You might start to see a regular report on Northampton parkrun from various contributors from now on – but, unfortunately, our first volunteer had another more-pressing writing commitment … so, apologies, it’s me again giving you a personal viewpoint of the most recent event.
Just after 9.30 on Saturday morning, vehicles were heading towards my marshalling spot down St George’s Avenue with their headlights and windscreen wipers on – and I was clapping the final parkrun athletes wearing my gloves; you won’t need reminding, therefore, that this week’s weather was gloomy, cold, windy and damp! So, well done to every single one of you that walked, jogged, ran, pushed a contraption or led a pooch round the Racecourse for Northampton parkrun #350. Our 555 brave athletes were part of another record UK parkrun weekend with 180,746 participating – lots of new individual parkrun records, obviously, including 354 at our nearest neighbours, Sixfields Upton.
Milestones celebrated this week included Dean Shears (150) and Richard Boyes (50). Christine Ayres (VW 60-65), who is mentioned later, was running her 150th parkrun at her 36th different venue; her time of 25.37 warranted her an 80.35% on that Age Grade thingy; and she’s done her fair share of volunteering, including frequent stints as Run Director. We had even more Northampton first timers than last week (64 compared to 41) … (and 43 (last week 33) were taking part in their first-ever parkrun anywhere). A number were obviously parkrun tourists. Our Facebook page featured interviews with David and Christine Ayres (from Rushmere) and Emma and Elaine Vaughan (from Maldon Prom), all of whom were adding Northampton to their considerable lists of single-visit parkruns. Three Massey Ferguson RC runners were making their Northampton debuts, but were definitely not first-timers to parkrun - Angela McKay (her 285th), David McKay (his 284th) and Sonia Karamat (her 163rd). And Tony Cronin chose to explore the Racecourse for his 208th parkrun. Some of our regulars were competing elsewhere, too – including Mark Bonner (joining 1,294 others at Southampton – the UK’s second biggest this week, after Bushy Park), James Cushing (at Norwich),John Bates (at Gorleston), Rachel Iilsey and Rosie Clifford (Conkers).
Despite the conditions, 58 athletes sped round to achieve ‘New PB!” against their name in the results. Again, too many to name individually, but Dom Carlisle (VM45-49) followed up his 32.18 first ever parkrun last week with 25.29!!. Neil Lantsbery (four PBs in last four runs), Kate Wilde (JW 11-14) in 25.06 and Claudia Terrell (JW 10) in 26.28 are also well worthy of mention. Those I know, sort of, included Andy Goldsmith, who registered his fifth successive PB; Darren Berkshire (two PBs on the trot); Adam Wright who was 10th in 19.21 and Steve Boyce (VM 60-64) with an impressive 25.07. I couldn’t help but comment to our first finisher, Mark Hill, as he dashed by me initially, that he would be struggling for company – he eventually finished in 16.33, over a minute in front of the chasing pack. When I looked at the results, I wondered whether our first finishing female, Karen Smith (in 20.23) had travelled down to support the Cobblers’ opponents that afternoon (as the majority of her previous parkruns were at Carlisle!). At least she had her parkrun performance to cheer her up on the long journey home … (and, if she knew it, the satisfaction of finishing in front of big Cobblers fan, Mark Kennedy, co-editor of the Hotel Enders magazine (22.30) !!).
On my way to ‘that corner’ each week, I customarily exchange “Good morning” with lots of athletes, many of whom I’ve got to know, not by name, only by sight. One such example is a man I now know to be Keith Gee, who, he proudly told me, regularly finishes first in the VM 75-79 category …. because, as he amusingly also told me, as we passed each other on Saturday, he is often the only one in that age group!! (Frustratingly, Keith was two seconds slower than his PB this week). To conclude, Northampton parkrun #350 wouldn’t have happened without the 30 volunteers, under the direction of RD Szabolcs. And one of those, this week’s tail-walker, Lynette Hill-Park, will shortly be the proud possessor of a ‘Volunteer 25’ T-Shirt!