Running 5k the Parkrun way

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Five kilometres / 5,000 meters / 3.1 miles, however you look at it this distance will now forever be associated with parkrun .

Fareham’s Cams Hall estate had a cold and crisp feeling to it but when combined with the Autumn sunshine and the waters edge track, it makes for a great location.

With 342 people eagerly awaiting the standard nine a.m. start I observed the multi-coloured assembly of people in their running/walking attire. I pondered what do these weekly events mean to people.

To Mo Farah it’s a 13 minute romp, however, with the average Fareham parkrun time being 30.20 this shows what an all inclusive fitness phenomenon parkrun has become and ………… it’s free !!

Now, it’s worth saying at this point that I’ve only done 16 parkruns, however, I’ve been running for thirty years and I can honestly say the fact that no one has a race number pinned to their chest “really” does make a huge difference. Taking away the pressurised feel of a race means you can run/walk or jog at its purest form. You are running for you, whatever your goals are.

An unbelievable 1,803,378 people had participated in parkrun ahead of this Saturday, that’s in the UK – not Fareham !! 🙂

 

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What also makes parkrun unique is the army of volunteers and the core teams within this. Setting up, marshalling, token sorting, result publishing and packing up … it all takes time, effort and dedication. These volunteers are the ultimate reason for parkruns success.

I bumped into numerous local club runners, some who I see on the trails and some who I haven’t seen for ages. There were people from work and complete family groups who’s kids I’d never met before.

The course quickly skirts Fareham creek and runs parallel with the golf course. Another enjoyable feature is that it’s an out and back route so you get the chance to say hello or well done to potentially every single person taking part !! The track is fairly narrow so be warned as the fast boys come back towards you at quite a rate 🙂

After the initial rush of blood I found my pace and eased off slightly. Three miles need pacing just the same as a marathon !! Set off too fast and you’ll regret it. As we passed the boats bobbing up and down in the creek my first mile was 7.55 and I had Martin and Debbie that I know as markers ahead.

The pace meant my lungs were certainly being worked harder than normal and as I passed Alison marshalling at half way I knew I’d need to maintain this effort. The motivation of numerous shout outs, given and received, can’t be underestimated and even though the second mile dipped a little I geared myself up for the final push. In the end I was just outside my pace but regardless of this I had a big smile on my face.

I generally run my marathons at a 9/10/11 minute pace so a time of 25.06 was quite pleasing (8 minute miles) and so was my 85th position. Talking with Dave and Amy that I know, below, we all agreed Fareham is a great location and the 9 a.m. start sets you up for a productive day.

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So, in summary, to all my running readers we know parkrun is a great community event and its worth making time to pop along more often, I know I will.

Secondly, to the wider blogging community if you’ve heard about parkrun but haven’t ventured along ….. as a famous clothes manufacturer says #justdoit !! The benefits aren’t just physical, there’s a whole new community waiting to welcome you.

Find a parkrun near you with this map UK events

Thanks for reading

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE talks Parkrun

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Solent University’s huge lecture theatre screen gave the 100 + guests attending an evening with Mr Parkrun himself, Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE the opportunity to watch and hear from a man who has realised his running vision. Hosting the evening was Mathew Fleet (who’d invited me) a lecturer at Solent, a fellow Fareham Crusader and an avid parkrun enthusiast.

Mathew underlined just how parkrun Southsea has had a huge positive effect on his family with photos of him running with his daughters and his brother, a nice personal touch when introducing Paul. The photo below is of our host, our speaker and the funky Solent University.

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The running community were out in force this evening, bloggers, parkrun directors, junior parkrun directors, running event organisers, dedicated parkrun volunteers and park runners. I recognised a good ten people from our local area.

What I liked most about the evening was that Paul Sinton-Hewitt (lets go with PSH) charted the emergence of parkrun right up to its current position of potential world domination with frequent references to the many contributors that make up the slices of  a parkrun pie.

Naturally a large slice is PSH himself, he currently holds the title of Founder which seems to suits him very well in that he can spend time talking to audiences such as ours, while still having an influence on the wider activities of this ever expanding phenomenon.

