welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter we find out more about Alzheimer’s Research UK, Intersport has new season kit for us, Fitbit inspire us, the Great British Tennis Weekend is served up, we get an update on the HALO running study, and Lucy Frankenburg shares a special memory.
This is a photo of my Dad, my husband and I at the Burgess parkrun start line on 11 July 2015 – one year ago last weekend.
It's not the most flattering photo (and we looked even worse at the finish line!), but it means so much to me, as it was my first parkrun post-baby and my dad's first after starting cancer treatment. Sadly, it was also his last, as he died in the autumn.
A couple of years before this photo was taken, I was doing absolutely no exercise, despite my best intentions. My dad and husband were both keen runners, and over the years I attempted many, many times to get into it. But as soon as it got difficult (which was about three minutes in because I was so unfit) I would lose motivation and give up.
Then one Saturday morning, determined to try my new, optimistically purchased sports bra, I dragged my bewildered husband out of bed and to Burgess parkrun.
The next 36 minutes were among the most horrendous of my life. Having subsequently had a baby, I can say that childbirth was worse only because it took longer. Usually I would never have endured such hardship, but because it was organised, because there was a finish line, and I was going to get an official time, I kept going. I was the last person to cross the finish line, and yet I felt elated and overwhelmed by the support at the end. My legs were so stiff I was hobbling for a week, but I took great joy in announcing to everyone I met that I had run 5k.
A few weeks later, we were visiting my parents in Nottingham and I surprised my Dad by suggesting we run Rushcliffe parkrun together. I had thought my second parkrun would be easier, but disappointingly I was wrong. However, when my time came through, I was astonished to see that it was one minute faster. And just like that, I was hooked.
Over the next year, entirely motivated by the buzz of parkrun, I became a runner. I discovered that Burgess Park was a beautiful oasis amongst the tower blocks of south London. I started running midweek, sometimes with my husband, sometimes on my own. I ran up all the hills and did circuits round the lake. I knocked 14 minutes off my PB. And just the once, I was first female finisher at Burgess. What a journey from that first parkrun.
I ran through my pregnancy and when my baby was new and I felt like my body was no longer my own, running gave me a sense of myself back. I ran to deal with the stress of my dad's melanoma diagnosis. I ran through the grief when he died 20 months later.
There are still days when I don't feel like running. It's easy to make excuses when you've got a baby keeping you awake during the night and are busy, busy, busy during the day. But there's something about parkrun that keeps me running, when all my life I've been a quitter. I don't know quite what it is – the buzz of chasing PBs? The cheers at the finish line? The friendships forged over post-parkrun breakfasts and coffees?
It's all of those things and more. parkrun has completely changed my life, and my next challenge is to establish a local junior parkrun. I am especially thankful for the memories of running with my dad, and for the fact that my daughter will grow up seeing exercise as fun and sociable and part of normal life.
about Alzheimer’s Research UK
In this week’s newsletter we’d like to tell you all a bit more about Alzheimer’s Research UK and what we do. We are thrilled to see that so many of you signed up to Running Down Dementia, but many of you will not be aware of the fantastic research we are funding with your generous support.
What is Alzheimer’s Research UK?
It is the UK’s leading dementia research charity. The charity powers world class studies that give the best chance of beating dementia sooner. Its scientists’ ground-breaking work focuses on prevention, treatment and cure.
How many people in the UK have dementia?
More than 850,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia. Worldwide the figure stands at more than 44 million. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for around two thirds of cases in the elderly.
How is dementia currently treated?
While some treatments can help people to live with their symptoms a little better, there are no treatments that slow or stop diseases like Alzheimer’s. This means that the diseases will continue to get worse over time unless new treatments can be found quickly. Alzheimer’s Research UK is leading the charge to find these treatments and preventions.
How is Alzheimer’s Research UK helping?
Last year supporters’ donations helped to fund 62 new projects and pioneering initiatives. Alzheimer’s Research UK is currently supporting dementia research projects worth more than £33 million in leading Universities across the UK. The charity has also launched its Drug Discovery Alliance, a £30m network of Drug Discovery Institutes in Cambridge, Oxford and London, working to translate promising research into much needed new treatments.
How can I help?
Because Alzheimer’s Research UK receives no government funding, the charity is completely dependent on the generosity of supporters to fund its research programme. You can help in a number of ways, such as getting sponsored to do a sporting or fundraising event (including Running Down Dementia), holding a fundraiser at your school or workplace, volunteering to do collections, joining or setting up a support group, or you can always become one of our media volunteers. To get more ideas visit our website.
new season kit for you
As a proud partner of parkrun, we like to know that you’re all looking and feeling your best as you complete your weekly runs. We’ve always believed that the more you enjoy doing something, the more you do it – and having the right kit can really put a spring in your step and enhance performance.
With this in mind we have lots of new season running gear in store this month, from all the brands. Whether you’re looking for new running shoes, a technical t-shirt or the latest capri tights, we have a great selection.
Remember that you can claim 10% off all purchases at Intersport with your parkrun barcode, as an ongoing parkrun partnership price #PPP.*
Find your nearest store and pop in to try on some new season gear. We’ll be on hand with plenty of advice about running and always love to hear your parkrun stories. Just don’t forget your barcode! #DFYB
See you at your next parkrun.
*PPP valid at all participating Intersport stores; see our website for details.
** Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion.
We all know the feeling of “I just can’t do it”. Whether it’s a running injury or you’re running low on motivation, it can be hard to accept an obstacle and move on.
