Well that escalated quickly – Virtual Review Post

"just as well we didn't know how long it would actually go on for" - Alison Sandilands (61 runs)

14th March 2020

198 finishers and 23 volunteers.
Alex Pulis was our first male finisher in a time of 17:51
Zoe Nicholls was our first female finisher in a time of 22:21

This was our 277th event at Melton Country park, but somehow, this one felt different. There was a melancholic sense of inevitability in the air. We kind of knew that it would be our last for a while.

At the time, I was in my third time teaching at a school in Stamford, but had recently been offered a place at Soar Valley College in Leicester. We had been told that we needed to prepare 2 weeks worth of cover work for our classes in anticipation of what was to follow.

This was days before the briefing where a mahogany-surrounded Boris Johnsson addressed the nation with a stay-at-home order and all our lives became unrecognisable.

18th March 2020

parkrun UK (and global) needed to follow suit. There would be no parkrun on the 21st March. Having been so heavily involved in parkrun for 278 weeks (plus the months of planning beforehand), it was hard to imagine a Saturday morning without parkrun.

Then Julie Thompson (our former ambassador) posted the following into our closed FB group for core teams of local events:

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and then apprently my life changed and became unrecognisable! The very next day, this happened:

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There was no way of knowing how this would go down, and setting up the spreadsheet took quite a while - but it was going to be worth it all if it kept the conversation going and made sure that our parkrun community kept in touch and had that one thing that was a constant - a parkrun on a Saturday morning. I mean, what's the harm, it's only going to be a couple of weeks?!

The rules

The idea was simple enough, and there were Virtual running events long before the period where Corona was any more than an overly-fizzy lager, so the concept was easy enough to replicate. Go out and run 5k, time yourself, and let me know how you did. I'd stick it onto a spreadsheet and do a quick (they were quick to begin with) write-up that evening.

HOWEVER

the briefing by Boris had asked us to only leave the house once per dday for exercise, and if I made it a strict 5k then I would be alienating those who tended to do parkrun as part of their longer runs.  The way around this was to ask people to run a minimum of 5k and I would use the average pace to calculate a 5k time (something which I can now do in less than 10 seconds because I instinctively know every second as a decimalised minute!)

Secondly, everything was now different. We, as parkrunners, are always out at 9am on Saturdays. There are people who work weekends and therefore can only make the odd parkrun now and then, but 9am is the constant. But this may need to be different in this alternate reality. People's childcare arrangements may be different. Key workers may have had their hours changed. People may be leaving the house for their one-a-day in order to tie it into something else that they are doing later that day. So maybe 9am didn't fit - to make sure this was open to people, I said just any time before 8pm (extended to 9pm on the really hot days of the summer).

21st March 2020

Having detailed the plan a couple of days before, I put out a 10 minute reminder post at 8.50am and at 9am I went on Facebook Live by the side of my house, next to the 'parkrun Finish' sign (that I still need to get reinstalled - one day). I had absolutely no structure to what I was going to say and the wind between houses caused the sign to blow into my face half way through. The video ended with me saying "3, 2, 1, Go!" and I began my own 5k - an out and back to Asfordby Hill school that became my regular route for well over 50 of my Virtual runs.

I then remembered that my unstructured video had missed out some key information, so I actually went live again half-way through my run to give the rest of the information.

We had 84 runners submitting their results that day, so I saw this as a huge success. Little did I realise just how long this would go on for, or that 84 runners would be our smallest Virtual field for the next 16 months!

28th March 2020

The same overall plan as before, but this time nobody knew that Liz Parkinson would be our RD. And with all of the FB permissions at her mercy, she did this:

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to which Andy Nicholls commented, "This has Liz Parkinson written all over it!" This in itself was the birth of the teaser pic at 8.50am - and it became the notion of a different RD each week whose identity would remain secret until 9am when the videos went live.

The Spread

I am not sure exactly how it started, but we started to get noticed. Three weeks in and we had featured on an interview on Radio Leicester, which then became an online video which was shared by BBC East Midlands, and even BBC TWO on their respective Facebook feeds.

The BBC TWO link (click here) was shared on May 26th (a few weeks after the East Mids post) has to date been viewed in excess of 332,000 times!!!!

I also began to get messages for appeals of help in setting up similar events. Kerstin Pepper messaged from Perrigo parkrun in Washington State, Ellen Harrison from Henley Woods parkrun, Oswestry, the marvellous Colin Phillips from College Park parkrun in Washington DC, and a shy and retiring person we have come to know as Kettering's Andrea Crellin.

