Weekly newsletter 16th January 2013

welcome to this week's newsletter

Tom Williams

In this week’s newsletter James Saunders enthuses about our wonderful venues, Lucozade Sport announce their two #chasetheplace winners, we hear from a young Seb Coe and I philosophise about being true to parkrun.

Last week I talked about the many great reasons to volunteer and from the huge amount of feedback we received, almost entirely positive (I do appreciate both kinds), it seems I struck a chord. This week I'd like to consider reasons not to volunteer!

What is a good parkrunner? Great question.

Last year I was invited to sit on the panel at a conference around the philosophy of running and one of the concepts discussed was 'what makes someone a good runner'. As there were quite a few parkrunners in the room we ended up altering that slightly to 'what makes someone a good parkrunner'. I realise that with over 400,000 parkrunners around the World there will likely be as many differing views however I'd like to present mine here and attempt to fit them into the great volunteering debate.

I believe that parkrun should, for every one of us, be whatever we want it to be and that the 'best' parkrunners, in my opinion, are the ones who live their parkrun life closest to their own personal needs and desires. Some people disagree with me, which is not only fine but essential, and put forward ideas such as 'the fastest', 'the best age grade', 'the most times volunteering', 'the person who tries the hardest', ‘most first finishes’, ‘most last finishes’ or even 'the best all rounder as a combination of running and volunteering' etc. etc. To move closer to a consensus we perhaps need to reflect a little deeper and think about what it is about parkrun that makes it so special to so many people?

Well… at every event around the World we see lives being changed through friendships made, stresses relieved, challenges overcome, relationships strengthened, health improved, families bonded, running clubs grown, race entries filled, times broken and smiles made. Every one of those amazing things, and I'm sure you guys could add many more to that list, come about through very different journeys. For some of us it's about getting together with a massive group of friends every week, for others it's about turning up, blowing off seven day's worth of accumulated stress and disappearing. For many it's about the feel good factor of that amazing two letter word beginning with a P and ending with a B.

As our numbers grow so do the array of weird and wonderful reasons we each have to make our Saturday morning journeys, or not, barcode in hand, or not, to our local, or not, event and become a parkrunner, or not. Every one of those reasons is absolutely valid and equally as important as any other. What makes me sad is when I see people being pressured into going against their true reasons for being there, be that people who would rather run, volunteering, people who would rather volunteer, running, even people who would rather be in bed, being there. Unfortunately society has little regard for the deeper meaning behind why someone does what they do, preferring to say you 'should' do this or that, regardless of the effect 'this or that' may have on them as a person. If someone has had a challenging week and really needs to vent their frustrations over 5,000m of effort then I would much rather they did that, as opposed to being guilt tripped into volunteering and then spending Saturday afternoon even more stressed than they were on Friday evening.

What I'm trying to get across is that as long as you are getting what you want from parkrun then that should be respected and welcomed. For some of us that will mean being the fastest age grade or joining the 100 club, for others it will be volunteering every week, for many it will be a combination of things, yet for some it may just be turning up a couple of times a year, running 5k, not even taking a token, and then slipping off quietly, until the next time. If we as a group of people, and dogs, are to carry on achieving all those amazing things previously mentioned then it's vital that not only are we true to ourselves, but that everyone else in the parkrun community actively encourages us to do that. To put this into a volunteering context I would like us to reach the point where every single person volunteering is doing so because on that given morning that is the thing they would most like to do, and not because they feel obliged to or pressured into it, or that they ‘should’ make a ‘sacrifice’. That doesn't mean we should all want to volunteer, it means that those who would like to should and those who wouldn't like to shouldn't have to. Regardless of which of those camps you fall into, I believe, you have an equal chance of being a 'good' parkrunner.

Now, if there's one thing for sure it's that we need a huge number of volunteers to make parkrun happen. Last week in the UK alone 2,144 people volunteered and 25,174 ran, some of course did both, and I imagine that there are many people reading this thinking that after last week's volunteer influx my ramblings this week will send people the other way. So next week I'll get stuck in to the right way for us to increase not only our volunteer numbers, but the number of people whose parkrun journey moves closer to their own personal needs.

Until next Wednesday,

Tom (get in touch)



After six long weeks of rain, cold and festive temptations, an impressive 2,367 parkrunners made it to the end of Lucozade Sport’s #chasetheplace competition. Well done to every single one of you who took part and made it to the end of the challenge.

The Lucozade Sport team is proud to reveal that the winners of the two 2013 Virgin London Marathon race places and a place in Team Lucozade Sport are Helen Cookson from Norwich parkrun and Mick Brown from Whitley Bay parkrun.

You can follow their progress from 5km to 26.2miles here in the parkrun newsletter as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Feeling inspired by Helen and Mick’s dedication? Don’t forget you can still enter the Lucozade Sport competition for a chance to train with parkrun hero Mo Farah in the USA.

Pick up a bottle in-store and enter online here. Good luck!

