Digested read: Christmas Day means Happy Extra parkrun Day! More options than ever, but Concord parkrun it was, and all the threes for me. Not just three hos, but three 3s – I finished in position 333, which pleases me. Yay!
It may well be that all I want for Christmas is EU, but as that isn’t available the best gift ever for Christmas is an extra parkrun just for Christmas Day. I can hardly remember a time when it wasn’t a thing. What’s more it’s getting increasingly more ginormous. Some have even worked out that the most valued present ever is a free pass out to take part in this 5k frolic on Christmas Day, or even a promise to accompany a parkrunner en mass to the same. Look:
Those of us without families around them can head off with abandon, legitimately wear fancy dress, just because, and see all their favourite people in the running world at one fell swoop. Yay! What’s not to like? There were increased options available near to me this year, and I cannot tell a lie, I did flirt with the idea of breaking away to Bakewell or even Poolsbrook this year, some of my parkrunners did do this – the adventurous types, and/or the ones who live nearer to them anyway … still reet nice out everywhere though, don’t you agree, and more Santa hats than you could shake a stick at:
but in the end, Christmas at Concord prevails. It’s sort of become part of my own yuletide traditions, such as they are. It’s delivered before, why not? Plus they set out a suitably enticing Christmas invite, always a boon, rude not to:
What’s more, I’m sure I saw a post somewhere from a runner intending to go there asking ‘would it be alright to give out mince pies/ chocolates to other runners after the run?’ I’m all for adherence to basic manners, but surely a no-brainer for anyone. Heavens, even when post Christmas (yep, I can time travel when it suits me) a young athlete Alex got the second fastest parkrun time EVER, his picture on the parkrun UK Facebook page was captioned above with the – no doubt accurate – observation ‘Alex was clearly in a rush to get to the cafe! 😂☕️’
Kudos to him, the post added:
🚨 Since the very first event in 2004, so far there have been 40,605,326 completed parkruns…
Today (29 Dec 2018) Alex Yee ran the second fastest EVER!
Alex ran a time of 13:57 at Dulwich parkrun in London 🔥
And we may infer, that also, pleasingly, he was not in too much of a rush to remember his barcode. Respect. Athletics weekly focused on other aspects of his run achievement.
Astonishingly, we, the good parkrunners of Sheffield weren’t the only people to congregate at our nearest available parkrun, other parkrunners across the land had the same idea. Stats geek alert (courtesy of parkstats.wangy.co.uk)
A remarkable 67,744 people started their Christmas Day with a U.K. parkrun, over 50% of the previous Saturday’s attendance. Scotland is the most enthusiastic Christmas parkrunning region (64% of previous Saturday), and Wales the least (36%).
For the first time ever two-thousand was reached by a U.K. event, with Bushy Park registering 2,011 parkrunners to smash its own 10th anniversary record (1,705). Also among the massive 30 new records were Norwich (1,104) going above a thousand for its first time and Forest Rec (738) seeing four times as many parkrunners as the previous week.
The total attendance on Christmas Day was 67,744 at 231 events.
You know what, you should totally go play with that website link for parkstats, through some sort of number and web-based sorcery you can click on the various icons and find out even more cool stuff, hard as that is to imagine. This means, that whilst we may all like to think we are unique and who knows, even ‘special’ in our own ways, those who ran on Christmas Day are more accurately described as one in 67,744, but that’s OK. Great club to be a part of.
Bushy parkrun cracked the two grand turnout point though, wow. I like to think this is all down to my mum rocking up on the day, she always pulls a crowd. She had a queue of well wishers apparently. Quality not quantity you may say, and I agree, but check out the quality of the fancy dress rocked at Bushy and you can see indeed why it’s become a place of parkrun pilgrimage. Not going to lie though, I still find dolls make me shudder, even so, memorable. Quantity wise, check out the video of the start and beyond for Bushy parkrun Christmas Day, epic. Thanks Keith Riding. There is a Bushy parkrun Christmas Day run report too, even a podcast for goodness sake. Ho ho ho indeed. All such revels thanks to our very own Paul Santa-Hewitt. Hurrah!
Still, enough of other parkrun shenanigans, glorious as they are, let’s get back to Concord parkrun in all it’s festive cheer. You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever done the course blah de blah for Concord, so for you as would like to know, their parkrun page describes the Concord parkrun Course thus:
The course consists of two counter-clockwise laps, all on asphalt paths suitable for mobility aids including wheelchairs. The course starts with a flat of 500m then a slight downhill of 500m levelling out at the far end of the course. Passing through a gate and returning with a slight uphill of 400m before levelling out to complete the lap. On the second lap the finish is 400m before the start line, ensuring a total of 5km.
and it looks like this:
Not really the point though. Good to know perhaps, but for festive fun, what you need to know is that there is a warm welcome, a cheery vibe and lots and lots of Santa hats – plus at least one pleasingly traditional Bah Humbug offering, albeit on this occasion its wearer inadvertently almost cracked a completely atypical smile, which was somewhat at odds with his choice of festive dress. Don’t judge him for this though, it is totally out of character, and I’d put good money on the fact he’s been grumpy and kicking himself about that infuriating loss of control ever since, and this moodiness will prevail well into 2019 – all being well of course.
