Northampton parkrun report #416

Pride Northampton parkun #416

Red and yellow, and pink and blue, purple and orange, and green.

Half of those colours can't actually even be found in a rainbow, but that didn't stop them being on display at Northampton parkrun #416.

That's because today's event was a celebration of Pride and the LGBTQ community.

Pride events usually take place in June - a nod towards the Stonewall riots that invigorated  the movement - but like almost everything these days many have suffered a Covid-inspired delay.

Northampton parkrun's small contribution saw the course's usual army of cheerful volunteers decked out in hats, wigs, flags and all manner of funky costumes and colours (I'm looking at you on the last one, Bryan Lewin!).

Pride Northampton parkun #416

There was a festival spirit as 326 runners - including 32 first timers - sprinted, jogged and bounced their way around a bright, if muggy, Abington Park.

At least one unicorn was spotted, but thankfully personal bests were most common than this rarest of mythical creatures, with 26 being clocked up.

Pride Northampton parkun #416

Even more colour was added to the course through the shining shirts of the 32 different clubs represented, demonstrating the strength and variety of the running community in Northampton and beyond.

The field was headed by Andy Heather, who rushed round in 17:32, while the first woman round was Angharad Pryce in 22:13.

A special mention as well to Steven Allen, who completed his 100th parkrun on his 70th birthday - not a bad double celebration - and to Ralph Stahmann who celebrated his birthday as everyone should by volunteering to give out finish tokens.

Pride Northampton parkun #416

All that remains to be said from a colourful 416th Northampton parkrun is a massive thank you to our volunteers (listed below) and remember, Richard (Red) Of (Orange) York (Yellow) Gave (Green) Battle (Blue) In (Indigo) Vain (Violet).

Now you can sing a rainbow properly!

Pride Northampton parkun #416

Volunteers:

David FROST • Gabrielle DEERE • Stavros CARAYANNIS • Leigh BARKER • Mick CONROY • Bryan LEWIN • Peter CURRINGTON • James CUSHING • Michelle LEWIS • Craig LEWIS • Chloe TALLETT • Ralph STAHMANN • Kathryn HALL • Esther POULUS • Cormac CLEARY • Esme CUSHING • Jo CODNER • Katherine MCFADIAN • Dannii LEVI • Elaine STARMER • Lynette PARK • Bec LAMBERT • Lee WADE • Julie FITZELL • Jeff BATTISON • Alfie STARMER • Cheryl COLLIN • Ben CURRINGTON • Claire HEDGES • Lorraine SMITH • Dale TEBBUTT • Helen BRIGGS

Run report by Craig Lewis

 

#412 by Bryan Lewin

Having re-started after a near-500 day disruption, we were then forced to endure two cancelled Saturdays because of events on the Racecourse … but little did we realise that our delayed resumption to near-normality, Northampton parkrun #412 on 14th August 2021, would be a record-breaking occasion!

412 - Start line

The first three home were all first timers with us and pride of place went to Herne Hill Harrier Sophie Harris (SW 25-29). In her second parkrun (her first was at Corby on Christmas Day 2017), Sophie became our first-ever female first finisher with a scintillating best female time of 16.45, knocking virtually half a minute off Emily Waugh’s previous record, and registering the 7th all-time best, of 88.36%, on our Age Graded League. First male home, second overall with 17.03, was Declan Brandley, who has run most frequently at the Aachener Weiher parkrun in Cologne. In any normal week, Lauren Hall’s 17.24 would have enabled her to finish where she normally does in a parkrun – first female - but her time does rank third on our all-time list.

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In total, 317 ran, jogged, walked and wheeled our course, of whom 41 were first timers with us (and 19 of those had never before participated in any parkrun). Lisa Catherine Swan visited us for the first time, having previously completed 341 parkruns, mainly in the Brighton area. We had 43 parkrunners who recorded new PBs. Phil Brigden was fourth home with 17.49; it was his seventh parkrun at the Racecourse and he’s beaten his previous time on every occasion. Just a couple of other PB mentions – Nathan Scarsbrook (JM 15-17), who lopped a chunk off his previous best time (25.06), recording 20.12, and Julie Boshell (VW 55-59), who was going round in about 38 minutes before the pandemic break, stormed home in 32.46.

Sophie Harris, Lauren Hall, Chris Bell and Phil Brigden all impressively recorded over 80% on the age graded thingy.

