Getting to know you: Q&A with Katie and Len van de Linde

Next up in our series of Q&As with our regular runners are Katie and Len van de Linde.

Katie has now completed 129 parkruns in total. Katie’s first run at Tring was in December 2014, and Katie has now completed Tring parkrun on 107 occasions. Katie’s PB is a hugely impressive 22.35 (set back in October 2015). In her first 17 runs at Tring, Katie notched up a PB on 9 occasions! Katie has also volunteered at Tring on 31 separate occasions.

Katie 50th montage

A selection of photos marking Katie's first 50 runs at Tring parkrun.

Len has completed 122 parkruns in total, of which 98 have been at Tring, his first coming in January 2015. Len’s PB is 25:50, which he set back in April 2018. Len has also volunteered at Tring on 37 occasions.

Len 50th montage

A selection of photos marking Len's first 50 runs at Tring parkrun

Katie and Len moved to Cheddington some 20 years ago, having moved from Latimer (near Chesham). Katie had grown up in the area, having spent her childhood years in the village of Wingrave. In their travels Katie and Len have visited a number of parkruns, including the intriguingly named Curl Curl parkrun in Sydney, Australia.

So let's hear from Katie and Len...…...

Other than parkrun, do you take part in any other organised running events?

We are both members of Tring Running Club and Katie has also recently joined the local ‘Run the Wild’ team as a guide. Trail running is our favourite form of running – and over any distance really. In November last year, we took part in the Druids’ Challenge, which involved running the length of the Ridgeway path – some 84 miles - over 3 days. We also enter a number of local road races each year such as the Berko half and Leighton 10k.

Given current restrictions, what are you doing to keep active?

We had a few events planned which have now all been cancelled. However, that has not stopped us enjoying runs locally – mostly in or around Cheddington with some longer ones taking us up to the Beacon and Pitstone Hill. With such amazing countryside and trail options on our doorstep, we’ve not yet found the need to have to venture further afield. Our weekly, themed virtual Parkruns are of course our favourite run!

What does Tring parkrun mean to you?

Tring just a brilliant parkrun – a great course and lovely people! And whilst this will sound like a ‘cliché’, for us Tring Parkrun is so much more than just a running event. Whilst it still motivates us to return each week to post a better time, we also enjoy the sense of community of Tring parkrun - we’ve met so many wonderful people and had some great times.

Why did you start parkrun? How did you hear about Tring parkrun? Did you come along with others?

Katie: I was made aware of Tring Parkrun by fellow Cheddingtonians, Kevin and Kirsty Dance. My first visit soon followed in late 2014 - accompanied by Kevin as well as her brother Rob Fletcher and his partner Allison Williment. I had just started to run again (after some years off) so it proved a perfect way to build strength and fitness.

Katie - before strorm dennis

Katie in action on Tring's hills

Len: I always preferred to play golf on a Saturday morning. But once Mentmore closed I swapped the fairways for the pastures of Tring Park (probably one of the best decisions I have made!).

Obviously Tring parkrun is your favourite parkrun, but what is your second favourite and why?

Based simply on stats, our next favourite is Houghton Hall parkrun – it offers a nice fast, flat course, friendly team, easy parking and convenient café/toilets on site. We are also huge fans of Rushmere (if only it didn’t cost so much to park there!).

Taking any of our courses, what is your favourite bit of the Tring parkrun course and why?

The finish is probably the best bit of any Parkrun, but at Tring we also enjoy approaching the far end of Kings Charles’ Drive (near to where the older routes used to join it) as this is where we start seeing the frontrunners making their way back. We will never run as fast as them but it is an impressive sight (some of them don’t even look as if they have built up a sweat!!).

What’s your favourite volunteer role?

We like them all but marshalling is probably our favourite. It gives you a great opportunity to encourage all the runners whilst at the same time experience the splendour of Tring Park. On the days we volunteer, we have often been accompanied by our daughter Ella and, in his younger years, our trusty German Short-haired pointer, Obi.

Len volunteer

Len in his favourite volunteer role. Most people have a similar reaction when Ken Douglas appears, camera in hand.

What is your favourite / funniest parkrun memory?

Marshalling at gate 1 on a very snowy Parkrun day in March 2018 was awesome. This was when the ‘Beast from the East’ attended Tring parkrun and gave us some wonderful views of the runners making their way up the hill towards us through the snow and wind.

What parkrun would you like to do in the future and why?

Len: I'm Dutch, and so any parkrun in The Netherlands would be fun. The country’s inaugural parkrun events took place earlier this year but, as with the rest of the world, had to close down after just 2 weeks. When parkrun returns and travel restrictions ease, we hope to venture across the Channel to complete a Dutch parkrun (and have copious amounts of coffee and cake afterwards!!)

Len NYD 2019

Len on the lookout for cake.

What’s your pre parkrun breakfast?

We often end up skipping breakfast as we often running late on a Saturday morning; our transport of choice to Tring parkrun is the Dance’s 7 seater mini-bus (dubbed the Cheddington bus) which leaves the village at 8:15am prompt. We are often late, and, thoughtfully, the driver checks that we have all brought our trainers and bar codes!!

Have you ever done any of our fancy dress parkruns, and if so, what did you come dressed as?

The fancy dress events are some of our favourites – we certainly wouldn’t miss the annual St Andrew’s and Christmas Day events … suitably attired. Over the years, it has become a Christmas Day tradition to sing Christmas carols very loudly en-route to Tring parkrun in the ‘Cheddington Bus’; it is a miracle that we then still have the energy to plod around the course.

Cheddington crew xmas 2015

Christmas 2015. Carols sung, it's time to don the festive hats!

Although none of us admit it, we all target someone or something we want to beat. Who or what is your target?

Katie: I still reminisce fondly of the days that I would tussle with Kevin Dance; more recently it has been Helen Tullie, Peter Leigh and Richard Murphy that I like to keep in my sights.

Len: I’m always on the lookout for the Cheddington contingent (notably Keith Stonestreet, Tamsin and David Leybourne) as well as RDs Ken Douglas and Katie Haines.

Of the two of you, who is the more competitive?

Len: That is an easy one – it’s Katie. In the last 5 parkruns before lockdown, the time gap between us narrowed but, inevitably, Katie always manages to finish just ahead of me. At our very last parkrun in March – in Perth, Scotland - I ran a lifetime PB (sub-25 mins). But with just 200 metres to the end, and having thought I'd done enough to keep Katie at bay … he went sailing by just at the very moment the finish funnel came into sight.

Katie: Me. In the last 5 parkruns before lockdown, the time gap between us narrowed. But I always manage to finish before Len!

Cheddington crew kilted

More Scottish than Perth, Tring parkrun on St Andrew's Day.

Do you think you’ll ever get another PB at Tring?

Katie: No chance!

Len: Hopefully; my Tring parkrun PB dates back to 2018 but I have managed to get close a couple of times this year. What I need most is a more positive approach to the new course; that first climb always seems to take a lot out of you!


Week 11: The Fellowship of the Barcode


One barcode to rule them all

Our wise and worldly Event Directors Andy and Steve - the spitting image of Frodo and Pippin, right down to the hairy feet - were driven by a strange compulsion. The finish token in their hands shimmered and glowed, forged in ancient times by the skilful hands of parkrun HQ it had not seen the light of day these 11 weeks and more. Dark times indeed.

“Look” exclaimed Andy “the tree…see how the image of its branches and leaves moves and beckons”. “We must take wise council on this my furry little friend” said Steve, wisely! Over hill and vale they trudged for many a weary hour, fording streams, navigating strangely named Strava segments until at last they arrived at the imposing gateway of a wise, wise, very wise Wizard - Jim Maple the White. For his name was Jim Maple and his hair was, well, white!

week 11

“What does it mean oh wise one”? And the wise one spoke wisely, gesturing at the image of the tree and said gravely “this is the image of a tree”.

Sensing that something more was required he coughed and added quickly (and wisely),“You must send out your followers to all corners of the land to seek the fairest trees of all”. And sensing that still more was required he beckoned the weary Event Directors closer and whispered “the answer is C - four”. And they were astonished and they knew he was indeed wise and they returned to the shire and consulted the Book of Face…..and on the day that marked the 11th week of darkness they despatched their many loyal followers to seek out the fairest trees of all.

