#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

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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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#358 by Bryan Lewin

Windy. If one word summed up Northampton parkrun #358 it was … windy!! Obviously we weren’t the only UK parkrun to suffer – 52 parkruns were cancelled, mainly as a result of the weather, and 402 had a lower attendance than last week. Somewhat ironically, I was back doing my marshalling bit, after a week away on the island of Fuerteventura … which popularly translates as “strong wind”!

Over this weekend, we had a few regulars participating in events at other exotic locations – such as Daventry, Stanwick, Oundle and Milton Keynes (oh and …and Cyprus) …. but the blustery weather didn’t stop 463 athletes from perambulating the Racecourse; and 47 of them even managed to achieve PBs. Storming home first was Tony Letts (his time of 18.11 was an indication of the conditions – it was the slowest by a first finisher since 9 December 2017). Our leading female was, for the third time this year, Karen Smith who breezed round in 20.13 – a Northampton PB for her.

Milestones (whether or not recognised by parkrun T-shirts) were celebrated by Dave Care (running his 50th); Anne-Marie Sandos, Nigel Dunlop and Lisa McGarrity (all doing their 100th) … and RD Alastair Rapley (completing his 150th). Anne-Marie (and her many supporters) adopted an Hawaiian theme to mark the occasion – as you may have noticed. Alan Raines ran the parkrun to celebrate a significant birthday (his sash said ‘The Big 50’ but the results say he ‘Most recently ran in VM45-49 age category’!). First timer at Northampton, Paul Williams, from Southampton, ran on his 39th birthday.

Alastair AnneMarieandNigel

In total we had 41 first timers – 30 of which were doing the first-ever parkruns, including two groups proudly wearing their colours from Northampton Old Scouts under-14s and 103 Battalion REME. By contrast, first-time visitor Sam Weaving, who finished 3rd overall, was doing his 251st.

Andy Green (81.59%), Tony Letts (81.12%) and Madeleine Wain (77.75%) were big scorers on that thingy that gives “an indication of how well the runner has done relative to their age and gender”.

This week’s Personal Bests included Chris Lamb (VM45-49) - no, not the wife carrier who was our first finisher on 23 February (there’s actually 27 persons registered under that name) …this Chris’s 24.39 was his 6th PB in his last 9 parkruns; Stuart Hansell, two runs in total – 31.45 last week, 24.36 this week; Melissa Wilde – 24.21 (her last parkrun was Christmas Day 2016 in 28.26); Malachy Collins (JM11-14), nine runs since 2015, 6 PBs – this week’s 21.23 earned him first place in his age group and 18th overall. You’re never too young or too old for a PB – as Ashley Hillier (JW10) and Richard Wain (VM 70-74) can testify… and finally, a trio who have each achieved three PBs in their four parkruns, all this year - James Smith (the SM20-24 one, not James Smith (SM25-29)), 25.17 down to 22.51; Johnny Duffy (JM11-14), 26.32 down to 23.42 and the wonderfully-monickered Del Boy, 26.15 down to 24.40.

In the ‘completely random mentions’ category - alphabetically, those taking part ranged from Aaron Lares Baptista (JM 10) to Zoe White; first-timer Christine McKeogh was 358th in Northampton parkrun #358; Isabella Morris neatly finished 444th in 44.44, Amanda Kimberley (30-34) was thrillingly 330th in 33.03 in her 30th parkrun and Logan Vanden Bos finished his first ever parkrun in 323rd position in 32.26; Ismael Ali, Lee Wade, Simon Tenant, Helen Menzies, Helen Andrews, Marie Fitzhugh, Louise Musson and Liam Browne all proved that they were budding pacemakers – as they each completed the course in an exact number of minutes!

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Northampton parkrun #358 only happened because of the 36 volunteers, under the direction of RD Matt. As first-time timekeeper Neil Martin (nearly) said – “if you have not volunteered yet, give it a go, it really broadens your appreciation of the wonderful phenomenon that is parkrun!”

BryanLewin3

 

 

#357 by John Kilcoyne

Let’s start with some congratulations. Official members of the J10 club this weekend are James (who celebrated with a new pb) and Joshua. Sherrill, Tracey and Andy are now ready to claim the red 50 t-shirts, and Stephanie has earned a black 100 shirt. In addition, Robin completed the unofficial milestone of 200 parkruns. Well done to all. Happy birthday also to Patrick, celebrating his 17th birthday on Sunday and to Catherine Hickford, turning 40 on Monday.

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Thank you to all the volunteers assisting Szabolcs as RD today.

