welcome to this week's newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Lucozade announce an amazing competition to train with Mo, Alister Robson gives a shout out to running clubs, we’ve got some great feedback from the field and I get all deep and meaningful about volunteering.
Last week I declared that 2013 would be the year of the volunteer and I thought I’d kick that off this week with my thoughts on why you should volunteer. Next week we’ll look at why you shouldn’t volunteer, the week after at how we can balance those two so that parkrun continues towards its tenth birthday and beyond in the best possible way and in the final newsletter of January we’ll look at the sensitive issue of volunteer recognition.
When I first got involved with parkrun back in 2007 my sole motivation at that point was for there to be a free, weekly, timed 5k run available to everyone in my local community. However, little was understood about the parkrun model back then and I really couldn’t see how I could get enough volunteers together to make it happen. It wasn’t until a few months later that my employers at the time, the University of Leeds, were looking for ways to engage their students with the local community through volunteering in physical activity and exercise that I put two and two together. Writing the volunteer roles into the Sport & Exercise Science B.Sc. course at the University gave the students a wonderful opportunity to engage with a wide range of people whilst developing many of the skills required to be successful in later life. That programme is still going strong and is now in its sixth year.
Paul Sinton-Hewitt was extremely helpful and offered us all the training, support and equipment that we needed. In return we became the fourth event in the parkrun family. The key point I only recently considered though was that I wasn’t volunteering for parkrun or for PSH, I was volunteering for my local community and parkrun were helping me, rather than the other way round. So, reason to volunteer number one was, and still is, as simple as 'to create a free, weekly, timed 5k run in my community'.
Over the last five years however my life has been completely changed thanks to parkrun, this is not something that I had expected! As a regularly competing runner and triathlete I’d never envisaged that a local timed 5k run could have that effect on me. The thing is, it wasn’t the running that did it, it was the volunteering and in my first year of parkrunning I only ran once at my home run but volunteered pretty much every week. The positive feelings that I received from being part of the team that allowed people to take part in parkrun was simply amazing. The camaraderie amongst the Leeds parkrun volunteers through our first freezing cold winter kept me smiling from Saturday to Saturday as did the fun we had cheering people on, the laughter when Ali Brownlee got lost and ended up in a children’s playground and even the ‘excitement’ when the timer battery failed midway through our record attendance. To this day I still enjoy volunteering as much if not more than running. Scanning people in on Christmas Day at Harrogate parkrun helped me put names to faces in a local community that my family and I have only just moved to and run directing at Roundhay on New Year’s Day started off 2013 in the most social of ways as friends old and new did the Leeds/Roundhay double. Through volunteering at parkrun I have gained many great friends, had a whole load of wonderful experiences, achieved satisfaction from the knowledge that I’m involved in something special and developed a wide range of skills that serve me well every day of my life.
It’s clear then that there are many wonderful reasons to volunteer at parkrun, every one of our 160 UK events is changing people’s lives in ways we never thought possible and to be part of that as a parkrun volunteer is something to be cherished, embraced and most importantly, enjoyed. Unfortunately many of us seem to have fallen into the social expectation that as a volunteer we are somehow making a sacrifice, giving something up or doing our duty. If you fall into that mind-set that you are making a sacrifice so that others can run then it soon follows that you develop a resentment for those who are running but who rarely or even never volunteer. Thinking back to why you volunteer, if it is so that people can run for free, it would seem inconsistent to be frustrated that people are running for free.
I hope that sharing my experience of volunteering has helped shine a light on this incredibly important part of parkrun. For this week then I’ll leave you with the thought that far from being a sacrifice volunteering should be a positive experience that enriches our lives and allows us to engage with our local communities in ways that much of modern society discourages.
Until next week,
Tom (get in touch)
win the chance to train with Mo Farah
Need something to kick-start your running in January? Want to learn from the best? Lucozade Sport is giving 5 lucky runners the chance to travel to Portland, Oregon, USA and train with the Olympic Champion and parkrun hero Mo Farah.
Winners will receive a once-in-a-lifetime experience including a round-trip flight to Portland, Oregon, hotel accommodation, a track session with Mo Farah and a Lucozade Sport branded training top.
Pick up a bottle in-store and enter online here. Good luck!
Join in the conversation on Facebook and on Twitter with #TrainWithMo
Also, don’t forget that if you were one of the 2,367 brave runners who made it to the end of #chasetheplace, and emailed the Lucozade team at email@example.com, the winners will be revealed in next week’s parkrun newsletter. Keep your eyes peeled!
Please check your event’s news pages for the most up to date information.
Cancellations and course changes this Saturday:
- Reading parkrun is cancelled until further notice due to the course conditions and concerns regarding the potential impact on the pathways and grass.
feedback from the field
Just a quick note to thank the volunteers all over the country who turned up on Christmas Day and New Years Day. I'm sure much of the UK was like Brockwell and Dulwich Parks on Christmas Day, wet and cold but those stalwarts in their high viz jackets came out in the pouring rain to put on a swim... sorry I meant run! Fantastic commitment so thanks from all the runners, across the country, for allowing us to do something which is fast becoming many parkrunners Christmas and New Year’s Day tradition.
