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.


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.


Happy New Year RR#400

I arrived at the boathouse at 8am and already, Mike and Ant had completed the event setup; thanks as always chaps for the usual morning eagerness!

At 08:50 I announced the new runner’s brief and Cathy Holroyd did a sterling presentation to one of the largest new groups I’ve seen in a while. To each and every one of you, I hope you enjoyed your run whether it was your first run EVER, or simply just the first at Tilgate for you.

Congratulations to Ben Short - our first finisher this morning in an impressive 16:44. Following in second place was James Collins who seemingly only likes to run with us on New Years Day having today registered his 4th run at Tilgate with the last three all being NYD events.

We were thrilled that 533 runners safely crossed the line, both stop watches were in sync and our two number checkers were also perfectly aligned. Fantastic!!! .... results processing was surely going to be simple.

We got back to a very quiet Golf Club and Julie Kalsi and I started processing the results. First the stop watches...... no problem there.

First barcode scanner ...... perfect.
Second barcode scanner ...... perfect.
Third barcode scanner ...... NO DATA!
Fourth barcode scanner ..... perfect.

Back to third scanner .... still empty. A different USB port and retry ..... still empty. Reboot the laptop and try again ..... scanner EMPTY!

This very rarely happens and the only 3 reasons for this are:

- faulty scanner
- scanner wasn’t used
- scanner was reset and results permanently lost.

As a test, we scanned Julie’s barcode and tried to import the data..... 1 record found! With nearly 200 missing results, we feared option 3 above and continued to process what we could.

On this basis we had intended to notify everyone via social media to advise us if their result was missing so that it could be manually added (we had all of the times from the stopwatch .... but a load of missing names).

Fortunately, we discovered afterwards that one of our barcode scanners had used the mobile phone app rather than the scanner and the email had arrived in our inbox, we only realised after we had processed the initial results (and indeed many runners had emailed in already having noticed the “unknown runner” results).

My thanks to Julie for reprocessing the results with the missing file and all should now be in order.

Please don’t forget the single biggest parkrun motto : “Don’t forget your barcode .... #DFYB!” We do strictly enforce this rule that if you don’t have your printed barcode, we are unable to include you in the results; it just isn’t fair on our volunteers who give ip their time freely to burden them with additional manual data entry as part of the results processing.

See you all on Saturday for your second free organised run of the year (third if you took advantage of the NYD double at Reigate Priory or elsewhere.

Happy New Year



The Crawley AC young guns show the way……. RR#397

The last Saturday before Christmas is always a special Tilgate parkrun, with lots of happy runners looking forward to the holiday period ahead. The 2019 edition was suitably festive with plenty of crazy parkrun people dressed for a Christmas party rather than running. 456 finishers was an excellent number.

The Saturday before Christmas has also become the parkrun that attracts runners from Crawley AC. This year the ‘young guns’ running from the Club were particularly impressive. It must be great to be young and fast? 

Hugo Hewitt (SM18-19) was the first finisher, in an excellent 17.26. He was closely followed by Thomas Kimber, Callum Stone, Luke Newton, Dylan Hanslow and Nathan Buckeridge, all from Crawley AC and all under 17s. Excellent running by all of you.  

The incredible Julie Briggs was the first lady finisher. Julie is in the 50-54 age group and ran 19.30 for an 85.98% age graded performance.  She was followed by Amelia Brown,Nicole Airey, Kathy Peters Anne Mathews and young Alelia Cox, all running excellent times. Kath Garrido (VW70-74) also ran an exceptional age graded performance (83.85%), running 27.27. That is great running Kath.  

It was the 50th parkrun run for Deborah Causer and Mohammad Arshad. Well done!

Everyone came, everyone ran and everyone went home and as far as I know there were no problems or incidents. And thanks as always to all the volunteers who made it happen.

Happy parkrunning to everyone in 2020.

See you.

Chris Cheeseman


Christmas is coming RR#395

After a few freezing days we were greeted with quite mild conditions on Saturday morning.  As I arrived at 7:30 to complete a trip around the parkrun route, MIke and Ant were busy beavering away constructing the finish area funnel and as I found during my leisurely run that they were obviously beavering whilst I was stull tucked up in bed - the signs were already out! Great work guys.

