Happy birthday to us!
Well, it was exactly one year ago that we held our first ever parkrun at Greenham Common. For the 317 of you that joined us on that day, you will remember that the event run in temperatures of -10, and under a thick covering of snow. It was almost as if the weather gods knew it was the first anniversary today, as runners were teased with a smattering of light snow once again this morning.
The first anniversary is a chance to reflect on what parkrun has achieved over the course of its first year (and hopefully the first year of very many to come!). We should all be extremely proud of what the parkrun has become over the course of just a single year: people have seen their fitness improve beyond what they ever thought possible, it has spurred people on to lose considerable amounts of weight and helped people recover from serious illness. However, for us, the highlight has been the number of friendships that have been borne from the parkrun. A disparate group of 300 runners at our first event has swelled to become a size of 2,500 supportive, cohesive, extremely friendly - and incredibly successful - athletes. Newbury parkrun is far more than just a 5k run with a nice rock cake waiting for you at the end - it's changed the face of a Saturday morning for so many people.
The parkrun couldn't have happened if it wasn't for the input of its two key sponsors: Team Kennet (Link) and West Berkshire District Council (Link). We were extremely grateful to have the Chairman of the Council, Councillor Adrian Edwards, attend today's parkrun to present the trophies to the award winners. Councillor Edwards made a wonderful speech at the beginning of the parkrun and did a fantastic job presenting the trophies to the award winners. And the trophies themselves (made by local business Southdown Engraving) were absolutely beautiful (we're actually sorry not to be able to keep one for our mantlepiece!).
The annual points competition has been a most competitive affair this year, and the winners and runners up of the competitions are very worthy of their prizes.
The junior points competition isn't openly published on the website, and it was wonderful to see the surprised faces of Sam Hart and Amelia Wenlock as they took their prizes for the junior men's and junior women's points competitions respectively. Sam is one of our best JM14 runners with a personal best of 19:14, and has completed 28 parkruns at Newbury over the course of the year. However, Sam's points have received a welcome boost from his volunteering responsiblities at parkrun - he has helped out on a number of occasions, and is one of our most efficient and accurate token sorters. Amelia - who also wins the award for "Surprised Face of the Day" - has also run 28 parkruns (with one being an excursion to Basingstoke) and has seen an exceptional three minute improvement over the course of the year and has an impressive personal best of 22:16.
Junior Men's Points Competition Winner: Sam Hart
Junior Women's Points Competition Winner: Amelia Wenlock
The men's points competition has been dominated for most of the year by Paul Hendry, and he quite deservedly took the award today. Paul spent most of the first part of the year trying to break 20 minutes, and managed to finally achieve this at Newbury on 11 August, running 19:49. He's now brought his time down to 19:26, and we're pretty confident there's more to come when summer comes. Paul is one of the parkrunners who goes well beyond "just running" though - he was instrumental in helping getting the event off the ground, and helps out marshaling in the car park pretty much every week. He also put in the famous yellow kilometre markers, and helps us understand the significance the flora and fauna of Greenham Common plays in achieving good times. The runner up spot went to Matthew Brookes. Matt is another regular volunteer, and has run a total of 44 parkruns at Newbury. He's seen a 6.5 minute improvement since is first run, and is now painstakingly close to breaking 20 minutes! James Moorcroft of Team Kennet finished just outside the top two positions, but we hope he'll be back to contest first place in 2013!
Men's Points Competition Winner: Paul Hendry
Men's Points Competition Runner-Up: Matthew Brookes
In the ladies, it's been a mother and daughter duel throughout the year: Mags and Abi Scarlett are two of Newbury parkrun's most familiar faces, and the competition between the two of them has been fierce. Abi's personal best is now just over 90 seconds faster than Mags', but both have shown really quite exceptional improvement over the course of the year and, going by the finish line shots, the effort they put in to achieve these improvements is worth more than any trophy! We'd also like to put in a special mention to Carol Lowe who just narrowly missed out on being in the top two.
Female Points Competition Winner: Abi Scarlett
Female Points Competition Runner-Up: Mags Scarlett
As you know, parkrun couldn't be parkrun if it wasn't for the help we get from volunteers each week. We therefore thought it was only apt that we awarded some of those who had gone beyond the call of duty with their offers of help. Firstly, the Phillips family (consisting of Mike and Suzy and their two children, Charlotte and Evan) are some of our most regular family helpers and frequently help out as a foursome even if none of them are running. Charlotte's keeness to help out saw her taking on barcode scanning duties on one of the most awful days of the year weatherwise. Her barcode scanner failed due to the weather, but she still refused to give up with it. Secondly, Andy Woodman (who also recently won parkrunner of the month), is always one of the first to offer to help if we are short of volunteers, and offers to set the course up pretty much every week. In fact, to our shame, he's normally waiting in the car park for us to arrive to give him the cones well before we get there. There was also an award for the Croggon family who sadly couldn't make it to the parkrun yesterday: Lorraine and Jamie, together with daughters Jemima and Martha, have been a real pillar of strength to the team throughout the year. Lorraine volunteered for many of the early events and Jamie, who works out in Boston for long stints, regularly comes to the parkrun straight from the red eye trans-Atlantic flight to help out. Both Jemima and Martha are some of the most regular junior helpers, and Jemima's ability to sort the tokens at the speed she does is quite amazing to watch!
