#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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#366 – Deaf Awareness week – I love parkrun

It's a mantra we all know and, some of us, live by - but last week it took on new significance as the 366th parkrun was taken over as part of Deaf Awareness Week.

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Four hundred and ninety parkrunners stood transfixed as Alexy our deaf parkrunner used sign language to carry out the traditional pre-run briefing we've all come to know and love.

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As the talk - and sign - came to an end, it was time for a bit of learning on the job as we we all learnt how to sign that vital phrase: I love parkrun.

The sight of banks of runners, from the super fast to the super enthusiastic, taking part sent out a powerful message.  Of course, the deaf awareness take-over wasn't contained to the run's start, as the group filled marshaling positions and even took part in the event.

Parkrunners always love the regular takeovers, but I think people will be in particular looking forward to the return of this one.

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Once the run was underway, it was spearheaded by a contrasting first two.

Adan Bare led everyone home in his first ever parkrun (18:11), followed closely by Andy Green (Team East Haddon) in his 236th.

Elsewhere, Alan Griffiths (Wellingborough & District AC) completed his 200th run, David Clapp, Bethany Conroy, Joseph Bruce, Jon Tarbuck and Keith Gee completed their 50th run and Johnny Duffy completed his 10th as well as an incredible 78 people clocked PBs.

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Thanks again to all the magnificent volunteers, who make it all possible by standing on corners in all weathers, clicking timers, putting up poles and collecting barcodes.

The event was made possible by 46 volunteers:

Laura A R SMITH • Alison POSTLETHWAITE • Leigh BARKER • Mick CONROY • Bryan LEWIN • Anne-Marie SANDOS • Alex MCMURTRIE • Ian BATES • Lisa JACOBS • Kevin EVANS • Sarah DAVIS • Michelle LEWIS • Ian COLWELL • David WARD-STOKES • Alexy DURY • Bobby CHATTERJEE • Vicky NICHOLAS • Lynett PILGRIM • Angela WHITE • Daniel GILLERT • Christy GILLERT • Claire THOMAS • Helen OXLADE • Maryrose AVERY • Karen CLARK • Jane TIMMIS • Neil WARNES • Sarah BUTT • Sophie SIMPSON • Rachel ILSLEY • Oli CHERRINGTON • Jen CRAWLEY • Rosemarie VAN BREE • Julie FITZELL • Mark DEAN • Damian BALL • Chris BOHIN • Alice ODELL • Chris ODELL • Jessica MARYAN-BALL • Martina SYKES • Colette BURGESS • Adam WALKER • Mike BALLINGER • David ELLINGTON • Paul JOHNSTON

A special mention to Bobby, who was overseeing his first parkrun as run director.

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This Saturday will be a special themed event to celebrate Pride in Northamptonshire, so make sure you all come along as brightly dressed as possible.  Also Northampton Road Runners will be taking over, so lots of claret at the Racecourse as well.

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#365 by Craig Lewis

It was a super seventh year anniversary for Northampton parkrun as hundreds of hardy runners, joggers, walkers, wheelers and even Wookies turned out to take on the 5km course for the 365th time in the event's history.
Aside from the birthday bumps, the special event had its own unique theme: Star Wars vs Star Trek.

365_May4th   
The "May the 4th Be With You" dateline had something to do with it - though the most committed Jedi's would have found the presence of Trekkies on their day about as popular as Luke Skywalker in a Mos Eisley cantina.
I did not like it either.
This was no hive of scum and villainy though... more the usual parkrun buzz of smiles and success.

The PB bell rang out with the intensity of Chewbacca losing at chess as 77 runners finished faster than the Millennium Falcon on the Kessel Run.
Those coming home in less than twelve parsecs to clock their best times included Aydan Stoddart who knocked a couple of minutes of his PB to come home in 31:28.

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Andy Heather was once more the fastest in the galaxy as he led the runners in, while Kate Bond (Daventry Road Runners) was first female in 22:49.
There was an amazing run from young Nathan Lamb (JM11-14) - the force is strong in this one - who finished ninth in 19:20.

As one wise Jedi once said: "Ready are you? What know you of ready. For 800 years have I trained Jedi. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment."
Master Yoda would certainly be impressed with the dedication of some of our parkrun fraternity.
Paul Eccles braved winds colder than Hoth to complete his 100th parkrun, Sue Bayliss hit number 50 and Jon Fitzhugh completed an incredible 300th.
Andrew Howard of East London Runners may have been enjoying his first outing at the Racecourse, but it was his 376th parkrun in all.
Just as we remember all the Red Leaders standing by as Luke raced towards the Death Star, no-one should forget the 54 volunteers without whom the Dark Side would definitely have won.
This week they included pacer Karen Clark, who finished seconds under her target of 40 minutes - the first time she's broken that barrier in 2019.

365_fitfam (Karen with many of the #fitfam)

Finally talking of milestones, we all wish Lucy Barker happy birthday and, naturally, 'Live Long and Prosper' (that's the one Star Trek reference you're getting out of me).

May the force be with you. Always.

Today's volunteers:

Aidan GREEN  •  Alex HEWSON  •  Alison POSTLETHWAITE  •  Becky DIXEY  •  Ben FOUNTAIN  •  Benjamin CRAWLEY  •  Bjorn VAN UEM  •  Bobby CHATTERJEE  •  Bryan LEWIN  •  Catherine HICKFORD  •  Christy GILLERT  •  Claire THOMAS  •  Craig LEWIS  •  Dannii LEVI  •  Frederick DUNCKLEY  •  George THOMPSON  •  Harry BRIDLE  •  Helen MENZIES  •  Helen VAN UEM  •  Ian BATES  •  Izabela MASZCZYK  •  James LORIMER  •  James THORPE  •  Jane TIMMIS  •  Jason CARTER  •  Jeff BATTISON  •  Jim CONROY  •  Jon DUNCKLEY  •  Julia BRADNAM  •  Julie FITZELL  •  Karen CLARK  •  Katarzyna MASZCZYK  •  Laura BURTON  •  Leigh BARKER  •  Lindsay REEVES  •  Louise JONES  •  Lynett PILGRIM  •  Lynette HILL-PARK  •  Matt BUSHELL  •  Michelle LEWIS  •  Mike CAMPBELL  •  Nathan ADAMS  •  Oli CHERRINGTON  •  Rachel ILSLEY  •  Sam FREEMAN  •  Sharon CONQUER  •  Sherrill CASON  •  Stavros CARAYANNIS  •  Stephanie MUNCHERJI  •  Terry EGAN  •  Tracey DENT  •  Tracy STREET  •  Trish LORIMER  •  Wayne CHALMERS
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#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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