#388 – Stepping forward at 92…

The year is 1927.

Sir John Reith has just become the first director-general of the newly created British Broadcasting Corporation.

Newcastle United are the champions of England, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland has been re-named and re-invented as that of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the first automatic traffic lights have been deployed in Wolverhampton.

The Wall Street Crash is still more than a year away, and Roger Sawtell was a baby.

Fast forward 92 years, 18 different Prime Ministers and 15 American Presidents, a moon landing, the largest scale war of all time and the arrival of a new Millennium... and Roger Sawtell is completing his FIRST ever parkrun in a remarkable 46 minutes and 26 seconds.

Since its debut event in May 2012, almost 15,000 people have completed 134,101 parkruns across the world.

Few, if any, can have been able to match Roger's debut age of 92.

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Even our own parkrun veteran, the redoubtable Bob Emmerson - 377 runs in and still going strong at 86 - was awestruck; if "somewhat disappointed" to lose his oldest Northampton parkrunner title.

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Roger says he'll be back. We look forward to him ringing the parkrun personal best bell in the near future.

It was a good day all round for the older members of our parkrun community, as the remarkable Angela Copson came home in 67th position in a time of 22:59.

Angela is in her 70s.

Her result shouldn't, perhaps, be a surprise though. She holds the Northampton age grade course record; set back in 2015 when she completed the course in an incredible 20:24 (105.64% age grade).

Aside from high performing pensioners, there was a volunteering first for the Step Forward with Lewis running group as it staged its first parkrun takeover.

With wheelchair competitors, first time parkrunners and members driving down from London to join in the fun there was no doubting the diversity and dynamism of Michelle's group.

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As ever with parkrun, it was also a day of milestones.

Of the 479 people who ran, jogged and walked the course, 45 were first times and 70 recorded new personal bests.

In truth, that figure was 71 but our parkrun 'winner' (I know, we're all winners!) forgot his barcode and so missed out on a time. A costly reminder: Don't forget your barcode!

His 16:05 finishing time was no less impressive for that minor misdemeanour.

Congratulations are also in order for Fiona Barrett on completing her 100th parkrun, and to Louis Sefton, Jamie Clark and Marcin Bukowski on reaching the big 50.

Of course, no parkrun would ever be complete without an eager and excellent army of volunteers.

This week's honours board reads at follows:

Alison POSTLETHWAITE • Leigh BARKER • Mick CONROY • Emma SERVICE • Bryan LEWIN • Anne-Marie SANDOS • James CUSHING • Sue O'SULLIVAN • Catherine HICKFORD • Gerald BILLIS • Michelle LEWIS • Craig LEWIS • Claire GARDINER • Kathryn HALL • Rosie CLIFFORD • Julie WALTER • Esme CUSHING • Andi GILL • Daniel GILLERT • Sandra PRIOR • Lisa WARRINER • Tracy STREET • Rachel ILSLEY • Lynette HILL-PARK • Carole JAMES • Mark DEAN • Andrew ILSLEY • Samwise ILSLEY • Noel DUFFY • Olivia ANDERTON • Callum PRIOR • Sophie PEILE

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One final thought, for all of you out there, whatever your age... what have you never done that you'd really like to?

If you're under 92 perhaps it's time to do a Roger Sawtell and go and do it for the first time.

Happy running!

388_RunReportCraigLewis

Craig

 

#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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#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!

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