Humber Bridge parkrun
Event number 350
16th July 2022
This is actually a run report I did for Humber Bridge parkrun, it was shared on their Facebook page (thank you lovely Humber Bridge parkrun) but not posted on their news pages, so I’ve just added it to my own blog to store the memory. Indulge me 🙂
A humdinger of a parkrun!
Well, that was splendid.
What a humdinger of a parkrun Humber Bridge is indeed. I can’t believe it wasn’t even on my radar until last weekend.
What happened last weekend I hear you cry? Well, funny you should ask, last Saturday I was at Perry Hall parkrun, there for a gathering of listeners to the unofficial parkrun podcast With Me Now – worth a listen if you a parkrun passionista, as I’m sure you must be. Turns out, Humber Bridge parkrun’s very own Ali CARTER was there too, blending into the background dressed as a unicorn as you do. Despite her near invisibility, we struck up a conversation, I explained I was hesitant about trying new parkruns because I’m currently having to walk and my balance can be poor following serious illness last year. Quick as a flash she suggested joining her today at Humber Bridge as she’d be celebrating her 250th parkrun and the weekend of her 100th volunteering stint with a spot of tailwalking, so she’d be more than happy to keep me company at the fun factory at the back on the way round. I mulled it over, not for long, and then this morning, up at stupid o’clock and off to Humber from Sheffield. I do love a parkrun adventure after all, and knowing the tailwalker was happy to take the time needed gave me the confidence to try an unknown venue.
My bad, but I hadn’t really appreciated before just how stunning your venue is. On the way, there was a point when I looked out of my car window to the left and saw sparkling blue water and tantalising glimpses of the Humber Bridge. It was absolutely stunning. Literally jaw dropping. How have I missed this? It felt like being on holiday as I followed the signs to the Hessle foreshore. I actually paused before going under the bridge to the black mill car park so that I could take in the view and check out the emergency rescue teams doing their life boat drills and take some photos too. Then, back into the car, and following your website instructions (which were excellent by the way) on a little further to the carpark just adjacent to the foot tunnel heading into the country park. Great news for a tourist, there were loos! Not only that, they were open, and not only that they were literally just being cleaned. This was going to be a good morning. I always worry about having to go al fresco when touristing, a loo is always a huge boon, one that is clean and has toilet paper and soap and everything is like hitting the jackpot – and I’d not even made it to the gathering point yet.
This parkrun has all the things, loads of free parking, immaculate loos and of course super friendly volunteers, plus, as the morning unfolded, celebratory milestone cakes. And the course is super lovely, the shade of trees, spectacular views, a sculpture trial, wildlife – if this is your local, you are winning at parkrun life, it’s properly gorgeous.
I’m always a bit awkward on first arrival, but I was so excited to enter the shaded woodland, make may way along the board walk and past various ‘caution runners’ signs into the open grass area where the finish funnel was already set up in all its glory. A parkrun banner fluttered against the backdrop of the Humber Bridge, and people started to arrive and mingle.
I got chatting to another tourist. He was here because his son’s graduation had brought him to the area, like me, he was blown away but the spectacular setting. He helped me acquire a staged photo of the RD through the selfie frame, always good to have a willing accomplice when you are operating by stealth. Love how the parkrun community always helps one another out. AND he took the obligatory photo of me through the selfie frame. Hurrah! I’m not sure why we call them selfie frames to be fair, you’d have to have arms the length of Mr Tickle to take an effective authentic selfie all on your own. Still, minor quibble, happy to have them 😊
Today’s run director was Matthew FISHER-GILL, resplendent in monochrome. That’s the tourist’s hand in shot there, sorry I didn’t get his name, but at least he has had his hand immortalised in the run report, I hope that’s its own reward.
Matthew also did the first timers’ welcome. Today there were 20 of us discovering Humber Bridge parkrun for the first time. Not sure what’s taken us so long but better late than never, and my we were all in for a treat.
The biggest shout out of all though, should go to the duo of first time everers. Yep, that’s right dear reader, people doing their first ever parkrun. What a welcome they had! Bravo to these terrific two, Jonathan HATE and Michael VESSIO I hope it is but their first of many. I’m not sure if they came separately or together, but hopefully they’ll be back again soon. Just imagine, their Saturdays will never be the same again, but in a good way, and their lives will be the richer for it!
