A big thank you to Bruce for sparing some time to talk about parkrun with me.
Please do not attend parkrun if you display any COVID-19 symptoms
A big thank you to Bruce for sparing some time to talk about parkrun with me.
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.
Why not miss this parkrun?
Rowan's Reality parkrun (Yellow theme for his love of minions) to find out more then visit https://rowansreality.azurewebsites.net/About.html
We will also be celebrating 86 year old Bob Emmerson's 400th parkrun. Mrs Emmerson will be there supporting and providing a table with nibbles to celebrate.
I was introduced or was rather told to try out parkrun by one of our resident legend Alan (his sister Pauline is our next door neighbour). I would describe myself as a lazy runner, no training, stretching, warming up or... down or side to side for that matter - 5k is the perfectly adequate. My favourite run ... around the Le Man race track early on the morning of the race, the scariest one - running into a field to find I was in the middle of a police dog training exercise - defiantly my PB on max Basil Fawlty mode
I discovered parkrun in 2015 soon after taking up running. I soon realised the importance of volunteers to the event and gave this a go one week. It’s hard to imagine Saturdays without parkrun now and i enjoy it regardless of whether I run or volunteer. It’s always good to see the Northampton regulars or do a bit of tourism when I get the chance.
My own running involves a mix of events over the year. Like many, I started at 5k which soon became 10k, and so began the journey through half-marathon, marathon, ultra etc. The most important thing for me however is to enjoy running regardless of the time or distance.
Known as the one that dresses up a lot, Purple Crayon, volunteer credits a lot higher than parkrun participations, first parkrunner in the world to do all three in Seattle (June 2019), one of core team setting up the Junior parkrun, does not need microphone as those at back can hear me when I speak normally and I love a selfie :-).
My first parkrun was in 2014 at the Racecourse and then had a bit of a break as focused on marathon training at weekends. Back then the thought of including parkrun in a long run was unheard off (all those parkruns missed arghhhh). 2017 Gabby (previous Event Director) advertised for a volunteer to take on the role making the Racecourse parkrun aware to the wider communities and yours truly rose to the challenge (Visually Impaired, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Wheelchair users, mums to be and 5K Your Way, which supports those going through or in remission of cancer). It is great to see we not only welcoming parkrunners with all abilities, but the support is just amazing for each other and it is just so natural. Outside parkrun I manage 'Step Forward with Lewis' that offers fartlek, hill sessions and chatty runs free and open to all levels.
What is parkrun to me? a drug that offers laughs, opportunity to fancy dress, friendships and an excuse to have latta and a large cake with no guilt on a Saturday morning
I learned about parkrun when a Facebook friend of mine replied to a public post. An appeal for volunteers by Northampton Parkrun for event #111. I thought this was a great idea so I replied too and turned up. I wasn't even registered yet, so I never got the credit for that event, which makes that day even more special. I got hooked instantly, and earned my purple t-shirt rather quickly. As for running, I generally prefer minimum 5k, but no longer than a half marathon. On my own terms though, whenever, and wherever I feel like, so usually no races for me. All I want is running twice a week on average, and keep it up for the next 40 years or more haha. Now onto running parkrun... Yeah... The rumour is true. I never ever run one. As above, I prefer running on my own terms, and when I have the time I chose to volunteer. Also, having zero runs at this stage is a rather special badge one can only lose, haha.
I remember watching the first or second London marathon when I was small and thinking "I want to do that". I was so inspired, the music, the stories, the persoanl challenge, it got me. When I joined St Neots Riverside Runners in 2002, I got lucky in their ballot and was able to realise my one ambition. What a day, and what a privilige to be able to have run the world's most famous marathon. I lost my running mojo after my mum died 2007 and it was parkrun and my own jogging group that helped to get it back. I've now run 3 marathons, around 15 half marathons and various other multi terrain events.
I did not fully commit to parkrun until 2017, it then became my weekly catch up with my good friend Ruksana, and I was soon making friends. In April 2016, I started a jogging group, Abington park Joggers, initially for beginners and then for everyone. parkrun has become a big part of the support for our runners and a good second weekly run. Its therapeutic in so many ways. If I could put parkrun in a bottle, I'd give some to everyone I know.
My mum and dad have always run and used to go on Sunday long runs together so I got accustomed to the worn running shoes and sweaty clothes from a young age. I used to do Sports Relief mile every year and took part in many of the Race for Life's 5K and 10K in Northampton between the ages of 12 and 16. I then took up running as a form of exercise in my late teenage years which included other 10km races such as the Manchester Simply Run in 2018 and 2019. In 2019 I completed my first marathon at London and whilst I loved every minute, it was easily the hardest thing I have ever done. It taught me a great deal about training plans and the huge importance of rest days.