I am not someone who is precious about ideas if they seem to work. It wasn't a case of "No, this is my ball and you're not allowed to play" as that's just petty (in case you're reading this Andrew Gibson from Year 5). Instead, it was more like, "Here's an actual Excel document that is already set up. There are no details in there that haven't already been publicly shared through our results posts, so no breach of GDPR. Just delete the names and put in your own details. Here is how I share the results afterwards. This is what I think works. This is what doesn't. Make it your own and let me know if you need anything"

To Andrea, I did put a post-script message in my email - "Are you the Andrea that does the first timers briefing and talks about willies?" I had ran Kettering parkrun as part of my New Years Day Double earlier in 2020 and the FTB really stuck with me. She was brilliantly funny and I knew she needed to do an RD slot for us once I knew it was definitely her.

The RDs

The idea that we would have a different RD each week was seemingly straighforward. By the time this was definitely going to be a thing, I had been asked to prepare classwork for a further 2 weeks at work. Surely it isn't going to be that hard to arrange for 4 or 5 different people to be an RD for us - after all, we have 12 RDs in my core team. No dramas whatsoever.

I committed to saying that nobody would repeat their slots and the members of the parkrun core team played out as follows:

Me (week 1) - sign blew into my face
Liz (week 2) - ran in a dinosaur onesie with her camera held sideways on
Mark (week 3) - Invited people to cycle their 5k!!!!
Sharon (week 5) - ran to where she was going to do her brief, realised she had no 4G there so had to run home to do it before running out to do her run again
Anne (week 13) - loads of connection issues with her briefing and a tremendous bobble hat
Catherine (week 21) - loudly and proudly said "arse" in a family friendly briefing
Mike (week 32) - was clearly nervous as he made sure he went through everything on his script (it isn't easy talking to a faeless crowd on the internet)
Theresa (week 45) - covered in pompoms and blasting out Stevie Wonder

If it wasn't for the frustratingly faultless Rachel Holland (week 6), I'd be more concerned about the team I have assembled here... To be fair - our Ambassador Darren (week 9) welcomed us all to "Rutland-Melton Mowbray"

Other local runners that had a go at being a Virtual RD included Andy and Kristy Nicholls, Anne Craddock, Jenny and Clive Kent, Volunteer extraordinaire Nina Snowling, Andrew Wrath, Matt White, Latham House GP Matt Riley, Vanessa Walker, Jane Collingham, Calum Walker, Tony Worn, Alan Thompson, Ashley Milne, Chris Genes, Ashley Jackson, regular first finisher Toby Heaver, David Harknett, the soon to be wed Amanda English and Paul Ward, Jason Barton, Jane MacNaughton, Rach Cousens, Carl Taylor-Beeby, Mark Preston and the legend that is Mr J!

The idea was to showcase as many of our community as possible - but I realised that with the amount of tourism that is inherent within parkrun, our community is not restricted to or exhausted by the regular Melton runners. This is where the likes of seriel tourist and random celebrant Dan Moult came in with his unique dress sense, the Crellin treated us to her own brand of megalomania (in her first ever RD stint - she'll be doing it for real shortly after our return I am sure). We had former ambassador Julie who explained to everyone the story of how I got lost in the park while showing them the prospective route. Bestwood's Mark Weston in his shirt and tie, Rutland Water's Emma Herd and her blind dog Millie, former regular Chris Limmer in his world famous Drumsticks running top, Sarah Mullis from Dungloe in Ireland (my parents' local event), Eve Taylor from Macclesfield who I met when I proposed to Emma in Lyme Park, Regional Ambassador Gordon Pearson, Newark's Bob White whose fantastic prep was decimated by the wind, Colin Phillips who presented his at 5am local time to ensure that our Halloween run had the spooky feel that it deserved, Keith Bennet live from the Faulkland Islands, and Tom Hansen (originally from Melton but now of Lincoln) getting mauled by his dog throughout the briefing.

There were people who did an RD slot that I only came to know through this Virtual series: Grant and Lousie Bridgeman, Melton expat in South Africa - Peter Shirtcliffe - who then put me in touch with Keith Bennett in the Faulkland Islands, local barkrunners Caroline Vissani and Rosalind Heatlie, and the inspirational story of Mike Freeman.

But from this wider parkrun family, I started looking upwards. Who is involved with parkrun more intimately that would do a briefing for us? I managed to get the social media administrator George Sullivan, With Me Now podcast presenter Danny Norman, ultra-distance legend and head of parkrun South Africa Bruce Fordyce, Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams, the originator himself Paul Sinton-Hewitt, and the author of the fantastic book "parkrun: More than just a run in the park", Debra Bourne.