On the milestone front, Lindsay Reeves, recorded her much-awaited 300th at the Racecourse (and 391st overall), Allyson Swan completed her 250th (244 at Northampton) and the inspirational ultra runner Michael Williams (VM 70-74) celebrated his 200th in 23.07, encouraged by a contingent of fellow Northampton Road Runners. Lindsay, Allyson and Michael have all been stalwart supporters of Northampton parkrun since the start, in 2012. Piotr Streciwilk (100) and Cheryl Hirons (50) also had reason to celebrate and both can now claim their T-shirts.

412 - Lindsay 300th
Lindsay Reeves (sparkly leggings)
412 - Michael 200th
Michael Williams (holding drink)

Miscellaneous mention (1) to Neil Martin (VM 55-59) who ran his first-ever parkrun in 27.01 and who has a namesake. I happened to bump into Neil Martin (VM 60-64) jogging on his way to volunteer on Saturday (he stopped and walked with me!). This Neil has done 235 parkruns (206 at Northampton) and his most recent run at the Racecourse was on 14th March 2020 … in the spookily coincidental time of 27.01!! Miscellaneous mention (2) to Claire O’Connor (VW 45-49). Claire’s ‘usual’ parkrun is an out-and-back route along the Chesapeake and Ohio canal towpath in Washington DC. This weekend, local girl Claire should have been back here celebrating an event in her life far more memorable and enjoyable than parkrun, but the nuptials were sadly postponed for covid reasons. Miscellaneous mention (3) jointly to Carole James (WWC) and Alan Hackett. Carole not only managed to turn up on time (!) but then ‘coached’ first timer Alan around the course. To quote from one of Michelle Lewis’ Running Tales podcasts: “Alan has spent a significant chunk of his life running. His achievements include 24 hour runs, taking on the London to Brighton challenge and serving as chairman of Northampton Road Runners. Recent years have thrown a different set of challenges his way … ”. Well done to both Carole and Alan – especially their sprint finish!

412 - Claire oConnor
Claire O'Connor
412 - Wheelchair racers
Carole James and Alan Hackett

I’ll be having a short break from ‘that corner’ for a couple of weeks – so I’ll finish by just saying think about volunteering (as 33 proudly did this week in the new pink hi-vis tops) and DFYB.

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Bryan

412 - Bryan

 

#411 – We are back finally – By Bryan Lewin

Northampton Racecourse parkrun #410 took place on 14th March 2020 … and, after 497 days - including 70 Saturdays – we returned on 24th July 2021. The results show that 348 people, ran, jogged and walked our course, of whom 33 were first timers with us (28 had never before participated in any parkrun) and 38 recorded new PBs. The event was made possible by 34 volunteers.

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But it was much more of an occasion than those bare statistics indicate. As we all know, parkrun is not a race and it’s so much more than just a run - it’s a get-together with friends, and a like-minded community, to exercise (naturally!) but also to have (nowadays) a socially-distanced chat, a laugh and a celebration or two. No more so than this week.

Unless you’ve recently been with Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson in their supersonic rockets or totally self-isolating because of the pandemic, you can’t have avoided the numerous television, radio and social media stories featuring Bob making his much-anticipated 400th parkrun. Is there any more to say about this remarkable man than what he has already said about himself?! His running achievements are staggering (world best times, 40 miles round a track in less than 5 hours etc etc), he’s a parkrun legend and he is an inspiration to young and old alike. I’ve known him a long time; I’ve taken part in marathons etc with him and I have the utmost respect and admiration for his motivation and physical fitness. Long may he continue.

Bob's 400th parkrun

Bob's 400th parkrun

William Kneeshaw (100), Peter Diamond (50) and Bethany Quinney (50 – with a PB!) were others who’ve also been waiting to celebrate their milestones. And Julie Evans did her 200th run at Northampton (out of 213 in total).

WillKneeshaw100th

Norbert Mihalik finished first (for the seventh time) and Louise Hannan was first female (for the second time). Eighteen of the 141 females taking part clocked up PBs, including four out of the first six, and Claudia Terrell (JW10) impressively but frustratingly ran 23.39, one second outside of her PB. Kimberley Boyce notched a PB with 34.19 nearly seven years after her previous best time; Robin Bunting went round in 21.00, five minutes quicker than his last parkrun in 2019, and over three minutes faster that his last PB.

On the age grade percentage thingy, Andy Green, Chris Bell and Andy Heather all recorded over 80%.

Bob always runs in green, so honourable mentions go to Stirling Green (spot on 22- minute pacemaker) and Calvin Green (24.08 whilst steering Freddie in the pushchair).

