Digested read: Extra extra parkrun day, went to Poolsbrook parkrun for parkfun two. The sun shone and all now right with the world. Hurrah!
Loads of us there, no really, absolutely loads! Thanks Kevin Bird for sharing this picture on the Poolsbrook parkrun Facebook page. Epic! And that’s not even everyone, not by a long shot, more trailing to left and right of this shot you know, you should have been there. Perhaps you even were?
Honestly, I was in a bit of a New Year’s Day grump en route to Poolsbrook this morning. Two reasons. First reason, two unaccompanied children at the first run of the day at Graves parkrun, looking increasingly worried about not knowing where their parent/ designated adult was meant I had to ditch my run and walk with them for a while – as did at least another half a dozen other concerned runners at various points, they were only about 6 for goodness sake. I was not impressed, particularly as when their parent was finally identified he shouted at me for apparently ‘not understanding‘ instead of maybe saying ‘thanks for giving up your run to make sure my small children were safe.’ They may have been all smiles once reunited with their parents but there were quivering lower lips and clearly upset on the way round. A particular shame to have a bad experience as Graves parkrun is in many ways my favourite venue. Fab volunteers, friendly fellow parkrunners and I love the new course too, was expecting a feel good high after starting the new year there … Anyway, it meant I was even slower than usual finishing, discombobulated, wearing my grumpy knickers and wondering if it was even worth trying to get to Poolsbrook at this stage as I might now be too late and miss the start there. Fortunately, I decided even if I did arrive too late, I could still plod round for a ‘freedom run’. Had to be worth a try. My other, possibly even greater concern, was that I had lost a banana in my car. This dear reader has far more potentially catastrophic consequences. I’d had the foresight to chuck it in to provide mid-run carbs to keep me going sans breakfast for run two of the morning. Whilst it seems I can run (slowly) just fine without extra sustenance, the thought of having a slowly rotting banana lurking somewhere in my car is a cause for real concern. I might not be able to find it now, but one warm day – and the interior of cars can heat up pretty darned quick – and that banana will become not only easy to locate but no doubt leave a lingering memory for many moons to come. Curses. Maybe I should have stayed in bed after all.
Chuntering away to myself I headed over to Staveley. Not chundering, I had a most abstemious new year FYI, not a drink passed my lips. Oh, maybe a gin and tonic early on, but that was it. What did I do instead? Well, actually, and atypically, an early evening panto trip, well, I couldn’t let my American visitors come to the UK at panto time and not
inflict introduce them to this uniquely British bizarre theatre tradition. I did forewarn them about the Dame and the audience participation ‘Oh yes I did!’ but forgot to mention the casual extreme racial stereotyping and absence of plot. Ooops. Apart from the former, oh, and the ritual traumatising of children on stage – which I had to explain was another British institution (telling a four-year old she should have made more of an effort with her outfit for starters did cause me to simultaneously put my head in my hands and laugh out loud) – the Manor Operatic Panto was pretty goddarned impressive. A flying carpet scene was the best ever, and that’s without making allowances for this being an amateur show.
Still, don’t bother me with all these questions about New Year’s Eve and panto! You are distracting me. Where was I? Oh yes, grumpily en route to Poolsbrook Country Park. Praise be for sat nav, this got me there safely, by what route I could not now tell. It was indeed tight, but as I pulled into sight of the venue there was a queue of cars waiting to come in, and an efficient and good-natured volunteer on car direction duty, warning us that the car park was full, and even the adjacent industrial estates so to the verges it was.
I don’t honestly know if they delayed the start or not, possibly by a bit, but it was extremely well-managed, particularly given the unprecedented numbers. I gather even the tail walker from Graves parkrun made it in time, so that’s a well oiled machine indeed, on both counts. Kudos to the tail walker, and kudos to the Poolsbrook heroes. The volunteer team here were completely amazing. All smiles and cheerful waving even though some of them had less glamorous hi-vis roles being relegated to far-flung corners of the park to manage the cars descending on the venue with the intensity of space debris being sucked into a black hole. Though I maintain from personal experience that directing traffic is still preferable to being dog poo bin monitor at Sheffield Hallam parkrun – well, that’s in my humble opinion anyway.
