welcome to the newsletter
In this month’s newsletter, we analyze the data, refuse to stop setting records, and journey to parkrun Singapore’s East Coast Park event.
Run Directors, or RD, are a somewhat rare species in the wider parkrun world. With just one of us to 30, 40, or even close to 200 runners, there obviously aren’t as many of us around, which is likely for the best since we would all probably stress each other out. Furthermore, we tend to view events very differently when directing rather than running.
Using very specialized and technical equipment that shall remain nameless (because it doesn’t actually exist), we were able to tap into the brains of a random runner and a random RD just this last Saturday. The resulting data have been analyzed, coded, triangulated, siphoned, battered, fried, manipulated, then regurgitated below, roughly in the chronological order of any given parkrun event to simulate the thought process of a runner and a RD.
Runner: Maybe I’ll go to parkrun in the morning. Where’s that barcode?
RD: What if nobody comes to parkrun tomorrow? What if a lot of people come to parkrun tomorrow? Which is worse? I have no idea. I need to sleep but if I try, I know I’ll just have nightmares about missing tokens and broken stopwatches . Did I charge the scanner?
Saturday’s pre-run brief
Runner: I’m ready to go! Okay, I’ll be patient and listen to the pre-run brief, even though I know all of this. Be sure to laugh politely at the bad jokes, even though it’s cold and I need to move.
RD: What did I forget? I know I forgot someone’s 50th event, or maybe it was a birthday? Say ‘barcodes’ really loud so they won’t forget their own or walk off with the finish tokens at the end. Say it again. And again. You know what? They are loving my jokes today! Maybe just a couple more…
10 seconds after ‘Go!’
Runner: I’m running!
RD: IS THE STOPWATCH WORKING PLEASE SAY IT’S WORKING DID IT START???!!!!!!!!?1!!? Oh, yeah. It’s fine.
During the run
Runner: This is soooooo tough and I really want to slow down but I know I can maintain my pace, even though I think my legs might fall off or my lungs might collapse. Why does that lady ALWAYS pass me right here? And why does it annoy me that her dog is a Yorkshire terrier and faster than me? Is this what death feels like?
RD: Is the watch still going? Look at the flowers and the trees. Those runners sure do look miserable.
The big finish
Runner: Wow! That was tough but I stuck with it. I even managed to pass that Yorkie, but I feel a little bad about sticking my tongue out at it. Shouldn’t I be able to breathe again now that I’ve stopped? Why can’t I breathe? Where can I go to bend over in misery until this death feeling passes? Who’s shoving their hand in my face?
RD: No, you can’t go dry heave when the volunteer is trying to give you a finish token. Get back here!
Runner: That was nice! A 5k under the belt, and now I’ll grab a coffee with everyone and get on with the rest of my day. It was nice to see the parkrun folks. Maybe I’ll volunteer next week.
RD: Where are the rest of the finish tokens? Do we have photographic evidence to show who finisher 27 was so we can track down the barcode? Why do we have more times on the watch than finishers? Thank goodness – that fabulous volunteer found 27. Okay, I found it, and it was in my pocket. Oops. I need coffee, then I’ll process these results. I’ll just stop the watch now because everyone’s finished. Uh oh. Is that another finisher?
At the café
Runner: I love parkrun.
RD: I love parkrun.
Download your parkrun thoughts after your next run, and get in touch!
Julie from parkrun USA (get in touch)
parkrun USA in numbers – February 2016
A summary of the statistics from last month’s parkrun USA events:
Number of runners - 1023
Number of first timers - 354
Number of PRs - 175
Number of volunteers - 137
Another record-breaking month in the USA! February saw the highest ever number of PRs (the previous record for one month was 162) and volunteers (the previous record was 133). Both were set in August 2015.
what in the parkrun world…?
Here, we feature one of the more than 650 parkruns around the world. This month, we turn up the heat and simmer at Singapore’s sole parkrun, East Coast Park parkrun. Set on a completely flat course, this out-and-back follows a picturesque trail along the Singapore Strait. Singapore started parkrunning on June 21, 2014.
This past Saturday, 77 runners crossed the line on the occasion of East Coast Park’s 88th event. A total of 1,271 runners have completed Singapore’s parkrun; their biggest ever attendance was 126, with an average attendance of 42.8 people per event. Due to the climate, this event starts at 7:30am in a seemingly vain attempt to beat the heat (see the picture below for further evidence of this). The post-run coffee routine is refreshingly familiar: the local Starbucks. Perhaps opt for a Frappuccino if you find yourself needing refreshment after such a sultry run.
East Coast Park has a sport for everyone, except winter sports enthusiasts. There’s beach volleyball, water sports, and cycling. Then, there are the beaches. Oh, the beaches! With hints of spring in the air for many of us, perhaps the promise of warmer days is enough for now. But when December rolls around again, it might be time to set your sights on a nice little 5k in Singapore. Just don’t forget your barcode!
