Restoring the status quo

This week, Joe Biden was officially awarded the electorate college votes needed to be named President Elect. He has not been the most exciting politician over the 50 years and his critics may describe his as being vanilla, but many of his biggest critics (MAGA crew excepted) will concede that perhaps he is just the shade of magnolia that America needs after the last four years, in order to resume a more standard political narrative.

In no way following on directly from this point, Tony Worn seemed to restore the normality to our coveted Virtual Run Director slot after last weekend's showpiece (I am not comparing Debbie Longley to Donald Trump. I am not comparing Debbie Longley to Donald Trump. I am not com...). In his own words "presenting or briefing to a screen with no interaction or feedback is harder than it looks" but he managed to make it look very natural and real. I think we all delighted in the eventual appearance of the two kids near the end as their presence meant he had been beckoning them in, not aimlessly wafting away a flatulent mishap.

Tony (A636755) has completed 71 parkruns at Melton but this is part of a much larger portfolio of 251 runs over 18 different events. He completed 51 parkruns last year - earning the Gold Obsessive badge, and including today, would have been up to 52 for this year if there had been no virus based hiatus. He is just a single run away from completing 100 runs at Braunstone parkrun for his ton badge, and has never ran a parkrun in an exact number of minutes - :00 is the only time he needs to complete stopwatch bingo! Even over his 40 Virtual runs he has had a :59 in week 21 and an :02 back in week 8, but still not the elusive :00 (Incidentally, I am still chasing :08 and :32 - one of which I have hit twice over the virtual series).

Tony's only fault from his run report was to suggest that everyone else who has RD'd for us has an inspiring story of their parkrun involvement whereas he has only taken part as a runner. This is a ridiculous way to view what parkrun is for everyone individually. There is no "perfect" parkrun profile. There has always been continued focus on the importance of volunteers (which is undeniable), but the truth is that parkrun literally does not exist without runners turning up every week. Runners are the event!

Debbie's Run Brief from last week has to-date had over 3,500 views and is our second most watched video in the history of our event. Relegated to third place is a blockbuster movie trailer for the event that was put together by Jon Wilson for our first Christmas period in December 2015 (view it here) with a mere 2,900 views. Still out in first place, on 5,300 views, from October 2019 is this little gem proving that it doesn't matter how talented you are as a singer or a songwriter, or how good your production skills are, there is a reason why You've Been Framed is still on our telly-boxes!

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CHRISTMAS ANNOUNCEMENT

Today Boris Johnson made what some will see as a heart-breaking announcement in the fact that household mixing is limited to just one day. This will leave several families who had made multi-day plans to cancel everything and will leave others completely isolated over the Christmas period.

Usually on Christmas morning, we would host a special 9am parkrun where we run the course in reverse. We have done this for the last 4 years and will continue to do so when we are allowed. This year is only going to be slightly different in terms of the Virtual series.

There will be a run brief at 9am on Christmas morning, and there will be a results post for times to be posted to, comments to be made and the opportunity for us to #keeptheconversation going.

I am sure you all appreciate that collating the results and writing the report takes a lot of time out of my day every Saturday, and I will not be doing this on Christmas Day - I will be going for my own run and spending the rest of the day with my wife and daughter. I will, however, be making a note of the results submitted (not necessarily the times - so don't push for a PB - just enjoy it) and they WILL count towards individual run counts which will be reflected when normal service resumes next Saturday (Boxing Day).

To clarify then, Virtual parkrun #41 is Christmas day and #42 is Boxing Day, and then a single run report will be done on Boxing Day. I am aware that this news will perhaps mostly affect our current 25 100%ers - earn that Pudding! _____________________________________________________________________

Who would have thought that we would still be here doing this model after 40 weeks? Certainly not me, I can tell you! I genuinely thought back in March that we would be cancelled for a couple of weeks and would be straight back on again after that. This was a two-week stop-gap that got out of hand. Also celebrating a 40th birthday today is Donnie Darko and Brokeback actor, Jake Gyllenhaal (thank you Dan Moult for letting us know this). To mark the occasion (I'm guessing our 40th, not JG's) two of our most regular barkrunners, Bertie and Ella (The Saluki) wore 40 badges (badges with "40" on them - not actually 40 badges!). Originally the idea was that their people would wear the 40 badges, but one of them was worried people might start thinking she was 40 (the other was actually hoping people would think that!)

Also barkrunning today was Flynn who had to wait in for a delivery guy that didn't show up, Arthur, and the most 2020 name I have known a dog to have - Bubble!

Our barkrunners were out among a field of 122 runners which included 1 first timer (Welcome Rachel Hassall) and 8 new Personal Best times - most of which have something to say.  First of all, another big Happy Birthday to Rachel Wade who went out this morning and earned a new Birthday PB of 23:00 (see Tony, it can be done). She also dragged Mark Tyler and Wayne Hackett round to record their Best times over our Virtual existence. Paul Macey earned a new Lifetime Personal Best of 18:55 and then took 6 seconds to stop his app on 19:01 - I have given him the benefit of the doubt in the results. Paul blames/accredits his PB on our resident mixed-messaged-bank manager, Rob Mee who has been putting him through his paces over the last week*. Paul Merrison has not been able to run since Halloween due to injury, but laced up and headed out for his own PB today and claims it is because he had the Killers all of the way round. I am assuming that he means he was listening to the Band from Nevada, and he doesn't simply owe money to some shady characters. A-ha superfan Eliza Chanin also ran a PB today - realising that the Sun Always Shines on TV, she will have been thrilled to see the musical piece in the Stritly Final tonight was the new Christmas song by none other than Robbie Williams (who still hasn't credited his comeback to me). Also running new PBs were James Chester and Rob Nash, well done everybody.