First things first though. Woke up and remembered it was Extra parkrun Day. Yay! Did some under duvet texting of friends to find out which of them had already had their Christmas Day meltdown. A fair few had, not sure if they were getting it out of the way early or just practising for even greater showdowns later on. Both are fairly traditional ways to spend the day. This makes Christmas parkrun even more essential, where else can people run down their rage and release suppressed seasonal tension and be set up pumped full of feel good endorphins as a reboot to face the challenges of the day to come? Precisely.
I have two American guests staying, quite reasonably (in my world) their stay has been conditional on them embracing parkrun, which to be fair they have, wholeheartedly. Even making the Graves junior parkrun report and succesfully ingratiating themselves into the one for Graves parkrun report for the last one of the year too (thanks Laura! 🙂 ) quite the grand finale to their parkrun year.
Ask and you shall receive really does seem to work sometimes. That’s why some children are made to visit scary Substitute Santas or write letters each year. No really. How else is he to know what’s needed. So it was we three donned our home knitted (not by us) Santa hats and fancy dress offerings and piled into the car on a gorgeous morning to head to Concord. As is traditional, we were ridiculously early. I always fear being late, getting lost and having nowhere to park, set against these angst-filled thoughts, was the angst of needing a precautionary pee on Christmas day when facilities are shut and when the venue lacks suitable cover. Thankfully we were OK on that front, which was unusual for me, but quite marvellous. Honestly, this was the Christmas that just kept on giving! Also, I did get one accidental shot that at least is proof they were there, even if not wishing to be in a photograph with me, which is fair enough, now I’ve seen how that hat looks…
Oh, and I forgot to say, the elf came too, but no barcode, and we all know the rule. No printed barcode, no result, no exceptions, and as not even registered, can’t really kick off about that one. I wasn’t sure if he’d still be here at Christmas, expected him to head off back with Santa, but it seems he decided to stay as Sheffield is so much better than the North Pole, well it would be wouldn’t it?
The only real problem I had, was too much choice of car parking spaces. I find not only does lack of choice terrify me in a car park – don’t like pressure of reverse parking into only available space whilst a queue of other wannabe parkers eye me with disdain – but also too much choice paralyses me. Should I go up to the upper car park, is that against the rules or savvy parking to be near the start? Which space will offer best view, smoothest get away, closest proximity to parkrunning buddies yet to arrive? It’s a nightmare isn’t it! Isn’t it? Oh, just me then… In the end, I threw caution to the wind and parked in pretty much the nearest one, and we gazed out at the view, such as it was, waiting for others to arrive as the sun rose ever higher above us bringing the gift of a gorgeous day.
My American visitors have many attributes, but bringing a camera along to parkrun events is not one of them, and I didn’t either on this occasion, so there aren’t many pictures of today, others than those I have sourced through other informal channels* or by photo bombing other people’s photos, intentionally or otherwise. I like this one though a lot, an infamous Sheffield parkrunning family choosing to celebrate Christmas Day in the car park of Concord Sports Centre, rather than miss a parkrun. Quite right too! I’ve not seen them since, they are probably still there, hanging on for a New Year’s Day Double. I wonder if someone should let them know Concord aren’t hosting one…
We emerged from the car, donned our fancy dress, and excitedly watched other festively suited parkrunners appear from all directions. It wasn’t even cold, not really, we made our way to the assembly point, and kept an eye out for familiar faces. There were many. Some sharing Christmas horror stories of nights passed entirely devoid of sleep but all delighted, or at very least relieved to have made it. If you can just get to parkrun, the rest of the day will be the better for it.
Selfie Queen panicked me for a bit by not arriving ’til the very last minute, but mercifully we did achieve a selfie before she disappeared off in a spin of Christmas busy-ness at the end. Look, here I am, with Geronimo too, she’s not run out with me in ages. I think the hat suits her rather well too. Alas, my Santa bobble hat does me no favours at all, well, at least I hope it does me no favours, otherwise I’ll have to accept I really do look like that, heaven portend I’ve actually been going out in public up to this point blissfully unawares, with or without festive headgear. I shudder at the very thought.
We all gathered dutifully for the run briefing. There was the usual welcomes, applauding of volunteers etc, but to be honest, what struck me most was the hue and cry of excited dogs plunging around barking like hell hounds about to be unleashed to run down their quarry to the ends of the earth. Some might find this unsettling, but I found it hilarious. Their enthusiasm was boundless, and in many respects but an outward manifestation of the building excitement many of we humans held hidden within. I so wished I’d had my camera with me. Surely that wasn’t Lily the Wonder Dog catapulting about on the end of a leash with an elfin friend somewhat helplessly hanging on to the other end? Love fancy dress parkruns. No photo of her on the day – serious omission, but here she in action at Graves for the final barkrun of the year and her 250th I think. Impressive eh?
