#376 by Bryan Lewin

Before getting into the milestones, stats etc, I’ll start with a really heart-warming sight that I witnessed at the end of Northampton parkrun #376. It was our monthly ‘5k Your Way, Move Against Cancer parkrun’ and parkrunner Marilyn Walker was cheered and clapped by everyone - the tail walkers, other volunteers, our charity ambassadors and her hubby - throughout every inch of the final few yards that she smilingly trekked, to record a PB of 1.02.04. And I was delighted, later, to see that the moment had been perfectly captured by our volunteer photographer, Andrew Warriner. Luke Greer reached this point about 46 minutes before Marilyn, to register a consecutive hat-trick of first place finishes, but her mental and physical efforts were certainly no less than his.

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Saturday’s weather was in contrast to the preceding days of heatwave, and was, simply … wet, wet, wet. But love was all around and the inclement conditions didn’t dampen the spirits of those running, jogging and walking - or the 35 volunteers. Amongst the 411 participants were members of 27 different clubs – including Jersey Girls Run, Sandbach and Selby Striders - and 39 first timers (17 were doing a parkrun anywhere for the first time). I presume that our first time visitors, Tim Morgan (SM20-24) and Steve Morgan (VM55-59), are related, since one of their usual ‘home’ venues is Southampton, which was this week’s biggest UK parkrun, with 973 parkrunners - Poole (with 886) and routine No.1, Bushy Park, (with 840) were next on the list. Tim obviously enjoyed his ‘ampton’ trip, from South to North, finishing second in 16.44.

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As I mentioned, Luke Greer was first home in 15.55 – you’d have to go back three years (30 July 2016) to find a parkrun where Luke ran and didn’t finish in the first three. Claudia Nevett, in her first parkrun for eighteen months, was first female with 19.17. Lindsay Scott was second female with 20.28 – her two previous parkruns were on Christmas Day 2018 and Christmas Day 2017! Luke and Andy ‘Mr Consistent’ Heather had Age Grade thingies of over 81%.

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Ayden Stoddart (JM11-14) cycled to parkrun, completed his 10th, smashed out a PB (31.28 down to 30.13), filled out a volunteering role, went to the Good Loaf (where he looked justifiably pleased) and then cycled home in the rain. Emily Armson also qualified for her ‘10’ T-shirt – whilst brother, Lewis (JM10), demolished his PB by a whole minute (28.59 from 29.59) thanks to pacer Claire Thomas. Grainne McGettigan decided to celebrate her 50th parkrun by smashing her PB, too (well, sort of … 25.17 down to 25.16 … but they all count!).

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In total, there were 65 PBs … including three Kingstons (Darren, Edward and Dylan), two van Uems (Peter and Lucy), two Doys (Reuben and Karl), a pair of Charlottes (Dixey and Dixon) and both Neils (Andrews and Codner). Kevin Quigley has run nine parkruns since he started on 20th April – he’s run a PB every time since and has gone from 25.25 to 20.36. It doesn’t come that easily for everyone … on 26th September 2015, Vicky Nicholas ran a PB of 29.44, sixty three parkruns later, on 18th August 2018, she did 29.40, and this week, another thirty one parkruns later, she recorded 29.38. Just reward for perseverance!

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Random mentions to octogenarian Alan Palmer (for coming 376th in Northampton parkrun #376), octogenarian Cecil Schumacher (for coming 356th in 35.6), Nicola Shaw (for being closest to our average run time of 28:47 with 28.49), Bjorn van Uem (for finishing 184th on his 184th parkrun), James Thorpe and Rachel Canham (on Theatre-theme day, for making horse clopping sounds in the traditional style – with coconut shells), thespian Kevin Evans (on Theatre-theme day, for making no dressing-up effort whatsoever) and Kirsty Myers (for being my daughter).

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To finish, as it says on the website: “Northampton parkrun needs you! It is entirely organised by volunteers - email northampton@parkrun.com to help.

Bryan

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#375 with the #fitfam takeover by Bryan Lewin

Northampton parkrun #1 took place, in May 2012; 120 took part and the 14 volunteers included one of our initial Run Directors, Helen Van Uem. Without the likes of Helen, this great weekly event wouldn’t have taken place … and on Saturday, Northampton parkrun # 375, when Helen ran her 200th parkrun, she was accompanied by 520 other runners, joggers and walkers, and supported by 48 volunteers, predominantly from the fabulous #fitfam group (who took over this aspect). The group is three generations of the same family with extended members who are friends that love to parkrun, run, swim, cycle (and even one member pole dances!).

