When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now....
Well, it's taken us just over a year to reach event 64, and we still feel as fresh as ever! There's certainly no sign that we're slowing down, and we once again welcomed an exceptional turnout of 280 runners. An even more encouraging figure was the fact that 41 runners (15% of the field) were running the course for the first time. It's great to see so many new faces at parkrun, and we hope you'll be back in future weeks and see your performances improve.
Whilst the majority of newcomers were parkrun first timers, we once again welcomed a healthy body of "parkrun tourists". John Kennedy, a Braunstone regular, ran his 66th parkrun at Newbury this morning, running 21:52 - just 32 seconds from his Braunstone PB. Not bad when you're running a course for the first time! It was great to see father and son team (and we're making a father/son assumption here!) of Ian and Sam Todd - regulars of Norwich parkrun. Son Sam got the better of Dad, finishing in 19:33 against Ian's 20:24. Ian can, however, take some solace from getting an age grade 4% greater than Sam's! Dan Evans, a regular of Black Park parkrun, made the trip west along the M4 this morning to run his 49th parkrun - his first parkrun since September 2012 (and it's great to see him back running parkruns!). Fiona Holloway has run most of her parkruns at Reading, although the majority of recent runs have been at Poole. It was great to welcome her at Newbury today for her 26th parkrun.
Anyway, bad metaphorical links to Beatles songs aside, we did see an exceptional feat of running at Newbury this morning. Gareth "Gaz" Watkins (VM40-44) of the Royal Engineers RC returned to Greenham for only the second time - and ran a blistering 15:44 to take the new course record. His run was made even more impressive by the fact he looked like he could easily have covered another 5k at the same speed after crossing the line. And, if that doesn't make you green enough with envy, Gaz is a thoroughly nice chap and a joy to have on the course. It would be great to see what damage Gaz could do to his own course record if he finished looking like he'd tried! Rather unsurprisingly,
Gareth obviously crossed the line first today, but James Moorcroft (SM20-24) put in a solid run to finish in second place in 17:37. Nick Silcox (VM45-49) claimed the final podium spot - also earning a personal best of 18:01 to boot. He's now painstakingly close to breaking 18 minutes, and we're sure that'll come very soon.
Amongst the ladies, Claire Spencer (VW35-39) of Canix took the honours in 21:16. Whilst Claire has only run two runs at Newbury, she's run a total of 23 parkruns - mostly at neighbouring Basingstoke. Second-placed Karen Grinsted (VW35-39) celebrating reaching 50 parkruns in style - her time of 21:24 nets her a new three-second personal best! Third place went to first timer Lindsay Pettitt (VW35-39) in an excellent time of 22:05.
Whilst we were astounded by the speed of Gaz Watkins' run this morning, he wasn't the only one to put in an impressive performance. In fact, there were almost 100 new personal bests at today's parkrun - that's 41% of you. I'm not sure if we've ever seen such a huge amount in one parkrun! Anyway, it would be great if we could mention you all, but sadly we can't (but sort the results list by the "Note" column and you'll see just how many personal bests there are). However, these are some of the stories we've been hearing about: Peter Jenkins and Duncan Adamson both managed to nudge into the 18:xx bracket for the first time on the course, whilst Phil Marshall knocked 38 seconds off and Nigel Popplewell 31 seconds to cross the line with a "19" on their watches for the first time. Debbie Futcher has been trying since last July to get a new personal best - and this week finally managed it! Steff Futcher came in just eight seconds later, but we don't think she'll mind finishing behind Debbie - her time equates to a new personal best by a massive 1 minute and 22 seconds! Will Burnett and Stuart March used a team effort to get a new personal best - Will reduced his time by 19 seconds, and Stuart by 1 minute and 35 seconds! It was also a big day for last year's female points competition winner, Abi Scarlett. Abi, still only in the JW14 category, put down an excellent time of 22:48 - a new personal best by 35 seconds! In fact, it was a Scarlett celebration all round on Saturday: Mags Scarlett also ran a new 18 second personal best of 25:30, and Aaron Scarlett reduced his time by a further 20 seconds to 20:18. It was also a successful family day out for the Ludewigs: Ollie Ludewig managed another sub-30 parkrun, Freddie Ludewig nudged under 30 minutes (29:57) for the first time ever and Connor Ludewig took over a minute from his previous personal best! John Knott ran a massive new 76 second personal best to smash the 35 minute barrier thanks to pacing by his better half, Sue Burnay (who herself ran a new season's best). James Clutton also partook in the pacing game, helping Anne Skelton run a new personal best - and indeed the first personal best she's achieved since starting parkrun back in December! It's one of the first weeks where I've genuinely been sorry not to be able to mention more runners - but well done to everyone who ran so well today.
However, no-one would have been able to have run well if it wasn't for the sterling efforts of today's volunteer team. We had another exceptionally smooth morning, which is testament to the extremely competent team behind the timers, scanners, finish tags and clipboards. A massive thank you, therefore, to Alastair Kidwell, Amanda Keable, Andy Woodman, Brian Billington, Carolyn Burnett, Chris and Claire Sandys, Gemma and Sophie Livingstone, Harry Sherlock, Jemima Croggon, Karen Thompson, Lynne Phillips, Mark Shepherd, Nicola Harrison, Paul Hendry and Simon Kirby. Also a particular thank you to today's photographer, Clive Williams. Clive was all set to borrow my camera to take photographs, but when it failed he stepped in with the only took at our disposal - his iPhone! The photos came out exceptionally well, and are available to view on our Facebook page (Link).
After 64 events, 2,629 athletes from 141 athletics clubs have now completed 13,356 runs on the Newbury parkrun course, running a cumulative total of 66,780km. 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 Gareth Watkins who ran 15:44 in event #64 on 6 April 2013. 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 email@example.com 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:
- 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!).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)