welcome to the newsletter
In this month’s newsletter, we give volunteering the Hamlet treatment (to volunteer or not to volunteer), look at a UK parkrun community uniting in grief and remembrance, and hear from US parkrunners.
At parkrun, we love our volunteers. They show up early, stay late, freeze their fingers, fear a malfunctioning timer, and whatever else comes their way. They are integral to our weekly runs, writing run reports, getting new runners connected to local events, and starting new events. Without volunteers, parkrun simply wouldn’t exist. So if you think you can just show up, run a 5k, go get a coffee, then go home and wait for your result, then you’d be 100% correct.
What each of us wants from parkrun is different from what others want and is frequently changing. If you look at my parkrun history, you’ll see someone who, at times, was chasing a new PR and wouldn’t rest till I got it. At other times, my running wasn’t going so well and I didn’t want to face the clock but still wanted to see parkrun friends, so I’d skip the run and take pictures or scan barcodes.
It is completely normal to ask parkrun to help us meet our individual needs at different times. Maybe there are times you want to run, and maybe there are times you want to lend a hand. Maybe you want to push yourself against the clock and that old guy who always seems to pip you at the post (how is he still so fast?!), or maybe you want to stay sweat-free but still need your weekly dose of parkrun. And maybe you never get the urge to volunteer. No problem! For me and for lots of parkrunners, it comes down to this: it’s called parkrun, not parkvolunteer. And the volunteers who do help we prefer to be just that: volunteers, rather than forced labor.
We need our helpers and couldn’t have a weekly event without them. And while I’ve gotten just as much from volunteering at parkrun as from running, I recognize that volunteering isn’t for everyone. So keep coming to your local parkrun and, to quote the kids, you do you. You want to run? Go for it! You want to help? Great! As long as you’re there, parkrun will be, too.
Julie from parkrun USA (and get in touch to tell me why you run, volunteer, or do both)
P.S. One way that everyone can help out without ever sacrificing a run: keep telling friends, neighbors, family, coworkers, running buddies, and complete strangers about parkrun. By being a parkrun advocate, you’ll help parkrun USA continue to grow.
Most readers probably fall into three categories when it comes to volunteering: “I’m not interested” (that’s cool; see above), “I LOVE volunteering!”, or “I want to help but have some reservations”. It’s you folks in the final camp that I want to talk to, so huddle up. I know what you’re thinking about volunteering, because I’ve thought it before, too. You think that the regular volunteers have it all figured out and they seem so dang happy that you might be stepping on their toes. You might also think that the equipment has a lot of buttons and something could go wrong.
Rest assured, the equipment isn’t so scary once you get your hands on it. IBT, or intimidation by timer, is a common but treatable condition. See your event director for the cure. And we have lots of patches in place to handle a missed barcode scan or an itchy timing trigger finger. As for those other volunteers, they may be wanting to run but feel they’d be letting the runners down if they didn’t help. (Event director’s note: You won’t! Go run!!) We’re always happy to have new helpers and another person to help us cheer the runners across the finish line. Now that those barriers are gone, when would you like to volunteer?
parkrun USA in numbers – September 2014
Number of runners - 263
Number of volunteers - 58
Number of first timers - 67
Number of PRs - 54
what in the parkrun world…?
This section of the newsletter features an introduction to one of the more than 400 parkruns around the world. This week, we look at Hull parkrun in Yorkshire, England.
Running in East Park in Kingston-upon-Hull (or just plain Hull to the Brits), this corner of Yorkshire has had 239 events with an average attendance of 249. Since April 3, 2010, they’ve had over 12,000 PRs and nearly 60,000 5k’s completed in 28,000 hours of running. Their course record-holders have set a high standard with the women’s record at 16:56, the men’s at 14:46, and the age graded percentage at an astounding 93.38%!
Hull’s run on September 27 with 779 runners was not only a record turnout for this event, it was also the highest up to that date at any event outside of the original parkrun at Bushy Park in London. While an event’s biggest turnout is usually due to a celebration – an anniversary, or perhaps a 100th event – it was mourning and remembrance that shattered Hull’s record last month. Teen parkrunner Jack Bullement called on his classmates and friends to join him at parkrun to mark the short life of his friend and fellow parkrunner Will Shaw.