It was nice to return to Tilgate parkrun; last week I was in Newcastle, however anyone trying to stalk my parkun profile will dispute that as yes - I forgot my barcode.  My barcode travelled all the way to Newcastle with me, but for some reason as I set out in the -3 cold I figured that my barcode should probably stay wrapped up warm in my wallet at my hotel room - Oh well, just goes to show that the experienced ones can forget their barcode too - doh - a lesson learned.

Anyway as I said it was nice to return to Tilgate and seeing 2x parkrun routes in Newcastle (yes I even went to 2 as one was cancelled), I can certainly see why so many people like our park and return each week, we are (albeit with Chevron and a couple of road crossings) very lucky to have our run in the beautiful Tilgate park and I highly recommend if you haven't done so already to take a leisurely run/walk around our route sometime, it is glorious.

Christmas shopping and visiting is certainly well underway and if you were not with us on Saturday I announced our Christmas running plans. We plan to run on Saturdays' as normal but we also have 2 bonus runs too.

21st December - Christmas Theme - Fancy dress, mince pies & mulled wine

25th December - Christmas Day run

28th December - parkrun as normal

1st January - New Year's Day run (Could be Event 400 if no cancellations beforehand)

Al our runs are a 9am start.  We are also collecting for Crawley Open House on 21st & 25th December, the items for donation are available at the attached link https://www.crawleyopenhouse.co.uk/christmas

On new Years day there is the option to run a parkrun double, this year both the Tilgate and Horsham teams have decided to run at 9am to avoid the issues we both experienced last year. As stated there is still the opportunity of a double but it won't be Tilgate and Horsham.  If you are interested or are away visiting, have a look at the following link to help you plan your bonus parkruns https://www.parkrun.org.uk/special-events/

As I am also Volunteer Coordinator, it would be great to hear from anyone wishing to give a little during December.  We can't parkrun without volunteers and we need 25 roles covered during the run as well as support roles before and after.  If you can help, please email in to tilgatehelpers@parkrun.com with your name, parkrun ID and the role you would like to try - our roster can be accessed here https://www.parkrun.org.uk/tilgate/futureroster/ and you needn't worry, all our roles are straightforward, easy to learn and much easier than charging up chevron!

Last week's results can be accessed here https://www.parkrun.org.uk/tilgate/results/latestresults/. Well done to our milestone achievers

200th Volunteer Darren & Sophie Hunt - father & daughter celebrating as joint Timekeepers

100th run Steven O'Neill, Lance Quirico and Claire Jones

50th run Chis Collier, Graham Panton & William Smiles

Have a fun week and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Happy parkrunning







T is for Terrific RR#363

I’ve written a few run reports, today, I honestly don’t know where to start.

I’m a parkrun tourist that’s working my way through the alphabet challenge and Tilgate is a prime example of why.

I was actually planning on staying local over Easter but last night decided to go for my T.

Tilgate looked like a nice (hour and a half) drive from my home parkrun in Eastleigh so armed with the postcode at 7am this morning, off we set. (That’s me and my other half that didn’t run today but was marshalling along the road bit, offering high fives).

We followed the signs to park in the free car park and followed our fellow parkrunners up a bank to the most gorgeous looking park and lake. STUNNING!

We were directed to the loos (an integral part of my tourism) by a parkrun volunteer (Len) who explained that while he hasn’t been well enough to take part in parkrun, he still turns up week after week to offer his services, I’m sure he said he was getting close to his 250 volunteer role(?) Kudus to that man!

We introduced ourselves to Justin, todays volunteer coordinator and I walked over to the 1st timers brief.

Lots of first timers there today, the course was described very well by a very engaging chap (Alnur), so everyone knew what to do and where to go.

The main brief gave us a chance to thank all of today's volunteers aka the high viz heroes with a massive round of applause - well deserved.

Some parkrunners were congratulated for joining milestone clubs.

Congratulations to Richard Evans running his 50th today.

Congratulations also to Simon Pearce, Kevin Langridge, Leanne Stevens, Sarah Clapp and Miyuki Stephenson who all joined the 100 club today.

You may have noticed Sarah and Miyuki had more than a few supporters there today from their Crawley Saints and Sinners Running Club! (I did leave thinking that yellow is the new black?) Great team support and well done everyone that are now waiting to order your new tops.