Through trying to find RDs, I did chance my luck a little by messaging some celebrities that are known to be parkrunners. Within minutes of sending out a request, Sophie Raworth from the actual BBC News emailed back with "Of course! What do I need to do?" - little did I realise she was actually going to present her video from the News Studio itself!!!! Nell McAndrew was also only too happy to help out, as was Team GB athlete Eilish McColgan - who has since broken the 17yr standing British record for the 5000m), and the wonderful Carolyn Gale who had a formal voice-over introduction from her husband David - Carolyn had started running aged 63 and now represents Team GB in the Masters series. Even our own MP stood in for a whole 21 seconds...

We also had some amazingly imaginative and creative run briefings. Who can forget Duncan Greene's cheeky little pork pie (or his kamikaze blind roller blading while selfie videoing), Bob Frake whose wettest run still makes me giggle a bit, Amelia Coltman's briefing from the side of the Skeleton Run, or sister Charlotte's "Wish You Were Here?" tribute? Or, smashing all of them out of the park in terms of views was Debbie Longley's marvellous "It's beginning to look a lot like parkrun" in the run up to Xmas.

Across the 72 videos we had a spectacular 43,773 views with the top 10 as follows:

1. Debbie Longley - 3600 views
2. Sophie Raworth - 1800 views
3. Shane Sharkey - 1410 views
4. Duncan Greene - 1300 views
5. Liz Parkinson - 1006 views
6= Andrea Crellin - 934 views
6= David Harknett - 934 views
8. Amelia Coltman - 873 views
9. Nell McAndrew -  779 views
10. Peter Shirtcliffe - 765 views

We also managed to squeeze in two Easter runs. Regulars will know that each year we randomly sticker 10 finish tokens and the rules are simple - finish in a position with a sticker and win and egg. I decided to do the same thing for each of our two Easter runs (Laura Seth brilliantly presenting her Bunny Ear clad video upside down and Ashley Jackson who somehow rigged it that she was our second Virtual Easter Bunny and then went on to win an egg herself).

We also stuck loyal with the tradition of special runs on Xmas Day and New Years Day (although times were not recorded on the former - just runs).

The spreadsheet and the stats

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If you were to add all parkrun and junior parkrun events in the world together, the total distance to cover them all would be 9,944km. Well, over our virtual series, a total of 531 athletes ran over five times this distance covering a whopping 49,680km (in fact, that isn't far off completing the 9,944km total parkrun distance followed by a cool-down lap of the Earth (9,944 + 40,075 = 50,019 which is just 339km more than we collectively ran. Another 68  individual runs would have made it - that's less than 1 extra runner each week)

I have also been able to keep track of average times across the whole series. Although these would not be reflective in a race setting (some quicker runners may have taken it easier most weeks which would affect their average time, and some people literally clocked themselves paving patios and planting aubergines...) but it may still make for interesting reading.

AVERAGE TIME RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE

We had a total of 26 athletes that have completed all 72 events. Other than myself, big congrats to: Alan THOMPSON, John KERR, Rob NASH, Amanda ENGLISH, Darren WHEATLEY, Paul BEETON, Paul WARD, Bob FRAKE, Rich GRAY, Rob MASON, Mike BRIGHTY, Tracey UNWIN, Marie GRAY, Mike SCALLON, Jef TODD, Dan GIBLETT, Og STER, Carl TAYLOR-BEEBY, Tony WORN, Kristy NICHOLLS, Rosalind HEATLIE, Jonty GIBLETT, Nina SNOWLING, Jenny KENT and Zoe HEATH.

Each 100%er has done 72 x  regular 5k runs. This is pleasing as a mathematician, as a five sided shape is a pentagon and the exterior angle in a regular pentagon is 72 degrees. 5 x 72 = 360 which brings us full turn and back to the start - Tomorrow!

Final Thanks

There are so many people that have played their part in this Virtual series and made it what it was. I am equally pleased that it is over and pleased that it happened. Huge thanks go to my wife Emma and the kids for bearing with me while I have stared at a screen for long periods each weekend over the last year and a bit.

Many thanks to Rich Gray who actually took over the reins for the first weekend in October as I was getting ready to run the Virtual London Marathon the following day. Rich processed all of the results that day and wrote a very good run brief - and had everything published at a very reasonable time (putting me to shame with my midnight+ reports).

Huge thanks to all of the aforementioned RDs and mostly thank you to all of the 531 athletes that made it all possible and worthwhile.

It started off as a suggested post in a private FB group, but ended up being so much more. It was a lot of work over its duration, but it gave me a sense of regularity and routine that was completely missing for huge swathes of time since the pandemic began. It is only through messages from you guys that I have come to realise just how reciprocal the appreciation was though.