The other first timers were an eclectic mix from those doing just their second parkrun to those who have already notched up a couple of hundred. Various clubs were represented including: Coventry Triathletes; South Leeds Lakers; Selby Striders; Bournville Harriers (which sounds like it ought to be a sort of chocolate but disappointingly is not – as far as I know); Run Sandymoor and With Me Now.
After the first timers’ welcome, we were called to the start area, and parkrunners compliantly assembled with the Humber Bridge spectacular as ever in the background. Nope, the photos don’t do it justice, but I’m trying to show willing.
So it was 104 of us assembled at the start area. We were addressed by the charismatic Jamie PENN. At other parkruns it tends to be the Run Director who does this address, but I can quite see why Jamie was put in the spotlight. It was a very entertaining, and authoritative briefing. Lots of interaction, reinforcement and clear messaging. You can see why he’s on comms. It is THREE laps we were told. THREE, which is not the same as one, or two, but THREE. You have to keep to the LEFT, so faster runners can pass, they aren’t being horrid if they call out to you as they whizz on by, they are just letting you know. LEFT is the right thing to do, oh no, scrap that, not right, always LEFT. There are some steps on the way but DO NOT USE THEM, they are NOT PART OF THE COURSE, they COULD BE DANGEROUS, THIS IS WHY THEY ARE NOT PART OF THE COURSE. Honestly, it says a lot about the style of delivery that I can still remember all these things. It was terrific. And people kept quiet throughout, that pretty much never happens. All good.
There were shout outs for milestone Ali CARTER for her 250th – heads up for cake at the finish, a huge cheer for Kevin PENNY on the occasion of his 25th volunteering stint, and fine work he did out on the course today too. Every person visiting from another parkrun was identified and greeted in turn, too may for me to remember, but Coventry, Hull – me from Sheffield, we all got a cheer just for being there. It’s nice in life to be cheered for just existing, it’s validating and fun and much appreciated. The bear hug was reserved for Ali though, I assume that’s traditional when you reach your 250.. Besides, we have to make up for all those weeks and months when we couldn’t even gaze at each other across a parkrun let alone touch. Then when parkrun returned we could only do air elbow bumps which were never very satisfactory and high fives were a long time coming back, we are – for now at least – back into full on (consensual) hugging territory, and the world is a better place for it. It’s important to make the most of it whilst we can.
The briefing was so thorough, I was half expecting a written test before we would be allowed to continue, much like doing the driving theory test, before you are allowed out in the car but no, it was straight onto the parkrun practical, ready and OFF!
The start was up a little hill, though generally the course was pretty flat, and the terrain even. A few narrower sections, some tree roots, but nothing too technical. Very doable with my sticks. It was lovely seeing the mass of runners disappearing in a streak of colours ahead. They looked like celebratory bunting as they ran up the incline and cornered to the right. High vis heroes provided superb clapping, enthusiastic words of encouragement and outstanding directional pointing to help us all round. There was an abundance of arrows too. Even though all three loops are identical, I managed to entirely lose my sense of direction. By chance, on this hot morning, it was a lovely shady course. You weave beneath lovely mature trees. I was distracted by the little carvings en route, the spectacular ‘cliffs’ of chalk, the views of the bridge (oh, have I already said about that?) the calls of encouragement from passing runners and the fine company of the fun factory at the back. Plus, it was edutainment at its best, since we were joined by Helen PENN for a couple of laps, and she was able to fill me in on some of the venue’s history. It used to be a chalk quarry apparently. I had a Google later on to assist me with parkrunpedia, from this I learn that ‘the Humber Bridge Country Park, a former chalk quarry that once supplied the whiting mill with chalk. Known locally as Little Switzerland, the Country Park has been a popular family destination for generations. It is also a designated Local Nature Reserve welcoming more than 100,000 visitors per year.’ Also, more about the big black mill ‘on Hessle foreshore, in the shadow of the north tower of the Humber Bridge, stands Hessle Whiting Mill, a unique example of an early nineteenth century whiting windmill. The mill forms part of the Humber Bridge Country Park’s Chalk Walk heritage trail.’ And to think that less than 12 hours ago I didn’t even know a whiting mill was a thing! Just goes to show, parkrun really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Helen was involved in setting it up Humber Bridge parkrun some 8 years ago now, and seems to do pretty much everything. She was explaining that she originally did a parkrun at I think Peter Pan, and just wondered why there wasn’t one at the Country Park at Humber Bridge, expressed an interest in setting one up, and then before she knew it was Event Director and Run Director and made it so! She has already joined the 250 volunteer club, but … get this… has completed an astonishing 2478 roles! Even allowing for the fact she often takes on multiple roles on one day, that’s an extraordinary statistic, it surely equates to a whole year of parkrun volunteer days at the very least.
