Rushcliffe parkrun is cancelled on 11 July 2020: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

A look back at our celebration of the NHS……..

This last week has seen the 40th anniversary of Nottingham Forest winning the European Cup for the second time (imagine how hard it is for me, as a Leicester supporter, to write those words) and, in line with many media outlets that don't have any actual sport to report on I heard that yesterday afternoon Radio Nottingham were re-running the full match commentary from that night in Madrid when John Roberson scored the winning goal against Hamburg.

Which seems a perfect opportunity for Rushcliffe parkrun to look back at some of our most memorable events, and it is so fitting that we start by going back to June 9th, 2018, when we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

What will it be like next time we get together to celebrate the NHS?

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Amazing how things turn out sometimes. It would have been good anyway, but in the end it was fantastic. All it takes is the ideas, time, determination and commitment from one person to change the Saturday morning for 512 parkrunners.

We were contacted a couple of months ago, by parkrun UK, about their national initiative to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS and Rushcliffe were invited to join in at a local level. ‘What a good idea’ we thought and, in our own, usually understated way, we planned to share the national messages via facebook and twitter, say a few words in the pre run brief and continue the theme into the run report.

Well, that was until the first element of that plan was actioned. On Wednesday May 30th we shared, on facebook, the details of the national launch event featuring Dame Kelly Holmes. Within minutes we had received a message from Nat Scroggie (pictured above) asking about our plans and suggesting various initiatives, that she was happy to organize, to put fun, excitement and meaning into our support of the National initiative.

And so it was, with Nat’s ideas, time, determination and commitment that this week’s event came to you with fancy dress, a dedicated walking group and pacers between 28 and 40 minutes – and delivered a fabulous atmosphere, fun and laughter, delighted parkrunners with new PB’s and ensured we celebrated the NHS in style. She didn’t organize the weather – that was a bonus!

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In the 10 days between the 30th May and 9th June Nat used her contacts to get support from within the medical profession, arranged fancy dress including the magnificent double buggy ‘ambulance’ with flashing blue light , spoke to members of the press – we were even featured in West Bridgford Wire! – cajoled her friends into being pacers and generally made sure everything was in place for a superb celebration of the magnificent organization that is the NHS.

As was said in the pre-run brief yesterday

'We’ve all used the NHS at some points in our lives and had experience of this fantastic organisation. parkrun is joining in the celebrations of the NHS’s 70th birthday with some special activities today primarily centred on encouraging us all to be more active and having fun, both of which have been proven to show that they lead to better mental and physical health - and keeping healthy is the best way that we can support the NHS.’

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To the end of keeping healthy, we were very keen to get the message communicated that parkrun is for everyone and we hope that by having a walking group and pacers with 28 to 40 minutes target times we will encourage more people to come and join in the fun. Nobody need ever worry about being last – we have tail walkers whose job is to be the final finishers and we will always provide a supportive atmosphere that will encourage participation by everyone, no matter your age or ability.

Please spread the message amongst your friends, relatives and work colleagues. parkrun is for everyone - we know from stories that have already been told, including a few over the years in the run reports, that parkrun can change lives for the better.

Clearly organising a brilliant event for 512 parkrunners was a breeze for Nat, because immediately afterwards she blogged about her experience, and why the NHS means so much to her, and we can all see it on her ‘This Vet Runs’ blog, via this link. She also arranged for a photo album of yesterday to be posted on facebook for us all to enjoy. You can see that via this link.

Thank you to the National Health Service for what you have done for us all over the last 70 years – and what you will continue to do in the future.

Thank you to the volunteer team that timed, scanned, marshalled, funnel managed and this week’s event.

And thank you to Nat for making it a memorable Saturday morning in the park.

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Peopleless parkrun

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Sally has been to the park early this morning and was stirred to write this fantastic poem and has called it 'Peopleless parkrun'. You will understand why!

Peopleless parkrun
Well that was a strange sort of parkrun
A run with just another one
We went very early to miss the rush
Although it wasn’t much fun

We ran on the normal park route
Avoiding dogs and their owners
Moving aside to avoid a dispute
And running as though we were loners

We tried to chat to each other
Because that’s why we were there
But we might as well have not bothered
As our voices disappeared into the air

But still it was nice to be back
Experiencing what we had before
And we both said we want to keep running the track
Even if social distancing’s a bore

Eventually, we are both thinking
Our parkrun will be safe for us to go
And although at times we are sinking
We really don’t want to be too slow

So here’s to the time when it’s ready
For parkrun we really can’t wait
We’ll be fully trained and go steady
Here’s hoping there’s not long to wait !

