welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter PruHealth celebrate the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon, Alister Robson is surprised not once but twice at Durham parkrun, we ask for some Saturday morning quiet time, there’s some amazing feedback from the field and I give it up for volunteers.
On Thursday last week I was fortunate enough to attend an afternoon reception hosted by our friends at Join In. They presented findings from their recent research into the value of volunteering and, as much as they were preaching to the converted, it really was eye opening stuff. First of all there’s the simple method of converting volunteer time to some kind of hourly rate, right now we have around 4,500 volunteers on an average Saturday and the maths on that is fairly simple.
It’s the value added on top of that where things start to get really interesting though. We all know that volunteering improves the health and well-being of the volunteer themselves, plus each additional volunteer increases the capacity for an event to accommodate participants… whose own health and well-being is improved. Then you start looking at the benefits to the community of the existence of a weekly gathering of local people, the resultant improvement in community cohesion, reductions in crime and also increases in feelings of pride & connection that people have with their surroundings. Even the pennies spent by participants (and volunteers) in the local cafes or other businesses, when totted up week after week and year after year, represent significant value to the local community. Once you start doing the maths on that little lot you can see the contribution that volunteer-led projects make to their local communities.
As a relatively small not-for-profit organisation with a few paid staff most traditional methods of valuing our organisation would likely come up short. Once we understand the contributions of our 60,000 plus volunteers however we see a very different picture. As we move into our second decade I hope that the type of research carried out here by Join In will help volunteer-led not-for-profits like ourselves engage more effectively with funding bodies around the UK and in-turn secure a future for us where we are able to continue to remain true to our founding principles.
Having said all of that, in conversation with a few people I still hear the term ‘giving up their time’ when referring to volunteers. I do believe that one of the biggest barriers to people getting involved with volunteering is the incorrect assumption that by doing so you are somehow making a sacrifice. Volunteering is a hugely enjoyable and life-affirming thing to do and just as with all the other brilliant things (that we each have the choice of spending our time on) it shouldn’t be described in such a negative way. A bit like the term 'work/life balance’, which makes people think those two terms cannot co-exist and then leads to an acceptance that work time should be wished away in order to get on with ‘real’ life. Forty hours a week, 48 weeks of the year for 40+ years is far too valuable to be spent waiting for the bell.
As I said above, volunteers do wonderful things for their communities and they spend their time doing something they love that allows other people to do something they love. That’s amazing and a wonderful gift that any one of us can give. But they’re not giving up their time, in the same way that when they’re at work they’re still alive.
So, to sign off, I’d like to thank everyone who’s volunteered at parkrun sometime over the last ten years. Each week you spend in excess of 5,000 hours doing amazing things with amazing people. You really are valued.
P.S. You can read this week’s junior parkrun newsletter here.
Vitality Oxford Half Marathon 2014 Photos
The third event of the Vitality Run Series took place on the 12th of October and 4,482 runners completed the run in the historic city of Oxford for the fourth year. The weather conditions were perfect for running and the mainly flat course offered the potential for improving personal bests.
One of the highlights for competitors was the ‘Bannister Mile’. Just after the six-mile point, runners took a detour round the Iffley Road athletics track where Sir Roger Bannister famously broke the four-minute mile 60 years ago. Sir Roger himself was there to mark the occasion, both to sound the starting klaxon and receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Vitality.
Check out our Vitality photo gallery and see if you can spot yourself.
Do you want to achieve a half marathon goal?
The Vitality Oxford Half Marathon is part of the Vitality Run Series - a new running series featuring eight of the UK’s most exciting running events, brought to you by PruHealth with Vitality. Get active and take on a new challenge - run one, run two or run all five remaining races in the Series. Find out more at vitality.co.uk
Every week at parkruns all over the country someone turns to face the field ready to bring you the ‘Pre-run Brief’. Please support that person by listening carefully.
The pre-run brief will include any relevant safety information including the importance of running with under 11s and reminding you that we share with other park users. It also enables them to bring any potential issues on the course to your attention and is an excellent opportunity to welcome first timers and tourists to your parkrun and to thank the volunteers!
Here are this week’s statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of runners - 54,232
Number of volunteers - 4,967
Number of first timers - 7,796
Number of PBs - 7,384
feedback from the field
Let us know if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners
Hi parkrun UK
I wanted to thank you for producing the anniversary t-shirt and solving my anniversary present dilemma! Joe and I got married on the 6th of October 2012 which was Leeds parkrun, and parkrun's birthday. parkrun has been a massive feature of our relationship. Joe was an avid parkrunner when we met and soon after I would come and support and volunteer. The running bit came a lot later for me. Over the years we have made many friends, many we now consider part of our extended family.
As we were approaching our second anniversary I was stuck for a cotton themed gift idea. And then the anniversary t-shirt was released - 100% cotton! It was the perfect gift. Thank you parkrun!
Hi parkrun UK
Thank you parkrun for helping a woman in her 50s realise a dream. In 2012 I started doing parkrun in around 31 minutes. When Fountains Abbey parkrun began this year I felt a wish had been granted. I became a regular attendee with a parkrun home. The weekend of the 11th of October was fabulous. After enjoying volunteering, I heard my son was first finisher at another parkrun. Then the following day I finally achieved my dream, running my first marathon in under 3 hours 57 minutes. The support of Fountains Abbey parkrun friends, the joy of being able to share parkrun and my marathon success with them has been not just the icing but also the cherry on top of my cake. Thank you!