I have run at many parkruns, not all of them in the UK and love evolving community and the personal accomplishments it gives early on a Saturday morning. Being able to organise parkrun at Northampton is a huge privilege and I enjoy being able to support the volunteers in making it happen every week. Running for me has never been about the time or the number of races completed or how many toenails I can lose but more a space created by oneself in order to think and get away from the world, even if it is just for a few minutes.
Started running 6 years ago on a break from other sports, but didn’t quite make it to the end of the road.. 6 half marathons & a marathon later, think I’m finally getting the hang of it! Became a parkrun regular in 2017, & realising I could help by setting up before the run was my route into volunteering. It’s a great team which is always growing, & I now love the volunteering & RD weeks as much as the running ones. Always awesome seeing hundreds of runners & volunteers descend on the Racecourse every Saturday morning, whether it’s the middle of summer, or Christmas morning!
My love of running started way back in Primary school when I was picked for the cross-country team. Over the years I have completed 2 marathons, loads of half marathons and at the time of writing 103 parkrun’s. People ask why I love to run, my standard response is ‘I don’t, I love my food and my wine!’ To be brutally honest though running is my release, some me time, time to catch up with friends and family and have a good old rant oh and keep my waistline in order’ish!! I can have the worst of days, receive terrible news but I know when I put on my trainers and pound the streets things become clearer and by the time I get home everything is a bit more focused. I’m not fast and some days my legs feel like lead and slugs overtake me but others I have enough puff for a sprint finish. Occasionally I will be heard to mutter under my breath that ‘I hate running’ (especially if it’s cold and wet) but that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment when a run is finished certainly outweighs the hate bit.
Who can remember what they were doing in the summer of 2018?
For a group of parkrunners from Northampton, that summer started off with some harmless parkrun tourism, which included a special event at Rushmere with a little bit of dressing up. And then things, well, escalated. More tourism trips were proposed along with the suggestion that we did it in costume. Various ideas were put forward including one that as we were from Northampton that we should be dressed up in footwear (!) Then came the fateful day when someone ("Miss Pink") said that they had a crayon outfit...and it took off from there. We all claimed a colour and the rest is history! Or rather the start of something special...
The crayons' first outing was in October 2018 in Bedford. Since then we've added a splash of colour to parkruns at Market Harborough, Buckingham, Bicester, Watermeadows, Daventry, Stratford upon Avon, Colwick, St Neots, Millenium, Kettering, Warwick and Brixworth - even doing a colourful pilgrimage to Bushy. It's also a tradition to enjoy the local culinary culture after a parkrun (Miss Gold's hot chocolates are becoming legendary) and so far Colwick holds the prize for the most substantial breakfast!
Our outfits are a bit like an "away" strip so we are never crayons at Northampton parkrun, but we did manage a sneaky crayon 5k around the racecourse in October 2019 for the Decathlon run series on a very wet Sunday.
The Northampton Crayons are a mixed bunch, with different backgrounds and running abilities. The one thing we all have in common - and what brought us together - is parkrun. Who knew that such a fantastic, free event could have such colourful consequences.
The crayons try to get out for some tourism once a month - there has to be at least a pack of 4 of us for it to be a crayon event. Who knows...we may be bringing some crayon colour to a parkrun near you soon.
Blue - Rachel Canham and Carole James, Red - Sam Tearle and James Thorpe, Gold - Kevin Evans, Purple - Michelle Lewis, Pink - Lindsay Reeves and Rachel Ilsley, White - Carol Tarbox, Orange - Catherine Hickford and Green - Joanna MacGregor and Sarah Jones.
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.
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.
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%.
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!).
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!
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).
To finish, as it says on the website: “Northampton parkrun needs you! It is entirely organised by volunteers - email firstname.lastname@example.org to help.
My parkrun day started off when I turned into Kettering Road at the White Elephant corner just after 8.15 a.m., on a decidedly chilly morning, and I spied Craig and Michelle Lewis on a ‘warm-up’ run … little did I realise, at that moment, that I’d be actually be joining Michelle in a gentle jog nearly two hours hence (more later).
Anyhow, it’s Northampton parkrun #349 and I’m on my way to collect my volunteer’s bib to perform my role as a marshal. As usual, the finish area is a hive of activity – the set-up crew have virtually completed their tasks, volunteers are turning up from all directions and RD Hattie is checking them in - and handing out jobs (35 volunteers made it all happen this week). There’s also celebratory preparations underway - cakes, banners, balloons etc - for the special ‘significant’ birthday of our wonderful volunteer Leigh Barker (it was the 262nd occasion that Leigh has volunteered, so you’ve almost certainly been scanned by her at some point!).