Thank you Sally.

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So what happened to 20/20 vision? Nobody saw this coming in 2020!!

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It now seems like a lifetime ago that I finished my last parkrun at Wollaton Hall, bumping into some of my new found friends who are regular Rushcliffe parkrunners, completing my full set of Nottingham parkruns.

Whilst this is undeniably an extremely difficult and worrying time, the values that parkrun is built upon do provide a great basis for dealing with this situation.

It was October 2016 that I did my first parkrun at Rushcliffe. I remember turning up thinking it was just another run (I had previously ran numerous 10ks and half marathons) but it soon became apparent that it was much more than a run. Straight away I was hooked (I do think parkrun should carry a warning that “parkrun is addictive and can seriously improve your health”).The atmosphere was like no other, the volunteers were enthusiastic and supportive, the other runners were all friendly and welcoming. The diversity though really stood out, people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities coming together to complete the 5k in a non judgemental way. It didn’t matter how fast or slow the runners were they were all treated in the same way, given the respect they deserve (even those annoyingly fast runners who seem to glide by with very little effort!). The volunteers were deservedly thanked by many runners.

I think these non judgemental and respectful values are something we are going to need in abundance as we recover from this pandemic. This has certainly been the case as I have been out and about running and walking, discovering new routes along the way. The vast majority of people I have encountered (from a distance of more than 2m away) have been friendly and respectful, moving to one side of the path to enable me to pass safely or thanking me as I zigzag across the road to maintain my social distance (incidentally working in a maths department has made social distancing much easier as most mathematicians have practiced this for years!). This reinforces parkrun founder,Paul Sinton-Hewitt’s philosophy that most people are good people.

As we begin to ease the lockdown measures, hopefully avoiding a second peak, these values will become even more important. We won’t all agree will the actions that are taken but it will be important that we respect the differing opinions and take responsibility for ensuring our own actions put us in the best position.

Similarly when parkrun is unpaused, which personally I think will be many months away, there will be some that think the decision was taken too quickly and others thinking it some have been done weeks ago. Whatever your opinion we must respect that parkrun head office together with the event directors have taken what they believe to be the right course of action to deliver a safe, sustainable parkrun experience as they have done for many years now.

I shall leave you with a message from my parkrun street name challenge (I need to dash it’s nearly parkrun quiz time). A lack of a certain letter locally changed this into a parkrun street name catchphrase (answer at the end)

I hope everyone stays safe and I look forward to seeing you all again at a time where our biggest worry in life is whether we will need a single, double or triple finishing funnel.

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(answer to the catchphrase-“Rushcliffe parkrun is missing you”

Paul

 

The new normal of a Saturday morning

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Who knew that Dermot O’Leary was so entertaining as the presenter of the Radio 2 breakfast show on a Saturday morning? (Don’t get me started on the mystery voice - Connie Booth?, I am not convinced even though I know it is the answer. And I have no idea about the current one. Any suggestions? Anyway, I digress.) Listening to Dermot whilst attempting to do the crossword has become my ‘new normal’ on a Saturday morning, usually followed by a short run. All at a more relaxed pace than my previous Saturday routine.

Which is a bit of a worry.

I love parkrun, it has given me so much in the last 7 years and I want it to keep doing that for many more years in the future. But I worry, what if lots of dedicated parkrunners have discovered a ‘new normal’ on a Saturday morning that doesn’t involve setting the alarm for earlier than a weekday and heading out to a puddle strewn, windswept park to battle the elements then ‘the moment’ of parkrun may have passed. Ex-parkrunners (a word I hope to never use again) may have found they prefer to spend their Saturday mornings in different, non-parkrun ways.

You don’t need to be a virologist to put two and two together to make four. The government advice is saying that we will be social distancing for some time into the future, potentially until we have a vaccine for this blasted virus that has interrupted so many good things. The latest update from parkrun (accessed here if you haven’t seen it) makes it clear that “we are not considering starting events where doing so would mean participants or volunteers are required to maintain a certain distance between each other”. Doing the basic maths would suggest it could be quite a while before we can gather again in the park at 9am on a Saturday.