Not official milestone clubs but congratulations to Nicola Blackwell who ran her 150th today and Fiona Viles who ran her 350th, Sebastian Hetherington and Martyn Clarke-Jones both ran their 99th this week so I’m guessing there will be more cake next week?

So, what did I think of the course?

A clear, blue sky day, a lap around the most beautiful lake with sunlight reflecting off of the ripples, along a wooded area where the morning sun was hazily beaming through the trees...

Past an abundance of super friendly, extremely encouraging marshals, and when I say marshals, I mean Easter bunny’s, one in a tutu with bright orange pompoms (Nigel)…

At one point I was running along with a chicken (Nina) (yes, I said chicken) who sang come on Eileen to me as I passed.
Then around a beautiful park area, with spectacular trees, spring flowers, blossom and lots of dog walkers playing with their best friends. Finally back around the stunning lake one more time before being cheered and reinvigorated along and into the well organised finish funnel.
We had the opportunity to talk to some really welcoming, friendly people in the short queue for scanning, one lady that we spoke to said that Tilgate parkrun was special and I wholeheartedly agree.

We passed the cake table,, so much cake, and then met Abbie, probably the most well known and most popular 12-year-old barkrunner who today, ran her 302nd parkrun.. along with her very friendly, sociable owner Brian who is on track to run his 400th parkrun at Christmas.

With each new parkrun I go to, my list of top three favourites changes. Today was no exception. Tilgate, without doubt has taken the lead. We would love to come back, maybe again in the summer, but we want to see if on a cold frosty morning too.

One last thing to add, while running around the lake, I noticed a lady who had a memorial pinned to her back. The lady said she was running for her two friends that had sadly passed away. It wasn’t until we were leaving, when I found out that this lady Claire Artemenkova actually ran her 11th half marathon this morning! Claire is running a half marathon every month for a year in loving memory of her two friends and raising money for the hospices that looked after them in the process. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claire-art https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claire-art2 lots of runners were doing extra laps too, how fabulous!

We had a really lovely morning. Thank you to everyone that made us feel welcome. It was a pleasure meeting and chatting with those of you that we did. We look forward to coming back and joining you again soon!
Kind regards



Don’t miss the 0900 start RR#362

Another Saturday morning and time for another Tilgate parkrun.

We had a trial of a pre-recorded safety announcement which was repeated three times before the normal pre-run briefing starting at 0855. This seemed to work well, but it did mean the following run Director’s briefing was a bit shorter than usual. I think this is a good thing! As a result the runners were sent on their way by 9.02. So apologies if you missed the start. But we should aim to start the run as close to 9.00 as we can.

Fastest runner on the day was Tilgate parkrun stalwart Jason Harrold, running an excellent 17.18, his fastest time for well over a year. First lady finisher was Tilgate parkrun first timer Frances Sille who finished in an excellent 21.13 and was delighted with her run. Conditions were obviously good as there were a good number of PBs all the way down the finishers; 482 finishers is not at all bad, particularly given the number of Tilgate parkrun regulars who were probably resting up in preparation for the Brighton Marathon on the following day.

It was the 10th Junior run for Dexter Brown, the 50th parkrun for Arron Trott, Michael Trott and Michelle Matthew and it was the 100th parkrun for Rana Mohana Reddi Dodda, 99 of which have been at Tilgate. And many congratulations to Clive Darbon running his 250th parkrun.

Everything seemed to go well and there were no incidents to report. Thanks to all the volunteers for making it happen and particularly those who were trialling a new longer meandering finishing funnel in preparation for the increased numbers expected next weekend.

Congratulations also to Trevor Johnson who is our Tilgate parkrunner of the month for March 2019. Trevor has gone from an initial pb of 26.47 down to 20.50 in almost exactly a year. Amazing progress.

Happy Easter to everyone and keep the training going!

Chris Cheeseman


721 finishers…..and all’s well that ends well!

Tilgate parkrun just got even bigger. 721 finishers was a new highest ever attendance on our 350th event. And it was a freezing cold, grey and not particularly nice day. The strange thing was that at 8.30 there was hardly anyone at the boathouse by the start and I was beginning to wonder if many people would turn up. Well they obviously did, with our numbers possibly increased by the cancellation of Reigate Priory parkrun.

