Happy New Year

Four years ago, I was invited to join a Facebook group - UK parkrun tourists - when a friend discovered my secret.  I had been traveling around visiting different parkruns initially to keep my son parkrunning, then to run everywhere in the West Midlands and then because I loved the different places it took me and the lovely people I would meet and talk to.  I can't think of any situation in our modern life where it is perfectly natural that a diverse group of strangers would gather and freely chat apart from parkrun.

My normal Saturday routine involves increasingly early starts to drive around the UK (ok once to fly to Dublin) to visit a parkrun. At first my wife questioned why I would get up at 6am to travel to a free 5k timed parkrun when we had three perfectly good parkruns within 10 miles. However over 100 venues later she is starting to see the appeal – or maybe she just humours me!

However, today isn't a Saturday but due to special circumstances, parkrun UK allow an extra parkrun on two days a year – Christmas Day and New Year's Day. What makes 1st January so special is that if events use the flexibility of start times on offer then parkrun HQ will kindly allow you to register two parkruns on the same day!

So it was that at 10:30am I was standing on the start line at Penallta having already run another parkrun at Bryn Bach parkrun.

Having scanned the list of results I know that I am not the only person to take full advantage of this fact. In fact 97 other keen parkrunners who were not in my car, made the short drive, cycle - did anyone run it? - between the two parkruns. Well done to :- Abby Louise FORSTER, Alun Eurig WILLIAMS, Andy DEAN, Angela LEWIS, Ann SINGAL, Anthony JONES, Anthony WILLIAMS, Anwen MARSHALL, Ash SINGAL, Brenda EVANS, Brian John GOUGH, Brian WATSON, Bryony LEWIS, Catherine EVANS, Catherine JONES, Charlie SMITH, Chris DAY, Chris LEWIS, Claire Emma SHACKLOCK, Clare GRIFFITHS, Dan TAYLOR, Daniel CONNOLLY, Dave TARRANT, David MATHER, David SHACKLOCK, Dianne SPENCER, Dominic HURFORD, Eleanor FRANCIS, Elizabeth CONNOLLY, Emma ADDIS, Gail HAVARD, Gareth MORGAN, Ian WILLIAMS, Iestyn HENSON, James LYNCH, Jamie LEWIS, Jayne JONES, Jeanette ROBINS, Jim MURRAY, Jo EVANS, John DUNN, John Joseph KIERNAN, Jonathan WILLIS, Julie GOULD, Julie HAIGH, Karen LEWIS, Laura PIPER, Lawrence WILKINSON, Lee ROBINS, Liam GRIFFITHS, Lisa WATSON, Liz HENSON, Lydia WILKINSON, Marie COLES, Mark GRIFFITHS, Mark GRIFFITHS, Mark ROSE, Martin CLAYTON, Matthew WILLIAMS, Michelle EDGELL, Michelle TAYLOR, Mickey HAVARD, Nicola DEAN, Nicola TARRANT, Nicole FRITH, Olivia MURRAY, Paul EVANS, Paul HARRIS, Paula CHURCH, Paula SPEECHLEY, Peter HOWELL, Peter SPEECHLEY, Phillip MEARS, Rachel BRAMWELL, Rachel LEWIS, Reyhana LAHER, Rhian PETERSON, Richard PARNELL, Rob COLES, Rob SIMS, Robert COLMAN, Robert FINCH, Rory GRIFFITHS, Ryan LAMBETH, Sian ROACH, Simon PETERSON, Stephen DALLOW, Stephen EVANS, Stephen TARRANT, Steve DATE, Steve MARCER, Steve PAYNE, Sue WRIGHT, Suzanne FENNELL, Tim WRIGHT, Tony LEWIS, William Barrie LEWIS & Wyn THOMAS for making the journey to double up!

However, Penallta wasn't the planned follow up event - I had initially planned on Aberbeeg parkrun but by chance I met up with the Tarrant Clan and the chance of a catch up in the café afterwards meant a change of plans in the car pulling out of Bryn Bach Park.

It turned out that following the advice of the Mega Tourist was a good idea as the parking looked tricky at Aberbeeg from their website and as we wouldn't be our normal 50minutes early… I was nervous, especially as we aren't fast runners/a quick driver and as it turned out 248 from Bryn Bach had the same double planned.

However Penallta was AMAZING… loads of parking close by and free.  I even had time to volunteer to write a run report and chat to some lovely runners before the run briefing.

