The very awesome Daniel Connelly - our parkrun tourist completing his Full Ponty challenge - has penned this week’s run report. Read on to get his take on this weekend’s fun!
We also have the solution to Thursday trivia (click here) and our fabby Sunday shoutouts below. We hope you agree - this week’s report is EPIC! Enjoy...
#305 - Lido Envy!
I love writing run reports!
My wife on the other hand doesn’t like me writing run reports! Not because it takes me a good few hours tapping away at my computer when I could be meaningfully engaged in household tasks… In all probability she probably delights in the fact that I am out from under her feet causing more chaos than actual help! It is the proofreading she dislikes. Not because she finds it a challenge - she is amazing at it! But she has to turn my stream of poorly punctuated prose into something readable - I get the plaudits, she just gets the pain!
And it is a lot of pain as I have written over 121 run reports! It all started a while ago at my first home parkrun of Coventry, then as a way of recording my tourism journey and thanking those hi viz heroes who made the run possible. Then one year as a resolution that grew and went slightly bonkers - to write a run report for every parkrun I visited that year!
Today it will be made worse! Normally, my wife is with me on my trips but as she is currently injured and banned from running she decided that an early start wasn’t necessary for her so remained at home and would be timing at Stratford Upon Avon parkrun. Although my son is on 95 different parkrun events he opted for 2 hours more in bed and would run as his mother timed. And my daughter… She is at University in London! So it was I would parkrun alone and my wife would have to decode my missive with no knowledge of the parkrun I am writing about - it wasn’t the first time and I doubt it will be the last!
Run report writing, just like parkrun itself had become a habit… One I am sure many of you reading this epic monologue would understand, especially Andy DAVIES today’s most experienced parkrunner (444 - blue t-shirt by Christmas 2022?), Saturday isn’t complete without your regular free 5km run in a park. In fact it stops being Saturday but becomes parkrunday!
That was until 14th March 2020… when parkrun paused! I am sure like many we thought it would be a few weeks… maybe a couple of months… certainly not 17 months (more for Pontypridd parkrun as you closed early due to a flooded course!)
On the first Saturday, like many others around the UK I tried to replicate a parkrun that I was missing! So just before 8:30 I woke my wife and son and walked them, bleary eyed, to our local park for our (not)parkrun. They weren’t even that grateful that, unlike previous parkrun days, where they were woken and quickly bundled into a car at 6am and driven across the country to a parkrun, they could sleep in a bit.
For me, my (not)parkrun was very stress free! No worrying about car parking and finding the start - mind you Pontypridd parkrun today was a breeze for me! Okay it was a 6am start but Gas Road car park was easy to find and £1 to park all day on a Saturday was a bargain, before a quick walk over the bridge crossing the Taff and I was in the park!
My first timers briefing at our (not) parkrun was a very small affair with my wife and son both parkrun veterans, and we had no first timers as you could only run with people in your household!
Karl Johnson’s briefing today was a very different affair! 16 tourists and 18 first time parkrunners! So a huge welcome to Andrew Phillips, Carol Evans, Daniel Bateman, Dominic Barnes, Helen Odell, Josh Roderick, Kieran Cooling, Leah Marshall, Macauley Lewis, Maria Rees, Mark Glen, Nathan Morgan, Paige Myers, Rebecca Down, Rosalie Jones, Sai Bateman, Simon Kinsey & Tina Hughes; now you have used your barcode for the very first time at Pontypridd parkrun your Saturdays will never be the same! So a huge welcome to the parkrun family and I hope that you will return to a parkrun soon and use your barcode again.
My route was an accurately measured (always useful to own a calibrated measuring wheel - mind you, you do get some odd looks as you push it slowly around a park!) hilly two lap affair around a beautiful local park and just like Pontypridd my own course passed by a river, tennis courts, and a lido! Mind you Kenilworth Lido is far smaller, hasn’t reopened and is threatened with closure, unlike the vibrant and fully booked National Lido of Wales in your park. I was suffering from Lido envy before, during and after parkrun. It was with great regret that I didn’t plan my tourism earlier to book a post parkrun swim! Next time!
My (not) parkrun run briefing was a very quick affair, not because of a COVID framework that parkrun currently operates in but because we had no milestones! Looking over the results there were 3 official milestones today. Jim Mccann hit 50 parkruns today and with that will get an icon on the results and the option to buy a red milestone t-shirt & Carl Webber & Louise Lloyd both reached 100 runs, so they will have a chance to have a black 100 t-shirt. Previously, milestone t-shirts were free but long term that wasn’t sustainable so last week alone - 746 runners joined the 50 club & 411 the 100 club. There is also the chance for people to buy a replacement milestone t-shirt and I can’t wait to get a more roomy 250 t-shirt as my COVID kilos have made it more of a compression outfit than it was in March 2019! The first time I got to wear my green parkrun at was at Wycombe Rye; another parkrun that has a lido!