They were not disappointed!
Being based in the Shire the followers clearly loved their trees and the week’s virtual parkrun challenge was good!

This week's results

The Fair Lady of the Trees (aka Clare Murphy) was at a loss. How could she possibly choose just one from her family of beloved trees: was it the impressive spreading Chestnut (also favoured by the Evans’) at the junction of Station and Grove Roads, or one of the splendid Lime trees near the start of our course?

The Hollands, Claire Hallessey and Chris Dalton opted pragmatically for fruit bearing trees. Chris promised a bountiful crop - my autumn crumbles are now sorted!

Some sought out ancient trees, standing and growing for many years past, and hopefully many to come. The Dances and Leybournes independently chose an old oak in Pitstone.

Peter Loose (like Maple the White) latched onto the bonus challenge posed by Andy in his Book of Face virtual run proclamation - “Answer me this - How many pillars does the Summer House (perched high atop the hill of a thousand gasping parkrunners) have?”. And the answer, from the multiple choices, was indeed C - four pillars. Peter ran out of wood though and only had two.

Kirsty's bush
Kirsty Dance and her tree, which she notes is in need of a good trim.

Stuart Page showed us all that a parkrun volunteer shirt is perfect camouflage near a blossoming Rhododendron tree - all we could see was his face, surrounded by beautiful petals, and the equally lovely flower that is Carole.

Lee Robinson, Ruth Monks and family, Damien Fortune, Phill Roger, the Mitchells and the Deverall-Roberts all chose trees that provide shade or shelter or spots to relax and picnic under, which sounds great to me.

Topically the Dances found a tree with a serious case of lockdown hair. Keith Stonestreet’s tree would have suffered the same fate were it not for a close shave just before it all began.

Creative kudos to the Bladens who enjoyed a “tree-t” - running without their teenage daughter who was apparently exhausted by her busy schedule of doing absolutely nothing. I can relate!

cobra tango
Slithering cobras and entwined tango dancers - just two of many strangely shaped trees found on our virtual parkrun of discovery

And Rachel Wary opened herself up to a future run report by showing us the tree home and site of the adventures of Bunnykins - we want to hear more about this.

Alas, I need to report a strange abduction. A photo of the Bishops is clearly a fake. What happened to the real Bishops, who we all know would normally have created and donned impressive tree costumes? More, perhaps, on that next week?

There were many more great observations of solitary trees (Helen, Nick/Pencil) trees standing guard over spectacular views (Lucy, Ken) and trees in distant faraway lands (as shared by a very animated Brookes family)

Getting more mystical and mysterious. Dick and Jac showed us a spectacular Salix (which sounds suspiciously like a character from Dúnedain). 

We had anthropomorphisim aplenty - Keith Hendersen’s praying trees, John Manning’s entwined tango dancing trees near Pitstone quarry/party-venue, Sarah Foskett’s cobra tree on Northchurch Common, Dan Storr’s “pointer of the way” on the Ridgeway to name but a few.

However this week’s stars both have a distinct Lord of the Rings feel.

Philippa Storr and her spirit-lifting, friendly, Ent-like tree on King Charles Ride was a clear female first finisher.

Philippa with her friendly, spirit-lifting tree

Blaz Ziembaczewski creatively chose the White Tree of Gondor in the Court of the Fountain in Minas Tirith.

Indeed this tree had even more relevance than perhaps first imagined - scholars of LOTR will know that this was Tolkien’s symbol of hope and resurrection. Seems appropriate as we face another parkrunless week.

white treee
The White tree of Gondor in the Court of the Fountain in Minas Tirith.
A symbol of resurrection and hope.

So there you have it.

For yet another week I’m in awe of the imagination, sense or fun and participation in our virtual parkruns.


But what of ancient times - the stories of our forefathers and foremothers and stuff?

Well apart from the usual shenanigans with the cows and a steady stream of notable milestones, PBs and visitors there is not much to say about 2015, 16 or 17. Don’t believe me?? See for yourself in the links below.

2017: Tring parkrun # 141 Great to see so many new folks

2016: Tring parkrun #87 Three cheers for our volunteers

2015: Tring parkrun #33 Moove over

Things brightened up in 2018 when the latest “our cows have gone missing” incident distracted the Run Director (who shall remain nameless - unless you read the run report). Said Run Director entirely forgot to place a marshal on Gate 1……which was something of a surprise to the fastest runners who found their way barred. The day was saved by Tom North (who, coincidentally, I bumped into while doing this week’s virtual parkrun).

 Young Will Drath ran his 50th. Richard Bazley video'd the whole run and the immovable presence of cow pats near the finish funnel gave brith to a new volunteer role. See the video "mind the cow pat". Read the full run report here" #196 It's a mystery

not a scooby
One of the core team really cannot be trusted to be a reliable Run Director. Which one??

And last year. That was HUGE! Our 250th 

event and our largest ever turnout of 421 runners. Cathy Turner was our excellent guest report writer. See here for the full account of a very happy and sunny event: Tring's 250th parkrun.

Cathy herself finished with a lovely ascending time of 23:45, and got a PB too. John Manning did well to run the 250th event in 25:00 to the second. The surnames Lindars and Holland both made their 250th appearance on the 250th event too!

One largest turnout ever - 421 people celebrated our 250th parkrun

So - that is all for another week

Stay well, stay safe, stay happy.

See you next week


Getting to know you: Q&A with Keith Stonestreet

This week's Q&A is with Keith Stonestreet. Keith has now completed 173 parkruns in total, 127 of which have been at Tring. Keith has been running regularly at Tring since June 2015. Of those 46 runs that weren't at Tring, Keith has run at 25 different parkruns.

Following his inaugural run at Tring, Keith notched up a PB in each of his next 8 runs, reducing his PB from 34:02 to 27:22 in the space of just nine weeks. Keith's current PB is 24:19, which he set on 25 June 2016.

Keith running in woods
Keith seen here approaching the finish line in one of our final runs before lockdown.

So let's hear from Keith...….

When did you move to the Tring area, and where did you move from?
We moved to Cheddington about 6 years ago from Northolt. I had always lived in and around Harrow so it was quite a change moving to the countryside. Love it here.

Keith First run no beard
Keith running his very first Tring parkrun back in June 2015. Personally I can't remember Keith without his beard!

Other than parkrun, do you take part in any other organised running events?
I do some races but not many. Cliveden XC, Marsworth 10k, Aldbury 5, amongst others. I am also a member of Tring Running Club so do the club runs.

Given current restrictions, what are you doing to keep active?
I am furloughed so have time on my hands. I am running more and trying to up my distance as I am entered for the Humanity Direct Chiltern Challenge 50k in July which will easily be the farthest I have run. It hasn't been cancelled yet so the training for that is keeping me busy. I am also doing some YouTube Exercise just to do something different from running.

What does Tring parkrun mean to you?
It is a fantastic friendly event. I have met so many people through it and it is the reason I joined Tring Running Club as I was encouraged by a few people there to check it out. Without Tring parkrun I would definitely not be running as much as I am now and be a lot less fit and would not have met so many new friends.

Why did you start parkrun? How did you hear about Tring parkrun? Did you come along with others?
I started parkrun back in 2007 at Bushy parkrun. I had tried running and it seemed like a good introduction to running with others. I am not sure how I heard about it? I must have read about it somewhere? It was not that local to where I was living and I only did about 5 on and off (Ed - Actually Keith it was 6). I then stopped running altogether. I then moved to Cheddington and noticed the amount of people running here so I decided to take up running again to get fitter and lose some weight. Once I completed Couch to 5k I remembered parkrun and looked for a local one. The obvious one was Tring. I came down by myself and was instantly welcomed. The rest is history really.

Obviously Tring parkrun is your favourite parkrun, but what is your second favourite and why?
I think it's Bushy parkrun. It was the first one I did and the original. When a few of us went there a while ago it was fantastic. It's just another level. The shear amount of people is amazing. It's very well organised and I would recommend anyone who hasn't been to go just to experience it. You may even bump into PSH as we did (although he has been to Tring twice).