Along with his final results, our Washington Correspondent, Colin Phillips wrote:

"Shane, I owe you big thanks on behalf of our extended College Park community, for the inspiration and motivation that you provided during the course of the pandemic. Hundreds of people thousands of miles away from you benefited. Many people told us that virtual parkrun helped them survive the past year. We had families who couldn't come together but felt more connected by getting active "together" every Saturday. I know how much work it takes to keep this up week after week. Probably more than organizing a regular in person event. Your community is so lucky to have you. I have no idea when I'll next be able to visit my own family in the UK. But I know very well what is at the top of my list of parkruns to visit."

The Run Reports

A few people (largely led by Paul Merrison) suggested turning the run reports into a book as a keepsake or souvenir of this weird time that we have worked through together. Paul did look into this and although I would personally like to have something to remember this by, it all seemed a bit costly to process (I am not saying it shouldn't still happen though).

Anyway, including this report now, the run reports total to 123,034 Words (including the 765 by Rich), and I have made them available below for a free download as a pdf.

Thank you again everyone. See you in the morning.

RUN REPORTS AVAILABLE HERE FOR DOWNLOAD

 

The Big Return this Saturday

As I write this, it is Tuesday 20th July 2021 and Melton Mowbray parkrun is to return to our lives in its real incarnation in just 4 days time. Of course we are really excited to be welcoming you all back to the park, but we maybe need to make you aware of some of the differences you will see to our event, and some of the other things that could impact week 1 (Event #278).

Traveling to the start
The new estate at the top of Scalford Road is having a pathway laid to the park. Construction of this pathway is expected to take approximately 3 more weeks. There is currently a large area of our car park that is cordoned-off for work vehicles and materials. This is obviously going to affcect our parking capacity. If you are parking in the Visitors Centre car park at the end of Wymondham Way, please be conscientious to other car park users (who may not all be parkrunners).

It is certainly advised to try to arrive early in case alternative parking arrangements need to be made. We would recommend the car park at the corner of Redwood Avenue (approx half a mile from the VC by following our usual course route), or the Pay and Display car parks on Scalford Road opposite Laycock Avenue (under a mile up Scalford Road and then right onto Wymondham Way). Both of these would be suitable distances for a warm-up jog.

If you need to car-share with someone outside of your household then please be sensible and take the necessary precautions, or alternatively, why not cycle to the park?

The Run Brief
The briefing location has moved. This is in order to increase safety for runners in a busy car park, and to ensure that we have more space to allow for social distancing between runners.

The brief will now take place on the picnic benches on the grass behind the mound.

The brief should start at 8.57am and take no more than two minutes to complete, as per the guidance in the parkrun Covid-19 Framework (see below).

The course
The overall course layout is as it was before, except it will be ran in reverse. This is for a number of reasons:

1. To increase space around the start area instead of cramming many people into a tiny path section by the cafe.
2. To remove the inevitable bottle-necking and clumping of runners around the bridge on the first lap.
3. To enable better use of the finish area. Operating under the Covid-19 Framework (see below) we are expected to have one barcode scanner for every 50 expected runners. Based on our usual turnout prior to lockdown we are anticipating approximately 200 runners so have allowed for four scanners with a floating volunteer who could jump in if needed. We would not be able to efficiently locate 4 scanners beyond our usual finish line and so finishing on the grass by the VC will allow us to locate our scanners on the nearby picnic benches.

This reverse route will stay in place for as long as we are operating under the Covid-19 Framework. Once we are given the green light to revert to our normal course it is expected that we will do. Upon doing this, and following new guidance on risk assessments, we will cease to use our reverse/Covid course meaning that our special runs on Christmas morning and New Years Day will be ran in the same direction as the Saturday events.

The finish area
In many ways the finish area operates the same as it always has done, but there are a few small adjustments.

We are doing away with the Junsd Timers and the Opticon Scanners in order to reduce the unneccessary passing of equipment between volunteers. Instead, from now all timing and scanning will be conducted using the fantastic new Virtual Volunteer app that is designed to complete both functions, and immediately upload to our results processing site. This will also result in the removal of the parkrun laptop as all results will be able to be processed using mobile devices.

As you come across the finish line, the timers will time you in (using the app on their own phones). You will then be given a finish token and will need to go to one of the four barcode scanners on the benches.

The scanning will also be done on the phone app and should be an entirely contactless experience, with you holding out your barcode for scanning, displaying your finish token for scanning, and then dropping your finish token into the token collection bucket/tub.

Covid-19 Framework
The copy of the Framework with the alterations and allowances made for the Melton Mowbray event can be found on the below link. This is the same as the one that was ratified by the core team ahead of the proposed October 2020 restart with a small alteration to section 9 with regards to the washing/storage of bibs/finish tokens ahead of each event (update based on improved scientific understandings of fomite transmission)

The Covid-19 Framework can be found here

Social Distancing
In the final Virtual run report on Saturday, I shared the following messages and it did not seem to make sense to simply rewrite it:

"The end of restrictions has enabled the vast majority of events to return from next weekend and that is clearly a fantastic situation for everyone. However, please be mindful that not everyone will be highly thrilled by it all. The bigger picture shows huge levels of infection is still occuring in the community and hospitalisations are increasing. Many people will still feel very wary of returning to what we are to see as "normal" and anxieties are bound to be high.