Today was Helen’s 333rd parkrun, though I’m not sure she appreciated this at the time. I do love good palindrome. This made her the most runny parkrunner in attendance today, the next up being Neil HERON on 288 parkruns. Helen is also an international parkrunner having done parkruns in Australia, Germany and Italy as well as in the UK. She’s even done Bunbury parkrun in Australia, which I didn’t know was an actual place despite being pretty positive it got a mention on neighbours back in the olden days when in was Scott and Charlene not Jason and Kylie. Sigh. Just goes to show, parkrun can open your eyes to all sorts of new worlds if you just step out and explore the ones on offer
I was impressed talking to the volunteers how committed the core team are. It seems there are some regulars who go above and beyond to keep the show on the road. Yay for Terry, Terence William PARKER, who has also been involved in the parkrun from the very beginning. His 288 volunteer roles isn’t too shabby either. I’m constantly bowled away by how much time, and love is poured into parkrun by volunteers. It’s important not to take them for granted. Yes, they get to look fabulous rocking the high vis – who doesn’t look great in fluorescent pink after all, but they also do a huge amount behind the scenes.
The event today was made possible by 15 AWESOME & AMAZING volunteers:
Terence William PARKER • Helen PENN • David ROOMS • Ali CARTER • Jamie PENN • John RIDDIOUGH • Pamela TARBET • Victoria RIDDIOUGH • Susan ELDER • Graham NAYLOR • Fiona WALES • Matthew FISHER-GILL • Tony NICHOLSON • Kevin PENNY • Mandy SIMMS
Many events have really struggled to get volunteers since coming back after the pandemic, and it seems Humber Bridge is no exception. Volunteering is not compulsory, but it is super fun. You get to wear the parkrun high vis and look busy and important (some roles even involve holding a clipboard, and you don’t get more high status than that), you get the gratitude of passing runners; you get all the fun of a parkrun without the messy sweaty having to actually run bit; you gather virtual badges for your Running Challenges extension (think sticker charts for grown-ups) but best of all you get a lovely glow of inner joy as the feelgood consequence of being part of what keeps the parkrun phenomenon running (or walking or jogging).
If you haven’t volunteered before, do consider giving it a go, you’d be so very welcome, and you’ll find you aren’t really giving anything up, just experiencing and enjoying parkrun in a new way. You can find out more here https://volunteer.parkrun.com/principles/volunteer-roles If you have volunteered before then you know how brilliant it is! Why not pick a future date, put it in the diary so you commit to do a stint on an actual day, rather than some vague ‘one day’ and email the team to offer a date and preferred role (if applicable) together with your name and athlete id. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Imagine what it would feel like for the event team to have a whole rota filled up in advance? Pretty amazing eh. Or if you aren’t wanting to commit that far ahead, maybe at least opt in for the volunteering emails, so when the parkrun is in jeopardy due to lack of volunteers you could maybe save the day. All contributions will be appreciated. Every little helps as the saying goes, and it’s super fun. Plus, it is a known fact, that volunteers are the most photogenic people at any parkrun.
Case in point, yay for Kevin PENNY, on his 25th volunteering occasion. He’s only four parkruns away from his 100th parkrun too. He’s going to need a bigger wardrobe for all those lovely new milestone tees that I hope he’ll be indulging in shortly. This could be you too dear reader, just imagine!
