#399 2019 final run report by Bryan Lewin

As we enter a new year, a few personal (and highly selective) observations from me on Northampton parkrun over the last 12 months.

It was a year when … there were 52 events, with an average of 485 parkrunners running, jogging, walking, wheeling at each event (our overall average is 347.9 … there were two cancellations (one, in March, because of icy paths, the other because of the Northampton Town Festival)) … the highest number taking part was 640 (on Christmas Day); the lowest was 248 (on 2 November, when weather conditions were slightly inclement, to say the least) … we introduced ‘5k Your Way, Move against Cancer’ (and welcomed Breast Friends Northampton) on the last Saturday of every month, to encourage anyone undergoing cancer treatment or living beyond this disease to take part in a supportive environment.

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Our parkrun on 11th May was taken over as part of Deaf Awareness Week - with Alexy Dury, from Deaf Hub, using sign language to carry out the pre-run briefing.

 

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Alexy’s post-race comments included “It gave me shivers down my spine to see so many people using BSL (British Sign Language), even the fast runners managed to sign something quickly as they passed me!” … we were proud runners-up (no pun intended!) for a Northampton Heart of the Community Award (individuals and groups are shortlisted “for their hard work in their communities, making Northampton a better place to live, work and visit”)

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We celebrated our 7th birthday (having started in May 2012; initial RDs Gabrielle Deere and Helen van Eum are still frequent participants) … we hosted a special themed event to celebrate Pride in Northamptonshire... we, gratefully, had take-overs from a variety of clubs and organisations … Bob, Gerald Billis and Alan Palmer represented us at a special parkrun at Bushy park in July which acknowledged Octagenarians … Kathryn Hall, Bobby Chatterjee and Julia Bradnam joined the core group … and we acquired a parkrun photo frame!

2019_Pride  x2019_Kathryn   2019_Julia  2019_Bobby

Locally, we had four new parkruns during the year – Watermeadows, Salcey Forest, Irchester Country and Brixworth Country. Nationally, there was a new parkrun female world record (Charlotte Arter ran 15:50 at Cardiff parkrun on 5 January 2019), Bushy park had the UK’s biggest ever attendance (2,545) on Christmas Day and the powers-that-be introduced a new-style parkrun results page in October (the less said, the better!).

Bob the Legend celebrated his 86th birthday and still leads the way with 381 Northampton parkruns – although we get the occasional visit from Len Voralia, who has completed 445 in total! … Leigh Barker revelled in the attention (twice) of a ‘significant’ birthday and, on 30th November, of her volunteering for the 300th occasion (the first finisher of that day’s event was, appropriately, Leigh’s son-in-law, Chris Lamb) … and, on the 19th October, Roger Sawtell did his first-ever parkrun (at the ripe-young age of 92).

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Unsurprisingly, Roger holds the VM 90-94 age category record (44:50), which he achieved on Christmas Day (his fifth parkrun). During the year, the following set new age category records – Hallie Barford Coulson 19:55 (JW10); Emily Williams 18:10 (JW15-17); Elisha de Mello 15:27 (SM20-24); Andy Green 17:46 (VM55-59) – on Christmas Day!; Elaine Danby 21:58 (VW60-64). The incredible Angela Copson equalled her (VW70-74) time of 22:29 – scoring 102.37 % on the age grading thingie. And the always-inspiring Carole James smashed over five minutes off her previous best to record 28:23 (WWC). Elisha de Mello’s 15:27 was the fifth fast ever at Northampton … Elaine Danby now holds the record for best times in three age categories (VW50-54), (VW55-59) and VW 60-64).

Luke Greer added four more to his total of first finishes – he’s now had 35 (from 54 runs in total), more than anyone else. Mark Hill and Andy Heather each achieved six first finishes. Emily Williams’ 18:10 was the best female time in 2019. Elaine Danby had three first place female finishes, making it 12 in total; Rosanna Andrews has most first place female finishes (19) - aided by two this year. Mention ought to be made of Lewis Panter (JM11-14) and Ella Darby (JW11-14) who both put their names on the ‘parkrunners with most first place finishes at Northampton parkrun’ scoreboard.