Our (not) parkrun start line was a line over the path, wide enough for the three runners to toe the line side by side but 242 runners take up a lot of space in a line - you need a wide start like Bushy park for that! However the estimated finish times that have appeared at parkruns post COVID to reduce crowding and passing make self seeding so much easier. Just looking at someone doesn’t give you any idea how quick they move! So knowing I would take about 34-35 minutes I moved back past the 30 minute marker, joined by Co-ED and first timers briefer Karl Johnson who claimed he would run with me as he would be going at that pace! Always great to have company and a chat on a run.
As Gareth Howell and training RD Catherine Powell started the runners, it wasn’t long before chatting away over the first short lap I was blowing! So I told Karl to enjoy his run and we would chat afterwards and whoosh he was gone! However unlike my (not)parkruns, where my family ran off and left me, and I would follow the route on my own, Ynysangharad War Memorial Park was full of runners spread out onto the 3 longer loops running, jogging and walking parkrun at their pace. But more importantly the route was packed with marshals!
Every parkrun needs marshals, not just to keep runners on course and turning to the finish after 3 laps or to offer encouraging shouts, claps and ringing cowbells to help keep us parkrunners motivated and moving; they are important for safety for us and other park users. Event teams think carefully where they are needed, where interactions could occur, like by the Lido exit, at paths crossing the park and bridges and entries and like the AED are there in case we need help.
For my initial few (not)parkrun route, if any dog walker moved over to allow me to waddle past I would give a cheery, ‘Thank you marshal’ to them. However, I stopped this when one lady gave a loud and rather confused comment to her husband, ‘But your name is James!”
If this was my regular parkun or run it would be amazing; add in a warm up and cooldown loop and you would have an amazing 7km run route with 5 hill reps! However, a quicker than expected first small lap, my post lockdown chunk gain and total lack of any training meant by the time of the start of the uphill section by the Lido I was blowing… So I decided a brisk recovery pace was a good idea - okay it might have looked like a walk to none runners but I am sure my Garmin log will read fartlek run once I edit the description! The one advantage of a walk, despite not needing oxygen at the top of the park, was that I could give a proper, ‘Thank you marshal’ to all those in pink our #HiVizHeros but as I volunteer to write a run report I get to post a huge THANK YOU to :- Andy REARDON • Anthony CARROLL • Anthony WILLIAMS • Bethan FORD • Blaine BURBIDGE-SMITH • Catherine HUGHES • Catherine POWELL • Charlie BLEASDALE • Clair STEVENSON • Claire COSTELLO • Claire LLOYD THOMAS • Dan TAYLOR • Deborah PRICE • Dianne DAVIES • Elaine COOPER • Elspeth WYNN • Emily ADAMS • Esther SOWERBY • Gareth HOWELL • George HOWELL • Glyn HICKS • Graham BINGHAM • John CARROLL • Karl JOHNSON • Kerri ALLEN • Lianne EDMUNDS • Lindy NALLY • Lyndon WALKER • Michael LOCKE • Patricia TAYLOR • Rebecca HOUSE HOWE • Rhys RICHARDS • Richard COSTELLO • Ruth COCHRAN • Sean LYNE • Steve NICHOLLS • Trish TAZZINI-LLOYD • Viv BURBIDGE-SMITH • Wendy COLLIE who made this event possible.
As with parkruns around the world Pontypridd parkrun relies on volunteers to happen and the forthcoming roster is looking a bit sparse. Don’t worry if you have never volunteered before or aren’t sure what to do, most roles are very simple but the RD of the day or volunteer coordinator will gladly show you what to do. Just to prove how easy one of the roles is, have a look at my son’s quick 5 minute how to be a barcode scanner Youtube film… https://youtu.be/6WZyewcyPYw It is great fun to be involved with parkrun but without getting sweaty! So if you need a rest week, or you have picked up a niggle or an injury or you have a non running relative who will come along, just email in to firstname.lastname@example.org There are even a few roles you can combine with a run…one is barcode scanner! My aim is to be able to whizz around a parkrun, grab a Hi Viz, pull out my phone and jump on the scanning. Unfortunately I am just not quick enough yet!
At the top of the slope in the park, with my breath under more control I started to run again and enjoy the long slope. My speed picked up and I felt like a lion chasing it’s prey when whoosh… whoosh... woosh… Those speedy first finishers shot past!
With my family (not)parkruns I missed seeing those faster runners and how effortlessly they seem to glide past. There are very few sports where elite athletes and the average person can take part in the same event but running and parkrun especially, get a whole spectrum of joining in. So it was as I was half way into my first larger lap Pontyclun Road Runners’, Neil JONES (VM40-44) passed me and only a few minutes later crossed the line in 17:08 to be this week’s first finisher. Another Pontyclun Road Runner, Cheryl LEE (VW40-44) passed me by the river and crossed the line in 18th overall in a new PB time of 20:21 to be the first lady home. Great running. A full set of results can be found on the website.