The morning was not without incident. When I arrive at about 8.00 Mike Brice had already put out all the signs around the course and produced what looked like a masterpiece of a finishing funnel, with what looked like a more than ample U shaped additional wiggle. And we had a great team of volunteers on funnel management duty. All seemed under control.

The run started with the double start in operation. Ben Short had a great run, setting a new Tilgate parkrun PB, and was our first finisher, looking fast and strong. It is great to see Ben running so well because he is so enthusiastic and a great supporter of everyone running but especially the Horley Harriers. First lady finisher was Laelia Marris who has produced a series of really good runs in recent weeks. Great to see Francis Johnston finishing second lady, running this week without the handicap of pushing a buggy.

It was the 10th run as a junior for Rosie Warriner, the 50th parkrun for Claire Hoare, Jonathan Teasdale, Thersa Silva, Mike Paget and Peter Rainier, and the 100th parkruns for Ingrid Hollan-Ellidge, Pamela Field and Michael Howard. Well done to all of you. Fantastic effort.

Anyway back to the finish and the big bulge of finishers in the middle was causing us major problems. I’m sure the issues will be discussed over the week, but the basic problem was that we just couldn’t get people through the finishing funnel fast enough. As a result there was a short time where the runners backed up to such an extent that there was a queue to pass the finishing line, for which we apologise. Maybe we need an even bigger finishing funnel.

There was some smart innovation by December parkrunner of the month Colin Winfield and Volunteer Coordinator Chris Tyson and core event member Martin Presland who improvised an additional finishing funnel loop around a nearby tree mid-panic, which helped accommodate more people. And the time keepers and finish token ‘giver outers’ did a great job under really cold and difficult conditions. But once again we would like to apologies to anyone who had their finishing time affected. Must try harder!

But overall, despite the problems, this was a great Tilgate parkrun. Thanks to everyone for turning up and running or volunteering. Event 350 done; 700 plus finishers. Where will it all end?

Keep on running.

Chris Cheeseman
RD #350


Boom – New Year off to a Bang #RR348

I was expecting a cold one this morning, so having wrapped myself up in a few layers I went for an exploratory run around our course to check for any slippery conditions and found that our route was actually in tip-top condition, which was a good thing as it was clear after seeing the number of parkrunners assemble in front of me for the run brief that we had a large and significant turnout this morning – as it happens it was our 3rd largest run attendance and the first time we have been over 600 since Apr-18.

As RD one of the concerns is something will go wrong with the finish area or the equipment and your only option is to record a finish time of 59:59 to all runners and when we have large numbers it puts a lot of more pressure on our finish area team of volunteers. This is made more tricky as parkrunners have a habit of finishing quite close together – of our 642 finishers, 313 (nearly half our finishers) finished in a 9 minute interval (between 24-32 minutes), peaking at 48 finishers with a time of 28 minutes. If you look at the results deeper within the 28th minute 30 of the seconds (e.g. 28:04, 28:09, 28;11) were not taken, which means we had the equivalent of 48 people finish in 30 seconds, nearly 2 people crossing the line per second – busy!

#548 Finish distribution

Fortunately after reviewing previous year attendances, I was expecting a large turnout today, and we had taken precautions. We elongated our finish funnel and briefed our funnel managers on the double funnel – for those that have not seen the double funnel in operation, it is a thing of beauty and our funnel managers today who hadn’t experienced the role before worked the funnel magnificently; we were also thankful to our finish token team who worked expertly dishing out the finish tokens in rapid and diligent fashion and our timekeepers were faultless too, the number checkers also did an excellent job.

Overall given the gap since our last 600+ attendance, we coped remarkably well with the additional numbers and I believe we’re well set if we need to go into new territory on runner attendance – last year our 3rd run of 2018 attracted 653, with our 300th run in February attracting our record attendance of 665.

As a heads up the 19th January (subject to weather) will be our 350th run and to celebrate we are planning a Superhero themed run, encouraging fancy dress & cake baking and we will also provide a number template for you to complete showing in a number what parkrun has meant to you (Number of runs, Volunteer slots, PB’s earned, friends made, best time, tourist visits) – whatever we’ll leave it to you to decide, stay tuned to our social media platforms for updates on the upcoming event.

