With nothing much better to do, in fact, nothing much to do! … (being an over-70 with a dodgy ticker and, therefore, in self-isolation) … I’ve spent a little time perusing the Northampton parkrun events that have taken place this year, so far.
But first and foremost, with the announcement that all parkruns are cancelled “until at least the end of March”, following government advice and public health guidelines, it is especially disappointing that we can’t go ahead this week. It would have been Bob’s 400th parkrun and also it would have been a special (yellow-themed) occasion to support Rowan's fundraising (those involved are trying to raise £4,000 to purchase his new wheelchair). Not only that, but (if she ran) it would have been Lindsay Reeves’ 300th Northampton parkrun (and her 389th in total) – Lindsay has been part of Northampton parkrun from the very beginning.
There were, potentially 12 parkruns during the period but Storm Dennis, “one of the most intense extratropical cyclones ever recorded”, cancelled us on 15th February (I think that means ‘very wet very windy’ because the official reason we were off was “Dennis had too many baked beans - huge threat”). This date would have had an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme – and it is now re-scheduled for 30th May.
During this period, regulars Nigel Swan, Pam Kingston and Steve Cory all notched up 300 parkruns in total. Steve also passed the ‘250 at Northampton’ mark – as did Peter Dixon, Charles Corbett and Andrew Jess. Mark Bonner claimed his 250 T-shirt and lots of parkrunners qualified for 50 and 100 T-shirts; sorry, but far too many to mention you all (or any of you!). And our esteemed Event Director, Alastair Rapley reached the magnificent achievement of volunteering on 100 occasions (according to the official stats … but I suspect that the actual figure is much more).
This is intended to be a collective review, featuring a few of the more noteworthy aspects, rather than a series of individual run reports, but we started the year/decade (yes, I know the argument that it wasn’t actually the beginning of the decade) with Northampton parkrun ♯400 on Wednesday 1st January. Despite the previous night’s celebrations (or not), 600 took part and an impressive 9 out of the first 20 welcomed in the New Year with PBs (there were 75 in total). Mark Hill was first finisher (for the 33rd time) – and with his number 1 spot again on 14th March, he’s now only one behind Luke Greer. Rebecca White was first female, in 19.09 – the third best ever time for our VW 40-44 category.
On 4th January Andy Green finished in 4th place in a time of 17.31 - which was not only a PB for him but it also smashed the previous best time (of 18.06) for VM55-59 parkrunners at Northampton. Andy also holds the Northampton VM 50-54 record (of 17.43) which he achieved six years ago – so he’s obviously improving with age! On 22nd February we had a first timer at Northampton, John Butcher, from Ware Joggers, who ran his 291st parkrun in 37.29, which earned him a place in the list of ‘Age Category Records for Northampton parkrun’ – deservedly so, because John is in the VM85-89 category! And, on 7th March, a determined young lady athlete, named Carole James, chipped a couple of seconds off her previous PB to set a new WWC record of 28.21.
The rare occurrence of 29th February falling on a Saturday (it won’t happen again until 2048) heralded the much anticipated (?!) Northampton parkrun in reverse - and it was certainly very popular. We had a new record attendance of 727 – the fifth largest in the UK that day; only Bushy Park (1029), Milton Keynes (921), Heaton Park (788) and Cannon Hill (781) had more. Noah Bennett (JM15-17) led the way to finish in an impressive 16.35 PB … and everyone managed to find their way round without mishap.
Northampton parkrun ♯409 on 7th March celebrated International Women’s Day by encouraging runners etc to bring along a female friend or relative – and it seemed to work. Our normal split is to have 40-50 more males than females taking part but, on this occasion, we had 281 females and 282 males - and 46 ‘other’ (a reference to ‘no barcode’, not gender). Maggie McQuaid, a first timer with us (but doing her 199th parkrun) was first female in 19.56; Elaine Danby (VW 60-64) registered 85.93% on that age grade thingummy … and there were lots of female milestones and PBs. (Some of the males also did quite well).
Our final parkrun for a while, on 14th March, was presided over by new RD, Julia Bradnam. It saw Mark Hill as first finisher (on his 100th parkrun) and Jessica Lamb (JW10) as first female in a brilliant PB of 21.12, the third best ever time at Northampton for this age category.
Finally, my view (from that corner) is that everyone who takes part in parkrun tries and gives of their best, whether they finish first or 500th. But I suspect that it’s always good to see your efforts rewarded in the form of improved times. About a year ago, Stirling Green (JM15-17) was finishing in around 21 minutes – since then, he’s achieved 10 PBs and, most recently, knocked 30 seconds off - so he’s now down to 17.45. No less impressively, Lynette Sampson (VW55-59) only started parkrunning this year but she has improved her time each run and she’s gone from 53.55 to 46.23. Well done to this pair, the hundreds like them and everyone else who makes Northampton parkrun such a superb event each week.
I gather Vera Lynn (103 years young on 20th March) has said we should evoke the wartime spirit, so, as she (nearly) sang:We'll meet again I do know where I don't know when But I know we'll meet again some sunny day Keep smiling through Just like you always do ‘Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.