There’s a chill breeze on the seafront this morning as my son Oliver and I get out of the car to meet the other volunteers at this week’s Teignmouth Promenade parkrun. We’re here early but already the yellow signs are up and the various boxes and bollards are in their right places. Someone has been up extra early, getting everything ready.
I chat to some of the other volunteers. ‘When you write your run report,’ says one, ‘make sure you mention the contractors working on the pier. It was really kind of them to clear their stuff away yesterday so today’s run could go ahead.’ I look at the pier. Sure enough, there is mesh fencing nearby and a ‘Site Entrance’ sign on it – but a large gap has been cleared to allow the parkrun to proceed as normal.
Oliver is the tail walker today; my role is token sorting. ‘Not many people here this week,’ he observes as the run director gets ready to do the briefing. He’s right. Far from the 300 or so who have attended for the last three weeks, it looks as if there are only eighty or ninety people here. Maybe all those New Year’s resolutions that brought people here recently were only for January? But as the run director speaks, more and more people appear. By the end of his briefing we surrounded by two hundred or so extra runners. That’s terrific. Another good turnout.
We get underway. This week I am sluggish. My leg hurts and I feel as heavy as a tractor. I run like a tractor too – a hefty old-fashioned one pulling a plough across a muddy field. I reach the turning point at the north end of the course. ‘Watch out for the wet area,’ says the marshal stationed there. I thank him and turn carefully.
As I run, I start to think of what to write about this event. I think about the kindness of the contractors in moving their apparatus and fences and it strikes me that their consideration is very much in the spirit of parkrun. I come to the bollard at the north end of the course for a second time. ‘Watch out,’ says the marshal again as I make the turn. More consideration. I thank him. A short while later I am running through the narrow path where it is only possible for two people to run abreast. TWO marshals are stationed there: I thank them both. Yes, consideration for others, maybe that is the theme of this run.
I see Oliver ahead in his tail-walker vest and lap him just as my watch beeps for the third kilometre. ‘Go on, Dad, well done,’ he shouts. Shortly after that I am running past the finish line where all the volunteers are applauding and encouraging us. Down to the lighthouse for the second time. I thank the marshals there and run back along beside the sea, past the construction site. Around the bollard again at the top. ‘Watch out,’ says the marshal again, and I thank him again. Consideration…
I approach the section where only two people can run abreast. I am about to lap a lot of people here but a lady among them who is pushing a pushchair is faster than the others and pulls out to overtake them in front of me. I hold back, to allow her to go past them. Then she in turn steers back in, to allow me to overtake her. Everyone helps everyone else.
I finish eleven seconds slower than last week. After a minute or two recovering, I head off to the scanning area to sort tokens. This activity is quite a lot of fun, especially as more and more people check in. But then there are a few tokens missing. ‘Where’s number --?’ I say to Linda, my fellow token-sorter. ‘Number such-and-such is missing’ I mutter when I notice another gap.
Eventually Oliver comes in with his token: number 279. So there were only six fewer people here than last week. Not bad, not bad at all. In fact, this is the eighth-best turnout ever at this parkrun – and six of the nine highest attendances have been since Christmas 2019. Things are going from strength to strength on Teignmouth Promenade. But still there is one finish token missing. Someone must have inadvertently taken it home. We’re down a token for next week.
Isn’t that inconsiderate?
Actually, no it’s not. It’s absent-minded. You can’t accuse someone of being inconsiderate when they’ve just forgotten something.
That is when it hits me. Everything I’ve been reflecting on, which I have been describing in terms of consideration for others… It’s not about consideration; it’s about responsibility – taking responsibility for other people. They are not the same thing. Consideration, in this case, means not hindering others. Taking responsibility means going that bit further – not just ‘not hindering’ but ensuring other people are okay.
Just think, the organisers who set up this run could have stayed in bed this morning. We would not have thanked them for it but they could have done – it’s not illegal. But they wouldn’t dream of it because they wouldn’t want to let anyone down. Likewise the marshal repeatedly warning people about a slippery patch near that turn, he too was taking responsibility for everybody’s safety. And the slow runners making sure the lady with the pushchair could overtake them safely, they too were taking responsibility for her and her little one.
Don’t get me wrong. Consideration is hugely important. Without it we wouldn’t know how to help people. But consideration itself is only half the story. It doesn’t count for much if you consider someone and fail to act, or only partially act, or make a gesture.
That’s the message here. We can all do more than just be considerate of each other. We can go that step further and take responsibility for each other too.
This week 279 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 40 were first timers and 68 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 27 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 27 volunteers:
Kevin CAPLE • Gerald ATKINS • Ross PYNE • Neil TAMPKINS • Ian MORTIMER • Oliver MORTIMER • Pippa THEW • Will LYNDS • Sue TREMLETT • Jerry WILLIAMSON • Jan BUNCE • Diana RAYFIELD • Andrew GUNATILLEKE • Keith UNDERHILL • Ruth BUTLER • Roger BACON • Charlotte OTT • Vivienne BELL • Anna HARRISON • Sharon MEDWAY • Linda COLLINS • Pauline JONES • Jenna MARSH • Lauren JEFFERY • Pam DAVIS • Callum KEARNS • Malcolm TIPPER
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Teignmouth Promenade parkrun Results Page.
The female record is held by Kate DREW who recorded a time of 17:54 on 19th January 2019 (event number 16).
The male record is held by Henry IRVINE who recorded a time of 15:58 on 19th October 2019 (event number 55).
The Age Grade course record is held by Peter MONAGHAN who recorded 87.38% (17:26) on 2nd February 2019 (event number 18).
Teignmouth Promenade parkrun started on 29th September 2018. Since then 4,095 participants have completed 13,911 parkruns covering a total distance of 69,555 km, including 2,968 new Personal Bests. A total of 239 individuals have volunteered 1,699 times.
Ian Mortimer (parkrunner A1871985)