Holidays fail to thwart the new runner stampede!
We're now unfortunately counting the days down until Autumn, but intend to enjoy the warmer conditions as much as we can before we start to see the first flowers on our hallowed gorse bushes: a sure sign that the nights are closing in. Numbers were down slightly this week as many of our regular runners were either away on holiday, or taking part in an en masse roadtrip to the Minley 20k race (where we've heard stories of some excellent running!).
290 runners toed the line this week - the lowest number since 22 June - but when you consider that we often struggled to break the 200 runner mark in August last year, this is testament to just how popular parkrun - and running in general - has become in Newbury over the past year. In fact, the best demonstration of this growing popularity is the fact that an incredible 44 runners this week (or 15% of the field) were new to Newbury parkrun. Whilst most were new to the parkrun concept in general, we did have some visitors, or "parkrun tourists" as they are commonly known. One of those was Alex Dicks: Alex started his parkrun career at Eastleigh in 2011 and, although his allegiance is now at Winchester parkrun, he has run 12 different parkruns during the course of his 42-run career and managed his first sub-20 parkrun at Southampton on 6 July. We also welcomed Julie Collins and Shane Powell from the rather amusingly named "Cake Club". Both Julie and Shane are regulars of the Havant parkrun and, although both have run a variety of different parkruns, Julie's time today was her second fastest ever parkrun time, and Shane managed an all time parkrun personal best! Well done to both of you. Chris Griggs has 17 parkruns to his name, and can normally be found at the Oxford parkrun at Cutteslowe Park. Finally, our (arguably) furthest travelled visitor this week was Serena Partridge of Pickering AC. Serena normally frequents the northern parkruns of Sewerby and York (with excursions to Glasgow, Tees Barrage and Northampton), but today was her most southerly ever parkrun! We hope you all enjoyed yourselves, and hope to welcome you back again very soon.
Before the run got underway today, we had three new t-shirts to present. First to collect their t-shirt was new 10-club member, Chris Carr. Chris ran his first parkrun back in May, and now run 13 parkruns (all at Newbury) to his name. He's managed to get under the magical 30-minute mark twice, and has a personal best of 29:28. Well done Chris!
Chris Carr: 10 Club
Next, it was the turn of Graham Phillips to receive his 50 Club shirt. Graham ran his first Newbury parkrun back in May 2012 in 36:04, and then succeeded in reducing his time on his next five consecutive outings at parkrun. His streak ended with a time of 30:34 on 16 June 2012. Since then, he has come on in leaps and bounds and last week ran a new personal best of 25:05 - just one second shy of a massive eleven minute improvement! Does this mean we're going to see him challenging Mo Farah by the time he collects his 100 shirt?! Only time will tell. Congratulations, Graham!
Graham Phillips: 50 Club
The final T-shirt presented today went to Phil Cowhig of Team Kennet. Phil was present at the first snow-covered Newbury parkrun on 11 February 2012, and hasn't looked back. Phil impressively snow-danced to a time of 22:55 on the snow, and has since managed to get his time down to a fast 21:46. Phil regularly runs with his son Baxter, and the reason he hasn't got to 50 faster is because of the sheer number of times he's volunteered! Phil's one of the happiest faces we have at Newbury, and look forward to even more improvements as he edges towards 100 runs. Well done Philip!
Phil Cowhig: 50 Club
(We know that many of you are still waiting for t-shirts to be delivered, and can only apologise for the delay. It breaks my heart each month when the batch is delivered and there are so many t-shirts - particularly for junior runners - which have been delayed. We know that parkrun HQ are doing their utmost to try and get shirts made and distributed as quickly as they can, and you *will* receive your shirts soon)
In today's run, Alex Hanson (JM15-19) of Team Kennet was the first across the line in 17:28. It was the third time Alex has been first to finish and, more importantly, is the first time he's managed to get below 17:30. David Fry (SM25-29) of Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC took second place in 17:51, with Ciaran Birch (JM15-19) of Didcot Runners finishing just a stride behind in 17:52. It's the first time Ciaran has run Newbury parkrun since January, and is a massive personal best for him - his previous best was 19:18, so his new time is an 86 second improvement!
Sheena Keates (VW35-39) of Runnymede Runners was first across the line in 19:27. Sheena has 75 parkruns to her name and, although only three have been run at Newbury, her time today equates to her fastest parkrun ever! Well done Sheena. Mai Brown (JW14) of Team Kennet was second lady across the line in a new personal best of 21:55, with Christina Pugsley (SW30-34) of Newbury AC finishing third and completing the podium ladies' personal best bingo with a new best time of 22:06.
We had two runners who exceeded the impressive 80% age graded mark today: Mike Sheridan (VM60-64) earned a score of 82.68% with his time of 19:55, whilst Sheila Marshall (VW55-59) was graded 81.73% for her new personal best time of 23:05.
We also noticed some impressive performances throughout the field today. You don't have to be a huge football fan to know about ex-England international Stuart Pearce. Stuart ran our parkrun today and, whether it was deliberate or not, chose to not get a barcode scanned for a time. Our timekeepers tell us that Stuart ran an impressive 21 minute 5k which shows that he is clearly still keeping in shape. Stuart's son, Harley, also ran an impressive 24:39 in his debut run at Greenham. We really hope they'll be back in future weeks. In fact, it seemed to be the day for Stuarts to make their parkrun debut: Stuart Wilson also enjoyed his first run at Newbury, and we hope he'll be make for many more! Rog Davis managed to break into the 21 minute bracket for the first time, whilst Karsh Davey's week of splurging out on the diet front whilst on holiday in Cornwall saw him rewarded with an eleven second personal best! Paul Grant meanwhile managed his sixth personal best in six weeks (showing that setting the course up provides the perfect warm up!). He has now got his best time down to 23:15 - nearly 4.5 minutes better than his first parkrun, just three months ago. Finally, we don't know whether to congratulate or commiserate with Matt Brookes: last week, Matt ran 20:02 - so painstakingly close to breaking 20. This week, he ran 20:01! Hopefully, by mathematical logic, he should be sub-20 on 31 August.
We have to give particular thanks to the wonderful team of volunteers today. We're rather struggling for volunteer help at the moment given it's the holidays, and the team today did a perfect job. Thanks therefore to Dave and Alanna Smith, Anne and Charlotte Wenlock, Chi Yeung, Claire Heller, Claire Sandys, Clare Groombridge, Gary Shaughnessy, Mark Shepherd, Matt Walters, Nathan Darling, Paul Grant, Paul Hendry, Philip and Wendy Lewis and Tim Hill. We also had John Barr and Clive Williams taking photos (which are available to view on the Facebook page: Link).
You too can look this cool if you timekeep at Newbury parkrun. Today's team with the watches were Matt Walters, Tim Hill and Gary Shaughnessy
This year's points competition is now well underway. Karen Grinsted is is still leading the ladies' competition with 8,030 with Carrie Collins sneaking into second place with 7,291 points. Monique Amor remains in third place with a score of 7,024 points. In the men's competition, Karen's husband Mike Grinsted is leading with 8,290 points. Rob Saunders is in second place with 7,994 points and David Stratton remains in third place with 7,240 points.
After 83 events, 3,335 athletes from 171 athletics clubs have now completed 19,253 runs on the Newbury parkrun course, running a cumulative total of 96,265km. 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 Plane" 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)