A chilly but initially bright morning gave way to ominous looking clouds until it was overcast and began to drizzle, probably a typical way to start November but that rarely dampens the general mood in a parkrun.
Whatever the weather, the day saw a total of 242 runners arrive, but a damp November coupled with an unfortunate exact 9.00am clash with the England – South Africa Rugby World Cup was the ‘perfect storm’ for many and meant that the numbers were substantially reduced.
This week’s run Director David Scott welcomed 28 first time park runners and it might be my fevered imagination, but I couldn’t help get the feeling that one or two of those new to Parkrun were actually wondering how they’d come to be here in the cold light of the early dawn on a Saturday rather than being tucked up in bed with a cup of tea, or ready for the rugby……… they looked slightly bewildered but smiled politely as they listened.
The usual start of the cross paths between the two lakes was packed with runners bristling with anticipation and wanting to get going. Just before 9.00am run Director David welcomed everyone and there were Parkrun tourists from Melton Mowbray, Cambridge, Bedford and Westmill (near Ware). It seemed unusually light for PR tourists but the rugby world cup and less than ideal conditions kept many away. There were two significant milestones being celebrated including 100 Runs - Vicky Berry from Biggleswade AC who got to wear the famed 100 cape, There was also a 50 Runs for Nick Witcombe from Fairlands Valley Spartans. Both runners had bought several friends with them who were braving the conditions.
Following the Introductions & celebrations we were off and the pack headed off to begin the two clockwise loops of Fairlands Valley Park. It’s a beautiful sight to see the swans & the odd duck in the lakes and this takes your mind off the fact that the first few hundred meters can be a tad busy until the pack naturally stretches out. The route really has a good mix of everything from the wide tarmac paths by the lakes to the twisting pinch points where the path abuts the the stretch out past the wonderful marshals. Let’s face it without the marshals guiding everyone parallel to Six Hills Way, some of the keener athletes could end up tearing off towards Valley Way (!)
The course then lead back into the park and through the Parkrun tree corridor, up to the Northern end and around the smaller of two lakes over the wooden bridge and returning back to the starting area where the second loop commenced, cheered on by well wishers and the ever wonderful marshals.
While the second loop can be a tad taxing for many the only slight sting in the tail is the uphill stretch to the finish, which, for those of you who have signed up to Strava, you may have noticed that someone has named this quite simply as “nasty finish”. I’d prefer to use positive terminology here and we’ll simply call it a, er……. ‘challenging’ finish.
Still whether you’ve run, walked, find it easy or find every step a real battle – Good on you, for being there and being part of something bigger. For some of us, the finish line is just a marker and just for a brief moment in time, your spirits are lifted, and the world seems slightly brighter.
Although a Parkrun is never a race, it’s all about the taking part, first past the line for the ladies was Suzy Hawkins with a time of 21.02 and for the men Joe Cronin took 1st place with a time of 18.50.
This week’s volunteer heroes were David SCOTT, Alan FORD, Joe COLGAN, Tony RANDFIELD, Mark DAVEY, Dave Clark, Jan FRY, Elizabeth ABELHO, Mathew PATTMAN, Paul O’CONNOR, April LACEY, Esperanza CASTRO, Petra WARNER, Tom ATKINS, Eileen CROWE, Anne MILEER, Karl SPARKS, Ems SOUTHERINGTON, Helen HARRIS, Hannah BUTLER and Marleen VAN ZWEITEN.
The revolving roster of the Stevenage Parkrun team is entirely reliant on volunteers and while there is a core team, without volunteers giving up their time, Parkruns wouldn’t exist so, if you’re at a loose end, why not volunteer?, this is one of those occasions where you get a lot more out than you put in and you’ll be thanked by scores of grateful people that run past you (assuming they’re not too tired to speak that is!) and you’ll almost certainly make friends, socialise and enjoy the day.
Simon Berry (A63885)
This week 242 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 27 were first timers and 25 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 27 different clubs took part.
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Stevenage parkrun Results Page.
The male record is held by Ian KIMPTON who recorded a time of 15:07 on 3rd September 2016 (event number 15).
The female record is held by Annabel GUMMOW who recorded a time of 17:39 on 17th November 2018 (event number 127).
The Age Grade course record is held by Yuko GORDON who recorded 92.85% (22:51) on 10th November 2018 (event number 126).
Stevenage parkrun started on 28th May 2016. Since then 7,714 participants have completed 49,678 parkruns covering a total distance of 248,390 km, including 9,974 new Personal Bests. A total of 510 individuals have volunteered 3,536 times.