Taking any of our courses, what is your favourite bit of the Tring parkrun course and why?
The run along King Charles' Drive is fantastic. The views are amazing pretty much any time, whatever the weather. It's also pretty flat and you can just relax a little and chat to anyone around you. Also you can see the faster runners returning and when you return you can see the slower runners on their way out. I was a little unsure when the course changed to an out and back but I love it now. You get to see everyone and cheer them on and say hello etc.

What’s your favourite volunteer role?
Probably Marshall and Pacer. As a Marshall you get to cheer everyone on and as a pacer you still get to run and the runners with you really appreciate it.

Keith volunteering
Keith pictured here in November 2019, preparing for a spot of Marshalling at the turnaround point. Keith is a regular volunteer at Tring, having volunteered on 36 occasions, filling just about every volunteer role going. Just pre-event set-up needed for a full house, Keith!

Favourite / funniest parkrun memory?
I think it has to be turning up to see Blazej dressed as a Frog on the recent Leap Year run and hopping over the line.

Blazej frog costume
Don't ask!!!!

What parkrun would you like to do in the future and why?
I would like to do a foreign one. Not really too fussed as to where though. It would just be great to experience parkrun in another country.

What’s your pre parkrun breakfast?
I don't really eat before, just an espresso or 2.

Keith Leaping
Warning: A double espresso just before parkrun can seriously damage your running style.

Have you ever done any of our fancy dress parkruns, and if so, what did you come dressed as?
I have worn a Scream mask on Halloween but not really apart from that that I can remember.

Although none of us admit it, we all target someone or something we want to beat. Who or what is your target?
I honestly don't have a target, it tends to change each week depending on how well I am running that week. I may see someone ahead and aim for them but I am not usually looking until the return along King Charles' Drive.

Do you think you’ll ever get another PB at Tring?
I don't think so, I don't really know how I did the one I have. I have not been within about 2 minutes of it for years. You never know though.

Keith on his way to his PB
Keith, seen here in June 2016, looking effortless on his way to a PB of 24:19


Weeks 9 and 10 double bill


Another fantastic virtual Tring parkrun turnout

We had an excellent turnout for weeks 9 and 10 of our virtual Tring parkrun.
TEN weeks!!

Week 9 had a music theme and week 10 a football theme
(Click on the picture to see a bigger version)

I'd like to teach the world to sing..

Two weeks ago, with our "getting to know you" interview with musical marshal Jim Maple, and the Eurovision Song Contest being replaced with a remote sing-a-long, the theme for our ninth virtual Tring parkrun had to be "music". Andy Evans asked for "pics of you singing, or by a musical road name or building or perhaps a pose with a musical instrument that you have at home or dressed up in your Eurovision outfit? Be it a trumpet, piano, guitar or recorder or you singing". We were not disappointed and saw a huge outpouring of talent, both musical and creative.

AM and Andy
Madness: Ann-Marie and Andy putting "one step beyond" into action

Notable results from virtual parkrun 9:

  • First finisher was Peter Loose - who also bagged a volunteer point for setting-up Cheddington Goose Acre Lockdown parkrun. Respect.
  • Team Mitchell were next across the line with a very technical and musical effort - and we were impressed by the Monks musicality too.
  • Kieth Stonestreet deserves kudos for spotting a boat on the canal called "All Mod Cons" (my favourite album).
  • Kieth Henderson entertained us with Springstein's Born to Run.
  • Saving their kisses and downing Buck Fizzes were the Leybournes, Pages and Dances.
  • Allison Williment and Helen Tullie both went for the nature's music and even posted recordings of Geese, Wren and Chafinch. We liked these.
  • Graham Hollands recorded a virtual parkrun PB, turning his lockdown hair to aerodynamic advantage with a great punk inspired Mohican. Respect.
  • From her time in the USA Claire Hallessey donned her Chicago Rock'n'Roll half marathon T-shirt. (Claire's running T-shirt drawer must be HUGE).
  • Pencil on Piano impressed us all - and was this week's top placed canine participant.
  • Clare Murphy gets a consolation prize for the week's corniest joke about the new cows in Tring Park making "moosic" :-)
  • And finally a creative mention for Team Patterson's interpretations of "Bridge over troubled waters".

And many thanks to all of the other musical (and non-musical) virtual runners.

Len and Katie top of the pops
Brilliant effort by Len and Katie - surely far too young to remember Jethro Tull and the Beatles!??
And talking about too young, surely Dick and Jac weren't even born when these albums came out?

Those album covers triggered a bit of research. "Best of Top of the Pops 72" featured such wonders as "My ding-a-ling", "Mouldy old dough" and "Long-haired lover from Liverpool". Album 73 regaled us with classics including "I'm the Leader of the Gang" (are we allowed to even mention that these days?), "Rubber Bullets" (load up!!), and "Skweeze me pleeze me". If you're keen on "Kung Fu fighting" then spin up album number 74. [Ed: get back to the run report!!].

jon jon 2
Jon Manning, as always, had great takes on the themes - for week 10, no one said what type of football!

The beautiful game...

In another world this would have been the FA Cup final weekend and so a football theme seemed appropriate for our 10th virtual Tring parkrun. The instructions were simple - "Maybe it’s you in a football shirt, maybe run past a football pitch, maybe run carrying a football. The choice, as ever, is yours".

We could have fielded several teams with this week's turnout.

The faithful
Watford vs Norwich City at Vicarage Road today. Clive Cohen and Dave Cary suitably segregated at Marsworth Wilstone parkrun.

Key stats and facts from week 10 include:

  • First female finisher was Lucy Daisy Clutton who posted a video clip of impressive ball skills. Who knew?
  • Team Bladen were the first family to finish together. Apparently they support Arsenal (again - who knew??).
  • Best joke of the week goes to Lee Robinson "....wearing a West Ham goalie shirt - helps reduce the chance of me catching anything! ⚒️".
  • Pencil was first canine finisher again - playing in goal, too.
  • Carol Page and Helen Tullie get a special mention for reminding us "it's all about the coffee"...posting photos with croissants and with appropriate mugs.
  • Charlie Watson's contribution was to keep going after 5km until she'd completed the first half (45 mins)...we're looking for evidence of the second half next week.
  • Team VdL also deserve a special mention for their dogged and full-hearted support of Port Vale despite all evidence that this is not a great idea.

There were, of course many other allegiances on display, local and national. Apart from Arsenal, Chelsea, and Watford (of course!) we saw Brentford, Norwich City, Leeds (they went downhill after Billy left them!!), West Ham, Aston Villa, Wealdstone FC (!!) and more.

We were also impressed by the appearance - by Blaz - of a Polish shirt and a trip down Memory Lane to Wembley 1973. Dave Carey was quick to comment, on Facebook, that "I remember it well, sadly. Jan Tomaszewski played a blinder in goal for Poland. Peter Shilton only had 2 shots to face and made a mistake to let one of them go in. Poland were a good side though. Finished 3rd in 1974 World Cup." Dave is who you need on your quiz team for the sports round!

And well done to everyone else who body-swerved the football theme and went out and did a virtual parkrun anyway.

Now let's take a brief look at previous years this weekend:

Last year...

For some reason this feels like an age ago. There are two brilliant run reports covering mid May 2019. The cows were well and truly back (and we'd discovered another natural Cow Marshal in the form of Steve Brookman), Martin Bishop completed his 100th and Cathy baked and decorated the most awesome cake, and a very pregnant Sally Nash finished in a time way faster than I've ever managed.
#248 "Now these are small"
#249 Special guest report by young Isobel

Cow selfie
Steve Brookman - one of my favourite pics from tring parkrun

2 years ago....

Apparently there had just been a royal wedding, we had the 2nd and 3rd running on our new course, and we discovered that the cows really like our blue tarpaulin. Also it was surprisingly wet two years ago - very unlike this year.

#194 The Second Running
#195 The one where the cows took an interest in our blue tarp

"Blue tarp to a cow"

3 years ago....

2017 was a warm Spring, like this year. Our numbers grew and for the first time we exceeded 200 runners for more than 2 weeks in a row. Harry Bryant was RD and made the unique observation that "Robert Mann and our tail runners Howard Lambert and Richard Murphy all finished in 51:27 this week. As I’m sure you know, 51 divided by 27 is 1.88888888888888888. Very nice". I'm lost for words.
#139 Good things come to those who wait
#140 Return of the cows

#140. Who will get to Gate 1 first - the parkrunners or cows? Read the report to find out

4 years ago....