That could give people plenty of opportunity to develop their new normal, which may not include parkrun. When we thought we would be missing a few weeks we were all very excited about ‘that first one back’, but as that extends into months the outlook may be very different.

And it is at this point that I remind myself that it is statistically proven that 98% of the things we worry about don’t happen. It is wasted time and energy, and the trouble is that many of us have an awful lot of time on our hands at the moment.

The concept of parkrun – free, timed, 5k, every Saturday at 9am, is brilliant. The principle of encouraging people to be more active than they otherwise would be to improve their health and happiness will be more relevant than ever. Which is why we will need to be more evangelistic about the fabulous thing that is parkrun, to make sure that we come back stronger and more successful than before.

Finally, whilst I hate to disagree with a lady, as I was listening to Dame Vera singing her memorable song as part of the VE Day commemoration, I couldn’t help but think that we may not know exactly when we will meet again, but we do know it will be on a Saturday at 9am, and it will be in Rushcliffe Country Park.

We will be back.

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The Best Laid Plans!

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To borrow a phrase from 18th Century poet Robert Burns, the best laid plans of parkrun tourists often go awry. Take, for example, my trip earlier this year to Millhouses parkrun in south Sheffield. It had been quite cold overnight but it hadn’t appeared bad enough for it to be called off due to ice, and indeed at 8.30am it was confirmed to be on. It then actually got colder and at approximately 9.05am after a further inspection it was called off. A long way to go for no parkrun.

As a dedicated (my family would say ‘obsessed’) parkrun tourist, the current situation the world finds itself in has rendered useless several hours of planning. On 11 April I should have been at Doddington Hall (near Lincoln) for their 11th event. Why? Because I don’t have an event number 11 in my list yet. On 18 April I was scheduled to complete my 250th parkrun, qualifying me for the green t-shirt. Last week I should have been at Queen Elizabeth parkrun in Hampshire with fellow obsessives (Ian Howe, Richard Harland plus Brodie and Harry) to tick off the much-coveted ‘Q’ towards the alphabet challenge. Running there would have seen me complete my UK alphabet, which would have left just the small matter of a trip to Poland at the end of May to get the elusive ‘Z’ to complete the parkrun alphabet, in the small town of Malbork just outside Gdansk. My planning spreadsheet (I know…) also had me at Rushcliffe a few times as well, doing some volunteering when I had races on Sundays, and also when I needed to stay local or just be back at my home course. Achieving all these different challenges and planning my parkruns months ahead is incredibly motivating and gives me a real buzz.

So I don’t mind admitting that I am finding the current situation hard. Very hard. When you dedicate yourself to something in such a committed way and then can’t do it, it leaves a huge gaping hole. So what to do?

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Well, parkrun tourists are nothing if not resourceful. Somebody in the parkrun tourist facebook group, a group for which you have to ‘qualify’ by completing 20 different events, went out running and took photos of street signs, using the first letter of each street name to spell out a parkrun-related word like, er ‘parkrun’ or ‘barcode’. Like any good basic idea this was then extended to people doing this to spell out their home course, their own name, or even completing the parkrun alphabet (no ‘x’s). I went out and did this to spell out ‘Rushcliffe parkrun’ – I did have to use the same ‘u’ twice but I did collect them all in order. You can see the evidence on our parkrun’s facebook page. I now know my home town (Bingham) much better than I did, and concentrating on where to run next meant it didn’t really feel like I’d run nearly 11k in the process. If anyone else would like to join in please do and post your photos in the ‘visitor posts’ section.

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Doing things like this helps to a certain extent, but of course what we all want to know is when we’ll be back parkrunning. If I was a betting man (I have to be careful here; the last time I bet in public it didn’t quite go to plan…) I’d be astonished if we were back before 2021. With social distancing set to continue for the rest of 2020 I can’t see how that squares with large groups of people congregating to do parkrun. But it’s not up to me, and I have everything crossed for a resumption as soon as possible.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that there are far more concerning issues than parkrun tourism at this time. This report should be read in that context.

Thanks for reading, and keep safe and well.

Jonathan

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