welcome to the newsletter
In this month’s newsletter, we start with parkrun tourist and world’s most experienced parkrunner Darren Wood in a feature-length ‘feedback from the field’, and we finish with one of the world’s newest parkrunners, Mary Cheh.
Below is Darren Wood’s account of his recent parkrun tourism trip to Durham, NC. Darren has completed 546 runs worldwide, with over 500 of those achieved between Bushy Park (site of the first parkrun) and Frimley Lodge parkruns. Last Saturday, February 6, was Darren’s first time attending a parkrun USA event.
Dear parkrun USA,
Sent on a business trip at short notice, I recently found myself in Norcross near Atlanta, Georgia for 10 nights. There are not so many parkrun events in the USA, so what was I going to do on a Saturday morning? The two closest were Durham, NC and Clermont Waterfront, Florida. Either would mean a long drive or a short flight. A quick look at flights confirmed it was more than I wanted to spend, and my wife Becky would have been mad at me if I went that route.
Durham, NC looked to be the closest drive at 371 miles away. The hotel staff confirmed the drive would be around six hours. Having never driven in the USA, the journey from the airport to the hotel was scary enough. But to contemplate six hours in a car; that seemed crazy!
I decided to put a note on Facebook to get people’s thoughts on the matter. Some sensible people like Nick Pearson, parkrun CEO, suggested that it wasn’t safe to drive for that long, and perhaps I should give it a miss. However, many of my friends thought it would be nuts not to do it. I also messaged some local running clubs to see if anyone would like to join me to share the drive and see what parkrun is about. The only response was from Atlanta Track Club, who said if I didn’t go then I would be welcome to pay $10 and join their 5k event. I responded by sending them the parkrun link and invited them to take a look and see if starting their own parkrun would be of interest. (It seems that free events are a tough concept to grasp here, but I’m sure that it will catch on.)
Finally, I decided to give it a try. I booked a hotel in Durham and hit the road at 6:00pm on Friday. Just after midnight, I arrived in Durham after a long and tiring trip. With that, I set the alarm for 6:00am to allow plenty of time in the morning to get to the event.
Saturday arrived: it was parkrun day. I left the hotel at 7:00am to leave plenty of time for the 8:00am start. I had written down that it was in Southern Boundaries Park on Archdale Drive, but I had been driving up and down Archdale Drive for a while and could not find the park anywhere. I had a terrible feeling that I was going to miss it. How awful that would have been after driving all that way! I picked up the phone and frantically called Becky back at home in the UK. It appears that I’d written down the wrong address; it was actually on Third Fork Road. It is clearly stated on the home page with the correct address so how I’d missed that, I’ll never know.
With Becky’s directions, I arrived at 7:50 and was welcomed by volunteers Gerty and Audrey. Other than them, there were only a few people around. It was a beautiful crisp morning that reminded me of the early days at Bushy Park, when there were few signs that a 5k was about to happen. The start was marked in chalk on the ground. As 8:00am drew nearer, more people arrived. During the runners briefing, I was welcomed to the event. Many could not believe how many runs I’d done and were shocked to see a Tribesports 500 club T-shirt. Then, we were off. We ran along a lovely two-loop 'lollipop' course mainly on the pavement. The turnaround point was also marked in chalk. How simple is that?
After my run, I helped cheer in the other runners and chatted to a number of people. It was very clear how much parkrun is helping the local community and how grateful they are for the team of volunteers who put on the event every week. I was invited for coffee, and Pete kindly let me follow him to Foster’s Market (in case I got lost again).
It was really nice chatting to everyone over coffee. parkrunners are always so friendly, and it made the long drive well worth it. It turns out that I was not the only one who did long drives just for parkrun; Melinda mentioned over coffee that she and Julie had driven 4 hours up to Fletcher’s Cove parkrun a few weeks earlier for the inaugural event. Too soon, it was 10:00am and time for me to hit the road if I wanted to drive back in daylight.
Looking back now, I can only thank everyone who suggested that I should make the trip to Durham, NC parkrun and also to the volunteers. Without the volunteers, parkrun would not happen each week. It was lovely to meet everyone. I’d like to say a massive thank you to all of you for making me feel so welcome. This event just goes to show how simple parkrun can be and how it’s changing people’s lives. I would have only regretted it if I hadn’t made the trip. Weekends are just not the same without parkrun.
It looks like I could be back in the USA soon, so who knows which parkrun I will be at next? But until then, thank you for letting me join you at your parkrun.
Darren Wood (A490)
Julie from parkrun USA (get in touch)
parkrun USA in numbers – January 2016
A summary of the statistics from last month’s parkrun USA events:
Number of runners - 1091
Number of first timers - 364
Number of PRs - 151
Number of volunteers - 132
Other important numbers:
50 - number of events run at Crissy Field parkrun as of January 2, 2016. Congratulations, Crissy Field!