Lorraine Hurford was RD for the first time back in 2016 (one of four new RDs taken onboard), a very small William Drath got his first PB, Tom Patterson completed his 10th parkrun, Katie Haines (another of the new RDs) was heading for a PB but stopped to help a runner than had taken a tumble, a great display to parkrun family spirit.

#85 Cakes and cows
#86 Keep moving forward/

bombing ken
Ken photo-bombs Andy

5 years ago....

Five years ago, wearing an Arsenal top, Issy Bladen completed her first Tring parkrun and has hardly missed a parkrun weekend since. Liz Daniels was "Queen of PBs", Dom Evans won "parkrunner of the month" and his sister Sophie was surprised to be first female finisher (the visitor in front took a wrong turning on the woods!!!). We were still a "baby" parkrun, numbers were small and we were fast establishing a reputation of "you must do Tring" with parkrun tourists.

#31 A new herd of cows
#32 Well behaved cattle
Plus Chris’s occasional series
Part of Chris Millar's occasional series....

With parkrun being for all ages and abilities runners often can find themselves running with others many years different to themselves in age. Pictured are 2 sprinters, both running for the first time at Tring but at opposite ends of the parkrun experience table. Young Oscar Atkins produces an excellent sprint for his 1st ever parkrun, whilst Richard Kirk, our most experienced parkrunner this week, gives him plenty of competition.



Stay well, stay fit, stay happy and join us for next week's (11th) virtual parkrun.
Details on our Facebook page.


Getting to know you: Q&A with Pencil (and Nick Carmichael-Johns)

This week we get to meet Nick Carmichael-Johns, and his faithful sidekick Pencil the cockerpoo.

Having spent most of his twenties saying that he would never leave London, Nick reached a point in his life where he decided that the allure of wide open space just got too much. So where better to move to than Tring?

Officially Nick has now completed 86 parkruns, though he did sneak in a couple of unrecorded events when visiting his in-laws. Nick started parkrun back in January 2017, and has been a regular at Tring ever since. Having racked up four PBs in his first six runs, Nick's current PB is 29:14, which he set back in April 2014.

Park run Pencil
Meet Pencil - for anyone who wants to follow Pencil's exploits, Pencil has her own Instagram account - you can follow her occasional updates @pencilthecockerpoo.

Other than parkrun, do you take part in any other organised running events?

I’ve run the London marathon three times, the Edinburgh marathon twice and done twenty plus half marathons (including the Brighton half on ten consecutive occasions). I was never a natural athlete at school but years ago, a personal trainer that I met at a party persuaded me to enter a half marathon and I’ve never looked back!

Pencil Park Run 2
Action shot of Nick sporting a hard-won London marathon T-shirt

Given current restrictions, what are you doing to keep active?

I take my dog Pencil out for a walk every morning but we have to be back in time for 0900 sharp because we are Joe Wicks obsessives in this house. If the pandemics shown me anything, it’s that there’s enough room for a family of four to sort of do burpees in my living room.

Why did you start parkrun? How did you hear about Tring parkrun? Did you come along with others?

I have always thought running was a really solitary hobby so when I started the parkrun in 2018 (just after my daughter was born), I didn’t come to chat… I came to run fast! I definitely spent the first few weeks, head down in the avenue of trees, trying and normally failing to better my time each week.

Then a year later, on New Year’s Day, in a slightly hungover and slightly confused state, my husband persuaded me to take our silly dog Pencil with me. I’d spent a year resisting because she is the world’s smallest cockerpoo (her legs are SO short) but I figured that I could always carry her if I needed to.

Well, anyone that saw me running that New Year’s Day would know that Pencil basically dragged me around the course because she loved it so much.

What does Tring parkrun mean to you?

Pencil has taught me a million things about how to do parkrun right: to bound down to the start line every Saturday, to be constantly cheerful, to greet every last runner with enthusiasm, to heckle the briefing with excited barks (sorry about that!), to run too fast at the start, to love the mud and the rain and the snow, to lag a bit when it starts to hurt, to not care less about your finish time and to hurl yourself across the finish line like you’re going for Olympic gold. I just wouldn’t be without Pencil at parkrun now. Whisper this… but I think she enjoys it even more than I do.

Pencil Park Run 4
Pencil looking proud of her Saturday morning exploits

Obviously Tring parkrun is your favourite parkrun, but what is your second favourite and why?

Is it wrong that I’ve only ever done two other parkruns outside of Tring, both while visiting my in laws? I didn’t even take my barcode either because I didn’t want Tring to feel that I was cheating on it!

Taking any of our courses, what is your favourite bit of the Tring parkrun course and why?

I get wistful even thinking about the parkrun course because I miss it so much. When I first started parkrun, I loved the fact that you went through several different stages to get to the finish. Then when the route changed, I loved being able to cheer on the leading runners heading back as we were still heading out.

My favourite bit is probably the moment just out of the woods where Pencil realises that we’re almost at the finish and the lead always tightens as she begins her sprint finish. No matter how reluctant she’s been during the rest of the race, she can always be relied on to drag me over the finish line!

What’s your favourite volunteer role?

I really enjoyed being the tail runner. I made sure that I collected my barcode and recorded my time on that one and when I look back at the results, I love the memory of being the last to finish. And I tell anyone who’ll listen that if you want to try parkrun for the first time, you’re guaranteed not to be last!

Favourite / funniest parkrun memory?

I’m so unbelievably different now to how I was when I started the parkrun. My favourite memories aren’t of pushing myself to finish fast. They’re of friends coming along and running with me, people trying parkrun for the first time with me, running slow in the snow and the rain. And my favourite memory of all is the handful of times I’ve persuaded my little boy to run with me. He may have needed Haribo to coax him up the hill and he may have laid down halfway round and told me his heart was hurting… but in my eyes, when he finally crossed that finish line, he was basically Mo Farah.

Pencil Park Run 3 (002)
Great camouflage Pencil!

What parkrun would you like to do in the future and why?

I’m a massive Gavin and Stacey fan and I absolutely love the sound of the Gavin and Stacey parkrun which basically involves doing Billericay and Barry Island!

Nessa 2
Oh, what's occurrin'? The RD at Barry parkrun about to deliver the pre-run briefing.

Ed: For all you doubters who thought there's no such thing as the Gavin and Stacey parkrun, check out this link

What’s your pre parkrun breakfast?

I think there’s a typo in this question because WHAT KIND OF FOOL EATS BREAKFAST BEFORE THEY DO PARKRUN? My favourite post parkrun breakfast is the one that I discuss with my regular running buddy Sara Darling and will normally involve something on toast: avocado or eggs for me and mushrooms for her.

Do you think you’ll ever get another PB at Tring?

I sometimes stare at my parkrun results and got obsessed last year with trying to make sure that I got a 2019 result that started with a two (as I tend to finish in the 30 minute plus region.)

The best I managed was 30:00 so I failed… but I quickly realised that it doesn’t really matter at all! I realise now that the personal best ones aren’t always the best runs. Sometimes the best runs are the slow ones where everything hurts a bit. You get the biggest sense of achievement from those!


Week 8 – The big weekend


And so...

We're going to mix it up a bit this week. First of all we were hugely impressed by everyone's VE Day efforts and also the caption competition entries. (See below).

This weekend over the previous five years had their own significant moments too. So, let's start there and in reverse order...

Last year #247

Do you remember run number 247..... the one where the results went missing? The one when Andy Evans' detective agency was formed? The one where Ann-Marie's pretty brown eyes misted with emotion?? Yes/No???

detective agency
The dark and mysterious case of the missing runners

Here's how the story started..... "When I finally caught up with Andy, he was drinking strong coffee with a renegade RD named ‘Running Boy’ Collings in a ramshackle joint just off the A41, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring morning".

I'm not going to even summarise what happened next, follow the link to read the rest of "The Tring parkrun detective agency"

2018 #193 "Phew"

This was the first running of our "new" course, the version that did not start and end on the Lime tree Avenue.

Harry was RD and wrote "Essentially if everything goes well I don’t really have to do anything as Run Director, and on a day when we had a new herd of cows, a new route plus our fifth highest attendance ever it’s a testament to how great our volunteers are that I was able to wander around and chat to runners whilst everything seemed to tick over nicely. So, THANK YOU!"