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Helen wasn’t alone in celebrating a milestone.  For Lizzie Timmins, Kim Pusey, Christine O’Leary and Julia Valentine it was their 50th. Ian Coote and Mark Richards reached 100. Alongside Helen, Antony Hill and Ruksana Wade also ran their 200th parkruns (and Ruksana neatly matched her run, as the 30-minute pacer, with the 25th occasion that she has volunteered – finishing in a precise 30.00). On the subject of milestones, the following Northampton regulars have achieved notably big total runs since the last report and deserve mention – Kate Smith, Andrew Reed and Madeline Dunckley (riding a unicorn) - 100; Adam Crouch – 150; Drew Kimbell (all at Northampton) – 200; Nicholas Rose – 300. I would also have remarked on Mick Conroy’s 200th … but he seems to be a parkrun tourist recently (!).

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Christine before her 50th parkrun, Tony and Ruksana after their 200th parkrun.

Flying first into the finish funnel was Luke Greer in 15.32 – the fastest ever Northampton time for the SM20-24 category … and the equal fifth best time for anyone ever at the Racecourse! (And, I’m reliably informed, Luke ‘warmed up’ for this parkrun with a seven miler!). Runner up, Joe Vaughan (JM15-17), also notched a PB with 16.28. First lady, Katherine Baines, with 21.47, was a first timer with us (but she was actually completing her 265th parkrun, the majority of which have been at Bolton). Not sure if Jenny Baines is related – I assume so – as she was also a first timer with us, and had chosen Northampton to run her 150th. In total we had 47 first timers (24 were first timers at Northampton). Luke Greer, Joe Vaughan and Andy Green all registered over 83% on that Age Grade thingy.

We had 49 people who were entitled to ring the PB bell – and it’s just as good a feeling, whether you were one of the 16 doing only their second parkrun and improving your time (such as Ceri Golding, from 43.03 to 34.35 and Charlie Lennon (JM10), from 49.43 to 42.30) or Matthew Everett (JM15-17) who was doing his 160th (in 18.04, his fifth PB in his last seven runs). But parkrun must create feelings of frustration, too – take, for example, Paul Whitney who has reduced his time, since starting in March, with a succession of PBs, from 28.11 to 22.49 (last week), but irritatingly running 22.50 this week!

On July 20 1969, the lunar module Eagle landed on the moon and Commander Neil Armstrong described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”. Fifty years later, to the day, Robert Armstrong (no relation, as far as I’m aware) bravely stepped out (for the first time in nearly a year) to complete his eleventh Northampton parkrun in 39.05; but we had no-one with the surnames Collins or Aldrin taking part.

Last Monday, in an uplifting BBC TV documentary, Dame Kelly Holmes explored the rise of parkrun and the mental health advantages of running. Ours really is an event that enables hundreds of people to benefit physically, mentally and socially – so, please, think about volunteering occasionally. And to finish on a volunteering note – thank you to Lewis and Paul Armson for marshalling ‘that corner’, whilst I enjoyed a near-birthday run.

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Bryan

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#373 – By Bryan Lewin

The last run report that I did was for Northampton parkrun #364, on 27th April 2019 – and we’ve not had one since #366 - so I thought it was about time for another write-up. But, before I get into Saturday’s event - #373 - I thought it would be appropriate to list a few ‘milestoners’ from the last few weeks who would have undoubtedly been featured (apologies for the lack of mention of the many ‘10’s and ‘50’s – and anyone that I might have missed). Alan Mould and David Pike have done their 100th; Richard Wild, Eric Symons and Trevor Berry have now completed 150; this trio have reached 200 - Gerald Billis, Jim Conroy and Neil Martin; Charles Corbett, Mark Kennedy and Kevin Evans have all accomplished number 250; and Lindsay Reeves, who has been part of Northampton parkrun from the very beginning, has notched up her 350th.

So to last Saturday … when, on the UK’s hottest day of the year with temperatures soaring and making it one of the warmest June days for about forty years, 33 people chose to start their day by participating, for the first time ever, in a 5k event around the Racecourse! In total, we had 60 first timers with us, out of the 508 runners, joggers and walkers looking for shade. Our first-time-at-Northampton visitors included Mark Jelley, who normally runs in the Exeter area, and the Edwards family (Paul, Alicia, Kelsey and Samara) – from Western Australia!