Clermont Waterfront parkrun
On February 20, 2016, Clermont set a new attendance record at their 124th event when 193 runners crossed the finish line, up 24 finishers from their previous record of 169. Much of that boost came not from an influx of parkrun tourists but from right down the road in Eustis, Florida. Thanks to the students, parents, and teachers from Eustis Heights Elementary School for their enthusiasm and participation. We hope to see many of these young people reaching their 10th event by summer!
March 12, 2016 – Pig on the Pond Rib Run 5k will be using the course. parkrun will return on March 19.
Crissy Field parkrun
February was a busy month for Crissy Field. It featured sail boats, baby buggies, birthdays (see ‘feedback from the field’ below) and a little hometown party called Super Bowl 50. Event #54 had a bevy of sailboats almost obscuring the finish line view of Alcatraz. Thirteen first-timers along with the same number of regulars braved the football crowds on Super Bowl weekend for a sunny parkrun on the bay.
Durham, NC parkrun
On February 27, 2016, Durham, NC parkrun partnered for a very special event alongside local chapters of Black Men Run and Black Girls RUN!. Both groups were started to attract more African-American runners of all speeds and ages in order to promote health and combat chronic diseases, like heart disease and obesity, that disproportionately affect the African-American community.
The course was dotted with inspirational quotes from influential African-Americans, and the event was wrapped up with treats and lots of photos to mark the parkrun world’s first ever such event. We enjoyed celebrating Black History Month and welcoming lots of runners from both clubs, and we look forward to a long partnership with both organizations! They join a number of local running groups whose members come to parkrun.
Congratulations to Cameron Kelly on reaching his 10th event on February 20, 2016. Well done, Cameron! Now, go get that shirt and wear it with pride till it’s time to order your 50 shirt.
Congratulations also go to Gavin Finlay of Durham, NC for setting a new course record for the men on February 20, 2016. His 16:33 finish saw him squeeze past Fred Ward’s previous record by just two seconds.
feedback from the field
Hi parkrun USA,
Just wanted to say a massive thank you for the warm welcome today. It was lovely meeting you all.
Darren Wood, parkrun tourist at Durham, NC
(See last month’s newsletter for Darren’s account of his parkrun USA experience.)
Hi parkrun USA,
Looking forward to running a U.S. parkrun one day.
Bruce Fordyce, Country Manager South Africa
Hi parkrun USA,
Thank you, Dale, for a fantastic Crissy Field parkrun today. Everybody was so friendly and we got to eat amazing birthday cake. Hayley, my wife, also got to eat a very nice gluten-free donut from the coffee Hut. Thanks, all; we will be back sometime.
Robert Roche, parkrun tourist at Crissy Field
Hi parkrun USA,
I have to say thank you to everyone I met at Crissy Field parkrun this morning. You were all so friendly. You made my 50th birthday celebration parkrun really special. Good luck with your future parkrunning ambitions.
Kevin Jones, parkrun tourist at Crissy Field
Hi Durham, NC parkrun,
Thanks for organizing the run today, and especially with the food - it was great to see the big crowd!
Now you mentioned it was #137 at the pre-run brief, and said it's not a very interesting number. In fact in physics this is a VERY interesting number! One over this number is almost exactly the value of the so-called "fine structure constant", which despite its name is the number which sets the size of the electric force in nature.
If this number was ten times bigger, atoms and molecules would be ten times smaller, and everything about chemistry and the world around us would change. Actually it's more drastic than that - basically the universe as we know it wouldn't exist because you can't tinker with the size of the basic forces in nature without having it all fall apart - couldn't even make atoms heavier than hydrogen. A famous physicist, Arthur Eddington, became at one point convinced that this number had to be exactly 137, and was widely ridiculed when it was measured exactly and found to to not be an integer, but 137.05, and different depending on what energy you performed your experiment at (it's also called "running coupling constant").
But it lives on as 1/137 for most physicists, and as one of the most important numbers in understanding how the universe is put together!
Chris Gould, via email (after I mistook 137 as a less than thrilling number)
Drop us an email if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners.
parkrunner of the month
Name: Alexander Brauer
Home parkrun: Livonia
Occupation: High school student, junior, at Livonia Stevenson High School in Livonia, MI
Number of runs: 33
Favourite volunteer role: Marshaling or finish line
What do you do at parkruns: I like to socialize with the other runners or walkers before and after the run. I’ve met so many new people from other countries who come to Livonia just for the parkrun experience. I like to encourage the other parkrunners as they get around the course either for their first parkrun or as they improve the personal best times.
How has parkrun changed your running: parkrun has really helped me develop confidence in my running and for my racing career. I’ve learned to just relax, run, and have fun with it. parkrun has helped with my training as I know there will always be someone there on Saturday morning who wants to run hard and have some competitive fun. parkrun has really been a contribution for where I want to go with my running in high school and beyond.
What do you like about parkrun: I really like the atmosphere, the new friendships, and the interesting people I’ve met. Going for my post-run frozen coffee drink is also something I look forward to after my parkrun.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: My most memorable parkrun moment was when I finished in first position against a parkrunner from Ireland who was visiting the area. That morning the parkrun course was very muddy, sloppy, and presented real challenges. It was great fun slopping along.