We have all missed that real human contact over the last year - especially if you are a hugger, like myself. However, please be wary that when we return to the park next week, even those who have missed it greatly may still feel too anxious about actually taking that physical plunge. Part of the Covid Framework run brief will include a request to not high-five or hug the marshals etc, but this can/should be applied to other runners too. Obviously, if you and the other person are both quite happy with that physical contact, then go for it - but please do not assume that everyone is fine with it. We want to run our event in a way that enables people to feel safe and secure as part of our community. We have redesigned the start/finish areas to ensure that an element of social distancing (for this, please read 'distancing that remains social') is entirely practicable. The event should feel like normal but please be sympathetic of the reality that it is not yet normal."

The future
We are aware that at some point in the future, the bridge is scheduled to be replaced which will inevitably impact our event for a couple of weeks. We are looking into a probable timeline for this and will see if we can temporarily reroute for the affected weeks. This will all be communicated as we know more detail.

 

Please do not attend parkrun as an athlete or a volunteer if you, or anyone in your household are displaying any of the classic symptoms of Covid-19

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
 
 

The Real Results for our final Virtual parkrun – week 72

You didn't think I'd really just do that to you did you?

I couldn't just bow out after all we have been through without a thousand words or two...

Let us start as always with a huge thank you to our final Virtual Run Director - Mark Preston. There was only really one clue posted this week:

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This clue is actually a bit of a three-parter:

1. The half hour is a reference to Mark's fondness of trying to pace 5k to exactly 30:00 - a role he is reprising officially for our first live event back next week
2. "Leave his Stamp" is not a reference to a postman as some believed - quite simply, if you leave your stamp on something then you Mark it.
3. The North End of town, may well be where our course is, but those two words were capitalised in reference to Preston North End (the football club).

That's it really, but huge thanks to him for doing such a great job for the final one. Everybody who has done an RD stint will tell you that it is strangely nerve-racking talking to the back of your phone, regardless of whether it is live or pre-recorded - add into that the pressure of it being the final one! In a way, I'm pleased it wasn't me!

In his own words, Mark has used the last 16 months to improve and start enjoying his running again - something that I have heard from quite a few people who have realised that they can actually take the pressure off and just enjoy it again (not in this heat though. That was horrific!)

In terms of actual parkruns, Mark (A768333) has done a surprisingly small number of runs at Melton - only 8 out of his 56 total - he has done 21 in Leicester (Braunstone and Victoria) and then the rest are spread out over 19 other different events. He has also clocked up 19 volunteer credits over his time.

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Onto today's run and we had 107 people joining us for our last Virtual run. Most people were able to take it easy in the horrendous conditions so I was not surprised by the distinct lack of new PBs for our final week. That said, Peter Shirtcliffe did manage to run one - although if I was running where he is at the minute, I'd be blooming fast too! Our thoughts go out to Peter in Durban, South Africa where there have been a lot of high profile rioting and looting recently. It all sounds very scary and we wish the very best to everyone and hope you manage to stay safe.

We were also able to welcome a First Timer!!!! Lynn Persse got her walk in with Zoe Heath (completing her perfect record) and joined us for the final one, bringing our total number of recorded athletes to have submited results over the past 70 weeks (the other 2 events were Xmas Day and NYD extras) to a whopping 531. I don't have the time, or the word count to do a summary of the whole Virtual parkrun series in tonight's run report so I am endeavouring to deliver that to you all mid-week at some point (note that I am not committing to a particular day - that would be mental at the minute!)

We have had another 4 entrants to the Virtual 50 club (Mark Preston, Mark Smith, Anthony Ison and Ian Bickle- bringing our final total Virtual shirt earners to 87. For those of you who would like to claim your Virtual shirt, please print out this report and use the space below to draw your own. Then simply post your entries to Darren Barratt - our local event Ambassador. Winning entry may get an approving nod.

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Actually, I shouldn't really use this platform to play pranks on Darren as I have decided he is an utter hero!!! Today he cycled the Sportive HQ Flat 100 South - a 104.47 mile bike ride. Upon completing this Herculean trial, he posted it on BookFace (or else it didn'tt happen) and I commented "Still time to do your Virtual parkrun!" - Never, in a million years did I expect him to respond with "You're on!" and go out and do it! He admitted it was tough, but still got round in 79th position after all that!