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Thank you also to two clubs, Northants Tri and Abington Park Joggers, who turned out in force to support and participate, many as pacers.
Helen and I joined you as tourists from Lincoln this weekend, together with visitors from Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, Birmingham, London and Kent. 22 participants were here for their first ever parkrun. Well done to you all at the start of your own parkrun journey.

Our own visit was for two purposes: our 20th location within the East Midlands region (currently 37 altogether, but the number keeps getting bigger) and to claim a North for our compass challenge. For anyone new to parkrun tourism, there are lots of combinations of locations to give a focus to running at different locations. Search for parkrun Running Challenges for a Chrome browser extension for many more suggestions including the alphabet challenge. As a tourist, you get to see the best of so many other towns and cities across this country and further afield- it is always the best that any community has to offer because parkrun is involved. I have loved every location I have been to with parkrun because of the variety of courses and the friendliness of everyone involved.

I must confess to a soft spot for urban parks because of the pride that get shown off. Northampton has a gem in the Racecourse- so many facilities for residents and visitors, the fabulous architecture within the park and the amazing range of buildings on all sides that parkrunners can appreciate. Add to that an (almost) flat terrain; we didn’t get pbs today, but Helen and I both ran our fastest times since New Year’s Day. Lincoln parkrun is also an urban park although smaller; we will be delighted to welcome you as visitors.
This week 542 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 41 were first timers and 80 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 29 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 37 volunteers:

Vicky ROBERTSON • Terry EGAN • Stavros CARAYANNIS • Leigh BARKER • Anne-Marie SANDOS • Rachel Helen CANHAM • Stephen HOLLOWAY • Tessa HOLLOWAY • Rosemary KENNEDY • Helen ANDREWS • Gemma YOUNG • Gerald BILLIS • Michelle LEWIS • Ralph STAHMANN • Szabolcs MATE • Bobby CHATTERJEE • Matt BUSHELL • Steve MARTIN • Sarah ASHCROFT • Ian BATES • Sue JEFFS • Sharon CONQUER • John KILCOYNE • Alan HALL • Claire THOMAS • Melissa WILDE • Ann WORTHY • Lynette HILL-PARK • Bec LAMBERT • Lee WADE • Julie FITZELL • Marie PASSMORE • Viv POOLE • Sam FREEMAN • Joanne HAYMAN • Debra WARD • Bethany CRESSEY

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Northampton parkrun Results Page.
The male record is held by Andrew BADDELEY who recorded a time of 14:52 on 16th April 2016 (event number 207).
The female record is held by Emily WAUGH who recorded a time of 17:14 on 8th July 2017 (event number 270).
The Age Grade course record is held by Angela COPSON who recorded 105.64% (20:24) on 25th April 2015 (event number 156).
Northampton parkrun started on 5th May 2012. Since then 13,510 participants have completed 118,595 parkruns covering a total distance of 592,975 km, including 21,431 new Personal Bests. A total of 1,141 individuals have volunteered 6,828 times.

LincolnTourists

Helen and John from Lincoln parkrun

 

# 356 by Bryan Lewin

After a weekend away, up North (and before a week away … seeking some sun!), I resumed marshalling at my usual spot for Northampton parkrun #356. Last week I was spectating at the English National Cross Country Championships at Harewood House, near Leeds (where my grandson was competing), but I managed to squeeze in a parkrun myself – at nearby Temple Newsam (‘undulating’ course, no chance of a PB!).

On my arrival at the Racecourse, it was therefore a pleasant surprise to bump into Noah Bennett, who ran in the same race as my grandson in the Championships and, according to the Chron, had “used his track pedigree to finish in a superb 14th position, only seconds away from a top 10 finish” (and, it might be noted, Noah’s sister, Alice, also produced an “outstanding performance” at the Championships).

Fresh from these endeavours, Noah was second overall finisher on Saturday with a new PB (only one other person has ever bettered his time of 16.56, in JM 11-14, at Northampton). Leading the 450 runners, walkers, pushers, pullers and joggers this week was Noah’s club mate Mark Hill, who weaved his way round in 16.29, and our first female finisher was Annette Golawska (who lopped 50 seconds off her previous best time to finish in 20.18). Andy Green was third home in 17.59 (the best performance ever in VM 55-59 at our parkrun) … although not quite a PB for Andy, which is still 17.43 (the best performance ever in VM 50-54 at our parkrun!). He later led all the way in the Magic Mile to clock 5.35.