Join in the conversation on Facebook and on Twitter with #TrainWithMo

event news

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

Hi parkrun,
Thanks for focussing on volunteering in last week’s newsletter, it’s a great article and I look forward to the next ones! I have volunteered at Bedfont Lakes parkrun during the last two years and can say that I see no evidence of sacrifice. The volunteers seem to enjoy themselves even in the cold and wet. I started volunteering mainly to support my wife’s running and just this weekend I ran my first parkrun!
All the best,
Tony Palmer

Hi parkrun,
I was very interested in your article about volunteering as I started off at parkrun by volunteering. My running club Striders of Croydon were involved in setting up Roundshaw Downs parkrun, it took me about six months to run the course and I started running once a month as well as volunteering once a month. I have now moved from Roundshaw Downs parkrun to Lloyd Park parkrun and still volunteer. At the moment I am training for an Ultra Marathon of 30 miles so I am able to run most Saturdays but do try to help put things away and help in the café afterwards. I do try to volunteer when I have a race on the Sunday or our running club’s Cross Country on Saturday afternoon. I like all of the volunteer roles but my favourite has to be marshal as you get to see all the people running and I love giving out words of encouragement. It is lovely to see people, particularly those at the back, as they improve over time. There is a large hill in Lloyd Park so when I am running, or when I marshal, I always give the encouragement “What goes up must go down”. A big thank you to Event Director Debra Bourne and the rest of the team at Lloyd Park for all their help and support. It has improved my running and the volunteering has helped me to see what goes into making the magic happen at parkrun on Saturday mornings.
Kindest Regards,
Victoria Legge

Hi parkrun,
I would like to thank Rick Bennett and the team at Heaton parkrun for selecting my son James McEnteggart as the Sweatshop Monthly Prize winner for December. James started running at Heaton parkrun on the 17th of April 2010 when he was eight years old. He was the first junior there to get to 50 parkruns and is now only five runs away from being the first junior there to run 100 parkruns, which I think is a fantastic achievement as he is still only 11 years old. He is looking forward to collecting his new running shoes and will be running his 100th parkrun in them. Once again thanks to Rick Bennett and everyone at Heaton parkrun for making running on a Saturday morning a pleasure.
Anna McEnteggart

Just wanted to say a big thank you to all the volunteers and everyone involved with the monthly Bushy Junior parkrun. My daughter ran her third one on January the 6th and is already counting down to the next one. The organisation is fantastic and she is so motivated by having her time, place, PB etc available and so quickly too! Looking forward to many more.
Becky Wickham (mum of Gemma)

Hi parkrun,
I can certainly relate to the early experience of having to toy with the dilemma of ‘Do I run?’ or ‘Do I help?’. However, for me it is now a case of the more volunteering you do the more satisfaction you get from being part of a team who provides something unique for your local community. Tom’s article last week was a great reminder of why volunteering is so important. So thank you for the timely reminder at the start of a New Year and I will continue to look forward to each newsletter!
Keep up the good work,
John Sandford-Mills

Hello parkrun!
No doubt you've received lots of emails about parkrun and how great it is. I too think the same, it's a fantastic opportunity for all. I started parkrun at the end of September 2012. I've now clocked up 16 parkruns with seven PBs and I'm very pleased with myself! I've also volunteered once and will be again shortly as it is important to give something back. Another reason for volunteering for me is to checkout all the running styles and see who finishes first. Interesting what you can learn! Also important is the public health potential of parkrun, which I think is far greater than the Olympics. I've made lots of friends and the social/running chit chat before and after parkrun is fun for me as well. Another great factor is how it gets people to participate, mainly through word of mouth and the website. It’s hugely successful in terms of getting people out there running plus improving their physical and mental health. Keep up the great work and I'll endeavour to do my volunteering bit which is actually very cool. Long live parkrun!
Chiara Samele

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

parkrunner of the week

Name:  Joseph Hind

Club:  I know parkrun isn’t a club, but I’ve been telling all my school friends I'm in the parkrun club! It turns out I'm too young for the proper running clubs. I have to wait until I’m 6 or 7.

Age:  5

Home parkrun:  Hampstead Heath

Occupation:  I’m too young to have a job, although I’d like to become an Olympian! Dad says he thinks I'd make a good middle distance runner like Seb Coe. I think I would like to play rugby too, I might be small but I can run fast and dodge well.

Number of runs:  6

Favourite volunteer role:  Watching Dad run.

What do you do at parkruns:  I run!

How has parkrun changed your running:  I now run a lot further for much longer.

What do you like about parkrun:  Running past the adults with a smile on my face, sprinting past my dad at the finishing line and all the admiration I get from the adult runners. Most of all though is the hot chocolate and croissants at the café after the run.

Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment:  Well that would have to be my first run when I managed to get the whole way round without stopping - dad was amazed, he thought I might be able to do one lap but I did both laps, non stop, he was very proud and I puffed my chest out too.

parkrun corner

contributor photo

Before you started parkrunning, how often did you visit its venue? For many of us, the local park was somewhere that we rarely, if ever, visited. However, these parks are now the environment where many of us spend each Saturday morning.

Until a couple of years ago, the venue for Eastleigh parkrun was a council-run golf course and to venture onto the land felt like trespassing. As the golf course became unprofitable, it closed and the park opened to the public. Since then, it has become a haven for dog walkers and runners who relish its challenging undulations and the venue is now used for a couple of the local cross country leagues; the RR10 and the CC6.

I often refer to Fleming Park's Old Golf Course as Eastleigh's hidden gem. For many locals, Fleming Park is the name of one of the most popular leisure centres in the area and its users are largely unaware of the beautiful park just a minute's walk from its popular football pitches. This is not unusual as we have so many beautiful parks in our neighbourhoods and our busy lives often mean we neglect to visit them. For me, and many parkrunners, parkrun has given the opportunity to enjoy these magical open green spaces.

Of course, there are often threats to our parks; whether it be from developers wanting to fill these green spaces with housing or from anti-social behaviour. By taking advantage of local parks, populating them with activity, these threats could be reduced. In fact we're hoping the local Council's plans, to turn the park into a haven for runners with cross-country trail paths, becomes a reality in the coming year.

So, on Saturday morning as you run around one of the many, many beautiful parks that have become our home, stop checking your Garmin and take a few moments to enjoy your surroundings.

Happy parkrunning,

James Saunders (get in touch)


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We ask every parkrunner to volunteer 3 times a year. When volunteering you receive the maximum number of points towards the yearly competition.

upcoming anniversaries


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