The parkrun pie first came out of the oven on October 2nd 2004 with 13 runners attending the Bushy Park time trial. This free, timed, 5K run with results and coffee to follow was pretty much the same as it is today. It expanded through the London suburbs, spread to Leeds via Marathon Talks Tom Williams, through the UK and around the world.

The ingredients for the parkrun pie haven’t really changed from the list PSH cooked up in 2014. Community running for absolutely anyone in the community, no charges and an open invite to return whenever it suits you.

From listening to PSH he talked with both affection and pride regarding probably the biggest slice of the parkrun pie, the volunteers. After all the runs quite simply wouldn’t function without these guys. When he said parkruns were free in every sense of the word ultimately I guess volunteers are free to come and go but they appear to have built up their own separate community. Paul used the phrase “giving something back” which sums up the volunteers contribution.

He mentioned the fact that naturally runners volunteered but many of the people who contribute never run themselves.

With PSH developing the registration system from his IT background then this really did enable him to keep everything at the grass roots level. Paul also acknowledged that the post run coffee and conversations were as much a part of the volunteering as the encouragement.

I’ve only volunteered once but I must admit but they certainly were “giving” me all I needed.

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Finally the runners, walkers and joggers slice of the pie comes in all sorts of flavours . PSH noted the positives, female participation is higher in parkruns than club races, families run together, Dads cheer on their wives and kids, both parents look on with pride at the junior parkruns, buggy and dog runners are welcome, disabled runners are catered for and the list goes on and on.

The nature of a weekly event means progress can be measured from walking to jogging to running. Whether this translates into entering races is more of an invitation than an expected consequence.

Most importantly a parkrun is just that, a run, through pleasant surroundings and not a race. PSH clearly felt this was a major key to its success.

With parkruns in prisons, parkruns in less advantaged areas and doctors being urged to prescribe the running social engagement of parkruns rather than pills the future looks bright.

So in summary his audience listened with 100% attention and followed it up with a variety of interesting questions. I intend to post this blog to as many non running social media outlets as running ones because parkrun has so much to offer the people that haven’t discovered it. Thanks for reading.

ALL

Generally speaking pies are frowned upon were healthy living is concerned but the parkrun pie has changed lives, probably extended lives and developed a community that’s free to access at 9am every Saturday.

An inspiring evening from an inspiring man.

PSH …….Mr Parkrun, thank you.

 

 

Parkruns : Something for everyone

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As I left Fareham parkrun the one thought that struck me was just how many people it had catered for. In essence a parkrun is a timed 5K, marshalled and organised by volunteers and open to anyone that has registered. We all had our barcodes and we’d all be running but there can be so many motivators for attending.

I thought I’d share my observations on just how well parkrun serves it’s loyal members, without necessarily naming all the people involved !!

Naturally this applies up and down the country and for that matter, across the world.

  1. Family runners. These are such positive scenes with mums & dads encouraging their kids to run. It’s a shared interest, it’s healthy and it’s a great confidence builder.
  2. The first timers. An officially organised race can often be a step too far for people who are working through their walk/jog/run phases. Parkrun is the perfect starting point to chart distances walked, jogged and run. It also offers countless encouraging voices.
  3. The returning from injury runners. Testing your progress outside of a more pressurised race environment can be invaluable.
  4. The returning to fitness runners. Not having run for a while doesn’t always follow on from an injury. Discovering your lost “mojo” in a friendly 5K can make all the difference.
  5. Speed, whether it’s “out and out running speed”, running to complement another sport or like me, it’s good to throw in some lung busting as an alternative to my long steady runs and,
  6. My final observation was simply the communal parkrun spirit that the returning weekly parkrunners share. I don’t parkrun that often as marathons are my distance but “I’ll be back”.

The speed of the results and the fantastic free photos, that are invariably available too, make the experience one to repeat.

Thanks very much to Fareham parkrun, Julie Salt and her team. I enjoyed my run, I loved my photo and I’ll also be back to volunteer at some stage.

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#flying #fareham 🙂