Today also marked the anniversary of our split start – we put it into practice last year on the 2nd run of 2018 after hearing about Horsham cancelling their run, I was RD that day too. As an additional first, we encouraged 32 minute+ runners to join the normal 21-27 minute group at the option start. We’d love to hear feedback on how you think this affected your ability to get going and reduce the squeeze down at the Boathouse.

Unfortunately we had to report 3x incidents today – a funnel ducker who was frankly quite rude, a faller by the 3rd bridge on the far side of the lake and a complaint from a member of the public saying their child couldn’t access the play park – we do say it every week that we have a simple set of rules at parkrun, follow the marshals instructions, be aware of other park users and run safely and carefully as well as remembering your barcode – hey Julie!

Have a good week and we hope to see many of you continue to parkrun next week and if you’d like to volunteer to make it all happen email in to tilgatehelpers@parkrun.com or even better opt in on your parkrun profile to receive our weekly volunteer email request.


Link to song played this morning



New Year, Old you? RR#347

The start of a new year is seen a fresh start for many; a chance to put the past behind us and embrace a shiny new dawn where we promise we will eat better, drink less (dry January anyone?) and get fitter. A staggering 563 people did just that to kick off 2019 as Tilgate hosted the first opportunity for many to do the coveted new year ‘double’ as New Years Day is the only day of the year where parkrunners are given the opportunity to run 5k twice in one day! There were some amazing achievements as, not only did we have a large number of athletes taking part, we also had 42 wonderful volunteers - many of whom gave up the chance to double up by volunteering for us before moving onto other parkruns in the area. We also had 92 first timers to Tilgate and 82 people began the new year by scoring themselves brand spanking new PBs.

Jacob Cann from Horsham Blue Star Harriers was first finisher with a new PB of 17:19, and then, incidentally, went on to become first finisher at Horsham parkrun with 17:30 – great consistent running there Jacob, well done. Our second finisher was Ben Short (17:35) and third was Thomas James (17:30). Our first lady finisher was Kate Drew of Taunton AC in 18:53, followed by Caroline Wood (20:35) and Kat Owens (20:37).

As I was contemplating my stint as Run Director, I was thinking about the run report and how, traditionally, new year is an opportunity for many for reflection and the inevitable ‘new year, new me’ mantras. However, I thought I would talk about how for many, myself included, a new year is an opportunity to get the ‘old me’ back. In 2018, research was published by Staffordshire University which claimed that parkrun was found to have a positive effect on mental health, not just for athletes but for volunteers too. This research led to the establishment of over 500 ‘parkrun practices’ which are GP surgeries who ‘prescribe’ parkrun to those with mental health issues to complement or even replace traditional, medicinal treatment routes. As a person who has suffered with mental health issues, I can personally rate the virtues of parkrun and the effect it has had on me over the almost 5 years I have been attending. I have found enjoyment through running, fulfilment through volunteering and a sense of having an extended family who will be there if I need them. Nobody is claiming that parkrun alone is a magical ‘cure’ for depression or anxiety, but it’s certainly a great foundation towards improved mood and outlook. I know I am not alone in our parkrun community to have suffered injury, poor health and loss of a loved one in recent times, but whatever challenge has come our way, parkrun has been the one constant. Knowing that I would be among 400+ friends every Saturday morning at 9am got me out of bed on days when I could happily have stayed under my duvet troughing Maltesers by the kilo.

Recently however, after a difficult period of mental health, I took a hiatus from parkrun and did indeed spend most Saturday mornings under my duvet (sadly without the Maltesers!). The more weeks I missed, the more anxious I became about returning but, what kept me going was messages from my parkrun ‘family’. In my mind I knew that returning to Tilgate and back on my exercise journey would be the first step to getting the ‘old me’ back. The fact that all athletes are welcome from runners to walkers meant that I didn’t have to stress about getting anywhere near the PB I set back in 2015, but the ‘broken’ part of me had built my return up into such a big deal, I was terrified. Then another parkrunner suggested that I come back as a volunteer alongside her which was the best advice ever and my small volunteering stint gave me the confidence to come back. I have since (slowly!) walked my first parkrun in over 6 months and then, today, returned to my favourite role of Run Director. I won’t lie, I didn’t sleep the night before and I was shaking like a leaf, especially when I realised how many athletes were in front of me, but the buzz I got afterwards from all the achievements, high fives and thank you’s I received has lifted me right back up. My feelings of achievement, connection and inclusion exactly match the findings of the University boffins’ research!