I know I have said that I will do a write up of the whole series, but one record that sadly went today was the 100% record of Zoe Nicholls. Zoe has stuck with every single one of our Virtuals and has regularly been our first female finisher with a PB time of 20:57. Zoe does not have Facebook so she has been relying on her mum and dad to submit her times each week. The last two weeks, I have had no time from Zoe so have queried it and it's been because dad "forgot" and there has been a last minute submission... (interesting to note here that dad has done 71 out of 72 and is insanely jealous of his wife and daughter's perfect records - so I must question the honesty behind this forgetfulness, and call it what it is - "attempted sabotage"). Well, having realised that each time he forgot, I was going to message to check, dad decided that there was only one thing for it - last Sunday evening he rigged some gym equipment that they have in the garage and sent Zoe to use it on Monday morning - day 1 of her school holidays... Anyways, long story short and all that... Zoe dislocated her knee and ended up in A&E. Apparently she had plans for parents to carry a chair across the 5k distance for regular rest breaks, but realised that it was just too much, and so was not able to submit a time today.

Riddled with guilt (and/or to cover his tracks/alleviate suspicion), dad ran a double today to try and atone for his daughter's absence, but it was too late. Get well soon, Zoe.

It is really important to point out that much of the above is a work of fiction. The events happened - I have just filled in the jealous rage backdrop to it for entertainment purposes. Andy is definitely not like that.

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Actually - now Kristy is the only one in the family that has a perfect record. Maybe she sabotaged the gym kit. She does have a competitive streak...

Carl Taylor-Beeby will be reprising his role doing the First Time Briefing next week, but today was his chance to complete his perfect 72 record and it actually took him 2 attempts. The first was by far his fastest but was over 1400ft short and the course was too downhill. World record attempts at running events can only be considered for the Guiness book if they meet certain criteria. The key one being that the finish must be within 50% of the overall distance from the start (i.e. for a 5k event, a theoretical straight line linking the start and finish can be no more than 2.5k in length). This is why point-to-point races such as the Great North Run never feature in World Record attempts (World Athletics Rule 260.28) The reason for this is so athletes can find it harder to pick a course that is overall downhill the entire way - by needing to be closer to the start, there must be either flat or uphills to balance out the attempt. This applies to Carl because his first attempt was 15,000 feet instead of the compulsory 16,404 feet that make up a 5k - and his end point was 15,000 feet away from where he started (ergo 100%). Tjerefore, it is possible to assume (given his overall speed) that it was an overall downhill course and should not be considered. He may put forward the argument that the parachute on his back slowed down the second half, but the first 3k was bleddy quick! His second attempt was a far more believable 26:50. #keepoursportclean

Mike Freeman ran the Keswick parkrun course which apparently is a there and back through a tunnel! I am intrigued and it has made it onto my to-do list...

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Apologies to Mike for the unflattering pic here - it is a still taken from a video that wouldn't pause for some reason...

Bob Frake, as he told us on his video run direction (Week 61) has run on the hottest, wettest, and hardest of days, and if that wasn't a double entendre treasure trove in itself, he went full on Carry On by running shirtless today - Carry On Magic Mike??

John Kerr finally got to see his parents today for the first time in two years - I am genuinely so happy for you with this John, It's approaching that since I got to see my folk. Hopefully soon... I'm not sure what would be the most appropriate way to show the sentiment here without words. If only there were a series of annoying little images I could use instead.... Ah yes... It is World emoji day (thanks, Dan)! Now, WordPress (that I write this on) does not allow emojis to be inputted, so I have had to save/insert a jpeg image that roughly sums up a visit home...

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In terms of our regular #tailwalkerchallenge it was another competitive one with 15 athletes coming in over the hour. First back was Professor McGonagall (formally Dr K), ahead of the Biggadykes in 1:02. First Timer Lynn accompanied Zoe round in 1:06 with Rebecca Forrester and Rachel Wade only seconds apart at 1:09. Sue Power got 1:10, followed by Paula Osborne in the beer gardens (1:16) and the Uptons (1:22). Sue Hale returned for her second Virtual to record 1:31 with Jef Todd having to rest his poorly legs for another 4-6 weeks getting round in 1:38. Rachel Holland's Welsh Woodland Wander saw a very respectable time of 1:40, but this was not enough to hold off the persistent cough charge of Paul Beeton - whose time of 1:56 is probably enough for him to lose his taste and smell! Get better soon Paul (by egging people on to finish their 100% records, I may have actually damaged a few... eek... insert gritted teeth emoji here - not the aubergine)

Finally, I would just want to extend a congratulatory message to all my fellow Virtual parkrun leaders in the events that we supported in the early days. Obviously Kerstin Pepper (Perrigo) and Colin Phillips (College Park) now have live events to go to so are no longer needing to do the Virtual model - but they appreciate the work that goes in to these events each week. And another big well done to our UK sister events overseen by Andrea Crellin (Kettering) and Ellen Harrison (Henley Woods, Oswestry). You have all done amazing things for your respective communities and huge kudos from me. Time to stand down and let the real events get back on track from next week.

