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.
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.
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”)
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!
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).
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!).
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 …
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.
To finish, the usual plea: “Northampton parkrun needs you! It is entirely organised by volunteers - email firstname.lastname@example.org to help.”