Last weekend was my 5th parkrun birthday as I first came to parkrun here at Upton Court on 21st June 2104. I knew as I walked back over the park at the end of the run that I was hooked and 173 runs later I still love it. In the meantime I have run at about 40 other parkruns as far apart as West Cork, Scotland and France and am nearing completion of my parkrun alphabet. Clearly this malarkey is something of an obsession for me, as my family frequently remind me, but there are worse things to obsess about.
Excuse my self-indulgent reminiscing about my parkrun history but it got me thinking about the changes I have observed since June 2014. The most obvious is the number of people who come along to Upton Court each Saturday morning. On 21/06/14 there were 75 runners which was a fairly typical number at the time. At least half of the people running that day are still UCp regulars so if repeat-visits is anything to go by I’m not the only one who is hooked. Five years on our numbers are more like 175. As our numbers steadily rise it is harder to know everyone by name but I hope the friendliness is unchanged for first-timers, visitors and regulars alike.
Looking more broadly, a big change parkrun has seen over the time is its growth nationally and internationally. If you want to see how the number of events and participants has grown over the years see https://www.parkrun.org.uk/results/historicalchart/ . In order to support this growth parkrun has undoubtedly become commercial but, in my opinion, this has not impacted the free, local, volunteer vibe which I experience wherever I go for my weekly parkrun.
And finally back to a local change. In recent months, the Run Directors (RD) have written run reports less frequently than 5 years ago – a point of pride for UCp in its earlier days. Most parkruns don’t bother! The problem for us as RD’s is that it is difficult to say something fresh when you have written many reports before. So if you fancy writing a report one week about anything parkrun related we would love to hear from you.
And so to this week’s news: 188 runners, lured by the sunny morning, the free run and for one week only free food from parkrun’s commercial partner Co-op. Thanks to Jack and his colleagues for coming along and distributing the goodies.
As usual a big thanks to all our volunteers. I have a feeling I forgot to give you the opportunity to give them a round of applause on the start line, so feel free to do it yourself now. There were 15 PB’s with the most notable being Sreeram Thiagarajan who clocked 29:33 on his 80th Upton Court run. We had nine people completely new to parkrun so welcome to Ewelina, Nikki, Emma, Natasya, Matthew, Anl, Rajesh, Venkat and Laksmi. I hope in five years time you might look back with fondness on what parkrun has brought to your lives. At the other end of the spectrum Bob Hardman ran his 369th run. Bob is a real UCp stalwart almost always being around early for setting up and setting down after the event. Just looking at Bob’s stats I reckon he must have run over 75 different events – who’s the obsessive now!
APTOTW goes to Duncan Gibson who ran 28:45 which was bang on the average run time.
I am away in Glasgow next weekend. You never know I might find myself a parkrun there too!
Here’s to the next five years. Some things may be a-changing but the best of parkun remains the same.
See you again soon.