It was our monthly ‘5k Your Way, Move Against Cancer parkrun’ and we were again joined by members of Breast Friends Northampton - a support group for people, men and women, affected by breast cancer. We were also graced with the legendary presence of Elliott Line – who, for those that don’t know him, is (in addition to being an amateur actor, puzzle creator, mathematician and Spurs fan) a parkrun tourist and parkrun statistician (check him out on t’internet). His 22.51 run on Saturday was actually his second at Northampton – but he’s done 214 parkruns at 146 different venues in total… James Stringer, in 17.05, was first home. He, coincidentally, shares a PB of 16.53 with Andy Heather, who finished just five seconds behind James on this occasion. The first three females - Sophie Olejnik (21.01), Laura Campbell-Adams (21.08) and Katie Enefer (21.40) - all registered PBs! Katie’s excellent time puts her third on the all-time top performances for JW10 runners at Northampton. Andy Heather, Andy Green, Chris Bell and Madeleine Wain all ‘scored’ over 80% in that “indication of how well the parkrunner has done relative to their age and gender”.

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It was a trifle warm, and we all know it’s not a race – don’t we?! - but roughly one in seven of those taking part (71 altogether) still managed to register PBs. And the pleasure and pride of doing a PB is just as great wherever you finish; whether you’re Shaun Ledington in 12th place with 19.25 (fifteen seconds better than his previous, achieved in December 2017) or Lisa Whitestone (who started her parkrun career in January with 54.02 and is now down to 44.53). Ryan Adams (JM 10) smashed five minutes off his previous, to clock 27.57, Johnny Duffy (JM 11-14) is six minutes quicker (now 20.19) than when he started parkrunning in February and Hazel Dalley (JW11-14) is seven minutes quicker (23.03) than when she started parkrunning in March. Elaine Wood (VW60-64), in 30.55, and Oliver O’Leary (VM70-74), in 34.40, proved that age is no barrier to having ‘New PB!’ against your name in the results. And I must mention the incomparable Catherine ‘Northamptonshire Sport Get Active award winner 2018’ Hickford, who, with 36.50, has now recorded 27 PBs in the last two years.

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Milestones were achieved by Jen Scott, Susan Wall, Inderjit Kainth and first-timer Lois Eaton (50); Emma Baker did her 100th, David Everett did his 200th and Sally Hewitt, accompanied by family and friends of all ages, ran her 300th parkrun. Regular tail walker Sharon Conquer cheerfully carried out her duties displaying a ‘50’ balloon – signifying her 50th parkrun – but was amused (I think!) to be greeted at frequent intervals by runners wishing her a ‘Happy Birthday’ on the way round!

Thirty two volunteers made Northampton #373 happen … volunteers are always needed to act as funnel managers, barcode scanners, number checkers, marshals … put your name forward once in a while, it all helps. 

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Bryan

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#366 – Deaf Awareness week – I love parkrun

It's a mantra we all know and, some of us, live by - but last week it took on new significance as the 366th parkrun was taken over as part of Deaf Awareness Week.

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Four hundred and ninety parkrunners stood transfixed as Alexy our deaf parkrunner used sign language to carry out the traditional pre-run briefing we've all come to know and love.

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As the talk - and sign - came to an end, it was time for a bit of learning on the job as we we all learnt how to sign that vital phrase: I love parkrun.

The sight of banks of runners, from the super fast to the super enthusiastic, taking part sent out a powerful message.  Of course, the deaf awareness take-over wasn't contained to the run's start, as the group filled marshaling positions and even took part in the event.

Parkrunners always love the regular takeovers, but I think people will be in particular looking forward to the return of this one.

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Once the run was underway, it was spearheaded by a contrasting first two.

Adan Bare led everyone home in his first ever parkrun (18:11), followed closely by Andy Green (Team East Haddon) in his 236th.

Elsewhere, Alan Griffiths (Wellingborough & District AC) completed his 200th run, David Clapp, Bethany Conroy, Joseph Bruce, Jon Tarbuck and Keith Gee completed their 50th run and Johnny Duffy completed his 10th as well as an incredible 78 people clocked PBs.