The response in this community was overwhelming. Hull recorded nearly 300 more runners than their previous highest turnout. With 72 registered in the Junior Women’s 11-14 age group and 54 in the Junior Men’s 11-14 age group – and likely many more unregistered runners in this age group – Will was remembered with a pre-run release of red balloons before Jack and his classmates joined the rest of the field for the run.
parkrun 10th anniversary tee on sale
To celebrate 10 years of parkrun, a limited edition commemorative tee-shirt is on sale through our online store. Available in both adult and junior sizes, all profits go back into parkrun to support our growth. Wear one and be parkrun proud!
Clermont Waterfront parkrun
November 27 – Thanksgiving Day (Thursday) parkrun at 7:30AM
October 11 – Miles for Meals 8K & 5K (7:30 at Waterfront Park)
October 18 – Floridian 15K and 5K plus Tri’s (10:30 at Waterfront Park)
November 22 – Clermont Turkey Trot (8:00 at the Historic Village)
December 6 – Santa Fun Run Rotary 5K (8:30 at Waterfront Park)
Durham NC parkrun
A 5k race will be taking place in Southern Boundaries Park on October 18 at 9:00 with registration at 7:30. parkrun will continue as normal, but please be advised that parking may be reduced that morning.
Livonia is back to the fall/winter start time of 9:00 through April.
feedback from the field
Hi parkrun USA,
My first timed run was at Durham parkrun last August, and that’s when the running bug truly bit me. My YMCA running coach, Becky, had been trying to talk me into registering for a half-marathon and suggested I do parkrun to get some experience racing the clock. I was nervous but managed a PR. Becky was there and noted my time, which became the basis for my trainings. It was tough work, but I realized that I LOVED racing and running, and parkrun was the start. Since that first parkrun, I have completed eight more parkruns, a four-mile race, two 8k’s, three 10k’s, two ten-mile races, and six half-marathons. Within the next six weeks, I have another half-marathon and my first full marathon. I am extremely proud of all I’ve done and am excited to see what I can do with my running next. What a difference a year makes!
Matthew “MLT” Thompson
A great way to start off a Saturday! –Kathleen Hall, on Livonia’s Facebook page
Hi parkrun USA,
Thank you for welcoming me. I would have joined you all for breakfast if I hadn’t already made plans. Next time! Great job organizing parkrun Durham NC.
Hi parkrun USA,
You were so kind to respond to help me find my way to my first parkrun in Clermont, FL. It was so great and everyone was so friendly. I am very pleased with my results and am looking forward to the next one which will be in December for me when I am in Florida longer.
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: Gordon Keeler
Club: Carolina Godiva Track Club
Home parkrun: Durham NC
Number of runs: 27
Favourite volunteer role: Timer
What do you do at parkruns: Most days I show up early to mark the turns on the course with chalk. It gives me a chance to warm up my old bones and check the course for hazards (flooding, sand dunes, deer crossings, municipal workers with power tools, ice or snow). Then there is the pre-run meet and greet and we're off. During the run I'm thinking one of three things:
1.) "You're anaerobic...slow down or blow up?"
2.) "You're falling behind...why do my legs feel like lead?"
3.) "Yes! Pick it up and you can still get a PB...No chance to get a PB".
How has parkrun changed your running: In 2013, I had to stop running for 8 months because of plantar fasciitis. That was my first injury that completely stopped my running for an extended period. Although I picked up inline skating as an alternative, it couldn't replace the workout and camaraderie of running with my club friends. Once recovered, I was not making any progress with my running fitness. Then I came to my first parkrun and ran a humbling 5k in 29:38. I quickly became motivated as I watched my PB fall. I had reached a plateau of 24-25 minutes when the cooler fall temperatures help me get a new PB of 23:56.
What do you like about parkrun: I love the friendliness and generosity of the people who come to parkrun. It all starts with the hosts (Julie and Martin), who make everyone feel welcome. I've always tried to be involved with running events that are open to all in the community (and free), and parkrun is a great model to meet that goal. I look forward to the day that parkrun explodes across the US.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: The funniest parkrun was last winter when we had about 6 inches of snow covered by an inch of ice. Everyone spent the whole run just trying to stay vertical. It was like running 5k on a short-track ice skating rink. The most memorable parkrun moment was during the huge uphill finish sprint when I realized that I was never going to be able to beat my teenage son again. Proud to see him grow into a runner.