In this week’s newsletter, Fiona Sefton tells us how parkrun has had a significant impact on her son Adam, and we encourage you to explain why you value your local parks and open spaces.
21-year-old Adam Sefton recently took part in a 5k race without anyone from his family running alongside him. Without knowing Adam you could be forgiven for wondering why this was such an enormous achievement, so we asked his mum Fiona to explain.
"My son Adam has a learning disability. This means he doesn’t have the same level of understanding and communication skills as other people his age. As a result he finds it harder to learn new things and needs to be told things in a simpler way. Adam needs support when travelling to most places; for example he needed training to enable him to walk the mile to college on his own. As well as his learning disability, he has speech difficulties and had a delay in walking, running and jumping. His disability is an undiagnosed syndrome but presents very similar to Cerebral Palsy.
In 2013, when Adam was 18, a friend of mine asked everyone who was attending her wedding if they would go with her to York parkrun the day before she got married. I thought it was great, and I asked Adam if he’d like to go along with me. As he was coming to the end of his schooling and wouldn’t even have PE to keep him even the tiniest bit active, I knew that we needed to find something he enjoyed.
I don’t know how Adam felt before that first parkrun, but I was definitely intrigued to see how he would do. Adam talked to his dad and I the whole way around, and he really enjoyed it. Initially Adam was really excited to see his improvement week after week. He got a PB every week for about eight weeks!
We do parkrun together with a run/walk strategy. Being part of parkrun has had a huge effect on Adam’s confidence, and mine. He likes to go and see the friendly people we’ve met, and he still talks to me all the way around – so I know he could go faster if he wanted to and leave me well and truly behind!
Each summer there is a local 5k race (the men’s version of Race for Life). As it is a men’s only race, I’m not allowed to take part, and his dad couldn’t run with him this year. Adam has participated twice before, but I wasn’t sure if he’d want to run on his own. However, to our surprise, Adam asked to take part. Not having anyone to talk to or support him around the course would be a huge step for someone who loves to talk/sign his way around.
Not only did Adam complete the race and enjoy it, his pace was similar to parkrun. This meant he stuck to his run/walk intervals. The confidence Adam showed to do this was amazing and I can’t wait to see what he decides to do next.
Both parkrun and running by himself have helped Adam to develop the social skills to be able to talk to people and not be afraid to ask for help, and he has just started a course to prepare him to enter the world of work. His health and fitness are fantastic, and I am certain that’s because he wants to run. He’s not so keen on getting up early on a Saturday morning mind you, but the promise of a cup of tea when we finish usually gets him out of bed!"
introducing the Flex 2
Fitbit: The original Fitbit Flex is one of our most popular tracking devices. It's slim, simple to wear and easy to incorporate into your everyday routine. So how can we make something so good even better for you?
Introducing the Flex 2: our first swim-tracking device. Never miss logging a pool session again, as the new and improved Flex 2 lets you go from dry land to a dunk in the deep end or even the ocean.
Flex 2 has Smart Track built in –automatically track activities like running, sports and aerobic workouts, then see exercise summaries in the Fitbit app.
Plus track swimming automatically and never worry about making a splash – from bubble baths to beach days, we have it covered. Even the washing up!
And just like the original Fitbit Flex, the Flex 2 still makes monitoring your fitness goals effortless with automatic all-day activity, exercise, and sleep tracking to show how your entire day adds up, keeping you motivated.
You can also stay connected, receiving notifications of incoming texts and calls to your phone. 30% smaller than the original Flex, the Flex 2 is even more minimalist, and the range of coloured elastomer bands as well as pendants, bracelets and designer accessories make it even easier to coordinate with your lifestyle.
Please note that this new product is not currently available in the parkrun discount store.
Reigate running inspiration
Intersport: Last weekend was even more special than usual, as on top of it's fabulous parkrun, Reigate was host to the Intersport Run Reigate Half Marathon and 10K. It was fantastic to see so many parkrunners at these events, as we know that many of you used your parkrun as part of your training.
We really enjoyed meeting lots of you at Reigate Priory parkrun, including Alex Heffer who ran the 10K on Sunday, and Run Director Paul Chandler who himself took on the half marathon (pictured above with the race director). We were also filming in Reigate so watch this space!
There was a fantastic and inspiring atmosphere in Reigate all weekend, made even more special by the presence of Dame Kelly Holmes. Dame Kelly is a strong supporter of parkrun and was the official starter of the Half Marathon and 10K. What a true running icon she is. Our friends from Brooks Running were also with us in the race village, supporting the race. We love their “Run Happy” motto and how passionate they are about promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.
Thank you to everyone who turned up to run, cheer, support and volunteer, and congratulations to all those who crossed the finish lines at events and races all over the country last weekend.