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Thanks again to all the magnificent volunteers, who make it all possible by standing on corners in all weathers, clicking timers, putting up poles and collecting barcodes.

The event was made possible by 46 volunteers:

Laura A R SMITH • Alison POSTLETHWAITE • Leigh BARKER • Mick CONROY • Bryan LEWIN • Anne-Marie SANDOS • Alex MCMURTRIE • Ian BATES • Lisa JACOBS • Kevin EVANS • Sarah DAVIS • Michelle LEWIS • Ian COLWELL • David WARD-STOKES • Alexy DURY • Bobby CHATTERJEE • Vicky NICHOLAS • Lynett PILGRIM • Angela WHITE • Daniel GILLERT • Christy GILLERT • Claire THOMAS • Helen OXLADE • Maryrose AVERY • Karen CLARK • Jane TIMMIS • Neil WARNES • Sarah BUTT • Sophie SIMPSON • Rachel ILSLEY • Oli CHERRINGTON • Jen CRAWLEY • Rosemarie VAN BREE • Julie FITZELL • Mark DEAN • Damian BALL • Chris BOHIN • Alice ODELL • Chris ODELL • Jessica MARYAN-BALL • Martina SYKES • Colette BURGESS • Adam WALKER • Mike BALLINGER • David ELLINGTON • Paul JOHNSTON

A special mention to Bobby, who was overseeing his first parkrun as run director.

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This Saturday will be a special themed event to celebrate Pride in Northamptonshire, so make sure you all come along as brightly dressed as possible.  Also Northampton Road Runners will be taking over, so lots of claret at the Racecourse as well.

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Runners up at the Northampton Heart of the Community Awards 2019

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This would not have happened if our lovely parkrunner Bryan did not nominate us.  A big thank you from us all.

"Northampton parkrun is a free, timed 5k (three miles) event for anyone - walkers, joggers, runners, buggy pushers, wheelchair users etc (‘runners’). It takes place at the Racecourse every Saturday at 9 a.m. and is one of 601 parkruns in the UK that are organised by local volunteers, backed up by a centralised registration and barcode results system. Parkrun has been aptly described as “…a celebration of all that is good about social fitness”.

A team of around 30 volunteers – marshalling, organising the finish funnel, operating timers, scanning the runners’ barcodes etc – enable Northampton parkrun to take place each week. The event has supported over 100 youngsters participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme. Members of the tail-walking group frequently double up as Racecourse litter pickers on parkrun days – and a group of parkrunners will plog and support the Friends of the Racecourse events.

The first Northampton parkrun took place in May 2012 and the most recent event, on 6th April 2019, was the 361st. The average number of runners per week over this period is 334 but, for the fourteen weeks so far in 2019, the average number of runners per week is 499. Everyone is welcome at Northampton parkrun – it prides itself on being accessible, inclusive and welcoming (it often features ‘fun’ themes). Trained guides are available for visually impaired runners and the event brings together people of different ages, who possess a range of athletic capabilities and who have varying objectives. An 86-year old regular recently completed his 350th parkrun, three generation family groups are not uncommon and an enthusiastic 4-year-old joined his mother as a marshal only last week.

Local clubs of all description have participated in, or taken over, an event to help their promotion; these include, most recently, representatives from youth rugby (Old Scouts), local employers (Opus Energy) and Abington Park Joggers. For the last Saturday of each month Northampton parkrun is a ‘5k Your Way, Move Against Cancer’ parkrun and, on 11 May, the Deaf Hub for the deaf and hard of hearing will be the main provider of volunteers.

The Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, has said: “... parkrun is community led, and community facing, allowing local authorities to benefit the health of their population by simply supporting parkrun with a location and helping it to be visible …”. Locally, there have been many individual examples where runners and volunteers have derived enormous personal benefit in being part of a group - such as weight loss, helping to deal with anxiety or a diversion from life-limiting conditions.

The core team behind Northampton parkrun have supported the teams that have successfully set up new parkrun events in Kettering and, more recently, Upton. They are silent heroes in the local community – their weekly efforts, often taken for granted, enable hundreds of people to benefit physically, mentally and socially. A Heart of Community Award would demonstrate the respect and appreciation that they deserve."

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Bryan, Helen, Michelle, Mayor of Northampton, Gabrielle, Leigh and Alastair

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