Shortly before 10:30am there was a very busy tourist briefing – well, there were 92 first time tourists to Penallta! In fact the first lady over the line, Swansea Harriers AC’s Llinos JONES (VW35-39) was one of these first timers in 19:55, her first parkrun was at Cardiff, where she ran 19:55! Hopefully the six parkrunners who used their barcode for the very first time found the new runners briefing useful.  So a big welcome to the newest members of the parkrun family:- Amy PRONGER, Beth JONES, Emily Jo HARRIS, Honorene TUGBY, Nathan HAINES & Rebecca DAVIES. I hope you enjoyed your first parkrun and that you will return many more times in the future. I think that each week I run parkrun just gets better and better, even if my times don’t.

Unlike Bryn Bach, Penallta is an out and back rather than laps with a little undulation… I would say a hill!  The way the route loops back and forth meant that there were lots of opportunities to see the faster runners zoom past making running looking effortless as I panted and puffed along.  In reality I know how much work and training they put on to go that fast.

After only just running a full 5km back without any walking breaks last parkrunday after 10 weeks of very limited running - in fact mostly walking around a parkrun in just over 48minutes - the great thing about parkrun is you can walk, jog or run so I could happily kept up my parkrunning and not miss out.  So as I hadn’t run more than 5km since May, I had planned to run a little of the parkrun and then walk the rest. But my plans came apart when I fell in step with Julie Seren LEWIS, who ran alongside me and we chatted away about everything parkrun and then added lots of local knowledge of the course as the kilometres flew past.  Once we crested the last slight rise at 4km and I realised when she said it was all downhill she was correct - I had to keep running - despite my body telling me I was out of condition and had enjoyed Christmas far too much! Many thanks Julie for the chat on the way round; it made every step far easier and quicker than my lack of training really should allow.

Much to my amazement despite the record number of runners on the course, 18 people set a PB today – Well done to all of you. The first man and first lady home were two of these PBs! First finisher Owen LOCKE (Cardiff AAC, SM20-24) improved on his previous visit in 2017 and ran home in 16:26 by 35 seconds!  This after placing 2nd at Cardiff in 16:54 as the first part of his double! So to Owen and Anthony LINTERN, Cliff HAYWARD, Emma ADDIS, Emma REES, Gail HAVARD, Hannah LOUGHLIN, Kate BORJA, Lee ORBELL, Lolly EVANS, Lucy GORDON, Michelle AMBLIN, Rachel EVANS, Rachel LEWIS, Rhys LLOYD, Sharon SMITH, Susan BOWES & Tony LEWIS - well done on setting a new PB.

Over the years since I started parkrunning I have written many parkrun reports for maybe 100 different venues; that shares a record of my travels. I often wonder who reads my reports but I keep writing them in the hope that the select band of hi-vis heroes that make the run I took part in possible get a big thank you from me and my family. I do try and say a thank you to each marshal as I pass and to those at the finish, but often I am barely able to run and breath. So a huge THANK YOU to:-Cerian ARIANRHOD, Mike BATTEN, Anouska BEAUMONT, Jane BRUNSDON, Robert DAVIES, Terry DAVIES, Caroline DAVIES, Julie GOULD, Andrew GOULD, Sian HARRIS, Jo HARRIS, Michael HEARE, Neil HEMPSTEAD, John HICKMAN, Michael KELLY, Malcolm PARKER & Norman SPENCER who made this event possible.

As with parkruns around the world if you fancy giving scanning a go, fancy being the timekeeper, marshalling and encouraging others or are happy to help out in any role please look on the roster and e-mail - penalltahelpers@parkrun.com

One of the great things about parkrun is the social side and the community that builds up around them, the chats before and after the runs and in particular the cafe visit!  It seems that the Tesco cafe were a little caught out by the large numbers of people turning up - well I guess it wasn’t a Saturday and wasn’t just after 10am. Whilst there was a long wait for food - it did mean more chance to talk with the team and catch up with fellow tourists and parkrunners, one of whom was this week's most experienced parkrunner present at Penallta, Nicola Tarrent (476 parkruns/377 different venues!).  Just like local regulars, parkrunners who chat after parkrun then find themselves talked into joining clubs and entering races, the tourist chat can lead a runner to start googling flights to the Netherlands for a parkrun in the Tulip season and Poland and Germany before writing a run report!

A huge thank you to everyone today who made these runs possible and for everyone for being so friendly. What a great start to 2020.

Happy parkrunning.

Daniel Connolly