Eventually, the cry went up
unleash the hounds for ‘awf’ and awf we went. It was most jolly. Not a speedy start, with so many of us on course and novel fancy dress to negotiate, but all extremely good natured. Plus, I was extra delighted to see some yuletide first timers come from Hallam, hurrah! Somehow we lured her to the Trust 10 Tinsel run and now she’s spontaneously come along to this too – there’ll be no stopping this force of nature in 2019, this makes me exceedingly happy. I can’t lie though, I do have massive donkey onesie envy. Not often you see an outfit like that which is comfy and versatile enough to don on any occasion – note to self, check out eBay for adult size donkey onesies come the new year… Plus, they aid speed, they must do, as this one got a mahoosive pb out on the course today (well, thought so at the time, which amounts to the same thing). Bravo! Shooting ahead under the guardianship of a suitably speedy adult. Impressive. I think they are in possession of a post parkrun mince pie there, rather than pre-run carbing up, but clearly both are sensible options. That wasn’t just a mince pie by the way, it was a home made, post parkrun most excellent mince pie.
The romp round was lovely. Friendly people – lovely punning from my light-headed friend with fairy lights in her hair, and Christmas greetings from parkrunners cruising past me – which was basically the entire field. I must have started further forward than I meant to. Cheery marshals, suitably attired in Elfin outfits amongst others clapped and directionally pointed with considerable aplomb – methinks many of them must have done this before.
It’s a really good route, I really should come and do it not on Christmas day sometime. There were some motivational phrases chalked on the path from previous runs. It had more uphill than I
choose to remember. Those uphill flat sections do take their toll. It’s a jolly good thing you can run/walk/jog parkrun and demand respect for participating in parkrun in your own way, as my running parkruns are getting ever slower. There was someone walking parkrun in reverse at Concord on Christmas Day, that could be me soon, running has definitely gone into reverse. I’m hoping next year I’ll be back on it, and doing more than going through the motions, still lapping those on the couch though, and it was a lovely day for it…
Being slow is not all bad though. Apart from getting my monies worth by being out on the course longer, I got to really appreciate the extent of the fancy dress offerings, I think people are upping their games as the years go by, and, as faster runners pelted home I got in some extra mutual cheering and high fives as we passed each other with me still heading out for lap too. Love parkrunners, they are all awesome and each and every one of us is practically perfect in every way, so that’s good.
The views around the park are fun, I find it a bit of a strange looping the loop course, so have never quite fathomed quite where I am at any point, but lots of green and marshals to cheer you round just when you most need them. Christmas marshals the land over are known for being especially awesome. Here are some I came across earlier, whilst trawling for photos:
HERE ONE DAY THERE MAY BE A PHOTO, AWAITING PERMISSION TO USE
See, practically perfect in every way. I was going to say the slightly manic look is optional for hi-vis participants, but it isn’t really, not when you are spreading the parkrun love.
I might not have taken photos out and about, but others did, well, I say others in general, and I’m sure they did, but I remain loyal to smiley selfie queen on such occasions for furnishing the pictorial accompaniment to my blog post offering. It was fab out there I tell you! Fun for all the family.
Finally, I was homeward bound, and pulled out my sprint finish (ahem) to race through the finish tunnel. I was pleased with my 333 finish token, not pleased enough to keep it, that would be rude, but just pleased with the pattern of the numbering, if not the speed of the parkrunning. I didn’t manage to secure a mince pie or chocolate, though my American friends did. One was lovingly carrying a home made mince pie in cupped hands as this is a novelty to her, and to be treasured. I was impressed at how game she was to be fair, as their only previous encounter with a mince pie was a freebie whilst decorating Magic Magid’s Christmas tree (another story and a lot of fun, we can’t take credit for all of it, but we player our part) but that resulted in contorted faces and spluttered out pastry and mince meat. This mince pie looked a classier offering altogether, and worth giving a tasting another shot. I can in fact report that it was very nice indeed, properly made and served warm with brandy butter a much better ambassador for the mince pie tradition. Phew. Thank you master pastry and mince pie maker. That was how it should be done.
We lingered to cheer the final finisher home and thank the hi-viz heroes for turning out on Christmas Day to facilitate such parkrun fun and shenanigans. Looking around, the place was suddenly deserted. parkrunners scattered to the four winds, all set up to plunge in to whatever
misadventures might lie ahead.
Ho ho ho, etc.
Thanks parkrunners and parkfunners everywhere. It’s been grand. Hope it was with you too. Wherever in the world you found yourself.
And then, if that wasn’t all fun-filled and indulgent enough, there’s still the extra, extra parkrun day to come on New Year’s Day. That’s next year though. A whole long year away. Who will be lucky enough to do the Nordish Noir Denmark and Sweden NYDD turn I wonder? Not me alas, on my wish list for years to come though.
So happy parkrun Christmas y’all, yuletide felicitations or wondrous winterval, whatever greeting you will. Well done to those of you who now find another icon has appeared on their parkrun challenges chrome extension widget for the first time. It’s a thing of wonder is it not.
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*basically stolen from friends or other Facebook pages, well they are in the public domain… that’s OK isn’t it? Seriously though, any objections peep, let me know, the photos can be removed and we will still have our memories.