By lap two the mizzley weather had lifted and although the sun was yet to break out the temperature rose and I was warm and clammy; not great weather for me to run in but it didn’t stop 30 runners from seeing those lovely words in the parkrun text - New PB. Aimee Jones, Aimee Panes, Allen Robin Isaksen, Angela Foster Swailes, Cameron Hopkins, Cheryl Lee, Crystal Jacobs, Emma Legge, Ffion Howe, Haydn Smith, Imogen Jones, Jacob Norris, Jenna Watts, Jon Harvey, Kristian Phillips, Leanne Addis, Leanne Talbot, Liam Hatch, Louise Nuttall, Luke Davies, Oliver Hughes, Paula Taylor, Ramaraj Ayyappan, Rebecca Woodridge, Sanna Ollula, Sebastian Haigh, Steve Baker, Steve Payne, Thomas Richards & Victoria Oreilly. Great running. And if you didn’t manage it this week, you can always try again next parkrunday!
The only thing I didn’t replicate in my own (not) parkruns was finish tokens! When I started my family I used the parkrun APP to time us running so as each of us crossed my finish line I pressed the screen to time our runs - my wife and son may have measured and timed their run on their own GPS devices but nothing beats the thrill of a results text later with your official time! Yes, I even sent them a results text a few hours after the event!
Turning into the final finishing straight at Ynysangharad, my legs had no sprint left in them, and thankfully no one was right behind me racing me for me to test this out. Collecting my token and heading over to the scanners I was ready for the most important part of my parkrun day!
From my travels I have realised that parkrun is not just about the run but about the chatting and socialising after – and enjoying a chat post run in the café over a coffee, no matter how elaborate I made my own (not)parkrun breakfast it was always missing the most important element - other parkrunners! My family are nice but… (ok Daniel, your proof-reader is not amused here…)
As the team of volunteers finished up I headed over to the cafe and managed to order and eat a delicious vegetarian breakfast before the Core team had got their coffee! Well I did have an early start! So as the results were processed I enjoyed a lovely post parkrun chat with others. If you have never gone back to the cafe after, give it a try! You will gain so much more than the hour of your Saturday morning.
With my final Ponty parkrun collected for a virtual challenge the drive home started; on route home my daughter rang to tell me all about her parkrun at Bushy Park! An hour later, my son delighted in telling me that he had run an all time parkrun PB (well Stratford Upon Avon is a pancake flat three laps) - but was my wife the timer assisting him? So whilst we may not have been together but we could all enjoy parkrun!
Once again thanks to everyone at Pontypridd parkrun for a lovely parkrun and day out today.
co-ED’s comment: Thank you Daniel, your kind words meant so much to us this weekend. We hope your parkrun travels bring you back our way again sometime soon. Diolch Daniel, mor braf i weld chi ym Mhontypridd wythnos yma; gobeithiwn byddwn eich gweld chi cyn bo hir.
*** THURSDAY TRIVIA ***
We also owe you an answer to our “extremely fun” Thursday Trivia question - what are our top 5 clubs by number of Ponty parkruns completed by their runners? We included the group of “No Club” participants as well. So without further ado, our “tops of the pops” are...
- No Club (35,800)
- Pontypridd Roadents (6,190)
- Roberttown Road Runners (3,862)
- Pontyclun Road Runners (1,910)
- Aberdare Valley (1,524)
A special shoutout to one of our One Hit Wonders... Abu Dhabi Striders (event 276). Now that’s a cracking bit of tourism!
Some great answers and debate on the Facebook channel ensued when we posed the question on Thursday. A few of you forgot the “no club” group though - that’s by far our biggest, and our Number One. Whether you belong to a club or not, we welcome all comers at Ponty. If you fancy taking the plunge and joining a running group or a club and need some help with the process or picking the right one for you, please do reach out to us - the Ponty/RCT area has some amazing running and athletics clubs and we can happily put you in touch with one. There’s a strong tradition of club takeovers at Ponty - our next is on October 23rd with our friends at Pontyclun Road Runners. Watch this space for more soon!
*** SUNDAY SHOUTOUTS ***
We don’t have any milestone selfies this week, but panic we must not. We’re chock-a-block with callouts anyway - as you saw from Daniel’s report above. The ones we had on the sheet on Saturday morning were:
- Carl Webber ran his 100th parkrun overall
- Louise Lloyd ran her 100th parkrun overall
- Gareth Jones ran his 200th parkrun overall - not an official milestone, but we’ll take it!
- Daniel Connolly completed his full Ponty (but you probably guessed that already!)
- Owen Pugsley had his 30th birthday. Oh, and what’s this special little picture... ??! We have the name of the culprit in our AC-12 files (it’s quite a treasure trove), their secret is safe with us!
We also got news of two of our Ponty parkrun family on tour in North Wales (Conwy) this week. Peggy and Abby - we hope you enjoyed, see you again soon!