Special Recognition for Volunteering Award: The Phillips Family
Special Recognition for Volunteering Award: Andy Woodman
Finally (and he deserves a whole paragraph to himself in his honour), the title of Volunteer of the Year went to Clive Williams. Clive "discovered" parkrun after we'd been going a few weeks and, unlike most people, he started volunteering before he started to run. He helps out on the car park every week, and his innovative mind has seen him develop signs to help ease the parking. We look forward to his emails throughout the week where he gives the percentage chance of him being at parkrun that Saturday (which, by Friday night, is normally 99.9999999%) and his ability to multitask is second to none. He has now run a handful of times, but still volunteers ahead of running at every opportunity.
Volunteer of the Year: Clive Williams
Well done to all our trophy winners, but in an ideal world. we'd love to have given out a lot more!
Anyway, in order for today to be an anniversary run, a run did have to take place! And with 283 runners toeing the line, it certainly wasn't a small affair. We saw 37 newcomers today (which impressed us a lot), but 74 of you - that's nearly a third of today's field - ran new personal bests. In a very tight finish, Nathan Gillis (JM15-19) of Team Kennet took the tape marginally ahead of Colin Lough (SM30-34). Both runners clocked the same time of 16:57. We don't think Colin will be too disappointed though - it's a new personal best, and see's him join the exclusive "Sub-17" club - a place which only contains 16 runners at present. Third place went to the ever-improving James Moorcroft (SM20-24) of Team Kennet. James has been running parkruns since 2008, but today's 17:06 is an all-time personal best for James and edges him close to breaking 17 minutes himself (we're sure it will happen soon, James!).
It might be a day for celebration, but it was still competitive at the front (Colin Lough and Nathan Gillis)
Amongst the ladies, Liz Hartney (VW45-49) of Reading AC took her fifth win in eight appearances in 19:14. Georgina Bradford (JW14) of Team Kennet was second in 21:27, and Catherine Wright (VW55-59) of Corby AC was third in 21:52. Catherine deserves a few kudos points - her and her husband, Alex Wright, travelled down from Corby especially for the anniversary event. The last time they ran at Newbury was for the first ever Newbury parkrun, and it was great to have them back! Catherine's travelling efforts were rewarded with her achieving today's highest age graded score of 85.06%.
Elsewhere in the field, we couldn't help but notice some excellent performances: Charlie Harding was very pleased to beat his Dad, Fraser Harding, for the first time ever and, in doing so, ran a massive 70 second personal best of 22:05. Richard Pike knocked another 42 seconds from his time, whilst young Baxter Cowhig managed his first sub-30 run for a good few months. Claire Sandys managed her first ever sub-29 run, and Connor Davies managed a new personal best in his 49th Newbury parkrun (will he be the first person to run 50 parkruns at Newbury next week?!). With neighbouring Swindon parkrun being cancelled, it was nice to welcome some runners from Swindon to Newbury for the first time: Richard Mayneord, Neil Tiley, Tim Westcott, Jason Watts, Jonni Suckling, Mark Parsons, Adam Fuller and Jayne Nethersole. Other first timers included Mark Baker who was visiting all the way from Sheffield Hallam parkrun, whilst Maria Carlton had travelled all the way from Albert parkrun in Middlesborough. Rebecca Costambeys had popped across from Basingstoke for the day, and Anna Duley had travelled up the A34 from Andover.
I believe I can fly!
Finally, thank you so much to our volunteers today. Firstly, a big thank you to Andy Tucker who run directed today so I was able to run the anniversary event myself (and also took a lot of the stress of the morning away!). Today's volunteers did a sterling job though and, despite the huge field, the results processing was remarkably straightforward (with no errors at all!). Thanks therefore to David Kindred, Rog Davies, Nick Weston, Ann Singal, Felicity Pointer, Sara Philo, Clive Williams, Nicki Tucker, Sam Stelfox, Amelia Wenlock, Andy Woodman, Mark Shepherd, Paul Hendry, Ian Berry and Sandra Bowers. We were also very lucky to have the top notch photography team of Pete Aylward and Stuart March today who produced some amazing photographs (best place to view is via the Facebook page). W are always seeking volunteers, so if you would like to help out in future weeks then please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before I close, I'd just like to thank all of you for the beautiful bunch of flowers I received today (which I'm staring at now as I write this report). I genuinely didn't expect to receive anything yesterday, and do absolutely love organising the parkrun each week. I get more out of organising the parkrun than I ever did running it, so to receive flowers for something I enjoy doing so much feels a little wrong (but I'm not complaining!).
Thank you, Newbury parkrun!
After 56 events, 2,400 athletes from 131 athletics clubs have now completed 11,465 runs on the Newbury parkrun course, running a cumulative total of 57,325km. 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 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 , although the nesting season is now over on Greenham Common, it is extremely important that you respect the flora and fauna of the area. 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)
P.S. Thank you SO MUCH to all of you for an amazing first year of Newbury parkrun.