Here are some from their Facebook team photo. Aren’t they a delight to behold? One other thing they did here at Poolsbrook which was quite marvellous, was put up a placard which had a photo of many of the volunteers who’ve turned out to support the event over the previous year, along with a selection of runners. Don’t know what criteria was used to make the final cut as all parkrunners are awesome, fact. Look, I’ve now been gifted a copy of it, gotta love a photo montage, or might it even be a collage? Not decoupage though, although that would be a fab innovation for this time next year:
What a great idea! This was (the majority of?) the New Year’s Day offering. Note in particular the excellent tinselled hat appendages and the fine kilt-sporting. Most apt for the season. One of their number had even joined the pre-run briefing at Graves to advise on logistics at Poolsbrook for any NYDD seekers. All in the planning people, all in the planning…
Anyways, I parked on a verge near to the starting area, and after a further failed rummage around in the car in search of my misplaced banana, headed off to the gathering area near the main building and where the finish funnel is. I saw a few familiar faces from running in general and earlier in the day at Graves in particular. More remarkable were the many I missed, possibly due to the enormity of the crowd, or possibly due to the fact they saw me first. Hard to be sure. I forgot my camera, which I regret as Poolsbrook offered up some fab photo ops, so I’ll be trawling t’internet and Facebook for pics to cull. Otherwise, you’ll just have to use your imaginations.
It’s been a while since I was at Poolsbrook, so in case you are rusty too, here is the course blah de blah from the Poolsbrook parkrun event page:
The course, which was accurately measured by a AUKCM Measurer, is entirely within Poolsbrook Country Park which was once the site of the former Ireland Colliery, but which has been transformed from dereliction into a popular country park and amenities area. The course is almost entirely on compact wide trails but some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain, so please take care. Dependent on availability, marshals will be at key sections of the course, or signs will be in place.
The course starts about 300m away from the café and consists of three anticlockwise laps of the main lake. The finish is on the grass on the right side of the path, in front of the adult gym facilities.
A couple of points to note:
The course leaves the immediate side of the lake to cross the weir and for about 30m runs on the wide path next to the road. Please keep to the lake side of the path.
If you are being lapped by faster runners please keep to the left side of the course to allow faster runners to overtake on the right.
and the course looks like this:
In a nutshell, keep to the left to allow faster runners to pass, or to the right if you are such a faster runner, and do three and a bit laps on the flat course. If you end up on grass or in water you have veered off course in one direction or the other. I’d say it was pretty difficult to get lost on this course – indeed the RD claimed they’d lost no-one yet – though to be fair, if someone was so lost they’d sunk to the bottom of the lake complete with their barcode I’m not sure how you’d ever know. So really I think they should say ‘to the best of our knowledge we’ve lost no-one yet‘. I might message the event team with that feedback later, I’m sure they’d thank me for interrupting their winterval festivities with such an important observation.
I arrived at the finish tunnel just in time to see a couple of familiar faces, dump my fleece and scarf on a bench near to the finish funnel, and join the migration to the start. En route, I spotted scooby do from Graves earlier, and finally twigged he is actually working as the guide dog for a visually impaired runner, fundraising for, erm, actually I can’t remember, but bet some photos will go up at some point and I’ll maybe borrow one of those. Amongst those assembling were Regal Smiley and others of the Tilly household. I didn’t spot Tilly, but my eyes widened as Regal Smiley produced the most enormous plastic bags I’ve ever seen, think bin liners, and I couldn’t disguise my horror at my immediate thought that these were bespoke poo bags and Tilly was suffering from a serious and explosive digestive disorder. Don’t dear reader, the error was mine, the bags were for coat storage purposes. They came prepared this family. No wonder I gaze on at them as super human role models from afar. Tilly was having a day off. Well someone had to stay home and watch out for squirrels coming up the drive. Those pesky rodents won’t bark at themselves!
It was nippy, but the sun was beginning to peek out. HOW EXCITING! I’m not a regular here, but you could tell this was a huge turn out as we gathered in the start. The paths are wide and generous, but even with good-natured parkrunners trying to give way, it was quite a squeeze to get into position. Some runners with buggies, had to manoeuvre their way to the back by passing them almost aloft, but it was all fine and friendly. A little glimpse of what travelling by tube in the London rush-hour could be like if all your fellow passengers were parkrunners and inclined to co-operate with one another rather than will you to vanish from their mind if not their sight. I was camera-less, but thankfully Smiley selfie queen was in position and on form, for which I thank her! Other acquisitions have also been made from random Facebook findings. If it’s your photo and you object to my using it please let me know and I’ll
unhappily delete, because that’s fair enough. But you know, it’s a compliment that I like your pictures really isn’t it Al Dalton, and it’s all to share the parkrun love. Plus only me and you will most likely ever see this post unless you choose to share it, so it could just be our little secret, and that might be kind of fun yes?
