Newbury parkrun – Event 61 (16 March 2013)

Muddy mayhem!

After 60 events, you'd think we'd be quite well practised in the organisation aspect of Newbury parkrun. Making sure the volunteer roster is sorted by Thursday night, putting all the equipment on charge on Friday night and arriving at Greenham early on Saturday morning to put the signs out all seem second nature these days. However, it turns out 60 events makes an event team far from being experts. On arriving at Greenham, today's run director Andy Tucker informed us he'd forgotten the finish funnel. Whilst a mild inconvenience, we were sure we could improvise - particularly given the plethora of recently cut back gorse shrubbery which would make excellent makeshift finish posts.

However, when Andy reached into the car to collect the rucksack containing the timers, barcode scanners, clipboards and finish tokens - he was met with an empty boot. It turned out that Mark Shepherd - despite his promises to pick up the bag on the way out - had refrained from picking up said bag prior to leaving for the common. It was 08:40 at this point - and only 20 minutes to go before the start. We had no option but for me to go back home (and home is the other side of Newbury) and collect said bag. Without breaking speed limits this was a tough task - the Orange parkrun Storage Box On Wheels (AKA a Fiat Qubo) isn't known for its speedy cornering, although we definitely think we'd have given Kimi Raikkonen a run for his money through the chicanes of Boundary Road and the pit stop at the Fir Tree Lane traffic lights.

Arriving back at the parkrun just five minutes after nine o'clock, we gave the brilliant timers (Matthew Brookes, Peter Dickens and Matt Walters) the quickest instructions ever on how to use the timers, and we were off.

The muddy, makeshift finish funnel


Conditions were atrocious today, and definitely some of the wettest we've ever experienced in Newbury parkrun history. We hope the 18 first timers today weren't put off by the rain lashing the course, and will come back to enjoy much better conditions - and hopefully a brand new personal best!

With Reading Half Marathon the following day, a significant proportion of Newbury parkrunners elected to forfeit today's run in the hope of running a good time the following day (and we hope the rest was worth it - please let us know how you got on at Reading on our Facebook page (Link) or by emailing!) and a just-as-significant proportion had taken one look out of the window and preferred to stay in bed. We were, therefore, pretty impressed with our turnout of 143 runners today. Amongst the 143, we welcomed some visitors from other parkruns: Elaine and Andy Dean were visiting from Swindon. Elaine has an impressive personal best of 19:42 at Swindon and Andy a best of 22:00 on the same Swindon course. Newbury is the fourth different parkrun both of them have run, and we hope they'll be back in better conditions to better their times. Kirsty Darby was also visiting from Swindon. Amy Lillis (JW14) is a bit of a parkrun veteran, despite her junior years. She has now completed 38 parkruns, with 36 at the neighbouring Basingstoke course. Despite today's weather, Amy ran her third quickest ever parkrun! Kate Adams was also visiting from Basingstoke, after running all her other seven parkruns on the Basingstoke course.

Karen Grinsted - still smiling at the finish despite the mud


In today's run, 13 certainly wasn't unlucky for Oliver Overend (JM14) of Team Kennet. Oliver was first across the line for the second time in a slow-for-him (but good-for-conditions) time of 18:28. Neil Martin (VM40-44) of Overton Harriers & AC took second place in 18:49 (with his sprint finish leading to a tumble in the mud at the end - we hope you aren't aching too much today, Neil) and Stephen Elsemere (SM30-34) of Newbury AC finished in third in 19:24.

Amongst the ladies, it was great to see local runner Sophie Crumly (SW20-24) of Newbury AC cross the line first in 20:28 - her third win in just four runs at Greenham. Second place went to fellow clubmate Chloe Coxhead (SW20-24) in 22:17, with our Swindon visitor, Elaine Dean (VW50-54) taking third place in 23:41.

Our highest age graded score today was once again by Mike Sheridan (VM60-64) of Team Kennet. His time of 20:57 - whilst someway outside the new personal best he ran last week - still give him the day's best score of 78.60%.

Despite the weather today, there were still some excellent performances: 15 of you still managed to run personal bests, and some by quite a margin: Helen Bowsher knocked 51 seconds from her previous best time, and Michele Purcell took 48 seconds from hers. Carolyn Burnett ran her first sub-30 finish time (29:39) whilst Jason Nash managed his fifth personal best in five runs, taking a further 57 seconds off his time to finish in 28:46. Martin Smith got his fourth personal best in a row, running sub-28 for the first time (27:37), whilst Danielle Newton got her third personal best in three runs, reducing her time by an incredible 2 minutes and 9 seconds. William Levett also achieved a similar feat to Danielle with a third personal best in three runs, also impressively knocking nearly two minutes from his previous time. Gary Lillis was running only his second run at Newbury being a regular Basingstoke parkrunner and it seems that bringing his daughter to Newbury for the first time spurred him on to an all time parkrun personal best of 26:43! Please keep telling us your stories, either by email at, on our Facebook page (Link) or via Twitter (Link).