Unsurprisingly Noah and Andy both achieved over 80% on the ‘Age Cat’ thingy – as did second female finisher Kate Bond (VW 55-59) for her 21.50. Nathan Lamb (JM 11-14), who was ninth overall with 19.08, ‘scored’ 79.97%

Amongst our fabulous 450, I could only spot one milestone – Dee Munro, completing her 50th (and I know there was a significant birthday, but not the lady’s identity – sorry). There were 44 first timers (30 doing their first ever parkruns), including a ‘car full’ from Stamford Striders – Caroline Robertson, Helen Schofield, Amy Hodgson and Janine Buck. Neil Currant – 87 in total - was at his 54th different parkrun and Tanya O’Neill, a parkrun tourist from Cardiff, obviously enjoyed her first timer experience here, taking advantage of our newly acquired parkrun photoframe to post on social media (and be the profile pic on our Facebook page)! Len Voralia notched up his 402nd parkrun (Bob did his 346th).

TanyaOneill

It might have been muddy for the touring Crayons, and others we normally see, at Watermeadows (Towcester) parkrun, but the dry, brighter weather conditions encouraged 64 athletes to register new PBs at the Racecourse. As always, its not possible to credit everyone, so only a few mentions … Amanda Stohrer (11 consecutive PBs since 8th December – from 38.29 to 34.35); Rachel Ilsley (knocking nearly four minutes off, from 33.29 to 29.47); Mark Warren (just three parkruns since October 2016 – 29.09, 27.04 then 24.01!); Jamie Clark (26 parkruns since April 2018, all at Northampton, 11 PBs, started with 30.47, now down to 25.19) … and our oldest/youngest PBers of the week - Mick Bond (VM 65-69) with 29.22 and Tallulah Havard (JW10) with 26.06.

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It seems slightly unfair, to me, that you’re unlikely to be mentioned in a run report unless you’re a milestoner, PBer or whatever – so some completely random mentions. Sarah Kaced, a first timer, was position 356 in parkrun #356; Derek Finan was 312th in a time of 31.2 (well, 31.19 – a PB); Marie Fitzhugh was 433rd in 43.3 (well, 43.26); The average run time for our parkrun is 28.40 - Mike Tebbutt (28.39) and Sue Davis (28.44) were closest this week. And Tim Leah gets named and shamed for no barcode!

My stint on the corner was over; I joined tail walker Lynette and had an enjoyable chat about a couple of unexpected subjects (!) with a lovely group on our way back to the finish … then did the Magic Mile with another lovely group. Stirling Green - JM 11-14 - completing it in 6.21, following his earlier parkrun PB of 21.04.

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This week’s Northampton parkrun only took place because of the 34 hi-vis hero volunteers. Please opt-in to the volunteer email if you'd like to join them and get involved!

Thanks to this week's volunteers

Alfie STARMER  •  Benjamin CRAWLEY  •  Bobby CHATTERJEE  •  Bryan LEWIN  •  Christopher BEATON  •  Christy GILLERT  •  Daniel GILLERT  •  David FROST  •  Dennis WEINBERG  •  Elaine STARMER  •  Fiona BARRETT  •  Gerald BILLIS  •  Harrison GILKES  •  Helen SMITH  •  Ian HARPER  •  Jeff BATTISON  •  Jenny GASKILL  •  Joanne HAYMAN  •  Julia BRADNAM  •  Julie FITZELL  •  Katie CHOWN  •  Leigh BARKER  •  Lynette HILL-PARK  •  Mark DEAN  •  Matt BUSHELL  •  Michael ELVIN  •  Michelle LEWIS  •  Peter VICKERS  •  Rachel ILSLEY  •  Ralph STAHMANN  •  Seb PERRY  •  Shaun LEDINGTON  •  Tony KENNEDY  •  Tracy STREET

BryanLewin3

 