Downhill and then through the valley at the start - for the first time

In fact had we ran this year, we'd also have had a new herd of cows to contend with. And perhaps the warm temperatures might have slowed the pace a little, but two years ago Chris Nicholls recorded his 7th PB in 7 weeks, Tia Kerr-Miller recorded 4 in 4 and Kelly Lane, Iain Middleton, Alice Fisher, Adrienne Garner, Anna Taylor, Simon Cowie, Rob Billings, Colin Hamnett, David Taylor, Gavin Morden and Callum Hunter-Whitehouse all had 2 PBs in 2 weeks. Better still Adrienne Garner chipped off some more time off her own 2nd best at VW70-74 and Betty Stracey recorded our 2nd best ever VW75-79.

2017 #138 "Effort Grade: Average"

Setting up a deja-vu moment two years later the run report noted that there were "gremlins" getting in the way of smooth result processing.

After the gremlins were zapped it became apparent that congratulations were due to those runners who reached impressive milestones that week, including Phil Roger and Daniel Wolff who ran their 100th parkruns and Juliet Mitchell who completed her 50th. Louise Bladen became the fourth person to complete 100 Tring parkruns.

I was struck by this photo - taken with a telephoto lens everyone looks a lot closer than they really were....just like scurrilous press images taken with very, very long telephotos to claim mass "social distancing abuse"

Harry was delighted that after a dearth of candidates in recent weeks he could finally award a "most aesthetically pleasing time" award. "Not only did Linda Walke, Gareth Davies and Matt Wade all finish at precisely the same time, they also broke the thirty minute barrier and managed to match, to the second, our average run time. Bearing in mind we have now had 3,901 named runners this was quite a feat and I’m sure must have been pre-arranged! 29:59 to all three of you, all whilst carefully calculating the effect the 124 runners ahead of you would have on our average. Good work - you’ve made my day."

Just three years later our average time is now 30:27, which means that we are being successful in attracting a wider range of abilities in those joining to run/jog or walk.

2016 #84 "Titled, errr "84"!"

"'He that will enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade.' Samuel Johnson" - is how this report started. Can you guess who the RD was?

You probably guessed Wes...but, no, it was our very own Mr Richard Murphy.

sam and Joanna
Sam and Jo - two of our regular volunteers in 2016. Jo now lives in rural Cornwallshire and Sam helped set up beautiful Wendover Woods parkrun.

The following made me smile: "For the tourists the most travelled was David Irwin from Huntingdon who had just completed the Ridgeway Path with his wife. I think David also gets quote of the week, after hearing that the first 1k was mostly up hill in the pre run briefing delivered by Chris he expected the rest of the course to be flat ‘He told me only the first bit was uphill! There wasn’t a flat bit on the whole run!’. David has now completed 198 runs, I wonder if he’ll be back to Tring for his 200th?"

A quick bit of internet stalking shows that David is now at an amazing 355 parkruns and that he returned to Tring in June the following year...which must have been very close to his 250th.

Also that week Kirk Clifford completed the course in 19.36 setting a new Age Grade course record of 84.01%, a great achievement when you consider the nature of our course and that the benchmark is the World Record time for his age group (60-64 at the time).

2015 #30 "Post election hangover cure"

"Whether you were celebrating or mourning, once again Tring parkrun was the perfect antidote on Saturday morning. With the weather, brisk and perhaps a little damp, any signs of hangovers were quickly cured...."

Ron Hull was RD (he's now ED for the lovely Rushmere parkrun) and noted that this was the first week that the women outnumbered the men, at 52%. In fact the female numbers have been consistently high or highest this weekend in previous years. I'm not sure why.

Mr Hull also commented eloquently on the role of First Timers Briefing......

Chris Millar, a volunteer who has offered to be a RD (Run Director) has his 1st go at the new-runners brief. The new runners brief role involves following a fairly standard script and explaining the route, some of the rules and answering any questions. To be honest, if you have run a few times at Tring, don't mind talking to 10-20 people, can point into the far distance and make running up a hill into an amusing joke, then you're an ideal candidate for this role!

And one other notable snippet was "As everyone knows, parkrun is about giving it a go, improving, enjoying and making friends. This week welcomed first timers who had travelled from Sheffield, club outings (Leighton Buzzard) and 1st appearances from Fairland Spartans, Kilamarsh Kestrels and Team Trisports. Richard Murphy also achieved his 7th PB in 8 weeks."


And back to this week 2020 "We'll meet again"

The 75th anniversary of VE day was marked this weekend. It was odd seeing the socially distanced commemorations on the BBC, but oddly a virtual/non-parkrun week for us is becoming (sadly!?) a bit normal.

Virtual runs, virtual Akeman coffee mornings and seeing what everyone has come up with in response to Andy's weekly challenge have become one of the new things to look forward too.

WW2 was a challenging time for the world's population and Vera Lynn's "We'll meet again" became an iconic, poignant and symbolic song. It seemed equally fitting for our own circumstances and so we used it as the soundtrack to our own video remembering many happy days in Tring Park on Saturday mornings - and that we'll enjoy again together at some point in the future.

Red white and blue was what Andy asked for and that is what we got. "Leesten very carefully, I shall say thees only once..." - you were all fantastic!

VE Day and week 8
Superb effort by everyone yet again

I especially like Pencil sitting on a union flag and also RD Anna/Ross' daughter Jessica (see below).

This week we also had yet another "getting to know you" interview with a regular parkrunner. Many thanks to Steve Bladen for doing these. This week the victim celebrity was the legend that is Jim Maple aka the Musical Marshal.

If you've not seen it yet you can find it here. It include links to a few of the videos of Jim in action and his inspired playlists.

Also we had a great excuse for a caption competition. This proved challenging as noted by Moira Douglas, who said, "Problem is whatever Jim said to Anna will not be repeatable!"

The winning entry was "Jim said “Anna, I have a dream that one day the parkrun course will move away from these treasured trees and the grasslands and simply run up and down the hill between Nell Gwynne’s monument and the summerhouse, so that runners can enjoy my playlist every step of the way. I have a dream today.” - well done to Julian Crane.

Just to mix it up a bit:

Screenshot 2020-05-10 at 18.58.50

We also had a bonus caption competition featuring little Jessica:

Screenshot 2020-05-10 at 19.01.53

Love it!


So that's it for this week.

Stay safe, stay well - keep in touch via our FB page.

See you next week

The Tring parkrun team



You can find out more about Tring parkrun and see all of our photographs and videos on our Facebook page here.

If we still haven't fulfilled your need for a weekly parkrun fix try "With Me Now" hosted by Danny Norman and Nicola Forwood, a really great, independent, parkrun podcast.



Getting to know you: Q&A with Jim Maple

This weeks Q&A is with our regular volunteer, Jim Maple. Jim is probably one of our the most recognisable faces at Tring parkrun, and as the selection of photos and links below show, is one of its real characters. In truth, Jim was meant to have featured in an earlier week, but those of you who know Jim will appreciate that it has taken some weeks of toing and froing to get something suitable for a family audience!

In the early days of Tring parkrun Jim was a regular runner, though these days he is more often found marshalling us around the course's various twists and turns, historically at gate 1 on our first course, and more recently at the obelisk. At our fourth birthday awards, Jim was crowned "Volunteer of the Year".

Jim volunteer award 4th birthday
A modest looking Jim collecting his award.

Jim's musical montages were always a welcome relief, coming as they did at the end of a long slog up one of Tring park's numerous hills.

Jim was a DJ with Radio Lab If you'd like to listen to one of Jim's parkrun inspired music playlists as you read - just click here to go to a video we made featuring Jim and his radio show 3 years ago.

While these days we have to make do with just Jim's verbal encouragement, I'm sure we'd all hope that one day we might be able to find a way of getting Jim's music back in the park.

Jim Spring 2019 video
Click above to see a video of Jim in action (plays in Facebook)

Jim has completed parkrun 57 times, 55 of which have been at Tring. Jim ran at Tring's very first parkrun in November 2014. Jim's PB is a very respectable 32:15, achieved back in October 2015.

Jim lives in Tring with his wife Di and dog Spike. Jim moved to Tring in 1979 from Mortimer near Reading. So let's hear from Jim...…

Other than parkrun, do you take part in any other organised running events? Not any more. I used to do Tring Running Club events.