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Despite some initial traumas, Alastair and the team ensured a safe, enjoyable and successful resumption of parkrun. There were a few changes – at the start and finish – but, in between, all the usual effort and determination was displayed by everyone! It’s good to be back – but please remember that we now miss two Saturdays and our next event is on 16 August. Don’t forget your barcode (and, just a reminder to Carole James – we start at 9.00 not 9.30, so don’t be late (again))!

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Bryan

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First post of 2021 – By Bryan Lewin

People say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Truth is, you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it.” Clarissa Wild, author.

On 18 March 2020, parkrun HQ announced that all UK parkruns (and those in Eswatini, Namibia, Russia and South Africa) were suspended “until at least the end of March” – which meant that the pandemic had forced the closure of parkrun in every territory around the world. At that time, I suspect none of us could have possibly envisaged the duration of the UK suspension – but, although nothing is certain, fourteen months and twenty-two days after the last event at Northampton Racecourse, parkrun HQ “currently expect” that we will return on Saturday 5 June 2021 (alongside all 5k parkrun events across England).

We will, sadly, have been deprived of the nation’s favourite weekly bout of exercise for over a year, but, to put things into context, I want to acknowledge those in our local parkrun community who have suffered from the virus or have undergone the loss of a loved one during this period. A close friend’s passing way was hastened by COVID-19 and I know the additional pain that relatives etc were forced to endure as a result.

During the restrictions and lockdowns, I’ve come across quite a few local parkrunners (who I spotted or who have approached me!) in a variety of locations ... whilst I’ve been out shopping, walking, litter picking, eating or drinking - and even when I’ve, rarely, been out jogging myself. Without exception, they’ve all expressed the hope for parkrun to return as soon as safely possible. And why wouldn’t they?

Most of us recognise and agree, I think, that parkrun has become more than just the regular 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning walk, jog, run or wheel … (or volunteering stint). The (theoretical) emphasis may be on participation rather than competition (!) … but, for many people, parkrun provides an escape from pressurised work environments and schedules, a social opportunity for meeting up with friends/colleagues/family before, during and after the event and the enjoyable experience of being part of a community of supportive, like-minded individuals.

The benefits and appeal of parkrun (according to some academic studies I’ve been perusing … as you do) are many and varied. Apparently, traditionally underrepresented groups in sport and physical activity, such as women or those who are normally less active, are more likely to be attracted to parkrun’s inclusiveness; the demographic of parkrun is ever changing, enticing more previously-inactive people to take part each year. You’ll also be encouraged to learn that, as well as developing fitness and total physical activity, parkrun participants show improvements in “mood (stress, anxiety and depression)”. As one study reported: “Most encouraging is that the positive effects are largest for those who are less active when they registered with parkrun, and that there is a dose response: that is, the more frequently someone participates in parkrun events, the bigger the positive impact.”

And you thought that beating your PB was what it was all about?!

There has been a remarkable rise in the number of people running during the lockdowns, demonstrated, not only by the obvious sightings in parks, on the pavements etc, but by a boom in trainer sales, increased purchases of GPS wearables like Garmin or Fitbit and a surge in the downloading of Public Health England’s ‘Couch to 5k’ app. A downside has been the cancellation of organised races, but I know that many of you have been keeping up with (and exceeding!) your pre-coronavirus running efforts and taking part in virtual events, often with a charity-supporting connection. (not)parkrun has provided an opportunity to run etc a 5k on a route of your own choosing, on a day and time of your choice – and you can record up to one activity per day, with your fastest time each week included in a weekly results table! (Predictably, Lindsay ‘299 Northampton parkruns’ Reeves, who has been part of our event from the beginning, was one of those completing the first Northampton (not)parkrun, which took place between 15th and 21st June 2020).

For some of us, however (and I confess that I’m one of them) there’s been a loss of motivation, a lesser incentive to do anything running-related and a ‘steadier’ pace when you do eventually drag yourself out! I did one (not)parkrun – it was my slowest ever time! But we’re not to worry, apparently - the experts say it’s understandable and completely normal in the short term; runners are creatures of habit – we just need to get back into the routine.

So, if we get the go ahead for ‘Bob400’ day on 5 June, will things be different? Yes!