Or no 😦 ?
Just me having fun then? Story of my life…
See how the sun has come out and how happy we all are. Astonishing given that some had already run 5k this morning and others were nursing hangovers, full on ones, not even the creeping ones yet to kick in!
Oh, and thanks to Andy co Event Director for and oftentimes RD at Poolsbrook who was the teleporting Poolsbrook presence at Graves earlier on and who has also gifted some fab atmospheric shots. Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Poolsbrook? (Rhetorical question, of course we all did!)
The run briefing was personal and all round excellent. The usual welcome and thanks. Claps for those who had already run today, cheers for those who hadn’t the loudest cheer for the I think solitary person who identified themselves as a first time ever at parkrun runner. How exciting is that! He had a good-natured dog with him and was standing in front of me. Another runner made two abortive attempts to say hello to the dog, both of which resulted in a lot of animated barking, not aggressive, but not impressed either. It was as if the poor parkrunner was the opposite of a dog whisperer, more a canine agitator, it was sad really. Like when people desperately like cats, and by seeking to engage with them make cats run away or hiss. Sad but true.
We were told of not one, not two, but three visually impaired runners on course. One with scooby-doo on a fund-raiser, another, with an actual dog, aiming to do six parkruns in I think 15 days, but I’d need to check. Here is a fab picture of him lifted from their Christmas Day Poolsbrook run report
I’m always somewhat in awe of visually impaired runners, it must take a lot of trust to run with a guide even if there’s no-one else around, but today it was heaving as well, different level of courage altogether. Coincidentally, there was a great article from the perspective of a VI runner on the parkrun newsletter today (yep, time travel again) hang on, I’ll find it, it’s inspirational stuff. Check out Kelly Barton’s story on this link of GP stories. You’re welcome.
After a most jolly briefing, with happy birthdays and milestones all acknowledged alongside practicalities the call went up for 3 2 1 go! And absolutely nothing happened. Is it bad I was a tad relieved? No chance of a speedy one today. Pleasingly I found myself alongside a fellow Smilie, and we shared with each other our insights that this start would rather scupper our plans for a run at pace, so might as well just treat it as miles on the legs rather than a tempo run, I nodded furiously, not entirely sure what this meant other than it being a free pass for taking it easy and providing some sort of race-craft justification for doing so. Hurrah! We trotted along companionably, until inevitably she was chaffing at the proverbial bit to speed up and needed to chase down her offspring who was in danger of disappearing into the swell. For the record, I think it was his idea to do the New Year’s Day Double, which is impressive indeed for a junior runner. Hurrah! Also, just because it pleases me, turns out I was also right behind them in the panto audience too, if only they’d believed me and looked round they might have spotted me.
As we headed out, we passed one hi vis hero who had secured the sweet spot for volunteering purposes. Seated on a bench he shouted out warnings to runners to avoid them colliding with it. Sort of like the foghorn on a lighthouse keeping ships away from treacherous rocks. Excellent. Only a post involving custody of a clipboard could possibly be more high status I would have thought…
From the back, the circular route meant I could see the runners ahead streaming round the lake, and quite a sight it was too! I don’t know how to share videos I’m afraid, but check out this link from Melissa Swann of the start of Poolsbrook parkrun on New Year’s Day 2019 oh hang on, it might even work – impressive eh?
