Now then, that was pretty special wasn't it?
What a morning!?
Firstly some thank yous, our heartfelt thanks go to John Turner the Town Crier for Pontefract who joined us for our big restart.
As always though we couldn't do it without the help of our volunteers. Thank you, you all did an amazing job. You were a dream team and made the core team's life so much easier!
With the changes to the start and finish, we were a little nervous with how it would go. The main aim was to give you all more space to spread out, before and after the run.
So a massive thank you goes to you, our parkrun community for listening carefully and giving each other space. Please let us know how you found it all. Although we make no apologies for the slight incline towards the new finish.
A huge thank you also to James Todd who took photos for us on the lake, we will share the link to these photos over the course of this week.
Our final thank you goes to parkrunner and tourist Daniel Connelly from Warwick racecourse, who has very kindly written our run report for us. Grab yourself a cuppa and a biscuit (it's a long one ) and relive what was a fabulous morning in Pontefract park. Enjoy.....
Pontefract parkrun #460 – More than a run in the park.
When parkrun pulled up the finish funnel, folded up the hi viz vests and packed away the finish tokens on 14th March 2020, I told myself that each Saturday morning I would complete a (not) parkrun event in a park local to me… I kept up the habit for 35 weeks; at around 9am I would give myself and members of my family a short run brief before we set off to run around a measured 5km loop (I happen to have a calibrated measuring wheel!). I even created a set of results and sent text messages. With cafés closed we had post run coffee and breakfast in our garden. But slowly it waned, it just wasn’t the same! Training runs reduced in length and slowed in speed to walks. As lovely as my route was, without others to share it with, chat before and after have that shared community it just wasn’t the same!
So standing on the start line on a warm overcast Saturday in July, I could barely contain my excitement. I was much like a child on Christmas morning faced with a huge stocking filled with presents. But rather than having to wait just 52 weeks, I have dreamed of this day for the last 70 weeks. During this time we have had a few false dawns so even as the runners gathered for the briefest of moments at the start I could barely believe that this day had actually arrived!
The return of parkrun!
For many of us, we could just rock up and run just like we have done many times before but I am sure that many of those in hi viz today and core team members who maybe got to enjoy this first run out have been busy behind the scenes; liaising with parkrun HQ and the landowners, making small changes to the course and implementing new procedures to make sure that all 299 of us today could finally get back parkrunning safely. So on behalf of everyone a huge Thank you.
Many not yet parkrunning friends – I say yet as there is still time for them to join – think that it is just a run in a park! They don’t understand that joy of the collective running experience of like-minded runners. That parkrun really is for all ages from juniors like Ava Flaherty, Adam Tasker & Reuben Anstee being under 11 years of running with a responsible adult to Frank Sheard and John Richard Bell in the VM80-84 category all sharing that 5km course on a Saturday Morning. From the super speedy first finisher, Vegan Runners’, Alex HINCHCLIFFE in 17:04 to tail walker, Wakefield Triathlon Club’s, Ian RUTSON closing the run in 56:27. Everyone can join in the fun.
Just before 9 o’clock runners appeared and started to gather by the lake. It was almost as if parkrun hadn’t stopped; there was still the air of pre run chatter although more spaced out, maintaining social distancing for others.
Over time you make many parkrun friends, people you chat to as you run or runners of a similar pace that you try and race to the finish line each week, volunteers who turn up rain or shine to clap and cheer you on your way. This community that collects together weekly, sharing in a common bond of parkrun was only paused during the pandemic; this restart just reignited those bonds and friendships.
The town cryer announced the first timers briefing for the 38 runners coming to Pontefract for the first time, to cover the course and what to do with those little plastic tokens at the end! It is always lovely to have new runners join us each week and even more so after all those weeks off so huge welcome to:- Craig Powell, Faith Batchelor, Hannah Waud, Janet Ross, Jennifer Cassidy, Kim Hepworth, Luke Dove, Rebecca Mccormick, Reuben Anstee, Samantha Campbell, Sarah Rice, Simon Moakes, Stephanie Reyner, Stephen Derbyshire and Tracy Proud. We hope that you enjoyed your first parkrun and that you will bring your barcode back to a parkrun soon.