One man who knows that more than anyone is regular Crosby parkrunner, Andy Grant. Andy was injured when he served in Afghanistan and lost his leg. Despite this life-altering event, Andy saw it as a challenge instead of a set back.
Andy has been training to beat the 10K running world record for below the knee single amputee, and is well on his way to achieving it armed with his Fitbit Surge.
So how does he find the energy to push on in the face of adversity?
As well as setting small, manageable goals, Andy believes one of the most important things is to maintain a positive attitude and change your perspective. He says:
“Remember that life is only 10% of the situation you’re currently in, and 90% what you choose to do about it!”
You can also get a Fitbit with an exclusive parkrun discount to track your progress as you keep pushing forwards. Shop here!
great british tennis weekend
Get outdoors and play tennis for free this weekend at a Great British Tennis Weekend. Thousands of free events will be taking place across the country at parks and clubs that will offer fun activities and games for the whole family.
Rackets and balls will be provided and absolutely anyone can get involved. Whether you’ve never picked up a racket before or are a seasoned regular – we’d love to have you along. There will even be a special promotion on offer by the venue on the day. All ability levels are welcome so book your session today.
HALO study running research
More than 2,500 parkrunners have now taken part in the HALO Study, a project conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham. It was launched in 2015 and aims to identify the effects of running on joint function, symptoms and health. Everyone aged over 18 – regardless of running ability or whether or not you have joint problems – is invited to take part.
It is fantastic that so many people have kindly taken the time to provide the information needed. The aim is to ensure that everyone can enjoy running throughout their lives, and hopefully the research will contribute towards this goal.
Further details of the HALO Study can be found on the Centre website.
PhD Researcher, University of Nottingham
Here are this week’s summary statistics for parkrun UK (including junior parkrun)
random stat of the week
25,246 of the walks, jogs and runs at UK parkruns last weekend took place away from the participant’s home event. Find us here in the UK and further afield. Your barcode really is your passport to parkrun!
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
‘Just 1k to go’ – the joy of being the tail runner. Michael, Event Director at Moira junior parkrun on a rather miserable day, ensuring that everyone gets to the finish.
I had the pleasure of attending Cwmbran parkrun in Wales on 9 July. The location is very easy to find and has plenty of parking, which is always a concern when being a tourist. I was immediately made to feel very welcome by Tim, who explained the course to me. And what a course! Lovely, running alongside a river with the birds singing, even the rain could not stop my enjoyment, it was a real tonic. The great thing is that this run was the fourth parkrun organised in Cwmbran and you would never have known it was so new because it was so professionally run. The volunteers were brilliant and the local runners were so very supportive too. Thanks, I will definitely be returning.
I'd like to thank the Dunfermline parkrun team and congratulate them on their first anniversary. It was my younger daughter's first parkrun and she laughed all the way around as I pushed her in the buggy, especially when the volunteers were blowing bubbles at us. We also enjoyed the cakes at the finish – thanks Dunfermline!
I recently completed my tour of all 22 parkruns in Northern Ireland. They were all brilliant. What did I love most? The one-lap courses - Citypark, Enniskillen. The scenery - Larne, Antrim, Ballymena. The hills - Falls Park, Wallace Park and, the top test, Colin Glen. The historic settings - Stormont, Derry City, Armagh. The food afterwards - Bangor, Queen’s. The numerous corners - Carrickfergus. The fast courses - Victoria, Ormeau. The friendly welcome - all of them, especially Comber and Cookstown. The smaller crowds - Limavady. The wonderful volunteers - all of them but especially Waterworks and Valley. And, to cap it all, the beach at Portrush. What a place to finish my tour. I enjoyed them all. This tour made a 75-year-old feel young again. Thank you everyone!
Thanks so much to Lowestoft parkrun. The family and I are normally found at Chelmsford parkrun and recently we were parkrun tourists at Lowestoft. We had a lovely welcome from the run director and marshalls and were made to feel part of the Lowestoft parkrun family with a mention in the run brief and 'hi-fiving the person next to you!' Thank you to core teams and marshals everywhere – you are all awesome!
Ruth Benzimra from Wolverhampton and the 100 Marathon Club completed her 250th parkrun with us at Peter Pan parkrun. This was after being involved in the #seaofhull. We had other parkrunners and some volunteers who also took part in this amazing event. Well done from us all at Peter Pan! It was definitely a great way to celebrate 250 runs after being included in our city of culture photo shoot.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Olivia Deacon
Club: Notts Women Runners
Home parkrun: Gedling
Occupation: Homemaker and logistics coordinator for five children and a husband
Number of runs: 33
Favourite volunteer role: Tail runner
What do you do at parkruns: Many roles including marshal, tail runner, timekeeper, barcode scanner and recently run directing for the juniors
How has parkrun changed your running: It has enabled me to gain confidence around other like-minded runners and push myself to have a go at being involved in regular social running and volunteering, which seemed a really daunting prospect at first but I love it!
What do you like about parkrun: The friendly faces each week, the amazing support, the personal achievement, the diversity and inclusiveness of people who meet up on a Saturday, the social aspect of running, and the ‘come and have a go at something new attitude of volunteering’!
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: My most memorable moment was my first time run directing for Gedling junior parkrun. I was so nervous that I had written notes to make sure I covered everything, planned where the volunteers and all the signs would be before my debut, and checked all the kit was present and correct! All went well, and a few weeks later I repeated the experience feeling a little more relaxed. I'm starting to feel like I am getting the hang of it, and allowing myself to enjoy the role with further weeks planned on the roster in the run director shoes.