On the 23rd of February I will be running my 100th parkrun. On the same day I will be marrying my fiancé Birte Kopke, who is also a parkrunner. We are getting married in South Africa and as such my 100th parkrun will not be in Manchester. Instead my 100th event will be at the new Sunrise-on-Sea parkrun in South Africa, in Birte’s hometown of East London, South Africa, which is where we are getting married. I cannot quite say that I am looking forward to the 100th parkrun more than the wedding later that day - however it is a close run thing! I am very happy to be running this event for a number of reasons. In June of 2008 when I ran my first parkrun I had been advised five months before to stop running due to a creaky back. I had run to a reasonable standard with some 16 minute 5k times in my younger days as well as many other events and challenges. The parkrun experience for me like many others got me out running again without the ‘pressure’ of a number on my shirt but still allowing me the excitement of a run out and the odd ‘sprint’ finish against a determined and often quicker 10 year old! I am not sure how long it will take me to make it to 200 parkruns. I will certainly improve on my pitifully poor attempt at volunteering (once at Oldham parkrun). However I will continue to support and enjoy parkrun and what it stands for. All the people involved have been tremendous and it is great to run at various different events. Well done and all the very best for 2013.
I have recently been lucky enough to spend three weeks in Australia over Christmas visiting relatives. I thought I would help offset some of the festive calories with a parkrun so I swapped my usual jolly around East Park in Hull with a run at the New Farm parkrun in Brisbane. It was a beautiful morning and the run takes you down the banks of the Brisbane river with glorious views of the city. Despite the obvious differences, like a 7am start and a considerable rise in comparable temperature from mid-December in Hull, it was great to see and feel the same parkrun atmosphere when I was so far away from home. Seeing the same parkrun ethos that I see in my local venues made me think how the very essence of the parkrun experience has spread far and wide and translates to so many different people. There was the same friendliness from all the fellow runners and the usual motivational encouragement from the volunteers. I took my cousin with me for his first parkrun and he loved the whole experience. My usual time of 22 minutes was replaced with a 25 minute run and my cousin came in a good 30 seconds in front of me. I'd like to say it was the 25 degree heat or the woolly Santa hat I was forced to wear that eroded my time but I'm afraid the extra helpings of Christmas pavlova may have had something to do with it.
I would like to thank an inspirational parkrunner, 10 year old Thomas Coyle, for his dedication and constant motivation toward us more senior parkrunners. Thomas has just achieved 10 parkruns at Leeds and the picture below shows him with his Junior 10 Club t-shirt. Keep it up Thomas, here come 50 parkruns.
My son Cieran, who is 11, and I decided that we would do Princes parkrun on New Year’s Day. It would be my 11th parkrun and my son’s fourth and we thought what a better way to start the New Year than to complete this with all the other fabulous runners at Princes Park. We even had coffee and mince pies at the end.
I did my first parkrun this past Saturday at Pontefract Racecourse. It was a relatively early start for me but after a night out on Friday I managed to pull myself out of bed and along to the Racecourse. I was amazed how friendly and approachable everybody was. A volunteer gave a small speech welcoming every new runner to the event which broke the ice and I was surprised that I was not the only ‘newbie’. On the way around there were volunteers clapping us and giving support as we went past, which believe me, by the end of the run I welcomed. Thank you to all the team and volunteers for a great morning.
It was one year ago today (January the 4th) that I took a 12 day vacation from the United States to visit London. About one year previously, I had started getting back in shape and mainly running. After a few months I began entering competitive races, trying to squeeze in at least one event a month. When I made the decision to take the trip with a buddy to London, I researched ahead of time where I could fit a fifth organized run into my schedule. Luckily, I found parkrun and the many events you offer all over the UK and beyond. I found the events page where I could easily find a parkrun and there was one located at Highbury Fields. It was only a few stops by train from where I was staying. What I really liked about it is that the people were very nice, active and encouraging. They participate purely for the love of running. It was a lot of fun! Now, here I am, back in shape with an overseas run on my resume. For me, parkrun was the cherry on top of a fantastic life changing trip. From now on, when I take a trip anywhere, I will check to see what parkrun has available. Now, time to make new goals. Thanks a million for a great experience I will never forget
Just before Christmas my son Stuart rang me and told me he was getting married to his partner Angela in Brighton. A bit of a surprise, but off I went. Stuart and Angela were married in the town hall on the Friday and it was a great day. Of course as I was in Brighton I found my way to Hove Park on the Saturday and ran their parkrun. I am aged 63 and I regularly run at York parkrun so I’d just like to say thank you to all at Brighton parkrun for a really enjoyable few days and will definitely go back there.