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Details aren’t finalised but here’s a few things you might expect. Participants will be encouraged, wherever possible, to minimise travel by taking part in their local parkrun and to avoid unnecessary travel to other events. Pre-event briefings will be more in the style of ‘Szabolcs’ than ‘Michelle’ (!) – they’ll only cover information critical to the safety of participants and the smooth running of the event (and will be for a maximum time of two minutes). Social distancing will continue to be the norm before and after the event – “making use of all available space and minimising the amount of time in close proximity to each other” will be the advice when you’re taking part. Runners will be asked to informally seed themselves at the start to avoid unnecessary bunching during the event. There must be no high fives, hugs, physical contact etc with volunteers … (or anyone else!). Consideration will be given to moving start/finish areas to maximise available space (remember when we used to veer off left to finish?). The finish procedure will also change, so that a contactless scanning process can take place.

My last run report closed with a Dame Vera “We’ll meet again” reference. I’ll end this one by quoting Captain Sir Tom, who said of the crisis in April 2020: “We will get through it in the end but it might take time … at the end of the day we shall all be OK again. The sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away”.

The clouds are clearing, the sun is beginning to shine, we will be OK again - soon ….

Bryan

BryanLewin3

 

Meet the core team at Northampton parkrun

Event Director - Alastair Rapley

Alastair

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

Co Event Director - Matt Bushell

Matt_Bushell

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.

Run Director - Michelle Lewis

Michelle_Lewis

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 :-)

Run Director - Szabolcs Mate

Szabolcs

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.

Run Director - Kathryn Hall

2019_Kathryn

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.

Run Director - Hattie Rapley

Hattie

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.

Run Director - Bobby Chatterjee

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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!

Run Director - Julia Bradham

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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.

 

The Northampton Crayons

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...

NorthamptonCrayons

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

NC_CNS

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.

 

#402 – In search of an N by Sue Martin

We are on a spell of parkrun tourism and this week we were at Northampton – to get an N
for our parkrun alphabet! We weren’t the only tourists there, with the unofficial prize for the
furthest travelled tourist going to the person who joined us from Amsterdam!

There were several notable milestones amongst the parkrunners this week. James STRYJEKMatthew JEFFCOATE and Matthew JEFFCOATE were running their 50th parkrun,  Roy ANDERSON on his 100th parkrun, Katherine MCFADIANKatie WHITE and Angela WHITE were running their 150th parkrun and Dave SWIFT was running his 200th parkrun . A special mention to Clive PEARCE who was running his 50th different venue on his birthday and Sharon CONQUER volunteering for the 50th time! Congratulations to you all!

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This week there were 677 parkrunners, which was the third highest attendance ever here,
possibly due to some people starting their new year resolutions a little late but more
probably because word is spreading about how great Northampton parkrun is!

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The briefing lived up to its name and was brief, but informative, and the run started on time
which is always a positive. The course is a two lap circuit of the racecourse park, with the
second lap being shorter than the first. The course is fairly flat and racecourse park is
quite open so you can see the parkrunners on other parts of the course as you go round -
making a lovely colourful vision for the runners and to show those who have not yet
decided to join us that parkrun is here! The course was marshalled by friendly and
encouraging marshals who stood in some quite cold and windy conditions to cheer us on – thank you marshal! 35 volunteers made this week’s parkrun possibe, so a massive thank
you to all of you.

I like to find out a little bit about where I am visiting, and I was surprised to learn that
Northampton racecourse is not actually a racecourse! Although it was once - historically,
regular horse racing meetings were held here but these ceased in 1904 due to the high
number of accidents caused by the sharpness of the track. Nowadays it is an open space
park comprising of about 118 acres of parkland.

Horse racing was held here at various points in its history and the racecourse was anti-
clockwise around the park. Interestingly, parkrun has stuck with this tradition and is also
run anti-clockwise.

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The hotel at the corner of the racecourse was built to accommodate keen racegoers but
was closed in 1904 when the racing here stopped. It then remained empty for 18 years
earning it the name “The White Elephant”, the name by which it is still known today.

On to a few parkrun stats - this week was run number 402. Of the 677 parkrunners 53
people were running their first ever parkrun and a further 46 did their first Northampton
parkrun. 60 people achieved a PB – congratulations to you all and to everyone who got a
result for their stopwatch bingo!

Thanks for a great parkrun – hope to see you again!

Sue Martin (Leamington)

 

 

#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).

2019_oldies  2019_Leigh

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

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#398 Christmas Day by Sarah Dorey

Just as presents and crackers are a Christmas tradition, so is the family heading home for the festive season and the parkrun family is no exception to this.  A number of new parkruns started in the county this year and many of our regular attendees have moved to new events closer to home so it was great to see everyone come back to Northampton for our special festive extra event.  There were lots of hugs and handshakes as old faces and new parkrunners caught up and swapped Christmas cheer. 