Autumn is always a fantastic season for running and if you’re after more gear, remember that you can claim 10% off at Intersport as part of our ongoing parkrun partnership price #PPP*. Simply show your parkrun barcode in store (#DFYB!) to claim 10% off running products or use code PARKRUN10 to claim 10% off your entire order online**.
We are always on hand with plenty of expert advice, from tips about running through to gait analysis and finding your perfect shoe; find your nearest store here.
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.
Running Down Dementia update
ARUK: Yesterday was World Alzheimer’s Day and we’d love to tell you about some of the new grants Alzheimer’s Research UK is funding this year, made possible because of our generous supporters’ fundraising.
Scientists at the University of Oxford are set to benefit from a £200,000 funding boost. Out of that money, in the first ever project awarded by Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Global Clinical Trials Fund, Professor Jane Armitage at the University of Oxford will receive £155,000 to study whether aspirin or omega-3 fish oils have an effect on memory and thinking skills in people with diabetes.
Dr Selina Wray, from University College London, has been awarded more than £400,000 to investigate how the protein tau, which builds up in the brain in Alzheimer's, causes damage to brain cells and leads to the devastating symptoms of the disease.
In Scotland, Edinburgh dementia scientists are set to benefit from more than £600,000 of new funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK. Dr Iris Oren has secured nearly £50,000 for a year-long pilot project to develop advanced molecular techniques to study how tau spreads through the brains of mice with features of Alzheimer's.
The charity has also awarded Prof Karen Horsburgh over £560,000 to lead a three-year major project examining how changes to the brain's blood supply might contribute to the symptoms of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia.
Dementia researchers based at The University of Nottingham have been awarded £13,000 of new funding from Alzheimer’s Research UK for state-of-the-art equipment that will help scientists reveal more about the genetics of diseases like Alzheimer's. The equipment will help to extract genetic information from brain tissue generously donated by people who died with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Finally, a research team led by Prof Chris Fox from the University of East Anglia (UEA) will benefit from a £260,000 funding boost. The research will see them shed new light on the factors driving Alzheimer’s disease together with a linked condition, delirium.
Alongside an international team from Norway, Sweden and Ireland, and investigators from King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh, UEA will study the effect of hip fractures on the rate of decline in people with dementia.
For more information about our latest funding, visit our news page.
parks consultation – have your say
The Communities and Local Government Committee is conducting an inquiry into public parks, to examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat.
The Committee wants to encourage as many people as possible to contribute to the inquiry before it closes next week.
You can have your say via a short online survey or on Twitter explaining why you value your local parks and using the hashtag #myparkmatters.
parkrun UK will also be submitting a comprehensive written response.
This week’s UK statistics for parkrun and junior parkrun:
random stat of the week
13 parkruns around the world celebrated their anniversary last weekend. Late August is the most common start date, and the weekend of 26 August 2017 will see the anniversaries of 40 events.
feedback from the field
I'm a regular volunteer at Lancaster parkrun and have been Run Director a few times. I prefer to volunteer rather than run because 5k is a bit short for me.
Last weekend I did the equivalent of 27 parkruns when I ran 81 miles in three days for my local hospice and it was such a pleasure to have so many parkrun friends with me for my last day.
I love volunteering at parkruns as it's such a positive experience for everyone. And every single person there is an athlete.
Stratford upon Avon parkrun is very proud of our JM10 runner, Alex Adams, who won the Junior Great North Run earlier this month.
Back at Stratford parkrun, it's a family affair for Alex's family with mum and dad Emily and Tim, big brother Ollie and gran Cindy all regularly running and volunteering.
Alex now has a huge silver cup and was congratulated by Olympic Gold Heptathlete Denise Lewis.
At Montacute parkrun this week we were joined by Cass Castleton who has run 218 parkruns in 65 different locations.
By completing Yeovil Montacute he’s now completed the full parkrun alphabet – the 24 letters in England plus Zary in Poland (there is no “X” – though it was suggested he went to our neighbours in “’Xeter”!).
He’s run parkruns in every country there is one and every region of the UK, so he’s now off to volunteer in every region too (hence he was tail runner here this week).
Last week he completed a 100k race – he had the organisers delay his start time so he could fit in Fulham Palace parkrun first. Cass we salute you!
I did my very first parkrun with one of my boxer dogs, Henry, at Lullingstone parkrun on 10 September.
He was so excited before the start and had a brilliant time going around. We joined the Kent Canicross Group a short while ago, so haven't been doing canicross that long and I thought I would see how he would be at an event with lots of people.
All the volunteers did a great job – keep up the good work Lullingstone parkrun!
Let us know if you have an interesting parkrun story or photo to share.