Given current restrictions, what are you doing to keep active? Walking in Tring Park and adjacent woodland.

What does Tring parkrun mean to you? A whole section of my friendships.

Jim isolating
Jim and his friends. Who knew that Jim was such a trend setter - these days social distancing is all the rage.

Why did you start parkrun? Tip off from my son who used to be a pretty nifty runner. Also as a response to type 2 diabetes.

Obviously Tring parkrun is your favourite parkrun, but what is your second favourite and why? South Shields, except when nobody told me there was a "dress like a ballerina" theme.

Chris Miller
It's not just South Shields Jim - did you forget that one of our Run Directors also attempted a "dress like a ballerina" themed run? Though looking at this picture, I'm not surprised it hasn't really caught on.

Taking any of our courses, what is your favourite bit of the Tring parkrun course and why? Probably that funnel-y shaped thing at the end.

What’s your favourite volunteer role? Music marshal

Favourite / funniest parkrun memory? In my running days I did have a brief flirtation with the use of a "Canicross" lead, on the other end of which was my dog Spike. I always realised there would be profit and loss in this arrangement, as in times when he'd pull me and times when I'd pull him. What I hadn't reckoned with was the degree of difficulty in deploying a doggie poo-bag in a stiff breeze. I shall urge Canicross to design a sort of racing poo-bag with quick action.

Jim from video Sep 2019
Jim returning from a spot of marshalling, poo-bag in hand.

What parkrun would you like to do in the future and why? Just to get round Tring would be lovely.

What’s your pre parkrun breakfast? The usual... cereal and toast. I find I can marshal on that just nicely.

While cereal and toast will make do for breakfast, as a former Chemistry teacher, Jim is seen here outside the Akeman promoting the benefits of genetically modified broccoli.

Although none of us admit it, we all target someone we want to beat. Who’s your target? The Grim Reaper.

Jim catches up with his Nemesis

Do you think you’ll ever get another PB at Tring? With absolute certainty, no.

Jim running
Mmmmmm…...looking at this recent shot Jim, you might be right.



Week 7 – The 300th that didn’t happen


In a break with tradition

In a break with tradition, instead of focusing at what happened this week during the last five years we'll be taking a look at the monumental moments accompanying our 100th and our 200th anniversary parkruns - and hope that we can add our 300th as soon as possible.

But first...

May the 2nd 2020 was due to be our 300th tring parkrun. We had huge things planned (we still do, they're just on hold....hopefully not for too long!). Andy Evans chose 300 as this week's virtual, non-parkrun theme and yet again we were blown away by the creativity.

shelley Ben Patterson
Well spotted Shelley and very creative from Team Patterson on Ben's top

Loving the Bishops Elton John 300 glasses

Richard Baddon
Just to prove you can never have too many running shoes - by Richard Baddon
Helen Page also did the same - see our FB page

We had all manner of 300's spotted or created. We even had 300 in Roman numerals (sort of). But most importantly people were getting out there, often in their parkrun kit, and bagging their 5k run/jog/walks.

In addition to the pics you see here, kudos to:

  • Mary Ward for her customised "I love tring parkrun" T shirt
  • Kieth Henderson for achieving a 300m long PB running up Misswell Lane
  • Lucy Cluton for getting in touch with nature and her twiggy 300
  • Blaz for sparing us a photo of himself in his "relaxing bath with the lovely scent of a 300g fragranced candle" although we did see his 300g of Polish butter and box of 300 gloves
  • Andy Evans creative use of bananas and oranges. Oh err missus.
  • Louisa Hopper's obscure highways agency telephone number
  • Louise Brooks artist creativity
  • Team Sartin's two piece Tring 300
  • Dick Highton and Trudi Fryer's automative inspiration
  • Clare Murphy flying the flag for the Woodland Trust
  • Paul Dyet's inspired observation about the Pitstone Windmill (it's 300 years old!)
  • The Van de Lindes, Juliet Mitchel, Ms Storr and others for adding up milestone T-shirts
  • Claire Hallissey for an appropriate 300 competitors number
  • Pencil for her 300 extra minutes in bed on Saturday mornings
  • Chris Simmonds and many others for spotting so many different 300s "in the wild"
  • The Leybournes for their special 300th birthday decorations...keep them for later!
  • The Bladens were almost disqualified for choosing the wrong dinosaur for being 300 million years old (the one they chose was only 100-60m years old!). I wasn't too convinced about the 300 lambs or bluebells either - but it's all been great fun
  • Congratulations all!

That's just showing off Mr Stonestreet!

looking back

Our 100th Event, August 27th 2016
From report Roll up, roll up, hear all about Tring parkrun #100
Also see the separate report on Andy Collings' amazing 100km challenge

Of all of our many wonderful Tring parkruns the 100th will be one of the most memorable if not the most memorable. To raise funds for a defibrillator Andy Collings, one of our Run Directors and part of the core team, ran the course 20 times completing a total distance of 100km in 15 hours, starting the evening before in Tring Park at 7:30pm. It was a remarkable achievement and an amazingly generous gesture - raising the best part of £2000.

Andy finishes
Andy completes lap 20 of 20 with some of the supporters who'd helped him over the last 15 hours

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 15.27.51
Andy's Strava track of his 20 laps

It's well worth reading the account of Andy's amazing run - all the way through the night - just click on the link above (or here!).

On completion, Andy said: “I have been totally overwhelmed by not only people’s donations but also their kindness in supporting me. I'm not going to mention any names as there really are so many of you. Thank you to those who came to see to see me off, those who kept me company at the start, finish and some in the middle of the morning (some more than once). Thank you for the tea, toast, cola and chocolate bars. And thank you to the very special people who dragged me around the final (I can't remember how many) laps. I wasn't great company and I apologise I couldn't share your humour at the time but had it not been for you I would never of made the start line of parkrun 100”.

312 attendees
Maura Patterson claimed a significant record of 312 - the highest token we'd ever seen up to then

Andy's final lap (and everyone else's "normal" run) was completed in the opposite direction from normal, to mark our 100th event. This added to the huge party and celebratory atmosphere.

It was also a week of many records, starting with our largest ever turnout - an amazing 312 runners completing the course, a massive increase on the previous week's attendance of 114 and 99 more than our previous largest attendance of 213 - which happened on Tring parkrun #1 way back in November in 2014.

Tom Saville set the first ever sub 18 minute lap and broke the course record around Tring and it was the first time we recorded nine sub-20 minute times. We also celebrated six milestones with Ken Douglas, Adam Swann, Lisa Barton and Oscar Evans achieving their 50th parkrun and Isobel Monks and Jake Summerson achieving their 10th parkrun as juniors (special kudos to Jake who also turned 10 that very week).

Our 200th Event, June 30th 2018
From report NURKRAP

Our 200th event was also celebrated by running the course in reverse. To add to the festivities Harry Bryant completed his 250th parkrun too - a major milestone in parkrunland and qualifying him for a coveted green 250-club T-shirt. Harry wrote the run report and started with the words "When I arrived at my first parkrun back in September 2012, inspired by the Olympics and complete with cargo shorts and a woefully inadequate pair of trainers, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into." and went on to add "It’s become a bit of a cliché these days to say 'parkrun has changed my life', but I suppose spending two hundred and fifty Saturday mornings jogging around the UK is evidence that that’s certainly the case for me".

Harry, his wife Clare and his whole family, have given so much to Tring parkrun through the years - as a Run Director and also in so many other volunteer roles - and so the day felt especially good.

RD Harry Bryant completing his 250th parkrun at Tring's 200th event

Another parkrun had celebrated its 200th event a few weeks before and created a special sign which they passed on to us (we we subsequently passed on to other runs approaching their own 200th). We had great fun with that sign and there are lot's of great photographs in our event photo album on Facebook.

Week 7 Bond
Just some of our 200 sign creativity:
Jim rocking it with the 200 sign / electric-guitar and My name is Colin!!

