongly that the courses have different time distributions. The number of runs is too small to give the magnitude of the difference with any certainly, but until more data are available the best guess is that the Upley course is about two minutes slower than Seaclose. It would be nice to give an update when we have more data, but it is likely to be months before can next run (and collect data) at Seaclose, by which time conditions underfoot and possibly the courses themselves may change.

One other stat pertinent to the move between the two courses is that the number of finishers at the five Seaclose runs ranged from 331 to 385. The first week after the move, 336 finished, but dropped substantially to 242, 267 and 199 after that. At first sight you might suspect that having seen the new Upley course for the first time, a sizeable minority decided not to repeat the experience. However, parkrunners are a hardy bunch and it seems more likely to me that the drop was due to the end of school holidays and fewer parkrun tourists.

Finally, let’s say another big thank-you to this week’s 37 volunteers. Following our co-Event Director’s strong nudge (to put it politely) last week regarding the near cancellation of the run due to the lack of volunteers, the spaces seemed to fill a wee bit quicker this week, though there are still a lot of familiar faces from previous weeks.. But such nudges should not be necessary. I understand that many of you own these new-fangled smartphone thingys that supposedly do all sorts of clever things. They make it easier to volunteer for scanning or timing, but surely they must also be capable of persistently reminding you when you haven’t volunteered for several weeks or you could ‘ask Alexa’ when you last volunteered and act appropriately.