welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter Alzheimer’s Research UK get us on our bikes, Fitbit introduce the Alta, Intersport reveal some exciting new volunteer bibs, and Ken Byng tells us about Operation Orange.
When I took up indoor rowing in my late sixties, it was the first time I had exercised since I finished national service 50 years earlier. I did a bit of running in those days, but like so many young lads back then I smoked a bit too much and time with my mates was more important than anything. Throw into the mix getting married, having a family and earning a living, and there wasn’t much time for anything else.
At the age of 70 I won a silver medal at the British Indoor Rowing Championships, which proved to be a springboard into running. I had a good level of base fitness from rowing, so I just had to get my legs moving! I heard about parkrun at my local gym, and in 2013 I went along with a friend to see what all the fuss was about. I’ll never forget that first morning at Arrow Valley parkrun – it was a gorgeous September day and the sun was glistening off the lake.
Before long it wasn’t just the sun that was reflecting off the lake. I soon became recognisable from my bright running attire and before I knew it I had a parkrun alter ego – The Orange Flash. I thought it was fitting because when I run I feel like Superman. I should add though that my kids prefer to call me Spiderman because I can’t get out of the bath!
What started out as a bright orange shirt led to trainers, socks, shirts, a pumpkin on my head and other paraphernalia. On Saturday I ran my 100th parkrun and the sight that greeted me as I arrived in the park is one I will never forget. Being me, I hadn’t kept my milestone a secret, but I never expected to be greeted by a sea of 400 runners and volunteers decked out in bright orange outfits. Even the course was covered in orange balloons.
Seven members of my family were there dressed up too, including my seven-year-old granddaughter who we nicknamed Satsuma. The time and effort people had put into dressing up and even painting flashes on their faces blew me away. I even had the honour of starting the run.
The bit that choked me up the most though was turning the final corner and seeing an orange human finishing funnel clapping and cheering. And at the end? Orange cake of course! As an old bloke who loves running, loves parkrun and loves having a laugh, I was bowled over.
The parkrun community has given so much to me over the past two and a half years that it’s great to now have the chance to give something back. I’m relishing the chance to be involved with setting up a new parkrun in my area and I have no doubt that many others will benefit in the same way I have.
When I lost my wife a few years ago after 45 years of marriage, and more recently when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, exercise played a huge part in helping both my family and I through difficult times. Running doesn’t make you forget, and hospital treatments are certainly slowing me down, but when I hear the countdown at 9am each Saturday and the endorphins start flowing it definitely helps.
I am always saying to people that it doesn’t matter how old you are, what size you are or how unfit you might feel, just get out there and have a go. If I can do it at 76 years young, everybody can. And for me that is what makes parkrun so great.
Photos courtesy of Richard Harper
get on your bike!
Alzheimer’s Research UK, parkrun’s official charity partner, is inviting our parkrun supporters to join us for a one-of-a-kind cycling event.
We know that fitness is a way of life at parkrun, and that many of you cycle to and from your local parkrun every Saturday morning, so we would love for you to join us at The Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo.
The event brings together cyclists of all abilities in a rare traffic-free, closed-road event, set against the picturesque backdrop of rural Cambridgeshire.
Alzheimer’s Research UK has partnered with event organisers to raise awareness and vital funds for dementia research through The Tour of Cambridgeshire. The charity is calling on cyclists to get behind the fight against dementia, and that includes our dedicated supporters at parkrun.
The route, which starts and ends in Peterborough, has been put together by the Very Cool Event Management Company in partnership with Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for cycling.
It offers four different categories to allow everyone from beginners to elite riders to take part: race, sport, challenge and leisure.
Alzheimer’s Research UK is the charity partner for the leisure category, however keen cyclists can still sign up to one of the other categories and opt to raise money for the charity.
To sign up as an Alzheimer’s Research UK fundraiser for this event visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/event/tour-of-cambridgeshire-2016.
For full details about the event, the categories and to enter the race visit www.tourofcambridgeshire.com.
So what are you waiting for? Get pedalling!
fitness is your best accessory
In between the hustle and bustle of everyday life, how do you remind yourself to stay fit? A parkrun every Saturday is a date firmly pencilled in your diary, but what do you do once the weekend is over? If you’re at work or overwhelmed with errands at home, it can be easy for fitness to slip your mind.
Instead of tying a string around your finger so you don’t forget, try Fitbit. Introducing the Alta: our new device that turns your fitness into your best accessory, and keeps you on track.
The latest addition to the Fitbit family combines fashion with fitness, thanks to its sleek appearance and interchangeable bands to suit any occasion or outfit. The Alta is also so much more than a pretty face, with the following smart features:
* Text, call and calendar notifications delivered from your smartphone straight to your wrist
* SmartTrack automatically detects exercise and adds it to your Fitbit dashboard, so you won’t miss a single workout
* With sleep tracking and silent alarms, Alta helps you get the best night’s sleep you need for your body to recover from all your hard work
* Need an extra nudge to get going? With on-screen messages and mini-goals of 250 steps per hour it’ll encourage you to move, and celebrate when you do
You can also use the Fitbit Alta to challenge your other Fitbit friends to challenges in the app. After all, there’s nothing like a little healthy competition to make you step up your game!
