RR409 – The one with The Leap Day

Today was the first ever Leap Day parkun. If you missed today’s event, your next opportunity will be in the year 2048.

As is traditional on a Leap Day we gave all our runners and volunteers the opportunity to propose in front of all their parkrun friends and family.

In case anyone was tempted, Mayumi Stephenson had made two beautiful origami rings complete with ring boxes.

RR409

Sadly, there were no takers on the day. However, one lady took the red heart ring with her after the event, so watch this space…

We also had a little fun before the start with a leap, see our twitter post here

Sophie Hunt took the microphone to tell us about International Women's Day next week (7 March). We are participating and encouraging women to attend, bring your mothers, daughters and your grans. We'd also love our volunteer team to be female too #ThisGirlCan #IWD

Finally, we had a special guest visitor. Karen Hoskin from NHS Partnerships along with some of her colleagues came to say a few words about mental health and suicide prevention. Karen has kindly written the rest of this run report.

A special leap year Tilgate parkrun had a field of 452 parkrunners of which 53 were first timers not to forget the prams and sleeping babes living the dream and our K9 friends this morning and a very well done to the 38 runners achieved a PB.  Despite storm Jorge in the horizon we had a reprieve of the torrential rain to a light drizzle but this did not stop us grabbing that wellbeing tonic for that start of the weekend.  I think the cheers and motivational efforts of Nigel with his fabulous orange pompoms and with the Lorraine's coaching advice to encourage runners to use their arms up that hill helped that spurt of energy.  It was also lovely to welcome our visitors to our parkrun this morning from Dorking, Dulwich, Eastbourne and Hastings, to name a few but on this occasion no international visitors.

Our NHS staff from local NHS Sussex Partnership NHS FT, who provide mental health services across Sussex were in Yellow tee-shirts and came along to shine the light on mental health, and share important information around suicide prevention. Similar to a leap year occurring 1:4 years did you know 1:4 people in general population experience mental health needs.

Karen asked you all to SAY HELLO to each other a simple act of human connection which is the start of getting to know someone and reminded us about the importance of the humble act of saying hello can make such a difference to someone’s day.  We are so often going through our busy weeks seeing faces that we recognise that cross our paths in our life but don’t necessary know the person whether it be on our commute to work or at parkrun each week.

It is inspiring to see how this global community enjoy sharing Saturday morning at a parkrun no matter where you are in the county, country or globally.  What a better way to up lift ones mood by participating in parkrun, it really does have so many health benefits keeping our self mentally and physically healthy.  In fact I spoke to a fellow parkrunner as we embraced the course and talked about how exercise releases natural body chemicals to make us feel good.

I know you may not feel it at the time as you climbed the hill towards our lovely volunteer Lorraine but doesn’t it feel good when you finish - the parkrun community is inclusive of everyone.  What a great place to share this health message, raise awareness around mental health which is as important as our physical health and stamp out stigma.  Tell your friends, family & work mates it is free and a fantastic social community to connect with and let our parkrun grow.  The parkrun community is all about personal goals whether you walk jog run or volunteer there is something for everyone and you all will have your reasons for participating.

Hats off to Ben Short, he was first over the line in 16:47 mins and our first lady Julie Briggs ran in 19:52 this morning.  We come to parkrun for many reasons.  It may be about chasing that PB or maintaining it, however it is not all about who can get over the finish line in the fastest time as it is relative to our goal and parkrun’s philosophy is to help the community support their health and wellbeing.  Sussex Partnership through their SAFE campaign (Suicide Awareness is For Everyone), aim is to raise awareness and put a human face on this important subject; break the taboo on talking about mental health issues through opening up a conversation and encouraging people to talk.  We all CAN potentially save lives.

People that are affected by mental health issues are just like you and I, our neighbour, brother, sister, work colleague, shop assistant and so on.  Suicide is a very sensitive subject and like no other bereavement and has a huge impact on families.  Did you know that currently it is the biggest killer in young men under 50 throughout the UK and you may be able to change this statistic.

It was helpful to have our NHS staff to share knowledge of what to do if you are concerned about someone’s mental health.  So through connecting with our parkrun community sharing the SAFE message we hope this will help save lives.  Please look at the suicide prevention training video via the link www.zerosuicidealliance.com. Let’s as a community share and use the details we heard today with friend’s family and work colleagues.  The information may also help you. A lot of us know how to do CPR; so let’s know how to support someone at risk of suicide.  This maybe the first step you can take to help yourself, or someone else in need so collectively we can help our community stay SAFE.

A special thanks to those that shared their personal stories today as it absolutely demonstrates that this is a real live issue for many of our local community. A simple pledge of looking at the 20 min video may help to signpost someone feeling distressed to seek support.  Mental Health can have a big impact on families not just on the person experiencing an illness but their loved ones too.  Some shared how parkrun helps with their stresses and to cope with the challenges of caring for loved ones and thanked our visitors in yellow tee-shirts for supporting this very important agenda and helping to stamp out stigma.  This is all about connecting with the person whether you are running or volunteering let’s continue to ensure our parkrun encourages all our diverse community to join in.

We will always welcome first timers and ensure it is accessible for all people with disabilities or long term health conditions. Chrissie Wellington, Global Head of Health and Wellbeing at parkrun, said to Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust:

“Whether you want to walk, run, volunteer or simply come down and watch, parkrun events give people the opportunity to be active, in the open air and feel part of a welcoming, non-judgemental community. Time and time again we hear stories of how parkrun has helped people from all walks of life cope with mental health issues, and we are pleased to team up with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide, and the resources that are available within the community.” The Yellow tee-shirts carried the message Say Hello See it Say it and Sign post so a very special thank you running community for collectively helping our community stay SAFE and keep on running.

A final message from Justin, the Run Director today reminded us of our wonderful volunteers this morning.  Without them parkrun will not happen and it was amazing to have their commitment despite the weather. Carrying out the volunteer tasks help make our parkrun possible so please consider if you can to sign up one week to help volunteer.

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