Event #5

This week’s parkrun began with our Event Director, and so called ‘leader’, showing his true student colours by oversleeping his alarm and rocking up some 30 minutes late for the agreed 7:30am set up time. It should also be noted that it is he who holds the keys to the equipment cupboard, and so his tardiness left the rest of the team helplessly waiting for him to clamber out of bed and cycle down to Pitchcroft Pavilion… Some leader! The offending student, who may or may not be the author of this news report, would publicly like to apologise for this rookie mistake!

Set Up parkrun

Unflustered by this setback and determined not to be late for the universal start time of 9:00am (briefing at 8:45am), the core team hastily dispersed to different corners of Pitchcroft park carrying various ‘CAUTION RUNNER’ and ‘KEEP RIGHT’ signs. A true testament to their abilities; and by 8:30am the course and newly altered finish funnel were set up and ready to go - leaving plenty of time for us to assign the 25 brilliant volunteers to their vital roles. And a ‘right on the money’ 9:00am start time.

The run itself appeared to run like clockwork. Beaming sunshine lead to equivalently bright smiles from most of the participants; the rest looked like they were trying to smile but favoured a full inhale of oxygen instead. As requested by our natural first time Run Director John Drew, runners seemed to politely navigate their way around the non-participant park users, throwing a cheery “good morning” as they did so. Thanks a lot for that as it really helps us avoid negative encounters.

Although Pitchcroft parkrun is, and will always be for everyone, it is the triumphant stories from first timers who make it all worthwhile for us. Stories like the blond lady wearing a plain black vest (sorry we didn’t catch your name) who finished somewhere inside 49 minutes despite just 8 weeks ago not being able to complete the 5k distance.

Or the other tale of a lady, new to the immersive world of running, who has wound up with a charity entry into none other than the London Marathon. Welcome to parkrun and we would love to hear how your training goes as the weeks progress.

Kudos goes to all those who reluctantly missed / delayed their viewing of the apparently quite significant rugby game that clashed with our start time. Our resident Welshman on the Lead Bike included in this category. Hope you enjoyed the game that you all presumably recorded.

As efficiently as it was set up, soon after the father and son team of the Baily family came across the line as our Tail Walkers, the course was packed away into the storage cupboard from whence it came.

It wasn’t until we processed the results at the Pump House Environmental Café afterwards that we realised the, surely record-breakingly low, number of forgotten barcodes… Just 3 out of the 226 runners. That deserves a clink of the team's coffee mugs for sure.

Once again, thank you to all who participated, supported, or volunteered this week and we look forward to seeing you once again soon. Although not next week remember as Pitchcroft parkrun is cancelled to allow for the operation of Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life / Pretty Muddy events. Good luck to all participating.

On the subject of brilliant charity events, Steve Jones is heading up the Sanlam GoDadRun event on Sunday the 23rd July – held on Pitchcroft. There is a 5k and a 10k event where the lads are issued big blue pants to raise money for 5 wonderful charities that support Prostate Cancer.

Colin Jackson CBE states….

“I’m excited to announce that Go Dad Run will be returning to the Worcester Racecourse on Sunday 23rd July to host our third annual 5K and 10K races! 

This year we’ve teamed up with local charity, St. Richards Hospice, who do some incredible work to support the local community.

Over the last few years our runners have helped raise thousands of pounds for our charity partners however we want to make this year the biggest and best yet, but we can’t do it without your help. So please sign-up to participate and join us and hundreds of men and boys on July 23rd!

See you there"  

Entries are still open, as is our parkrun the day before on the 22nd… Who’s got the legs to do both?

As always, email the following address to volunteer... worcesterpitchcrofthelpers@parkrun.com. All our roles are dead simple and offering up your services really does make the parkrun world go round.

Why not drag a non parkrunning friend to our next event on the 22nd July. As you already know, they can register via the following link... http://www.parkrun.org.uk/register/


A parkrun Lesson in Statistics:

Three Data Points for a Trend - or Get Out and Enjoy the Sunshine.

Among the many attractions of parkrun is the browsable data it throws up each week, along with the plethora of searchable statistics that accumulate over time.

Here’s a stat that everyone can enjoy:

Of Saturday’s 89 runners who were taking part in Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun for at least the second time, 69 achieved course PBs.

That’s truly a sunny statistic.

Four data points.
The received wisdom of statistical theory is that it requires a minimum of three data points to identify a trend.

Whatever the factual merits of that assertion, with Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun enjoying its fourth edition this weekend, trends might be emerging.

Achieved or bettered
Talking with Richard Ralphs (who many will recognise as ‘Il Capo’ of Worcester Countryside Centre parkrun – “The Original”) on Saturday afternoon, Pitchcroft certainly seems to have eased the pressure-of-numbers that the original event had been beginning to feel.

This weekend, between the two locations, more than 600 people completed a free, timed 5km run in Worcester, with in excess of 60 volunteers giving up their time to ensure smoothness of operations. And those participation levels have been achieved or bettered each Saturday morning since the launch of the city-centre version of the event.

It pleases us greatly that there were plenty of people this week recorded as running Worcester Pitchcroft for the first time; 102 people to be precise. That’s 102 out of a total of 191 runners.

Now mix in again the opening statistic that, of the 89 runners who were taking part at the Pitchcroft for at least the second time, 69 achieved course PBs, and a cause-and-effect correlation can surely be linked to the high frequency of smiling (or are they grimacing?) faces at the finish line.

Jennifer Cashmore’s second successive appearance as first female to finish, and setting (again) the female course best time to boot, does not yet qualify as a trend - though it could become one next week …

And, maybe three data points for a trend are not enough, almost certainly not enough where the analysis is of a phenomenon with as many human and other variables as parkrun.