Too many ‘proper’ milestones to count (!) … but the ‘300 club’ (i.e. runners whose majority of parkruns were on the Racecourse) now consists of Bob (388 total runs), Lindsay Reeves (376), John Fitzhugh (325), Nicholas Rose (325), Geoffrey Alan Jeyes (312), Studney Kirby (311), Becky Dixey (301) and Edward John Taylor (301). Five of this eight took part in Northampton parkrun #1! Quite a few regulars are now entitled to wear the 250 T-shirt – apologies that reasons of space prevent me from naming you all (or, indeed, any of you!).

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Myself – I ran Northampton parkrun three times: on New Year’s Day (with a surprising 27:21 PB), near my birthday and when Michelle did her 100th – I also touristed at Temple Newsam, Eastbourne and Sixfields Upton. And I passed a century of Saturday mornings where I stand, clap my hands and shout at people …

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On to 2020 – and what’s in store? Who knows? But I don’t think it’s any great secret to say that we are well on the way to having a Junior parkrun up and jogging (or whatever) early in the year.

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To finish, the usual plea: “Northampton parkrun needs you! It is entirely organised by volunteers - email northamptonhelpers@parkrun.com to help.”

Bryan

2019_BryanL2

 

#388 – Stepping forward at 92…

The year is 1927.

Sir John Reith has just become the first director-general of the newly created British Broadcasting Corporation.

Newcastle United are the champions of England, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland has been re-named and re-invented as that of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the first automatic traffic lights have been deployed in Wolverhampton.

The Wall Street Crash is still more than a year away, and Roger Sawtell was a baby.

Fast forward 92 years, 18 different Prime Ministers and 15 American Presidents, a moon landing, the largest scale war of all time and the arrival of a new Millennium... and Roger Sawtell is completing his FIRST ever parkrun in a remarkable 46 minutes and 26 seconds.

Since its debut event in May 2012, almost 15,000 people have completed 134,101 parkruns across the world.

Few, if any, can have been able to match Roger's debut age of 92.

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Even our own parkrun veteran, the redoubtable Bob Emmerson - 377 runs in and still going strong at 86 - was awestruck; if "somewhat disappointed" to lose his oldest Northampton parkrunner title.

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Roger says he'll be back. We look forward to him ringing the parkrun personal best bell in the near future.

It was a good day all round for the older members of our parkrun community, as the remarkable Angela Copson came home in 67th position in a time of 22:59.

Angela is in her 70s.

Her result shouldn't, perhaps, be a surprise though. She holds the Northampton age grade course record; set back in 2015 when she completed the course in an incredible 20:24 (105.64% age grade).

Aside from high performing pensioners, there was a volunteering first for the Step Forward with Lewis running group as it staged its first parkrun takeover.

With wheelchair competitors, first time parkrunners and members driving down from London to join in the fun there was no doubting the diversity and dynamism of Michelle's group.

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As ever with parkrun, it was also a day of milestones.

Of the 479 people who ran, jogged and walked the course, 45 were first times and 70 recorded new personal bests.

In truth, that figure was 71 but our parkrun 'winner' (I know, we're all winners!) forgot his barcode and so missed out on a time. A costly reminder: Don't forget your barcode!

His 16:05 finishing time was no less impressive for that minor misdemeanour.

Congratulations are also in order for Fiona Barrett on completing her 100th parkrun, and to Louis Sefton, Jamie Clark and Marcin Bukowski on reaching the big 50.

Of course, no parkrun would ever be complete without an eager and excellent army of volunteers.

