Those cold, drizzly September mornings. They're not conducive to parkrunning. Or are they?
With heavy rain and some of the coldest temperatures we've had at parkrun since spring forecast, we predicted our numbers might suffer this week. After all, opening the curtains to grey skies and that horrid meteorological condition we can only describe as "omnidrizzle" is more likely to make us dive beneath the covers for some extra sleep than leap out of bed and try to break a 5k personal best. Or is it?
Well, it seems that those of us who live in West Berkshire defy human nature - as 9am approached, we were faced with 391 enthusiastic faces who were raring to run. Anyone who tracks our weekly attendance will instantly know that this is a new attendance record. Moreover, our previous record was on our "special" Jubilee event (which attracted a number of visitors) so to have 391 turn up for a normal event on a normal September morning is quite stunning. We know we should now hit the 400 runner mark in a matter of weeks which would be amazing and testament to just how addictive running has become in the Newbury area! Our statistics also tell us that we are now just five runners away from having 3,500 runners registered at Newbury parkrun - could next week be the week we cross the 400 runner barrier and have over 3,500 runners registered?*
* Lots of runners means lots of cars. Our car parks are now getting rather full each Saturday, so please read the note at the end of this report regarding car parking.
Before we started the run today, we had some T-shirts to present. We continue to be extremely sorry about the supply problems with the T-shirts which are largely affecting the junior 10-club T-shirts. We have absolutely no control at all in the T-shirt distribution, but we know that parkrun HQ are doing their very best to try and get T-shirts out to their very worthy recipients as soon as possible.
We've had his 10 T-shirt for quite a while, but today was Diarmuid Laverty's first parkrun since June. Diarmuid is one of the many pupils from Mary Hare School who participate in parkrun, and he has been away since June due to school holidays. Diarmuid's first parkrun was run exactly a year ago when he ran 25:26 on his first outing. However, in his tenth parkrun in June, he ran a highly impressive 20:40 - that's nearly five minutes off his debut time! Well done Diarmuid, and here's to a similar improve curve over the following year.
Diarmuid Laverty: 10 Club
Next, it was the turn of Guy Watts to receive his "50 club" T-shirt. A member of Team Kennet, Guy has been a regular of Newbury parkrun since it started, but actually started his parkrun career in Basingstoke in February 2009. At nearly five years to earn his 50 club T-shirt, we have a feeling his next 50 runs will come a little quicker than the previous 50! However, his speed at earning his 50 club t-shirt is certainly not mirrored in his running: Guy has been first to cross the line nine times, and has an impressive personal best of 16:44 - the eleventh fastest time run at Newbury, and second fastest in his SM35-39 age category. Well done Guy!
Guy Watts: 50 Club
Sara Philo was next to be presented with her "50 club" t-shirt. Sara is a member of the Newbury Runners group, and ran her first parkrun in June 2012. Her first run was completed in 35:15 and, following her debut, she notched up seven personal bests on the trot and got her time down to 30:40. Her dedication to training has now seen her time reduce to 27:21 - there can't be many of us who can boast a near eight-minute improvement in less than a year! With Sara's enthusiasm, we don't think it's presumptious to assume that Sara will soon see her times get below the magic 25 minute barrier! Congratulations, Sara!
Sara Philo: 50 Club
Team Kennet's Mike Sheridan was the next worthy recipient of his 50 club T-shirt. Mike is one of our regular faces at parkrun, and also a frequent winner of the weekly "age graded" score competition with his results frequently earning him a score >80%. Indeed, his personal best of 19:40 equates to an age graded 83.73% - highly impressive indeed (and equates to a 24 year-old running 15:24!). Mike kept it a secret until post-parkrun coffee, but it was actually his birthday yesterday - and what better present than a 50 club T-shirt?! We also hear that Mike achieved his ultimate birthday present the following day - he ran a sub-40 minute 10k at the Victory 10k in Portsmouth (39:47) . Congratulations and happy birthday, Mike!