Pre-order the Alta here for delivery in April, and wear your fitness on your sleeve! You’ll never miss a goal again.
parkrunners can also get an exclusive £15 discount on other Fitbit devices here.
look out for new volunteer bibs
As part of our partnership with parkrun we are kitting out all parkrun volunteers with new hi-viz bibs and the Run Directors will be supplied with special white and blue bibs. We think it’s really important for the volunteers to be seen easily by parkrunners and other park users.
The volunteers make parkrun happen and we at Intersport would like to say a big heartfelt thank you to each and every volunteer who give their time each week. Most volunteers, from the marshals through to the barcode scanners, the tail runner and the finish tokens person, will be wearing one of the new bibs at your local parkrun over the next few weeks.
In the photo you can see Run Director Charles showing off his at Wimbledon Common parkrun.
We are passionate about sharing our expertise and knowledge with you, and you are guaranteed to always get the best equipment and kit with the best advice at Intersport.
Please visit www.intersport.co.uk for further information about Intersport UK and to find your nearest local store.
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
Number of parkrunners – 74,635
Number of volunteers – 8,054
Number of first timers – 9,541
Number of PBs – 11,693
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
At the beginning of January I ran The Spine race along the Pennine Way. At 268 miles it's about the distance of 86 parkruns. Through this I had regular support from many friends from my running club, Roundhay Runners, and Roundhay parkrun. Roundhay parkrun was instrumental in getting me into running five years ago. The friends I've made there have transformed my life. parkrun has helped me lose weight, control my diabetes and continually given me more to aim for. There's never a week when I don't come away from parkrun inspired. Thank you, without parkrun I'd never have even got to the start line.
I would just like to say a massive thanks to all the crew involved in setting up and running parkrun in Cardiff. All involved are out in all weathers making sure that we can keep running. We would be unable to do parkrun without your never-ending kindness. You are all brilliant. A massive thank you also goes out to all my guide runners who keep me on target for the finish. Karen, Claire and David are such kind people. Well done also to the founder of parkrun, you have planted such a positive seed that has a huge impact on thousands of lives.
King's Lynn parkrun was recently honoured by being nominated for an award at the West Norfolk Sports Awards. The nomination had been put forward by Sarah Byatt, one of the regular parkrunners. Unfortunately there was no category covering an event like parkrun but three of the run directors, Gary Walker, Amanda Barnes and Bridget Plowright were invited along as guests. Although the nomination was unsuccessful, one of our regular runners, Matt Pyatt, received the Sports Person of the Year Award, with the film supporting his nomination having been shot at parkrun. Matt, who has been a regular parkrunner at King’s Lynn, has improved to such an extent that he now competes at varying distances at national level.
On the 25th of March last year I turned 40 and decided I needed a challenge – to run 40 runs/races in a year. I've got three small children which makes getting out of the house a challenge but with the help of parkrun (16 of my 40 runs were parkruns) I did it! Over the course of the year my husband Gary has started parkrunning too and my daughter Hannah has started doing junior parkrun. On Saturday mornings my children now ask me “where are we going to parkrun today?” Thanks for making my challenge a little bit easier.
On a recent holiday to Australia I did my 49th parkrun at Albert Park, Melbourne. What a beautiful spot for a bit of parkrun tourism – a gorgeous sunny morning running around a lake with Melbourne's skyline in the background. It was a great way to start a Saturday morning and helped to work off some of those holiday calories. It was also wonderful to see so many like-minded individuals across the world. I even wore my club vest to make sure it made the photos!
parkrunners of the week
Names: The Sullivan Family
Clubs: Notts Women Runners, Notts Athletic Club and SRC
Home parkrun: Gedling
Occupation: Engineer, PA and students
Number of runs: 330
Favourite volunteer role: All of them!
What do you do at parkruns: We like to run and volunteer. We've done all the roles – Run Directing, timekeeping, scanning etc. Sometimes we will all run, sometimes a mix of the two. If we get the opportunity to all run together we often visit other local events to see how the other events do it. So far between us we've run 330 times and volunteered 135 times. We also enjoy the social aspect of the post parkrun breakfast ritual. Results processing, token sorting and coffee; a perfect start to a Saturday!
How has parkrun changed your running: It's allowed the family to do something together, and it means we can all get out in the fresh air and have fun. It's also given us the obvious physical and mental health benefits and the opportunity to improve our times. parkrun has enabled us to go that bit further with our running, no matter what distance you're aiming for, you always measure it in the number of parkruns.
What do you like about parkrun: The family aspect, not just your own, but the people you run or volunteer with feel like part of your family. Everyone is encouraging and without it, we probably wouldn't spend as much time together. It's also enjoyable to get new people volunteering and explaining their roles to them. You'll see new timekeepers worrying at the start that they'll mess up, but at the end you see them smiling when they've realised how simple it is.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: Our most memorable moment was when we all visited Bushy Park, surrounded by almost 1000 people, and who should be standing behind us but our good friend Arry. Jo and George had also just taken delivery of their 50 Club t-shirts the week before so we looked like a proper corporate family!