It’s natural to praise the athletes who work hard to achieve milestones and achieve their PBs and rightly so, however I think those for whom getting out of bed and mixing with people is a challenge also need to be congratulated. I know that others, like myself, have lost their way with health and fitness but parkrun and the support of the community can be enough to get us back on track. So, for all those with a ‘new year, new me’ outlook for 2019, I salute you and may you be successful in all your endeavours. For those like me who have been a little lost, I hope that you navigate your way back on course and that you join me at Tilgate this year whether it’s as a parkrunner or a volunteer – especially as I have now laid my intentions out in public and don’t want to be on my own! You don’t have to be crazy to be a parkrunner – but in the cold of winter it certainly helps!

Normal parkrun resumes this Saturday 5 January for a 9am start by the boathouse. I hope to see lots of you there and #DFYB!



Run Report #342 – “The One with the Missing Mike”

Another Saturday morning and just 16 more sleeps until Santa.

Today though, he came early for one of our volunteers, courtesy of one of our sponsors - “Vitality”

Mike Brice is the very deserved winner of Vitality parkrun volunteer of the month. Whenever I’m performing Run Director duty, Mike is generally always the first person I mention in my run Report; regardless of the time I arrive, I usually find the start and finish area already setup. Today, I discovered he begins alone at 06:30. In addition to the setup, Mike generally runs the majority of the course - both to put out the various signs and also to check the conditions of the course so that any problem areas can be dealt with and potential hazards communicated to the runners during my run brief.

Today was no different in this regard. I arrived at 08:15 with a large box of freshly laundered hi-viz vests (Thank you Victoria Butler) and everything was pretty much ready to go.

I had planned to present Mike with his award just after the first-timers briefing at 08:50 however my wife decided she wanted to go for a warm up lap around the lake before the start. She asked Alnur if he’d like to accompany her but - knowing he was planning to take the photo of the presentation - told her he was unable to. “I’ll go with you” piped up Mike who was completely unaware of both the award and the planned photo opportunity of the presentation. Whilst a fantastic demonstration of his willingness to help, this left Alnur and I a little dumbfounded as to what to do next!

“Oh well - I’ll do it afterwards”, I thought and - as I read out Mike’s achievement during the run brief and asked him to come and see me after his run - I assumed I’d see him shortly after 09:30 so that I could grab the photo near to the finish area with lots of parkrunners in the background.

Sadly it was not to be; I saw Mike cross the line but within 30 seconds, he had disappeared! I asked around and nobody had seen him.

I waited....

I waited some more...

The tail walker came through the finish area and already a large number of finishers had departed.

I waited again and still no sign of Mike. Alnur tried to phone him but his phone was switched off.

Finally at around 10:15 - with just the final volunteers remaining to commence the close down of the finish area, Mike arrived - arms fully laden with various signage from around the course.

This was my chance!!! Photo duly taken

There is also a short video taken https://flic.kr/p/2ckabeh

Congratulations to our milestone runners and also to Pam Field - our Tilgate parkrunner of the month.

We did have to report a couple of incidents today. We had one faller on the wet leaves (fortunately she was able to get up and complete the course) and one lady had the backs of her ankles taken out twice by two separate buggies. Please can I reiterate that as we move further into winter, the course will become more slippery so please do take care on bends and those areas that are in the shade of trees where ice can and does form. Also - as futuristic as some of the pushchairs and buggies are, they are not battering rams; please be mindful of people around you. If you are looking to PB or do anything other than a casual run, it really is recommended that you do so without a buggy in tow.

A reminder that there is a chance to grab a couple of extra parkrun run credits in December 2018 with additional runs being held at 09:00 on Christmas Day AND on New Years Day. New Years Day also represents the one and only day in the parkrun calendar where you can earn two run credits by doing Tilgate first and then Horsham afterwards.


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