One such variable outside the organisers’ control, is what might be termed ‘sub-optimal interactions with members of the general public’ - otherwise referred to as… ‘we haven’t cheesed anybody off today have we?’

This was a major concern for the core team during the planning phase. There are many, equally important, non-running members of the public using Pitchcroft each and every Saturday morning - and it remains our priority to ensure we do not ‘cheese them off’ with our event.

Each morning, our wonderful Run Directors remind participants that “we do not have exclusive access to the park” which, to the credit of the parkrun community, is always received by smiling appreciative runners who are more than willing to slightly adapt their course to ensure ‘cheesing off’ is kept to a minimum.
Thank you so much to every runner who has done this… and additional points go to those who throw a cheery “good morning” to other park users too. It really helps everybody out.

Dog in the manger

Excluding the off-the-leash Jack Russell which forced a number runners to pull off impressive evasive maneuvers during the first 10 yards of last Saturday’s event, happily, negative occurrences involving non-parkrunners so far appear to be few.

So, that instance apart, the aim of establishing the reputation of being a good neighbour seems to have started on the right foot for Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun.

Even that bloke on the bike each week, careering through the field against the flow of runners wearing a high vis bib, shouting out “Runners keep to your right”, even adds “Please” and the occasional “Thank you”. [Does anybody know who the heck he is? Answers on a postcard …]

Back to the stats

Chinese revolutionary leader Zhou Enlai, when asked in 1972 about the impact of the 1789 French Revolution, reputedly responded that it was ‘too early to say’.

This story is in reality complete bunkum. Confused by the translation, Zhou had mistakenly thought that he was being asked about the May 1968 civil unrest that had swept across France. The tale though, is used to emphasise the need for organisations to look far beyond the short-term. And parkrun as a now global organisation, though some said it would never last, has been now growing for more than twelve years.

Four weeks in, what is the impact of Pitchcroft parkrun? Statistically - not to mention historically and socially - it is ‘too early to say’. But we are certainly having a lot of fun.


Known Unknowns & Unknown Unknowns


All the runners just startingIt’s either parkrun first-timers or parkrun tourists who tend to be the early-birds at these community events.

At Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun’s third edition, by 8.20am only the volunteers were in evidence, basking as they were in another course set-up completed efficiently, in probably record time, albeit beginning at 7.30am.

The first participant to show was indeed a parkrun first-timer - but a first-timer without her barcode.

Known Unknown

Which is such a shame for Hannah (as she is named), as for her first-ever parkrun, Hannah will always be ‘Unknown’, but in this case, to steal from the global lexicon that is Donald Rumsfeld, a ‘Known Unknown’.

And Hannah "only lives five minutes away, around the corner" from the Pitchcroft parkrun start.

As such an early arrival, she could have nipped home and printed off the barcode.

That is, if she owned a printer.

In the end, Hannah wrote her finish position on her hand in biro, and can enjoy identifying her time and performance as she scans through the online result table.

parkrun ‘Regionnaire’

Close behind Hannah arriving was Lesley Pymm, a parkrun tourist, wearing the green technical tee-shirt denoting 250-plus parkruns completed.

Return train-ticket in her rucksack, Lesley had travelled to Worcester to cross off another new event, thus completing her West Midlands parkrun set.

This, it turns out, makes her a ‘parkrun regionnaire’, which is someone who has completed all the parkruns in a region.

And there are, remarkably, 38 parkruns presently operating in the West Midlands region, something that makes becoming and remaining a ‘parkrun regionnaire’ not a pursuit for those without a steely determination.

(Photo credit for the above goes to Simon Fall-Taylor from FT Images - One of the many helpful volunteers / runners here at Pitchcroft.)

Known Known

In due time, volunteers, friends and family supporting today’s 219 parkrunners rolled up - and mostly on time, as people become familiar with the location and the urban logistics.

In sunshine and a stiff breeze, the course record was re-set by the Known Known (yes, back to that) who is Ian Radford, a local runner of some repute, not least for his now-overcome affection for nicotine.

His 2017 London Marathon time of 2-40-56 is not to be puffed at.

And the number of shouts from fellow parkrunners of "C’mon Radders", as he hairpinned back down the course with a commanding gap on those behind him, attest to his being, locally, a Known Known.

Anonymity: the Opposite of Community

But, of course, parkrun isn’t a race, or even a run: it’s a community event, within which there’s a place for absolutely everyone - be it as a runner, volunteer or supporter - to play a part.

The opposite of ‘community’ is, possibly, ‘anonymity’.

Happily, just 16 ‘Unknowns’ appear on this week’s results table, which is quite a healthily low percentage.

Indeed, among those 16 Unknowns, some are Known Unknowns (yes, back to that again), and some of the Unknown Unknowns will regrettably be down to occasional technical glitches with the scanners (which in good weather conditions, like today’s, seem to be less prevalent).

Freewheelin’ Democracy/Zerocracy

But there are some participants who simply seem to prefer Unknown Unknown status.

And in the freewheelin’ democracy/zerocracy that is parkrun, there is no compulsion on anyone to submit their barcode or even register online.

But, whilst parkrun is an organised, free, weekly, timed 5km run, open to anybody and everybody, the individual and collective benefit is maximised by having as few Unknown Unknowns as possible.

And in a freewheelin’, zerocratic and democratic way, all of the above amounts to an appeal to people to register with parkrun, if you haven’t done so already, and then remember to bring along your barcode …

A big thank you to Dai Morris (a member of the core volunteer team) for writing this report too.

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