FULL RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE

Next week

So this is where it all changes. I know that Rach Cousen has particularly enjoyed the Virtuals as she works Saturday mornings, but she is trying to get Saturday morning off to join us next week. Meanwhile, Melissa Harley-Hotchkiss has said that she'll probably just continue sending me results each week.

That said, I think there are a couple of key messages to get out about the restart. I will be making another post midweek about the restart with our updated Covid Framework etc and stipulations over what will continue to be different to how it was, and the rationale behind it etc. but, I feel that there are a couple of key points to include here too.

The end of restrictions has enabled the vast majority of events to return from next weekend and that is clearly a fantastic situation for everyone. However, please be mindful that not everyone will be highly thrilled by it all. The bigger picture shows huge levels of infection is still occuring in the community and hospitalisations are increasing. Many people will still feel very wary of returning to what we are to see as "normal" and anxieties are bound to be high.

We have all missed that real human contact over the last year - especially if you are a hugger, like myself. However, please be wary that when we return to the park next week, even those who have missed it greatly may still feel too anxious about actually taking that physical plunge. Part of the Covid Framework run brief will include a request to not high-five or hug the marshals etc, but this can/should be applied to other runners too. Obviously, if you and the other person are both quite happy with that physical contact, then go for it - but please do not assume that everyone is fine with it. We want to run our event in a way that enables people to feel safe and secure as part of our community. We have redesigned the start/finish areas to ensure that an element of social distancing (for this, please read 'distancing that remains social') is entirely practicable. The event should feel like normal but please be sympathetic of the reality that it is not yet normal.

Chris Genes submitted his result today stating that the shortcut path from his estate to the country park will be completed in three weeks time. As I arrived at the park this morning, there is a large area of the car park at the Visitors Centre that is fenced off for work vehicles and materials - and will restrict our parkring capacity. If you must drive to the event, please give yourselves plenty of time to get there as you may need to find alternative parking if our carpark fills up early. May I suggest utilising the car park at the bottom corner of Redwood Avenue (half a mile from the Visitors Centre), or one of the cattle market car parks on Scalford Road. I appreciate that this will involve a bit of a travel to the Visitors Centre, but consider it a warm-up jog.

On the 10th January 2015, after 7 months of background work, planning, fundraising and organising, I stood on the bench at the Visitors Centre for the very first time and shouted the words, "Welcome to your parkrun". To date, this has still received the biggest cheer that I have heard at a parkrun event.

I have been wondering how to start a briefing next week. Maybe I don't need to think that hard...

 

Are we nearly there yet? – Virtual Results for Event #71

For the second time in a month, I am writing on what is to be seen as the penultimate Virtual event. But this one feels different.

There has been a change in language from parkrun HQ. Ahead of the June 5th restart, the messages were strongly stating that we would be restarting if we had enough permissions (which we ended up not having).

The June 26th restart was well planned for and we had enough permissions by the 11th June deadline to start preparations for the return, but the announcements were contingent on the June 14th Government announcement on the decision around Step 4. Obviously the decision was to delay the restrictions until July the 19th and as such the restart was also delayed until the 24th of July because so many of the permissions were contingent upon the introduction of step 4.

Now we are here, 2 weeks out from the proposed restart and there is a government announcement due on Monday 12th to determine exactly how much of step 4 will be eased - it all feels a little too familiar, but there is a stark change in the communications from parkrun HQ. The language they are using now seems to suggest that the 24th restart IS happening. As event teams, we have been "invited" by HQ to start filling up volunteer rosters (something which is just about done for us already).

Late last night, Ian Rutson (parkrun Technical Lead and Pontefract parkrun RD) tweeted this:

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It all sounds very definite. There is 1 Virtual parkrun left and parkrun is well and truly coming home.

______________________________________________________________________

I have been tasked by Richard Angrave to not mention the other event this weekend in the report, and that should be fairly easy to do...

To kick things off, you would have needed to be fairly short-sighted to not get that this week's Virtual RD was none other than Dr Jane MacNaughton. A few of you commented on the Shane and Jane one-two, and this double act actually started about a year ago. The fun fact section that I have regularly pieced together over this series of reports all came about through the now infamous Dominic Cummings' sight-seeing/testing Road Trip, and a realisation that the runners we had that day had collectively covered the same distance that he had. Well, Dr J kindly decided to mark my submission and return it with full written feedback.