At the time 5,894 participants have completed 33,741 parkruns covering a total distance of 168,705 km, including 5,907 new Personal Bests. We almost (like in the 100th event) saw a new fastest time too with Jake Smith of Axe Valley Runners, who was visiting us for the first time, just one second adrift with an amazing time of 16:38. As well as Harry's milestone Damien Fortune and Ellie Bates both ran their 50th parkrun and Matt Foskett completed his 100th. Claire Hallisey became the 103rd person to complete 50 parkruns at Tring and James Whittaker became the 69th person to run 69 times at Tring! Andy Evans also spotted that it was the first time a Harry and finished next to a a Potter in the results!!

Katie Haines with our 200 sign - which we shipped off to be used again

Harry ended his report with: "I usually end my reports with a look at some of the most aesthetically pleasing times of the week and of course this will be no exception. I’ve got to tell you, we’re spoilt for choice; in any other week Simon Conway (22:22) or Ed Wright (23:45) would have cleaned up. Instead, we’re going for a nerdalicious run from Chris Parker who finished our 200th parkrun in 7th position in a time of 20:07. Nice."

7th at parkrun 200 in a time of 20:07 - Nice timing Chris!

That's it for this week.

Stay safe, stay well - keep in touch via our FB page.

See you next week

The Tring parkrun team


Getting to know you – Phil & Noah Roger

After a brief hiatus, next up in our series featuring our regular runners are father and son Phil and Noah Roger. During the first few years of Tring parkrun, Phil and Noah would often be seen running together. However, as is the way with these things, Noah can no longer be bothered to wait for Phil, and these days he can be seen waiting patiently for Phil at the finish line.

Phil moved to Berkhamsted over 30 years ago, which is where Noah was born. Phil and Noah both ran the Tring parkrun trial event in November 2014, and have been regulars runners at Tring ever since. Phil has now run 218 parkruns in total, including 191 at Tring, with a PB of 21:31 which he set as recently as March 2019. Noah has also run 218 parkruns in total, including 196 at Tring; Noah's PB is 22:04, also set in March 2019. At our 5th birthday awards in November 2019, Noah took first place in the male junior category, his 39 runs at Tring in our 5th year meant he had run more times than any other junior male. Up until 2019, Noah has been in the top 3 in each of the 5 years since Tring parkrun began, but never 1st.

Noah 100th running
Noah in his younger days

Phil running before lockdown
Phil, running just before our current lockdown

Other than parkrun, do you take part in any other organised running events?

Phil: My competitive running days are looking a little behind me now, I have done a number of marathons previously but I think half marathons are about my limit now.

Noah: Apart from parkrun, the only other running event I take part in is the annual Berkhamsted Fun Run in March. However, my attendance of that has been rather spotty in the last few years.

Given current restrictions, what are you doing to keep active?

Phil: The dog is currently keeping me active with a longish walk most days.

Noah: I am trying to run 10 kilometers on Tuesday and Thursday and 5 kilometers on Saturday. On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, I am going for a dog walk – usually with my Dad – and on Monday, I go for a walk on my own via Tesco to pick up my lunch and snacks for the rest of the week.

What does Tring parkrun mean to you?

Phil: It's a great way to start the weekend, it gives me the opportunity to meet up with friends and family in a way that wouldn’t normally happen throughout the week.

Noah: Tring Parkrun has been something I have been doing since the trial run back in late 2014. Before this, I was occasionally doing St. Albans parkrun. Over this time, parkrun has took on many meanings for me. Some of these many reasons include:

1. It helps me relax after a week at school where I am almost constantly working – even during my Lunch Break – and before my Saturday project.

2. It is my weekend exercise. On Saturdays, when I work on my projects, I prefer to get my exercise out of the way so I don’t get interrupted as it ruins my flow of work. On Sundays, the only exercise I usually get is walking around to my neighbour where I have a piano lesson, which usually is after the rest of my family go on a dog walk, so I miss out on that walk. So in the end, it is my only real form of exercise during the weekend usually.

3. It is time I spend alone with my Dad. It is the only time in the week which I ever do that so this is something which is currently irreplaceable.

Noah running 2
A more recent shot of Noah completing his weekend exercise

Why did you start parkrun?

Phil: I had previously run but we started attending parkruns to introduce an exercise routine for the kids. Not long after we had started a work colleague pointed me in Andy Evans' direction who was looking for runners to do the trial run at Tring ‘Parkrun 0’

Noah: I didn’t start parkrun by choice. I seem to remember my Dad forcing everyone in my family over to St. Albans when I was 10. I believe he tried to persuade me to not complain about it by promising to take us along to the Waffle Bar afterwards. Sadly for him, I don’t like Waffles. Consequently, the bribe did not work. Eventually, it became routine and formed into something else so running at Tring became not a problem for me.

Obviously Tring parkrun is your favourite parkrun, but what is your second favourite and why?

Phil: We have attended a relatively low number of different parkruns, but one of my objectives was always to go sub 20, for this reason I’d have to go for Cassiobury.

Noah: My second favourite parkrun would probably be Kings Lynn, Norfolk. I have only ran there once but it was sunny, ridiculously flat and not too warm. It also had a view of the station and I like trains so I got to see them go past. Consequently, it was my second favourite because, the only time I ran there, I really enjoyed it.

Taking any of our courses, what is your favourite bit of the Tring parkrun course and why?

Phil: I have always enjoyed trying to get through the old gate one on a wet and muddy day!

Noah: No matter what course it is, it will always be the downhill bits. This is because it gives me a brief moment of relief from the heat of the run.

What's your favourite volunteer role?

Phil: I love tail walking, it gives me a great opportunity to get out with the dog but still enjoy the full parkrun experience.

Noah: My favourite volunteer role would oddly be Token Sorting. This is because I could test different sorting algorithms so it kept me intellectually occupied. Also, I got a free drink out of it from my Dad. However, as much as I would like to do that role again, I need to head back as soon as my Dad has completed his run because my brother has some football stuff he needs to do.

Noah token sorting
Noah undertaking his favourite volunteering role. As a parent of the child on the left the editor can confirm she is capable of disrupting any algorithm, however strong!

pacing photo P&N
Phil and Noah are regular volunteers when it comes to our pacing weeks

Favourite / funniest parkrun memory?

Phil: The recent wet weather meant that for one week only we had to start by the old gate 2. The number of bodies strewn across the floor over the first 200 meters was a site to behold.

Noah: My favourite parkrun memory would be when the cows decided that they would join in the run at the start, parallel to all of the runners. For some reason, I have always found animals imitating humans funny, even when it may be terrifying to others.

What parkrun would you like to do in the future and why?

Phil: Woolacombe Dunes looks right up there on the list of ones to complete.

Noah: Now the parkrun that I would like to do in future is called Penrhyn parkrun. First, I have heard it is good - it goes around some National Trust land with a castle, some points have a sea view and it is flat. Secondly, it is nearby to llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch - I want to get a picture of me next to the sign at the railway station.

What’s your pre parkrun breakfast?

Phil: I’m not the most organized in the mornings so a cup of tea generally does me!

Noah: Nice and simple. It is an Oatbix Flakes Cereal with an orange juice, a strawberry yoghurt and chocolate spread on wholemeal bread (not toast).

Have you ever done any of our fancy dress parkruns, and if so, what did you come dressed as?

Phil: The only ones I can remember were the Halloween parkruns. I still have my Hannibal Lector outfit somewhere.

Phil halloween 2
Phil "the cannibal" Roger

Noah: I don’t necessarily believe in fancy dress as it becomes too much of a hassle so consequently, I have not.

Noah halloween
Did you forget, Noah? Tring parkrun has a very long memory!

Of the two of you, who is the most competitive?

Phil: Unfortunately Noah, this means I don’t have a chance of beating him again!

Noah: I believe we are equally competitive. However, it does not quite settle with my Dad when he loses to me in anything.

Although none of us admit it, we all target someone we want to beat. Who’s your target?

Phil: I’ve spent a large amount of my parkruns recovering from injuries so for me it’s always been a run against the clock rather than trying to beat individuals, having said that the first time you get beaten by one of the youngsters it does make you try that little bit harder the following week to try and keep up with them!

Noah: I have reached a stage now where I no longer have a consistent target, however difficult that is to believe. Now I pick on someone different at every parkrun once we get running and my goal will be to overtake that person by the end of the run. However, I do not know their names as I forget about them afterwards.

Do you think you’ll ever get another PB at Tring?