Off I trotted, hard not to feel cheery with the sun shining, flat course and cheerful ambience. I’m not the greatest fan of multi-lap routes, but this was somehow doesn’t seem too bad. It goes quickly and there is much of interest. Though I’m always a bit wary of goose-shit bridge. It is a well-known FACT – or at very least a Lucy Fact (i.e. one which I believe to be true and choose therefore to cite as an absolute truth until proven otherwise) which for the purposes of this blog amounts to the same thing – that goose poo is the slipperiest substance known to humankind. No really it is. And those geese get everywhere. Fortunately there are marshals on hand on either side of the bridge to point and clap and cheer and, when the occasion requires it, to wrangle the geese. I don’t know why the chrome extension volunteering roles don’t list ‘goose wrangler’ amongst the options, because to be honest that is one of the potentially scariest roles. Maybe they don’t want badge-hunters going for glory and putting themselves in harm’s way. Geese can be vicious you know, and need to be treated with respect. And yes I do speak from personal experience, I’ve had more than one run in with an aggressive goose and they are one of very few creatures on this earth I actively dislike as a consequence. My shins have never been the same again after being savaged by the beating wings of a goose that sought to see me off its land. There is a reason they are used for guarding property you know. At least an aggressive dog can be pacified or distracted by food. Geese have no such vulnerabilities. Oh anyway, here’s Smilie selfie queen, capturing the goose action so I didn’t have to. Thanks again.
I survived the geese and their deposits on the bridge, and onward I went. It was good for my confidence to do a completely flat parkrun for a change. Lately I’ve struggled to run up hills at Graves and even Concord parkruns which both have some undulation, though by no means extreme. It was nice to just hit a rhythm and stay in it for the duration, even if I was slow. I thanked the marshals as I went round for the first lap, offering a ‘happy new year’ on the second and a sort of free form hybrid for the final circuit. Each hi-viz hero had their own style. Some excelled at clapping, some at directional pointing, some at apt quippery – the ‘fake it to make it’ comments re ‘pretend to enjoy it’ were helpful toward the start section by the marshal on the pavementy bit. A special mention for the kilt wearing marshal who boomed out encouragement that could be heard across the lake, and interacted enthusiastically with seemingly every runner as they passed. That’s dedication:
I’m a slow and steady runner, so feel well qualified to testify that those marshals kept up clapping the whole time, for every participant. It’s no mean feat to clap continuously for that long and cheerily AND throw in some directional pointing as well. An endurance challenge in its own right. Thank you all of you for sterling support.
The laps do all merge into one a bit. I could see early on in the first lap that a super speedy athlete was storming round on the other side of the lake. The downside with a three-lap course is I get lapped even earlier than usual, but on the plus side it is really astonishing to see those faster runners cruise by. Most managed to choke out words of encouragement through their rapid breathing as they passed. It was an extremely well organised and mutually respectful run. The only minor incident I witnessed was when Scooby was guiding his runner and asking for people to give way and another parkrunner wearing headphones just didn’t hear, I sort of chaperoned her to one side and she was fine about it, so all’s well that ends well. It was a master stroke of irony that the guide dog’s Scooby costume impaired his vision too, so it was hard for him to make out quite what was going on, especially as it was so very crowded at that point it was hard to find a path through.
Astonishingly, nobody mistook me for a faster runner on either of the first two laps and erroneously tried to usher me towards the finish funnel so I had to do all three loops, but at least it meant I got my monies worth for time out on the course. By the time I did get to the final lap, I mistook the turn off for the finish funnel, which meant what I laughingly refer to as my ‘sprint finish’ was both longer and more uphill than I’d banked on. However, some already finished and now departing friends cheered me in, and then there was a bonus hug and selfie from smiling non-smiley and a new year’s hug from a vegan runner who I stalk for his fab running photos. Seems we are mutual stalkers in fact so here’s a wave out just for you. I was worried I was keeping him from his V-gang team photo, but he made it as the picture testifies. Some pretty fab and friendly runners in this line up you know:
Even though I was slow, there were still plenty of people on the course and busy scanners scanning and people gathering and all good and all smiley.
I retrieved my fleece and scarf and suddenly felt cold and peckish. However, good news dear reader, whilst the official cafe was shut, a pop up community cafe was very much open. Volunteers were constantly refilling an urn of hot water and you could have tea and coffee and help yourself to a smorgasbord of cakery. I had a coffee, which I slightly over-filled and subsequently spilt onto my feet, which would have been catastrophic but for the intervention of one of the Tilly household who spotted my rookie error in coffee cup handling. I also had what I think must have been a home-made rock cake and you know what, it was absolutely delicious. Not had one of those in years, not tasty and fresh like that one. Retrospectively, I read that parkrunners are encouraged to bring stuff along to share as well, which accounts for the copious amounts of food on offer. You are encouraged to make a cash donation, and I certainly couldn’t begrudge that, however it was very much up to individuals as to what they chose to leave. It was great, and the money goes on, erm, actually I’m not sure on what exactly, I think on things like new parkrun tokens – a few went walk about today for starters…
After a little lingering, I went out to cheer in the last few runners. I must look like a pro at the finish these days, as the RD came along and told me they had enough scanners for the last few on the course so I could stand down if I wished. That was confusing, but fathomed satisfactorily after a few moments of mutual incomprehension.