In total, 640 parkrunners started their festive celebrations on the Racecourse, the 4th highest attendance in 398 events.  We clocked up: 73 PB's, had 53 first timers to Northampton and 25 of them were doing their very first parkrun!  

No run report is complete without the celebration of milestones.  Mark Jackson, Danny Carter, Sebastian Tomlinson and Laura Lever all completed their 50th milestone run…Congratulations!!  Aidan Green from #fitfam ran his 100th run as did Sally and Glen Furniss…Awesome!!  On their way to the 500 club milestone Ed Taylor and Becky Dixie completed their 300th run.

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Great support as ever by all of our 30 volunteers, particular note to those providing music for parkrunners to ‘Rock around the Christmas tree’ down St Georges Avenue all to be treated by festive cries of Elf Brian being assisted by Father Christmas on his 131st volunteering event! (Brians' not Father Christmas)

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Lots of our parkrunners continued the Christmas theme with names!  We had 3 Holly's, 1 Joseph and a Bell, a flock of Lambs, 3 Nicholas's, 2 Kings and a Shepherd.  Sadly there were no donkeys and thankfully, with the number of buggy runners, no Herods.

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Encouragement is not needed and of course parkrunners love an opportunity to dress up.  We were visited by numerous Father Christmas’s, some Christmas puddings and one angel taking a break from her duties at the top of the festive tree.

2019 has been yet another busy year for Northampton parkrun and we look forward to 2020 and all the new parkrunners we will meet, all the tourists that will visit and all of the familiar faces we will get to run, walk, jog and volunteer with each week.

Sarah Dorey
#fitfam

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#397 Christmas parkrun by Craig Lewis

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas as a host of Santas, Elves and various festive accoutrements descended on Northampton's Racecourse.
The occasion? Parkrun number 397.  So strong was the Yuletide fever, run director Anna of Arendelle, aka Michelle Lewis, would surely have had all 472 park runners building a snowman... if it wasn't for the fact it had not stopped raining all week.  As it was, those arriving at a boggy course were simply grateful the really wet stuff was not falling from the sky for a few hours.  A Christmas miracle, you might say.
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Fruit toast and hot coffee. Bacon butties and steaming tea.
Cold Christmas runners warmed by the glow of much welcomed hot food.
If pre-9am is the Night Before Christmas of the parkrun world, the time spent in the Good Loaf is akin to the day itself.  Results arrive powered by email updates with every bit as much magic as Santa travels down chimneys on Christmas Eve.  As fresh as the Good Loaf bread, this week's results revealed Higham Harriers' Nathan Jones had galloped home, reindeer like, in first place in a personal best time of exactly 17 minutes.
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He was one of 46 sprinters, runners, joggers and walkers who beat the cold to finish in well-earned PB times.  Some more festive magic. You might say.
There was a sign of good things to come at the start of the run.
Well, several signs in fact.  Many of them coming from the hands of Alexi, as parkrunners learned how to say Merry Christmas using sign language.  Several hearing assisted runners took to the course today - yet another sign of the incredible inclusivity which this weekly battle against our legs inspires.  If that doesn't make you believe, I don't know what will?
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The end of the parkrun.
For some, it means a sub-20 finish. For others a 40 minute PB.
There are those who sprint home; mums and dads who push young children in front and over the line; and dogs romping over the line, dragging tired owners behind them.
The tail walkers - their usual beautiful plumage sadly lacking after a washing machine led error that will never be mentioned again - keep them all in check; a fabulous full-stop to the full range of parkrun participants.  Today, though, was the day of the ploggers.
And a special one too. The Ilsley's taking on that mantle and on the occasion of much familiar achievement.  Rachel's 100th run, and half centuries for both Andrew and young Samwise.  Some show a clean pair of heels, others create a clean park.
I told you there's magic about, didn't I?
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A load of bollards.
Surely not the way to talk about the noble art of volunteering?
Unless, of course, you're young Alfie and mum, Elaine. Is there a more vital role than
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making sure parkrunners don't come a cropper on the concrete?
Perhaps the timers could stake a claim? Catherine Hickford and Cheryl Collin dutifully clicking their way through the cold, from one all the way to 472.
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Or Leigh in her regular scanning position? Or Bryan on his corner? Or Andrew Warriner, blow-up Santa and photographer in one, capturing each moment for posterity?
Or indeed any of the selfish souls giving up their morning to make the parkrun magic start to sizzle.  And knitting it all ever, Anna of Arendelle... has she built that snowman yet?
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, don't you think?
Merry Christmas
Craig 'Elf' Lewis
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