166 - Fletcher’s Cove highest attendance to date was their inaugural run on 1/9/2016
what in the parkrun world…?
Here, we feature one of the more than 650 parkruns around the world. This month, we head due south from London to sunny Sussex by the sea and the parkrun-crazed city of Brighton & Hove.
Located in Brighton (or Hove, actually), Brighton & Hove parkrun takes place in Hove Park, where you can find some very English things, including a bowling green and a miniature railway. Started on November 3, 2007, Brighton & Hove parkrun has completed 435 events thanks to 13,552 runners with an average attendance of 292.2 runners per week finishing at an average time of 26:19. The course is 2.5 laps of the paved loop that edges the perimeter of this long park. With the start of Bevendean Down parkrun this past Saturday, the total number of events in Brighton & Hove is now at four, which drew over 900 runners in total last week.
While not excessively hilly, this course will throw up some challenges, particularly for newer runners. But that hasn’t stopped some very impressive runners from achieving dazzlingly fast times there. Record holders include Caroline Hoyte, who’s held the women’s record of 16:43 since 2009; Andrew Baddeley with the men’s record of 14:28; and Karen Bowler with the age-graded record of 94%.
Sharp-eyed readers who regularly run at Clermont Waterfront parkrun will recognize Karen Bowler as one-half of the team (along with husband Tim Bowler) who started Florida’s parkrun. In fact, Brighton & Hove has the singular distinction of inspiring the start of not one but two events in the US. Thanks to the inspiration of wonderful Event Directors at Brighton & Hove parkrun, Richard Carter and John Doherty, both Clermont Waterfront and Durham, NC have been going strong for over 100 events. Once you’ve run with and been part of the volunteer team at Brighton & Hove, one comes to realize that a parkrun-less existence simply won’t do.
Crissy Field parkrun
Crissy Field celebrated its one-year anniversary run on January 23, 2016. Max Metcalfe, who is the event’s founding organizer, fittingly finished first. The first female finisher was Chloe Victoria May Ashcroft, who was also at our first event. The 31 finishers were treated to cake and an amazing rainbow that stretched across the San Francisco Bay from the Golden Gate to Tiburon. Many thanks to Max and all of the volunteers who made Crissy Field's first year of fitness and fellowship a success.
As reported in last month’s newsletter, on January 9, 2016 Paul Martelletti set a parkrun USA and a Crissy Field parkrun course record of 14:59. But did you know that Paul is also the Guinness World Record holder for the fastest marathon in costume (Spiderman) at 2:29:57?
Durham, NC parkrun
February 27, 2016 – Durham, NC parkrun will cohost a 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. We look forward to celebrating Black History Month and welcoming lots of runners from both clubs!
Congratulations to Jack Vail on reaching his 50th event, and on being our first under-19 to accomplish this feat. Well done, Jack!
feedback from the field
Hi parkrun USA,
I just to say thanks to everyone at parkrun for making the Brits feel welcome. Certainly, last week it felt like home with the bitter cold and strong wind!! Today was much nicer (I got my all-time, all-countries PR!) and my husband got over 80% age-graded. Everyone was very friendly and encouraging, and I love the course. Back to the mud and hill of our home course soon.
Sandy and Paul Sideway, parkrun tourists at Clermont Waterfront
Hi parkrun USA,
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of the people at Clermont. I ran your course in May and I would echo the comments made by many of your previous visitors: a lovely venue and lovely people!
All the best,
Slow (and getting slower) Steve Price of Shropshire Shufflers, parkrun tourist at Crissy Field
Hi parkrun USA,
A great event run by great people. Thanks for letting my family participate in your 50th run.
Peter Dean, parkrun tourist at Crissy Field
Hi parkrun USA,
Thank you for a FAB morning. What a lovely friendly bunch of people. I can't wait to come back next month.
Cathryn Ramsden, parkrun tourist at Crissy Field
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: Mary Cheh
Home parkrun: Fletcher's Cove, Washington DC
Occupation: Law Professor, DC Council Member
Number of runs: 3
Favourite volunteer role: I look forward to volunteering with after-run snacks.
What do you do at parkruns: Run, of course, and mingle with others.
How has parkrun changed your running: It has rekindled my running, which was slipping away as I was doing more biking.
What do you like about parkrun: It's healthy, fun, and provides a structured run on a regular schedule. And, actually, I just like watching neighbors getting out to enjoy being fit.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: Being struck by the beauty of the run along the canal, with mist rising from the water, and feeling very happy.