#354 by Andy Heather

Hello! And welcome to the rather late and rushed race report of Northampton’s 354th Parkrun. I offered to do the race report this week but only realised a few hours ago that I was actually doing it. So, without further ado, let’s do this!
Is it spring? When I stepped out this morning to see how many layers I should put on I was startled by the mildness of the temperature. (I’m easily startled!) So it was the first shorts and short sleeve run of the year as I and my daughter headed down to the Racecourse to be greeted by a myriad of friendly faces.
As usual we were running late which meant I wasn’t able to find out where my run buddies Andy Green and Chris Bell had been on their running travels. Andy is in the process of setting records for men aged between 55-59 across the region. Hats off to you sir! I hope I’m doing as well as you when I hit that age bracket and try to match your times!
It was a brief pre-race briefing this morning with shout outs to the pacers who had kindly volunteered. It was Mark Rose’s and Graham Laurie’s 50th run, but, unbelievably, they were our only milestones this week. We did have 16 first timers to any parkrun – welcome to the best decision you’ve ever made; you’re body will thank you in a couple of months! – and an extraordinary number of PBs (more than I can count!)
Although it was a mild morning, there was once again a bit of a headwind as you ran down St Georges Avenue. (The wind must have blown away the apostrophe!) But, come wind or shine, the indomitable Bryan Lewin was heroically cheering on all the runners on his corner. I had the honour of taking Bryan’s post once and had just about the greatest hour of my life. Although I was freezing, the positive psychological effect of being thanked by several hundred people in such a short space of time was miraculous. Not only can I not thank our volunteers enough for all their kind efforts every week but I would also massively recommend taking a turn as a marshal if you haven’t already. It is an incredibly heart-warming experience.
We are, as always, hugely grateful to the volunteers who made this event happen: Helen ANDREWS, Leigh BARKER, Fiona BARRETT, Gerald BILLIS, Oliver BIRCH, Matt BUSHELL, Becky CARRIER, Bobby CHATTERJEE, Oli CHERRINGTON, Benjamin CRAWLEY, Mark DEAN, Paul ECCLES, Daniel GILLERT, Mary GRIFFIN, Lynette HILL-PARK, Rachel ILSLEY, Alison JOHNSON, Stephen JOHNSON, Bryan LEWIN, Michelle LEWIS, Szabolcs MATE, Connor MCLEAN, Henry NEWBY, Viv POOLE, Alison POSTLETHWAITE, Anthea RADDAN, Mark RADDAN, Alastair RAPLEY, Frances RIX, Elaine STARMER, Alfie STARMER, Marie TIMMINS, Lizzie TIMMINS, Mark TIMMINS, Peter VICKERS, and Neil WHITE. Thank you!

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The run (it’s not a race!) was completed by 445 fabulous participants. First was Dominic Jones in the incredible time of 15.27. This means he immediately goes on the all time fastest list in 4th place! William Gardner must feel a little aggrieved not to finish first as his time of 15.32 puts him 5th on the all time list! It must have been quite a finish, and one that I was nowhere near!
Amy Gamble, a Racecourse first timer, led the way for the women, achieving a superb 20.28. Tallulah Havard and Freddie Caspall were our fastest youngest runners. Amelie Purr and Sterling Green finished first in the 11-14 category. Trystan Barnett, who has a ludicrously fast PB for a 15-17 runner, came in 5th overall with a time just outside 18 minutes, and Christy Gillert was the first (and last!) female in the same age bracket.
At the other end of the age range, the unstoppable Bob Emmerson was officially our oldest finisher in the incredible time of 43.54. I judge how well I am doing by where I pass Bob each week, and this week he was way ahead of where I usually see him. You are a marvel!
We had five female runners in the 65 to 69 age bracket and Linda Toru was the first to cross the line in the superb time of 36.49. But well done also to Linda Kier, Catherine Hill, Anthea Raddan and Alison Johnson. Supreme efforts all round.
At the end of the race there was just time to be patted on the back by the lovely Ilir Brecani and have a nice catch up with Glenn Robertson who was completing only his third run since injury put him out of action for 8 months and turned him into an enthusiastic spectator and supporter of parkrun. Finally, we watched the marvellous Rowan Stoddart sprint the final stretch of the run, before being followed in by the fabulous Gemma Burley and wonderful Tony Hill, who had pushed Rowan in his wheelchair for most of the way!
Had I known at that point I was writing the race report I would have stayed longer to savour the atmosphere and taken more notice of who was ringing the PB bell. I struggle to take much in at the end of the run as I am always so exhausted. The marshals who hand out and collect in the finishing tokens are always so kind and look so concerned as I try to find the breath to thank them for their time and efforts. This week, as soon as I’d finished, an old friend, Gordon Smith, met me with a plastic bag filled with a jar of marmalade and a note with ‘Gordon’s Gubbins’ written on it. This turned out to be Gordon’s new blog which I highly recommend. Gordon’s a renaissance man and his blog offers ‘sport, music, travel and comedy; in mayonnaise!’ He suggested that next week I nobble the opposition by employing a scheme that he had learnt from Dick Dastardly in the Wacky Races! I’ll let you know how I get on!
Thank you to everyone involved in parkrun. It has helped me physically and mentally, and always gives me something special to look forward to, no matter how hard it is to get round the course each Saturday!

 

#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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