Soon some of the earlier marshals strode into view, carrying their various hi-vis signs like roman soldiers with battle flags. I suddenly felt cold, really cold so decided it was time to depart. I thanked random marshals as I left. They really had created a brilliant mood. I could just make out the final finishers coming round to finish to a welcoming team of supporters. I do like a happy ending. 🙂
Oh and for stats-geeks, we must once again salute Elliot Line who hot of the press told us in his New Year’s Day update that at least 150 events had attendance records today. Oh yes they did!
New Years Day 2019 Attendance Stats.
Apologies for another shortened stats summary. Full stats including milestones, records, volunteers and comparisons will resume mid-January.
Biggest parkruns UK: Bushy Park (1156), Southampton (1048), Eastville (941), Milton Keynes (918), Rising Sun (869), Brighton & Hove (826), Chelmsford Central (811), Cardiff (805), Kingsbury Water (792), Hove Promenade (787), Lee-on-the-Solent (777), Sale Water (775), Braunstone (753), Frimley Lodge (741), Huddersfield (735), Conkers (719), Catton (715), Long Eaton (703), Rushmoor (702), Telford (699),
There were at least 150 new attendance records in the UK today!
In the UK there were 332 parkruns and 125375 parkrunners, (fewer unique parkrunners, as many of those will be the same parkrunner twice), plus pending results from Delamere, Barry Island and Shepton Mallet.
Worldwide there were 673 parkruns and 178444 parkrunners, (fewer unique parkrunners, as many of those will be the same parkrunner twice), plus a few pending results.
Poolsbrook included. Wow, parkrun is indeedy most definitely becoming a thing for allsorts. In a good way. Hurrah!
parkstatswangy also had an update on the stats. Wow!
A record breaking New Year’s Day! An astounding 150 events broke their attendance records and 2 events equalled theirs. This gave an overall U.K. attendance of 126,653, which is only about 8,000 less than the previous Saturday despite there being 239 less events. Five regions actually increased their attendance, withbeing up 17% and up 11%.
A record among the, saw its record increase the most in absolute numbers, up 344 parkrunners to 787. north of Birmingham saw the biggest percentage increase, more than doubling its record from 223 to 561 (up 152%). in the Lake District saw the biggest increase from its usual (10 week median) attendance, hosting 279 parkrunners when it normally hosts around 43 (up 549%).
The total attendance on New Year’s Daywas 126,653 at 335 events.
Wow, what a morning it was at Poolsbrook parkrun today. A new record of 617 of you took part supported by 30 amazing volunteers. It seems as if our planning to accoodate such a high number of participants paid dividends today 😀
We hope that you all had a great time at Poolsbook today – thank you to everyone who took part and all of you who volunteered
They also did their own fab run report of the day, so you can read the New Year’s Day Poolsbrook parkrun official run report and triangulate that report with mine to help inform you analysis and conclusions about what the morning was really like. 🙂 It’s important to do your own parkrun research if you want to keep on top of this parkfun game!
Oh, and in other good news. I found my banana at home! See, all good with the world. Yay! This isn’t the actual banana by the way, wouldn’t want to mislead. Just have used a stock image of a banana in case you didn’t know or couldn’t recall what I was referring to. You’re most welcome.
I think the previous record was 473, on New Year’s Day 2018, so that’s quite some jump in numbers. Wow. I’m impressed they didn’t run out of tokens.
So there you go. New Year’s Day Double done and dusted. Glad I did it in the end, though had a wobble in the middle there somewhere. There are some pretty excellent graphics about who went where. Couldn’t find a Graves/ Poolsbrook link but this one gives the general idea. Can’t find out where it came from, if I do, I’ll add that credit in some time later.
So Happy New Year and happy running in general and parkrunning in particular. Remember it’s not the miles on the legs that count, it’s the smiles in those miles! #loveparkrun and even if you didn’t get out on New Year’s day, it’s never too late to get to your first or any number parkrun…
parkrun, there really is no other way to start your Saturday…
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