This week's honours board reads at follows:

Alison POSTLETHWAITE • Leigh BARKER • Mick CONROY • Emma SERVICE • Bryan LEWIN • Anne-Marie SANDOS • James CUSHING • Sue O'SULLIVAN • Catherine HICKFORD • Gerald BILLIS • Michelle LEWIS • Craig LEWIS • Claire GARDINER • Kathryn HALL • Rosie CLIFFORD • Julie WALTER • Esme CUSHING • Andi GILL • Daniel GILLERT • Sandra PRIOR • Lisa WARRINER • Tracy STREET • Rachel ILSLEY • Lynette HILL-PARK • Carole JAMES • Mark DEAN • Andrew ILSLEY • Samwise ILSLEY • Noel DUFFY • Olivia ANDERTON • Callum PRIOR • Sophie PEILE

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One final thought, for all of you out there, whatever your age... what have you never done that you'd really like to?

If you're under 92 perhaps it's time to do a Roger Sawtell and go and do it for the first time.

Happy running!

388_RunReportCraigLewis

Craig

 

Event 387 – #NoHumanIsLimited

Key roles were filled for event #387 of Northampton parkrun by 28 energy infused volunteers and 438 parkrunners arrived ready to run, walk or jog!

If the weekly gathering of athletes wasn’t enough to get your parkrun day (previously known as Saturday) off to a motivational start then maybe knowing that we were lucky enough to have been chosen by 31 first timers to start their parkrun journey and 41 of the athletes finishing today celebrated achieving a new PB.

Prior weather reports were proved wrong and the weather held fine so the fear of runners in snorkels and dogs in wellies were unfounded and the course was clear and safe to run, some did opt for fancy dress but I’m led to believe this was not weather influenced.

Celebrating milestones this week were Richard Watson (SM25-29) for his 100th parkrun, Carol Carter (VW40-44) achieved her 50th and Ben Heather (JM11-14) his 10th parkrun!

How is any parkrun complete without its addition of tourists and we had our share this morning with visitors from South Oxhey and Bressy parkruns…we hope you enjoyed our course!

On parkrun day I am constantly overwhelmed by the sense of community, motivation and optimism that can be felt and seen around the course, there were buckets full of determination in the sprint finish area by all, some will be more than happy there was no photographer there to capture that particular moment but that determined attitude spurs all those following on and I’m sure many a PB came from there.

Going back over the mornings run with family and friends in the post run café it was interesting to be told that 2 ladies who had been lapped by other runners were heard saying ‘they’re proper runners not like us’ as they ran on. The definition of runner is someone who runs with no caveat around speed, time or style. Ladies, gentlemen, children and dogs…we’re all runners at parkrun, the clue is in the title, so please be proud of it (but not the lady who told me this…she was stood still…she wasn’t running…she’s not a runner).

Ever present Bob Emmerson (VM85-89) was once again our parkrunner with the most runs with a total of 376 and we had 10 runners in the JM/JW10 category.

26.2 miles might seem a long way off parkrun but many a parkrunner has progressed to marathon distance and I cannot sign off without a mention to a runner that was changing the direction of running and making history while we were all heading down St Georges Avenue. Eliud Kipchoge was in the last 6km (3.7 miles) of a marathon when we started our event, his aim was to inspire everyone by showing humans have no limits no matter the challenge in life, we only limit ourselves. Eliud is the first man on earth to run 26.2 miles in under 2 hours, something no one has ever achieved and he himself failed at in a previous attempt. He shares a sentiment about his achievement that every parkrunner displays when they talk to friends and family even strangers about parkrun – he now hopes loads of people go on to achieve the same.

Volunteers this week: Olivia ANDERTON, Lucy BARKER, Matt BUSHELL, Jason CARTER, Katie CHOWN, Mark Dean, Claire DIXON, Sarah DOREY, Noel DUFFY, Paul FREELAND, Aaron FREELAND, David FROST, Ian FRYER, Jenny GASKILL, Andi GILL, Kathryn HALL, Gillian HARGREAVES, Lynette HILL-PARK, Rachel ILSLEY, Gavin KERR, Bryan LEWIN, Michelle LEWIS, Szabolcs MATE, Sue O’SULLIVAN, Alison POSTLETHWAITE, Alastair RAPLEY, Anne-Marie SANDOS, Laura A R SMITH.