Phil: Probably not for me, I tend to manage a long standing back injury by running everyday. When I have run quickly at Tring it’s been off the back of running everyday for over a year so have been in pretty good running shape when I’ve done it.

Noah: Possibly. I have been getting faster and assuming that we are back by the end of summer, I may well get a PB. However, my 5K runs are getting slower because, outside of parkrun, I am starting to work on increasingly longer distances than 5K.


Week 6 – You’re having a giraffe!

This week...

Sorry this is a day late. Somehow Sunday vanished. I honestly have no idea what happened to it! And judging by a few (very welcome) “late entries” to the week six “no parkrun” posts on Facebook I’m not alone.

“Show us any animals you spot” asked Andy Evans in his weekly, virtual, no-parkrun briefing on Facebook. And what a brilliant effort by everyone....

We had more comments than ever this week and pictures that included horses, cows, dogs, monster cats, a jaguar, a tortoise (giant and normal), a giraffe, a dinosaur (or two), a duck, a fox, a rabbit, an elephant, a cassowary, a wallaby, a goat, a bull, a dragon, sheep, a lamb, squirrels, snails, swans, a hamster, a parrot, a deer, a badger, alpacas, a crocodile, tadpoles, a peacock, a zebra or two, a crow, even a whale….and quite possibly a few parkrunners who were batty!

Running with a dinosaur (Just to be clear - we mean the T-Rex not Steve).

It is quite amazing what can be found within a short walk/jog radius of Tring, Berkhamstead and the surrounding villages. Thankfully the weather was really great again and it was fantastic to be out and about - I'm sure that is especially true for those of our regular parkunners who are NHS and other key workers.

Our second giraffe in just six months!

It’s very uplifting to see so many smiling faces on the virtual parkrun; faces that I, along with so many, miss seeing each Saturday morning in Tring Park.

On the subject of the park - it is simultaneously joyful and depressing to walk/run to the end of King Charles Ride. The “turn around point” that marks the half way stage of our our and back course is glorious right now with hundreds of metres of bluebells on each side of the path. We’ve not ran here at this time of the year before. It would have been brilliant.

Great to see the return of just one of the three zebras we've seen before at Tring parkrun. Well done Allison (and George). We like the T-shirts.

Once again we were impressed by the creativity of so many improvised 5k walks and runs - way too many to comment on fully here. Well done to Lucy who broke out her giraffe costume for a sprint up and down the Lime Tree Avenue (which must have been a particular surprise to the many dog walkers there). The last giraffe we saw was visitor Lucy Marris on November 30th (the kilted parkrun day). And it was lovely to see Allison in her Zebra costume once more (why didn't I think of doing that?).

Click here to go to our Facebook Virtual parkrun page and see more of everyone's own comments and photos

If you have any of your own ideas for a virtual parkrun theme, email us at


Looking back over the last 5 years

2015, Tring parkrun #28
From report The April shower Gods smiled upon us

Spring this weekend in Tring Park 5 years ago saw 105 parkrunners (including 24 first timers)dodging showers. There was a bit of drama at the start when the lock to the first gate into the woods was found to be jammed shut. "Thankfully marshal Jon Hull was able to work some magic and encourage the gate to open, with Toby Gribbin and Dom Evans doing a last minute warm-up run to the gate to check all was well, and taking all the credit for fixing the situation on their return!"

Olivia and Ben Hurford running past the bluebells approaching King Charles Ride

The Park, as it is now, hd the bluebells out in force, although as most are on the first hill the vast majority, heads-down, didn't see them!

14082_1820343671524385_84971780727158746_n Holly & Bethany
Great Junior Volunteers: Holly and Bethany on finish tokens, Gus and Jo as marshals

We had a great volunteer team, with several (including photographer Liz Daniels) taking part in the London Marathon the day after and a great line up of juniors too.

It was interesting to see that standing out on the PB front were two who would go on to become Run Directors (and in Steve's case now co Event Director). "Stand out performances came from Richard Murphy who has achieved 5 PBs in his last 6 runs and Steve Bladen who has managed 4PBs from the last 5 runs. Impressive PBs came from run director Wes Ball, who took a whopping 1:28 off (and is surely going to be summoned by WADA for a drugs test).

The Stat-o-matic had a few round milestones to flag too. "Our 500th lady crossed the line this week, Judy Ewart, who even went to the trouble of forgetting her barcode last week to enable this statistic! Our 750th male at Tring was Jon Burrow, and 1250th person was Alfie Ayles.


2016, Tring parkrun #82
From report The parkrun for three storytellers

On the subject of strange stats - on this weekend in 2016 we had our 82nd Tring parkrun, the year before those digits were swapped round, it was out 28th. Andy Evans, of course, spotted this in an instant.

Run Director Wes Ball, was amazed by these "brilliantly obscure" observations and stats and wrote: "I once asked Andy where he got his inspiration to extract the more unusual pieces of information from his mega spreadsheet of all the results of our last 82 runs. He said words to the effect that the data had the greatest stories in them. You just had to search for them and see what you could find. It was a brilliant description of how a series of finish times and positions actually told the story of thousands of real stories on Saturday mornings and the collection of them told the bigger story of people coming together week after week". I really like that.

the course
One of many classic Tring parkrun views - "through the valley".

Wes wrote a brilliant report - click on the link above, it's well worth a read. As that week saw William Shakespeare's 452th birthday there was a clear theme. "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" And 143 people did spent the time to cover 5k there.

And if you'd like more lockdown reading, we were visited that week by Chris Holt, ED of Hatfield Forest parkrun in Essex and his write up in his great blog is also worth a read The toughest kilometre in parkrun. Some highlights include:

“A real treat, a rollercoaster downhill”.

“What a breeze it was. Wide, flowing tree-lined park land and a bit of downhill, delightful.”

“A feel good event; a fun atmosphere that I want to bottle”

“Tring might well be an acquired taste. Perhaps they have fun because you can’t take it too seriously there… I wouldn’t change what they’ve got there at all.”

“You’ve created a gem on the parkrun map that is a worthy challenge for anyone.”

2017, Tring parkrun #136
From report It was an extraordinary day – it was an ordinary day.

Another epic run report documented run 136, this weekend three years ago. It was inspired by Douglas Adam's Hitchhikers Guide and was a "trilogy in four parts".

The weather was pleasant and the report notes that "we had our 3rd highest ever gathering of people (and our highest for a run that isn’t a special event or anniversary) - 250 enjoyed Tring Park's “undulating”, green, Spring landscape.. Numbers were swollen by large numbers of families running together, which I always love to see.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 20.21.10
Great to see so many parents and children running together

It was a fantastic week for records of various sorts. Edward Crane who reached his junior 10th parkrun, Alison Bill and Richard Burnell both reached their 50th parkruns. Alison did this in her fastest time ever and had also missed only 2 weeks since she started. Alison is now part of the core team at Wendover parkrun.

Claire Hallissey and Louise Bladen both reached their 100ths, with Louise setting a female record for quickest to get to 100. Claire also deservedly claimed back the record for the fastest female finish time at Tring, completing the course in an impressive 19:35. This was picked up on by parkrun UK and they featured Claire in their blog Sharing something that I love

Tring Park Run-222
Issy took losing her record to Dennis well!!!

That week we also had an astounding 107 PBs!!! But the records didn't stop there. A very notable new record was set by Dennis Rafferty, who claimed the highest number of consecutive Tring parkruns. His total of 45 overtook that set by young Isobel Bladen, who took it well!!! ☺

2018, Tring parkrun #191
No run report!!!

2019, Tring parkrun #245
From report Greetings from Hannah.

Do you remember last year? Numbers were well down from normal because of a battering from storm Hannah. It was chilly but (unexpectedly) stayed dry.

Stuart Page was RD and welcomed 207 participants, 22 of whoim were first timers.

This pic has always made me smile - three of our visitors "warming up"

On the theme of obscure stats, Stuart noted: "A special mention to Andrew Booth who recorded his 5th PB in minute 31 – nobody else has seen more PBs in this minute. Indeed, he also holds the record for minute 32 with 5 PBs in that minute.
However, the experts at this stat are Philippa Storr with 8 PBs in the 26th minute and Dominic Veal with 9 PBs in minute 22!



So that's it for this week.

Stay safe, stay well - keep in touch via our FB page.

See you next week

The Tring parkrun team

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