#375 with the #fitfam takeover by Bryan Lewin

Northampton parkrun #1 took place, in May 2012; 120 took part and the 14 volunteers included one of our initial Run Directors, Helen Van Uem. Without the likes of Helen, this great weekly event wouldn’t have taken place … and on Saturday, Northampton parkrun # 375, when Helen ran her 200th parkrun, she was accompanied by 520 other runners, joggers and walkers, and supported by 48 volunteers, predominantly from the fabulous #fitfam group (who took over this aspect). The group is three generations of the same family with extended members who are friends that love to parkrun, run, swim, cycle (and even one member pole dances!).

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Helen wasn’t alone in celebrating a milestone.  For Lizzie Timmins, Kim Pusey, Christine O’Leary and Julia Valentine it was their 50th. Ian Coote and Mark Richards reached 100. Alongside Helen, Antony Hill and Ruksana Wade also ran their 200th parkruns (and Ruksana neatly matched her run, as the 30-minute pacer, with the 25th occasion that she has volunteered – finishing in a precise 30.00). On the subject of milestones, the following Northampton regulars have achieved notably big total runs since the last report and deserve mention – Kate Smith, Andrew Reed and Madeline Dunckley (riding a unicorn) - 100; Adam Crouch – 150; Drew Kimbell (all at Northampton) – 200; Nicholas Rose – 300. I would also have remarked on Mick Conroy’s 200th … but he seems to be a parkrun tourist recently (!).

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Christine before her 50th parkrun, Tony and Ruksana after their 200th parkrun.

Flying first into the finish funnel was Luke Greer in 15.32 – the fastest ever Northampton time for the SM20-24 category … and the equal fifth best time for anyone ever at the Racecourse! (And, I’m reliably informed, Luke ‘warmed up’ for this parkrun with a seven miler!). Runner up, Joe Vaughan (JM15-17), also notched a PB with 16.28. First lady, Katherine Baines, with 21.47, was a first timer with us (but she was actually completing her 265th parkrun, the majority of which have been at Bolton). Not sure if Jenny Baines is related – I assume so – as she was also a first timer with us, and had chosen Northampton to run her 150th. In total we had 47 first timers (24 were first timers at Northampton). Luke Greer, Joe Vaughan and Andy Green all registered over 83% on that Age Grade thingy.

We had 49 people who were entitled to ring the PB bell – and it’s just as good a feeling, whether you were one of the 16 doing only their second parkrun and improving your time (such as Ceri Golding, from 43.03 to 34.35 and Charlie Lennon (JM10), from 49.43 to 42.30) or Matthew Everett (JM15-17) who was doing his 160th (in 18.04, his fifth PB in his last seven runs). But parkrun must create feelings of frustration, too – take, for example, Paul Whitney who has reduced his time, since starting in March, with a succession of PBs, from 28.11 to 22.49 (last week), but irritatingly running 22.50 this week!

On July 20 1969, the lunar module Eagle landed on the moon and Commander Neil Armstrong described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”. Fifty years later, to the day, Robert Armstrong (no relation, as far as I’m aware) bravely stepped out (for the first time in nearly a year) to complete his eleventh Northampton parkrun in 39.05; but we had no-one with the surnames Collins or Aldrin taking part.

Last Monday, in an uplifting BBC TV documentary, Dame Kelly Holmes explored the rise of parkrun and the mental health advantages of running. Ours really is an event that enables hundreds of people to benefit physically, mentally and socially – so, please, think about volunteering occasionally. And to finish on a volunteering note – thank you to Lewis and Paul Armson for marshalling ‘that corner’, whilst I enjoyed a near-birthday run.

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Bryan

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#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!

 

#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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