May I say a big thanks to the Glasgow parkrun team for making my first parkrun of 2013 one to remember. I came up to Scotland from Manchester to visit some friends over new year and it wasn't until late on Friday night that I realised I had my trainers and some kit and crucially that Glasgow parkrun was not too far from where I was staying. An enjoyable course in a fantastic setting, hundreds of friendly runners encouraging each other especially on the hills and most importantly a great set of volunteers. However it wasn't all good news as I'd not planned to do a parkrun when I set off for Scotland last year so therefore didn't have my barcode with me. The first thing I did when I got back home to Manchester was dig out my spare barcodes and put them in as many places as I could conceive might be useful - wallet, glovebox, rucksack, under the insole of my trainers and the back of my phone cover. I certainly won’t let it happen to me again and hopefully if this makes the newsletter it might prevent others from forgetting in the near future!
We are regular Kingston parkrunners and we just wanted to say that we had a fantastic but tough experience running Nahoon Point parkrun in East London, South Africa on the 22nd of December and the 29th of December. It was the hardest parkrun we’ve ever run and we’ve done 16 different ones, Iceland and Poland included. We also agreed that it was the quite possibly the most picturesque parkrun; through a nature reserve, up sand dunes, along the beach and with a halfway water stop. The full English breakfast which appears as parkrun breakfast on the menu with coffee in the café afterwards at 25 Rand (£1.81), sitting in the sunshine with an awesome view over the beach onto the Indian Ocean was the icing on the cake. We would just like to thank everyone who made us most welcome, it’s amazing how our red 50 Club t-shirts drew people towards us. We met Bob Norris one of the main event organisers who introduced us in the pre-run briefing and he said this was one of the fastest growing parkruns and with 288 at this event we could see why. Thanks again Nahoon Point parkrunners and Bob for an amazing parkrun and we hope your parkrun will go from strength to strength. Unfortunately we left on the 31st of December to return to the UK, otherwise we would have attended the Sunrise on Sea parkrun launching on the 5th of January. Oh well, next time.
Ingrid Wagner and David Venter
Just wanted to say a big thank you to Simon Buckden and the rest of the Roundhay parkrun crew for the brilliant surprise last Saturday when we turned up to do our 100th parkrun together. Not only were we announced at the pre-run briefing but we were also presented with a huge celebration cake (big enough for everyone at the run to have a piece) and a congratulations card as well. It was very kind of everyone to go to so much trouble and it meant a great deal to us. We always enjoy taking part in the runs and everyone is always so friendly and encouraging, but this one was extra special and we really appreciated all the good wishes from runners and marshals. Although we usually run at different paces, we made sure we both crossed the finish line at the same time for this, our historic event! Right then, just another 150 parkruns to go to the next landmark!
Adam and Carol Bull
Drop us an email if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Ange Norris
Club: Dulwich Runners
Home parkrun: Riddlesdown
Occupation: Teaching Assistant
Number of runs: 101
Favourite volunteer role: I like arriving early each week with my son to set up and put out signs and enjoy writing the report. I’m happy to do anything.
What do you do at parkruns: I’m spoilt by the fact that there are many volunteers at Riddlesdown, including several who choose to never run, so I virtually always run. I love arriving early to set up the course, it gives me more time to appreciate the beauty of the Downs and then have a chat with everyone else. There’s also the essential trip to the pub for some more chat and I’m learning how to do the results.
How has parkrun changed your running: Despite the fact that I’m there every week, I have been heard to say that I don’t like 5k’s! It will never be my favourite distance to run as I’m much more of a long distance runner, but it has become my favourite event to be at. For various reasons (injury and then other commitments) it took me four years to reach my 50th parkrun on NYD last year, but has now taken only a year to reach 100. Chatting to a friend recently, she reminded me that after my first parkrun I said “Twice a month might be a bit too much!’. That’s definitely changed. parkrun has helped this last year be my most consistent running year for many years. It has helped my injury be far less troublesome, I’ve managed to build up the mileage and consequently, even most importantly, my running has become fun again.
What do you like about parkrun: I could fill the newsletter! It’s a fantastic idea! I love the whole concept of parkrun as it gives us opportunity to run regularly and at many different places. Although I’ve run at seven different events I have become part of the furniture at Riddlesdown. I went with my son to the very first Riddlesdown parkrun last year and haven’t left due to the friendships we’ve made. It’s very special to me to have an event that we can both go to and enjoy. All ages are welcomed and despite being only 16, my son has become a core part of the volunteer team. Having the run at 9am means that you can run and still be home in time to do something else on a Saturday morning... but we are often still chatting in the pub until midday!
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: It’s all fun, except for at about 4.5kms! Some of the funniest moments have probably been at my expense, or those ‘you’ve got to be there and know the people to laugh at it’ moments. We have a fairly small family of runners compared to some events, which I like as we know each other well. We’ve had some special extra events with many more people coming from neighbouring parkruns, which have had more of a party feel about them and as such stand out in the memory!