Sarah Dorey

#fitfam

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(Sarah on the left)

 

 

#355 by Andy Heather

After gorgeous weather last Saturday, this morning reminded me of the opening to Dickens’ Bleak Parkrun: “Fog everywhere. Fog up St Georges Avenue, where it flows among bollards and lampposts; fog down the football pitches, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of posts and nets and the pollutions of a great (and slightly dirty) town. Fog on the Racecourse. Fog creeping into the trees; fog lying out on the playgrounds, and hovering in the swings; fog drooping on the tennis courts. Fog in the eyes and throats of the parkrunners; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of the hi-viz heroes. Chance people on the park peeping over the bushes into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.” So, yeah, foggy. So foggy that I think Bryan got lost as he wasn’t marshalling his corner for the first time in what seems like ages. Hopefully he’ll find his way back soon!

We had 465 runners complete parkrun 355, while our sister run at Upton celebrated their first anniversary. Congratulations! Long may it continue. A few milestones this week. Flying into the fabulous fifties were Dave Horne (11th), Brian Morris (68th), Paul Thorneycroft (201st) and Dannii Levi (363rd). But achieving more parkruns than all these superstars put together was the stupendous Steve Cory who achieved a wonderful 28th place for his 250th run.

SteveCory250

We had 24 people enjoying their first ever parkrun experience: Ellis Baker was the youngest newbie at just 10, and Stephen Barlow, in the 60-64 category, have both begun their new run lives. Hope it’s the first of many! You’ll never look back. Unless you’re going the wrong way! Which can never happen thanks to the selfless efforts of our brilliant volunteers. As always, unending thanks and gratitude need to go to all our hi-viz heroes who braved the conditions with smiles on their faces. Thank you so much to Andrew BALL, Leigh BARKER, Fiona BARRETT, Christopher BEATON, Gerald BILLIS, Oliver BIRCH, Matt BUSHELL, Bobby CHATTERJEE, Oli CHERRINGTON, James CUSHING, Mark DEAN, Catriona DOYLE, Sam FREEMAN, Paul FRENCH, Jenny GASKILL, Daniel GILLERT, Kathryn HALL, Ian HARPER, Joanne HAYMAN, Robert HOLDING, Claire HOLLAND, Rosemary KENNEDY, Shaun MACKEN, Andrew MYERS, Viv POOLE, Anthea RADDAN, Claire THOMAS, Reece THOMPSON-HUNT, Paul THORNEYCROFT, Marie TIMMINS, Mark TIMMINS, and Julie WALTER.

We also had a fantastic number of first timers to our Racecourse Run. High fives go to Jonathan and Jessica Hand who completed their first Racecourse, as well runs 247 and 235 respectively. Great stuff! The foggy, cold and slightly windy conditions did not seem to slow many of our parkrunners as loads of them achieved PBs. Particular congratulations go to Benjamin Crawley who achieved his third successive PB of the year, and Louise Hannam who walloped over 30 seconds off her best time to be the first female runner home. Alexander Law ran under 24 minutes for the first time and Jaclyn Robson ran her fastest ever race after 3 years of parkruns. Chris Lamb romped home first in just over 17 minutes and Jude Kelly was the fastest junior. Richard Fowler finished first for the over 50s. Jessica Kempton was the first female junior to finish achieving a new PB in the process, and Karen Farley-Goddard, completing her very first parkrun, was the first over 50 lady to finish. What a start and what a finish!

I was once again met by my old pal and erstwhile colleague Gordon Smith at the finish line. He explained that due to an administrative error the Wacky Races style diversion signs had failed to arrive. However, he had been on to the Acme company who had promised him a tunnel that can painted onto any surface in seconds. We’ll see! He also complained that by calling him a Renaissance Man in last week’s report he was going to have to sue me for deformation of character as everyone knows him as a cantankerous curmudgeon! As for the fog, it dissipated shortly after the runners and volunteers had left the Racecourse as they had found it (or possibly a little tidier) and I hope you all enjoyed the sunshine and blue skies of a beautiful February afternoon.

 

#350th Northampton parkrun by Bryan Lewin

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!

 

#349 Northampton parkrun – Bryan Lewin’s experience

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!!!

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