Then it was on to the run briefing – as across the country this is now a brief streamlined affair so that there is minimal congregation before the start… So unfortunately this does mean that there are no milestone mentions. If it isn’t bad enough missing parkrun for 11,927 hours imagine how it must feel waiting on 99 runs like:- Greg Thorley, Torin Rickerby, Claire Barber or Iona Rickerby had been. So a huge well done for joining the 100 club. However one runner was stuck on 249 runs! 1 shy of joining the 250 club so a huge well done to James O'Rourke for reaching this milestone. Wear your t-shirts with pride. Less than two minutes later runners made their way to the start and off…
With 496 days to train, I should have been off like a racing whippet! Instead I have spent the time carb loading – not just for me but for the entire estimated 100 000 English parkrunners that walked jog or ran around the courses today. So almost immediately I got to enjoy the sight of a hundred of runners streaming away from the start leaving me puffing and panting from the initial incline. An array of parkrun milestone, apricot and contra t shirts along with a plethora of brightly coloured tops from running clubs and races winding their way around the lake before heading off into the distance on the race course.
Although Pontefract Racecourse is one of the longest continuous flat racing circuits in Europe, it certainly isn’t flat! But once past the grandstand a lovely gentle downhill rewards that initial climb from the lake.
Whilst I may have taken 496 days between parkruns a little too easy with my running it seems like a lot of runners used the time wisely or were so desperate to chat to parkrunner friends at the end that 33 of today’s field managed to run a PB Including the first 3 over the line! So a huge well done to :- Alex Hinchcliffe, Amy Davies, Ava Flaherty, Becky Westwood, Carol Krahe, Cathy Giles, Catriona Phillips, Chris Garnett, Conor Harrison, Craig Mann, Dan Maltby, Daniel Heald, Danielle Wilson, Dean Playforth, Debbie Foster, Elliott Hartley, Greg Thorley, James Firth, James O'rourke, Julie Wild, Kristofer Burton, Leanne Hosty, Maxine Maxwell, Millie Wroe, Niamh Barnes, Robert Saunders, Ryan Gascoigne, Simon Edwards Barber, Stacey , Steven Evans, Stuart Wilson, Trevor Scallan, Zoë Proud.
After the circuit of the race course it was a return to the lake for a final loop before crossing that finish line and collecting a position token. Spread around under the trees by each of the benches used by the spread-out scanners, groups of happy parkrunners stood chatting to each other.
Rather than rush off we headed over to the new Aspire at the Park leisure centre to enjoy a parkrun special sausage or bacon batch and tea or coffee (vegetarian version also available) and a brief chat with some of the volunteer team as they processed the results from the Virtual Volunteer App. If you don’t have to rush home do stay and enjoy a chat in the café afterwards; it really extends that great parkrun community feeling.
As with parkruns around the world, Pontefract parkrun is organised and run by volunteers. All the roles are really simple to complete even if you are completely new to the role; they can and will be explained by a volunteer on the morning. However, If you fancy giving barcode scanning a go you couldn’t go wrong watching the quick 4 minute film my son made for junior parkrun!
This week we are grateful to:
birthday girl Jodi HAYWARD, Kenneth BINGLEY, Joanne CONROY, Merv DAVISON, Rosemary ELLIS, Andy EVANS, Marie EVANS, Adam FEATHERSTONE, Phoebe FITZGERALD, Pam GREEN, Jo GUNSON, John KEES, Ken POYNER, Stephanie RAMSKILL, Ian RUTSON, Gregory SKELTON, Hannah SKELTON, James TODD and Colin WHITE
for wearing the hi viz and making parkrun #460 happen at Pontefract. If you fancy giving it a go just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org it is loads of fun.