By Rob Webster
Hello my name is Rob, but you probably know me as George’s Dad. It was my 250th parkrun this week, which I ran with George. The 250th start was very different from the first. Back on 20 March 2013 I had been coerced into running whilst the soon to be “parkrun famous” George Webster volunteered. I headed for the start line amongst a field of 248 people of all shapes and sizes, a little anxious and wondering what lay in store. Running was not then something I enjoyed at all and the runners I knew all seemed obsessed with something called a “PB” and wore weird watches.
“Are there any new runners?” asked Sam Dooley on that cold March day. The applause for us newbies gave me a small boost. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. My aim was to make it round without stopping. Which I did, partly spurred on by the fact a very small dog appeared to be able to get round so why shouldn’t I?
In the intervening period, I have run, volunteered and enjoyed parkrun at 21 locations here and abroad. George has gone from being a cute boy collecting tokens to a young man who volunteers, runs and is an ambassador for Mencap and a parkrun StAR. Woodhouse Moor has grown and flourished. But I always remind myself that what appears normal to me now, was previously daunting and felt a bit out of reach for a flabby and unfit forty something.
So when I looked at the 799 people at parkrun and the 41 volunteers, I reminded myself that everyone there had their own story. Some people were there to finish first, get a PB or a new milestone. Others were tourists seeking new experiences. Many were running for the first time, walking or fulfilling a New Year’s Resolution. Some were getting real support whilst battling cancer, depression or bereavement. Some were saying goodbye before going on tour or saying hello having returned from abroad. At Woodhouse Moor, poets rub shoulders with grannies and rock stars, cleaners with CEOs and cabbies. Olympians overtake kids and dogs get a good run out. All life is here.
In my 250 runs and volunteering slots, I have seen great kindness, made friends, been proud of myself and incredibly proud of and humbled by others. I have watched people overcome the worst of times and celebrate the best of times. I have come to understand that the thing that makes parkrun is not the run, jog or walk. It is the people.
And for the people at Woodhouse Moor, the event deserves its rating as one of the top 10 global parkruns, the oldest outside London and the friendliest anywhere. Thankyou all for letting me be a part of it.
Well done to AiLyn Tan who ran her 350th, Rob, who did his 250th, Sam Huang and Angela Burley who joined the 100 Club and Jonathan Spain, Ruth Norman and Jennifer Rendell who ran their 50ths.
This week 799 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 108 were first timers and 58 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 54 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 41 volunteers:
Frank JONES • Claudia BAUER • Ken FOX • Helen NOYES • Anne AKERS • Neil METCALFE • Debbie BROWN • Steve BROWN • Louise BISSET • Sue LUMBY • Mark HADDRILL • Alpheas SITHOLE • Nick BROWN • Fiona BLYTH • Jo RHODES • Matilda RHODES • Naomi ADKINS • Tobias ADKINS • Natalie DONOHUE • Emma WHITLOW • Jonathan CONEY • Zeni BELLWOOD • Andrew SMITH • Rebecca WHITE • Dean FRANCIS • Jo TWITCHETT • Lucy BONSALL • Sam HUANG • Howard NAYLOR • Conor GOOLD • Anthony RILEY • Sue OSBORNE • Curtis LEDGER • Tahera MAYAT • Jill HALSTEAD-RASTRICK • Giulia GADA • John SUTCLIFFE • Meg BARKER • Stephen PRUST • Jane PRUST • Phoebe BAKER-JOHNSON
Full results and a complete event history can be found on the Woodhouse Moor parkrun Results Page.
The female record is held by Lizzie BROWNE who recorded a time of 16:25 on 23rd July 2011 (event number 196).
The male record is held by Dan GARBUTT who recorded a time of 14:58 on 25th February 2012 (event number 229).
The Age Grade course record is held by Treena JOHNSON who recorded 96.49% (18:31) on 12th August 2017 (event number 521).
Woodhouse Moor parkrun started on 6th October 2007. Since then 25,959 participants have completed 205,270 parkruns covering a total distance of 1,026,350 km, including 33,858 new Personal Bests. A total of 2,043 individuals have volunteered 12,160 times.