Hi parkrun UK
These two ladies were friends growing up. Patricia, on the right, stayed in Northern Ireland but Truffy emigrated to Adelaide in Australia. They reunited recently, by chance, some 40 years later at Portrush parkrun whilst Truffy was visiting family. As the photo shows, time has not eroded their friendship. Truffy has now returned to Adelaide, suffice to say Patricia hopes to visit, and all thanks to parkrun.
Hi parkrun UK
My husband, two sons and I caught the parkrun bug on holiday this summer, taking part in the beautiful run at Lanhydrock. Since then we have only missed one week (due to one son having an operation) and the boys are looking forward to receiving their 10 Club t-shirts. We travelled a little further this weekend to run in Brandon and were made to feel incredibly welcome from the moment we arrived in the car park. Fortunately we were warned about the tree roots and the cheeky hill so were well prepared! After years of racing longer distances it is wonderful to be part of the parkrun family with my family and enjoy meeting new people but always friendly faces.
Hi parkrun UK
When I found out I had kidney failure a few years ago, I assumed my athletics ‘career’ was over. Long-term physical decline seemed inevitable, so what was the point in running? But then my brilliant brother Chris, who is a Buddhist monk, decided to donate one of his kidneys. Since the transplant two years ago parkrun has played a huge part in my recovery. Every run has helped me feel better, both physically and mentally. Thanks, parkrun, especially the volunteers at Richmond Park, Kingston and Winchester! On Saturday at 9am Chris and I were in Richmond Park to celebrate the second anniversary of the transplant (‘kidneyversary’). Is Chris the first Buddhist monk ever to do a parkrun, I wonder...
Hi parkrun UK
For two years I have run at Bryn Bach parkrun and got my 50 Club t-shirt. Recently I was driving to Bryn Bach ready for the week’s outing and on the way there I spotted a shady figure. A fellow Club 50 t-shirt, no way. I pulled over, a fellow parkrunner whose lift had let him down. It was raining and he was trying to make the start. He wasn't a local, he was from Poland and living in London, and was in Wales for the weekend. What a legend, hitchhiking to the start. I gave him a lift there and back. He did the run and gave me his number in case he ever comes back. The 50 Club t-shirt - what a classic hitchhikers icon!
Hi parkrun UK
On a recent trip to Australia, my friend Jim and I ran at Berwick Springs parkrun in Melbourne. As parkrun tourists we were made very welcome and enjoyed the run. It was a nice flat two-lap course and the weather was ideal for running. This was event number 51, so they were just short of their first anniversary. They had just over one hundred runners. What made it better was when looking later at the results I found I had set a new VM70-74 age record!
Hi parkrun UK
I am 68 and after watching my local Porthcawl parkrun some months ago it inspired me to renew my running after 25 years and have now run two of my local events. So last weekend on a visit to Hove I had the opportunity to run in the Brighton and Hove parkrun with my son and grandson. Imagine my joy and surprise when they announced at the start that there were three generations of the Davies family running. It inspired me to a PB of 28:06. So a big thank you to all the volunteers in Hove for making this possible. Incidentally my 10 year old grandson also ran a PB in 21:43.
Hi parkrun UK
On Sunday the 12th of October I completed the Yorkshire marathon wearing my parkrun 50 Club t-shirt.
May I say a big thank you to the kind people of York for the amazing support but particularly to all of the spectating/participating parkrunners who drove me on with shouts of "well done parkrun 50!" I don't need to tell everyone how much it means to have spectators shouting encouragement when you are flagging but particularly so when it is something you are so proud of. Thanks to them all.
Hi parkrun UK
I've only completed five parkruns in two venues at Cannon Hill parkrun and Brueton parkrun and the organisers at both have gone out their way to help. The other runners have given me a cheer and on the downhills moved out of the way with just a little encouragement from my attached klaxon. I'm training for the London Marathon wheelchair section (34 completions to date) and the parkruns are an ideal acclimatisation for negotiating through the running masses.
Dale Lyons (Robin Hood Half Marathon Nottingham in 1:58:45)
parkrunner of the week
Name: Ben Stock
Club: Crawley Saints and Sinners
Home parkrun: Tilgate
Occupation: Police Officer
Number of runs: 76
Favourite volunteer role: Volunteer Coordinator or Barcode Scanner
What do you do at parkruns: I have been the volunteer coordinator at Tilgate since March, a role I really enjoy. We are lucky to have a fantastic core team and some truly inspirational volunteers who help to make the run welcoming & friendly. We get an amazing 30+ volunteers each week. Saturday morning I generally have a panic that I’ve left the roster at home when I arrive before letting the volunteers know what role they’ve been given that week, including the dreaded ‘number checker’ job! During the run I try to thank all the marshals if I’m not too out of breath.
How has parkrun changed your running: I took part in my first parkrun two years ago after my brother told me about it; I was hooked from my first run and my running has changed beyond all recognition since then. I had been running on and off for a few years before and had entered a couple of races, but always on my own. parkrun made me feel part of a wider running community and has given me a goal each week. From parkrun I joined a local running club this year, entered more races and have met some great people.
What do you like about parkrun: That everybody is welcome, regardless of ability, age or fitness levels. I remember feeling nervous coming for my first run but being made to feel very welcome into a friendly group. I look forward to catching up with parkrun friends each week but also challenging myself during the run and trying to improve. parkrun is a highlight of the week and a great start to each weekend! I’m keen to get my daughter involved when she is a bit older and look forward to doing her first parkrun together.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: I had to miss a few months running last year with a knee injury that took longer than I hoped to recover, keeping involved as a volunteer each week kept me motivated. Whilst I was injured I brought my daughter, who is now two and a half, along each week to introduce her to both parkrun and volunteering. I’m not sure which was worse - her hitting me with a stopwatch, strangling me with a barcode scanner or hitting me on the head and demanding raisins but she always had fun!