Finally, thank you so much to our volunteers today who managed masterfully given the rather "rushed" circumstances at the start and the extremely cold and wet conditions. Particularly to Andy Tucker who precided over things (despite forgetting the funnel) whilst I stood around slowly getting hypothermic with a camera! Despite the issues at the start, the results were exceptionally quick to process today - testament to a brilliant job. The top team today were made up of Anne Wenlock, Arthur and Samuel Cheney, Catherine, Emily & Hannah Cox, Debbie Futcher, Jez Mann, Mark Shepherd, Matt Walters, Matthew Brookes, Monique Amor, Paul Hendry, Peter Dickens and Stuart Davidson. I was taking photographs today which are available to view on our Facebook page (Link). We are always seeking volunteers, so if you would like to help out in future weeks then please let us know by emailing

Today's wonderful (and incredibly cute) finish token sorting team:
Emily & Hannah Cox and Sam & Arthur Cheney

After 61 events, 2,536 athletes from 137 athletics clubs have now completed 12,632 runs on the Newbury parkrun course, running a cumulative total of 63,160km. The women's course record is held by Sandra Bowers who ran 15:48 in event #43 on 24 November 2012 and the men's course record is held by Ian Reade who ran 16:05 in event #19 on 9 June 2012. The age graded record is held by Sandra Bowers who recorded a 95.78% in event #41.

After the event, we go to the wonderful Coffee Exchange on Greenham Business Park for wonderful home made food, tea and coffee after each parkrun. Please try and make it part of your regular Saturday morning parkrun routine and join us to chat about running, life, or even share stories about the old US Airforce base! Coffee Exchange have opened especially for Newbury parkrunners, so it is important we continue to support it. If you haven't heard about them, the cafe makes absolutely legendary rock cakes (which are normally still warm when we arrive as they're now having to bake extra ones on Saturday morning!). They have to be eaten to be believed!

Don't forget you can keep up to date with the latest Newbury parkrun chat through our Facebook page (Link) and via Twitter (Link). We're also always looking for more volunteers (and don't forget you get extra points each time you volunteer!) so please email if you are interested in being added to the volunteer database (and it is only right to be able to give some of the people who help each and every week a chance to run sometimes). We are also currently looking at people who would like to have a go at being a Run Director. This doesn't mean you have to organise the whole event - just be around to ensure all volunteers know what they're doing, can give a little talk before the run and just oversee the running of the event. You don't even have to process the results! Please take note of the following announcements:

  1. Points competition: Note that the points competition has changed slightly in the new Newbury parkrun year. The runner who is first across the line receives 300 points, second place 299, third place 298, etc. This means the points distribution is fairer, and we should only need to go into the one point per runner territory if we get more than 300 runners of a single sex at parkrun (this hasn't happened yet!).
  2. The start: Whilst we know it is natural human behaviour to want to start as close to the front as possible in order to get a watch time which matches the master timer. However, please do give consideration to fellow runners and start in a position in the field which best represents the speed you feel you are going to run. We had an incident this week where a runner fell at the start, and runners' (natural) keeness to get away at the start almost led to the lady being trampled on badly.
  3. Parking: We now have parking at the English Provinder Company thanks to Paul Hendry. We're extremely grateful to the EPC for allowing us use of their facility, but please ensure you follow the car park marshal's orders as we're not allowed to use all of it. Ensure you do not drop litter and treat the facility carefully.
  4. Running with dogs: We love the fact that people run with dogs! It is a joy to watch so many canine friends obviously enjoying the run as much as their owners. However, if you are going to run with your dog, please ensure you fit your dog with a harness rather than a collar. This is for their own comfort. If you'd like to learn more about running with dogs (or even want to go "up a gear" and try cani-cross racing) then the Cani-Cross UK website provides a wealth of information for you to get started. Note that from now, runners will only be allowed to run with a maximum of one dog.
  5. Registration: A number of people have asked where their t-shirts are for the 10, 50 and 100 clubs. It is vitally important that, if Newbury is your regular parkrun, you ensure you are registered to it as your "home run". If you don't and you don't specify where you would like your t-shirt to be delivered to, it will, by default, be delivered to the event where you are registered and it can take some time before we can arrange handover or for the shirts to be rerouted. You can update your details at anytime by following the link on the weekly parkrun newsletter.Any suggestions, ideas and feedback are always welcome to

We'd also like to remind you that we are now back in nesting season on Greenham Common, and it is extremely important that you respect the flora and fauna of the area. This means keeping your dogs on leads at all times, and particularly avoiding the area known as the "Fire Plain" which is to the west of the start area (and clearly marked with signs). To find out more information about the wildlife on the common, please refer to the downloadable leaflet "Welcome to Crookham and Greenham Common" which provides an excellent summary.

See you next week!

Rachael Elliott (Event Director)