*as a side note, due to my Alexa playing a 1990s pop medley while I was doing a very mediocre job of proof-reading last week's report, I now cannot say "Rob Mee" without singing it to the tune of the Cardigan's Love Fool - "Rob Mee, Rob Mee. Say that you're Rob Mee..."

Back in week 5, Sharon announced a Strava Art competition that we said we would run over the few weeks that this Virtual series was supposed to last - this fell by the wayside fairly quickly. We had a few different entries depicting NHS logos, a stethoscope and quite a decent Dinosaur - Tony Parkinson (not calling him a dinosaur - he ran the dinosaur art piece). We also had accidental stethoscopes (ran by myself), an unclaimed sperm (Claire Giles), and what can only be described as the Easter Island Monolith (Jon Steggles). The reason for bringing this up again is that today we had a very strong contender submitted. Bob Frake ran a reindeer - a very good reindeer! He claims that following the route was much harder than the running, but I reckon the actual drawing of it must have been a pretty significant effort (he claims he ran up and down the back legs a few times to make it up to 5k).

"40 weeks ago I was not a runner and I actually ran Virtual parkrun No. 1 in an old pair of football boots as I did not own running shoes" - Jef Todd

Jef has fully embraced our Virtual set-up over the last 40 weeks and is one of our 25 100%ers. Over that time he has hit 3 PBs and taken over 10 minutes from that football boot week! Also seeing the boost over the last 40 weeks is my Kettering counterpart Andrea Crellin. Andrea had dreamed of getting a sub-32 5k time, and up until today she had 10 sub-30 times. She went out today and ran a more reserved 34:11 before the school teacher in her took over and wrote "must try harder" across her Strava. As a result, she went out again and hit an eleventh sub-30 time.

As a teacher myself, I can only share the relief of my fellow educationalists to have hit the end of the strangest (and longest) winter term that I have ever known. I am all-too-aware that other occupations work right up until (and even right over) Christmas Day itself. I have 8 years of retail management experience and do not envy ANYBODY working under normal retail conditions at this time of year - let alone with the inevitable panic-buying that will ensue after today's announcement). But many of these equally important roles do not experience the dangerous and hellish conditions that teachers have to put up with. I am not talking about the cramming of 30 unmasked students into a classroom while the rest of the world is socially distanced. I am talking about the horrors of Satan's pubic dandruff** that many of you will know by the name "Glitter"! I am a maths teacher and do not use it in my room under ANY circumstances. That doesn't mean that all of my work equipment isn't strangely covered in the one thing that is so evil that even Waitrose has banned it! A huge thank you to all of those who are still working hard over this scary and unsure time to keep the country moving in spite of everything else.

One person who will be working hard throughout is midwife, Andrea Dziemianko who had forgotten how testing our actual course was (is). Erika Lane managed to put in a decent personal time despite falling flat on her face at one stage - hope the grazes don't sting too badly. Washington's Colin Phillips started off well, but after a couple of kilometeres his legs imposed Tier 4 restrictions to ensure a walk around the second half of the course. Matt White did a fairly traditional warm-up before his run - hanging Christmas lights at the village bus-stop! Mike Freeman's selfie stopped his watch so his time needed to be compiled from two separate submissions, but he did manage to pose as one of the most frightening Santa's I have seen [pictured].

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Fortunately, it was a far more benevolent Santa that Eleanor and I saw on our run this evening (from the buggy she looked upon Santa's Land Rover drawn sleigh with wonder and amazement. 30 minutes later, when she saw him from my arms as hey drove past our house, she saw him with terror and fear - we had to come inside - humbug!). And Mark Preston was once again too harsh on himself for his "epic fail" in pacing 28 minutes by running just 6 seconds over! His Strava showed 3.10 miles. Around our course (that I know is actually just over 5k) I only ever clock 3.08 miles. There's your 6 seconds Mark. Be kind to yourself. You ran the time perfectly, and it's Christmas.

Today's Absolute Hero award must go to Zoe Heath. While out on her 5k walk she stumbled across a diabetic man who was having a hypoglycemic episode. Thankfully he was still conscious and she was able to call his wife and waited with him until she arrived to get him home safely. It is quite possible that Zoe saved a life today.

Hero, she may be, but tail walker she is not. Zoe was one of three people whose moving time was over the hour, but although her 1:03 beat Viv's 1:00, it was not enough to get the better of Elizabeth Meynell protecting her sprained ankle in 1:11 to complete this week's #tailwalkerchallenge.

**I was challenged to get that phrase into the report. Please don't judge me. Or do. Your choice.

FULL RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE

Fun Fact

John Kerr furnishes us with his own interseting fact this week:

"Interesting fact - If I were a Christmas Turkey, I'd be worth £606.20 which is £56.70 more than I was worth in February this year!"

I cannot work out if this appreciation is from seasonal inflation in the price of Turkey as we find ourselves firmly in the Christmas period, or if John has simply encountered weight gain this year.