Mike Sheridan: 50 Club
Finally, David Wright of Newbury AC also received his 50 Club T-shirt yesterday. However, David missed the presentation due to being delayed with his family and collected his shirt after the run. David ran his first parkrun in Andover in 2011, and has a Newbury parkrun personal best of an impressive 18:57 (ran at his first ever event!). David is one of our most travelled parkrunners, and has run 12 different parkruns boasting parkruns such as Llyn Llech Owain, Newport, Southwick and Conkers to his name. The picture below is a library picture of David from September, but we couldn't allow his face not to feature!
David Wright: 50 Club
In today's run, first timer Alex Muir (SM20-24) of Newbury AC put in a highly impressive debut run to cross the line first in 16:50 - a time which puts him as second in the SM20-24 age group and sees him as the fourteenth fastest runner ever to complete the Newbury course. Alex Hanson (JM15-19) of Team Kennet shares the same personal best as Muir, but yesterday came in in second place in a still highly creditable time of 17:34. Sadly, the runner who finished in third place today was barcodeless so unfortunately was not credited with a time today.
Amongst the ladies, Sheena Keates (VW35-39) of Runnymede Runners claimed her third first place out of four appearance at Newbury in a time of 19:53. Bev Hall (VW45-49) of Newbury AC took second place in 22:54 with Mai Brown (JW14) of Team Kennet taking the final podium spot in 23:10. We should also mention Sheila Marshall (VW55-59) of Newbury AC whose time of 23:46 equated to today's highest age graded score of 79.38%.
However, aside from the top finishers, there were some equally noteworthy performances elsewhere in the field today. We'd like to give Michael Phillips a mention: it was Michael's first run at Newbury, although he has 58 parkruns to his name. Michael's regular parkrun is Bushy Park in London (the home of parkrun), but we note that among his parkrun credentials he has a run at the US-parkrun, Livonia parkrun, on his list of events. Sarah Nangle, a Southampton parkrun regular, was also running Newbury for the first time and ran her fastest parkrun since May on the paths of Greenham! In total, there were 75 new personal bests. Kate Grieves and Ian Colcomb were two of those who were particularly happy to run new best times, with Debbie Studart pleased to finally get under 30 minutes again. We also noted that Lisa Ludewig ran her first parkrun today (which actually surprised us - Lisa is such a regular volunteer!), as did Adam Carr - well done to both of you! We're always interested in your own stories and hearing of your personal achievements, so please keep letting us know, either via our Facebook page (Link) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have to give particular thanks to the wonderful team of volunteers today. We've had a few challenges with the results recently (through no fault of anyone) but yesterday's results were uploaded extremely swiftly and, thanks to the technical expertise of parkrun HQ, also went online quicker than we can remember! Thanks therefore to Cheryl Langford, Dave, Samuel and Arthur Cheney, (the legend that is) Bob Phillips, Debbie Futcher, Sue, Paul and Ellie-Rose Bennett, Debbie Futcher, Harry Sullivan, Jo Amor, Karen Grinsted, Matt and Lauren Brown, Matt Walters, Mike Sheridan, Paul Grant, Paul Hendry, Richard Disney, Steven Nelthorpe, Mark Shepherd and Stuart Davidson. We also had Matt Walters and Karen Grinsted taking photos (which are available to view on the Facebook page: Link).
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 87 events, 3466 athletes from 176 athletics clubs have now completed 20,610 runs on the Newbury parkrun course, running a cumulative total of 103,050km. The women's course record is held by Susie Bush who ran 17:49 in event #68 on 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:
- ***NEW*** Car Parking: Please note that our car parks are now getting extremely full due to the (brilliant!) number of runners we're now getting. If you could review your own travelling procedures (including running/cycling to parkrun or car sharing) that would be great. Alternatively, if you arrive a little earlier for parkrun, consider parking in the car park outside Coffee Exchange and using the run from the cafe to the parkrun as a warm-up (it's almost exactly a mile - a perfect warm up distance!). If you're coming from North Newbury, you could also consider using the car park at the control tower and jogging to the start as a warm up. Just keep up the considerate parking behaviour, and we'll be sure to keep other users of the business park happy.
- 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.
Although we are now out of nesting season, it is still 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. Note that control of the common is about to be handed over to the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (from West Berks District Council) so it is imperative that we keep up our good behaviour; respecting other common users and always taking litter home.
See you next week!
Rachael Elliott (Event Director)