The 553 who participated in the 5th January 2019 Northampton parkrun were part of more than 340,000 walkers, joggers, runners and volunteers across 1,650 events in 20 countries this weekend (a parkrun record!). And there were plenty of milestones - Mike Tebbutt (150), Chris Leggett (50) and Louise Flowers-Cohen (50) among them. A handful even managed to achieve PBs on their milestone occasions – Sharon Lantsbery (100), Martin Gibson (50), Richard Monk (50), Lisa Whelan (50) and Ann Worthy (50). In fact, a magnificent total of 53 athletes could have rung the PB bell this week! I can’t mention them all by name – but those I know reasonably well included Andy Goldsmith (four PBs in his last four parkruns); Darren Berkshire (who smashed his previous best time) and Alice Bennett (JW11-14), who was second female finisher in a fantastic time of 20.44. I’m not aware whether the three Mahers (Finn, James and Ethan) are related but the trio all registered PBs – Ethan (JM 11-14) was 6 (six!) minutes quicker on his second-ever parkrun!
We had 41 first timers at Northampton which included 33 who were taking part in their first-ever parkrun anywhere – I’m sure I speak on behalf of the organisers in saying that we hope that you enjoyed the experience and that you will be joining us again next week.
Three runners managed to register over 80% on that Age Grade percentage thingy – Elaine Danby, Chris Bell and Andy Green. Andy’s 18.05 was only four seconds slower than the best ever VM 55-59 Northampton parkrun time, which was achieved by … Andy Green.
It’s not often, I suspect, that we have someone competing who has taken part in more parkruns than our legend, Bob (no surname needed) – it was Bob’s 339th - but I noticed that Len Voralia (a mere VM 75-79) was notching up number 394! … and he clocked in with 29.24!!. At the other end of the (age) scale, Harry Ambery (JM10) deserves mention as he trotted round in an impressive 24.14!
So, I did my usual thing – which simply involves standing, clapping and shouting at people – until our illustrious ploggers/tail walkers reached me for the second time, closely followed by the aforementioned Michelle (who’d done her parkrun and was continuing in order to get a 10 miler in). I joined her in a gentle jog (for her!) round the bottom of the Racecourse and then made my way (via the finish area, to divest myself of three of the fiver layers of clothing that I was wearing) to join an intrepid, select group taking part in the Magic Mile – all of whom, I think, had just done the parkrun. Ann Worthy and Jim Conroy decided to celebrate their PBs earlier by running a further 1,760 yards and Messrs Bell and Green (the 80+ percenters) somehow contrived to finish joint first in 5.32. (I did more than twice Mr Bannister’s famous time).
From the Racecourse it was straight off to Abthorpe to support my grandson, and others, in the County Cross Country Championships … and who should I see, as soon as I arrived? A goodly number from the Northampton parkrun community - including members of the Van Eum family (who’d just volunteered) and Championships MC on the day, Terry Egan.
And that was it … until the next time … apologies for any errors, typos, omissions and, before you comment, yes I do have better things to do!!!
We will be hosting a Christmas Day parkrun at 9am with Matt as your RD. As ever we rely on lots of you volunteering to make this a safe and fun festive pre over indulgence parkrun. Fancy dress is as ever strongly recommended.
If you won't be in Northampton on Christmas day, check here nearer the time for local parkruns that will be hosting a Christmas day parkrun! http://www.parkrun.org.uk/christmas-compendium/
We will also be hosting a New Year's Day parkrun at 9am with Alastair as your RD. However if you can't quite make it that early on New Year's Day, or if you're looking to run a double parkrun to start your year, make sure to check the above link for other parkruns which will be running at slightly later times!
Unfortunately, we have had to cancel Northampton parkrun on Saturday 7th July.
This is due to the Northampton Town Fair being at the Racecourse on the same day, and the presence of vehicles on the paths will make it unsafe for parkrun to go ahead.
Sixfields Upton parkrun is also cancelled on 7th July.
If you fancy attending a different parkrun, use this tool to check your nearest https://touristtool.mybluemix.net/
Please check http://www.parkrun.org.uk/cancellations/ for any cancellations before attending.
Northampton parkrun team
Unfortunately, we have had to cancel Northampton parkrun on Saturday 3rd March.
The paths around the racecourse look slippery already and it's forecast to get worse. Also we don't feel that it's fair for us to ask the volunteers to stand outside for over an hour in below freezing temperatures with added windchill.
Sorry parkrunners but your safety comes first. Hopefully see you on the 10th.
Stay warm and safe.
Northampton parkrun team