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Thankfully, her feedback is like a game of two halves and this week she was a little bit kinder overall:

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Dr Jane MacNaughton may share her initials with many top celebrities such as Jose Mourinho and James Milner (to name a couple of randomly selected ones), but as an athlete, Jane (A2275552) has completed 131 parkruns (118 in Melton) across 8 different events - including the Bushy Park pilgrimage. She has also completed two New Years Day Doubles (both with us and Rutland Water) and has volunteered a dozen times.

Today, 102 of our finest athletes tackled their own respective 5k courses and for the first time in Virtual parkrun history, not one person managed to hit their new PB goal. We also didn't have any new signings but I guess that is to be expected when you are 71 weeks into an event and so close to the end. We'll see if anyone extra is called up for the final.

We finally had the long awaited reunion of Caroline Vissani and Rosalind Heatlie although it transpires that during their first run together, Caroline took a dive and at least twice and had a mid-run lie down (if falling over once could be described as "trippy", would falling twice be considered Trippier?). With all of the "puddle fun" they were having, I am assuming that she was fixed quite quickly with a magic sponge and headed off for an early bath.

Speaking of early baths, I'm concerned that Andrew Wrath may have needed a cold shower after his run today!

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From our very own Wooferhampton Wanderers. We didn't have Jack Growlish or Harry Dane up front, but we had a solid midfield in Ella (Toon-Saluki), Ryan Bertie-rand, Charlie Adam and Bill (The Whatever Puppy). Harley Austin and Wayne Ruby complete our line-up of barkrunners. (No room for Rio Furrdinand or Emile Huskey...)

After looking at the team sheet, we should assess the ever present injury list. Louise Bridgeman has received the all-clear following on from her op, but still needed some manual support to stop the achy jiggling. Chris Genes is working through his injury and today showed that he is finally able to run it off. Alan Thompson claims that he is struggling a bit at the minute, but is hoping he can last until the full-time whistle and complete his 100% next weekend - hopefully he will be buoyed by the atmosphere inside the stadium that we call the Country Park the following week, and Jef Todd is resting an ankle injury. Unfortunately David Grimes was not able to submit a result this week after a few drinks last night left him as sick as a parrot.

Nine people went over the hour to contend for the title of tail Walker this week. Jenny Kent and Gemma Barton both came in at 1:01, ahead of Zoe Heath in 1:02. RD Dr J, David (and Ruby) were around in 1:06 with Jef back home in 1:09. Nicky Durrance finished in 1:12 with Liz Parkinson round in 1:13. However, it was only Mike Scallon that lasted the full 90 minutes to complete the #KyleWalkerChallenge as he enjoys a second bout of isolation runs around the garden.

Bob Frake says that he may or may not miss his Saturday morning laps when all this is over. Well, over the last 16 months, we have certainly seen all that he can do on the training ground but it's time to see if he could do it on a cold Saturday morning in Melton.

Rich Gray is the one who really put a shift in today as his 5k came as part of his Dukeries 40 miler run which he finished in an incredible 7:19 - a real Sterling effort!!! I wonder if his carbo-loading consisted of doughy products or more Pasta and (Declan) Rice.

The Harley-Hotchkisses had an Away Day in Cornwall and ran on the Penrose parkrun course.

Following last week's results, Paul Biggadyke clicked the link, had a Luke, Shaw the results and realised he had met one of his goals in obtaining a top 10 finish.

We have no new members called up for the Virtual 50 squad this week. We are currently on 83 members but there are still 5 people who our scouts are keeping an eye on. We are expecting to be able to announce our full team sheet next week.

Also completing next week, we will have the full list of 100%ers. There are currently 27 members who are all committed to keeping their perfect records, but who are all looking forward to the restart of the real events than the end of the Virtuals:

"And we're done with 2 to go" - Rob Mason (Mount)

As usual, the focus now turns to Sunday morning's junior parkrun. It has been so amazing being able to be able to be part of a "normal" event with timekeepers, barcode scanners, finish tokens and marshals. Eleanor has proven to be a fantastic marshal in training (she even claps runners that we drive past as we head into town). In being given the choice to stand on a corner with me or Nina, she will always choose Nina (not Simon), and given the choice between driving there in my Corsa or Emma's Ford, she will always choose my car - she will never PickFord (did that feel a bit forced? I'm worried it was a bit Rash... no... I'll stop)

Anyway, before I have totally lost the dressing room, I had best blow the whistle and see you next week.

If you do not want to see the results, please look away now

FULL RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE

There we go. A whole run report and I did not mention anything to do with the football once! Back of the net!!!

Shane

 

...just thoroughly re-read the report. I left no Stones uncovered. There Is a chance that I could have failed... For God's Saka! I may be getting sacked in the morning!

COME ON ENGLAND

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