A Kevin factoid, is that his best time in 2018 was 22.00 a 72.88% age grading, impressive yes, but get this, in 2022 he has still achieved a time of 22:07 and his age grading has increased to 74.45%
Be more Kevin. It looks like doing all that volunteering pretty much guarantees you an improved percentage age grading. Well, it ought to, if there was any justice in the world.
Age grading takes your time and uses the world record time for your sex and age to produce a score (a percentage). This score allows you to compare your personal performance against other people’s performances even though they might be a different age and a different sex to you – the higher the score the better the performance. Did you know that the Humber parkrun course record in relation to age grading was Jane Ruth MORLEY – 87.19% 22:54 – Event 80 (19 Dec 2015). That’s pretty impressive.
So off we went, walking and talking. I used to run parkrun, slowly admittedly, but a lot quicker than I am now. Now I can’t do that anymore, I like to take photos along the way, I’m not much of a photographer, but the pictures remind me of each different parkrun. Today however, I captured a fluke flying feet photo of which I’m very proud. So, mystery runner, thank you for bounding by.
Ali as tail walker was keeping me company, but it was lovely that at various time we were joined by other parkrunners who’d either already finished, or were just pausing to congratulate Ali on her 250th parkrun. For at least one lap she was joined by her birthday twin, Naomi. Apparently, there are three friends who share the same birth date but as they are decades apart in age I am going to stick my neck out and venture they are non-identical triplets.
Despite being smartly hatted and suited (I do appreciate a fine hat) Ali hadn’t in fact dressed in my honour as you might have first thought. Turns out, she is a local (and probably international too) legend for her finesse at fancy dress. She’s already completed one parkrun alphabet (run a parkrun beginning with each letter of the alphabet apart from X because that’s not possible) and is doing it again. However, this time, not only is she running them in alphabetical order, but with a fancy-dress outfit beginning with the same letter of each of the parkruns she attends. I did ask her if she could remember all the outfits and all the parkruns, and you know what? She absolutely can! She told me all of them, but unfortunately, I’m not so good at remembering. I do know she has been some or all of the following: a penguin; a minion; a unicorn; Wally (or is that W’Ali?); Olaf; a fox; a frog (that was for leap year run nothing to do with alphabeteering though I think) and many more besides. Oh, I do remember she did an x-ray at Exmouth parkrun though, see what she’s done there? Clever. That’s the way to do it. And and ambulance, that was pretty fabulous, as tailwalker on the celebrating 70 years of the NHS day. She picked up a timer dressed as a patient at the end. Attention to detail you see. Impressive.
This week 104 people ran, jogged and walked the course, 10 recorded new Personal Bests. Which is especially impressive on a hot, hot day. All are worthy of congratulations, but a particular shout out for Colin BOTHAM because he achieved the numerical finesse of a finish time of 27:27. Nice. Almost as good as Roby STYLES who smashed out a palindrome as a first timer with 24:42. Loving your work. Tim GREEN was also concentrating getting a 37:37, a Humber Triathlete no less, triathletes have to be on it for their timings so I’m going to assume that was intentional. I need to get some input from these folk, I’m 262 parkruns in and yet to complete my parkrun bingo (that’s when you collect all the seconds from 00 to 59 in your finish time – one of many Running Challenges parkrunners can undertake. Check out the chrome extension at https://running-challenges.co.uk/ if you want to get some ideas about how to choose parkrun tourist destinations, though warning, it can get a bit addictive.
Representatives of 19 different clubs took part. Some were triathletes joining in the Ali CARTER’s celebrations for her 250th parkrun. The The McGill’s Martletts were represented by Sian AUSTIN who was doing her 99th parkrun today, hope she had a celebratory flake ice cream somewhere afterwards. Perfect day for it. There were also three Lonely Goats, so hopefully not feeling lonely at all today. Edward STEAD was the solitary Royal Sutton Coldfield AC representative but cracked his 42nd parkrun and therefore possibly the meaning of life too. I didn’t get to meet him though as far as I’m aware, so therefore didn’t get the chance to ask him about it, and now that moment has passed. Oh well. The point is, there were many clubs represented, and that’s always great to see. There was also a noticeable couch to 5k contingent, I think they were touristing from elsewhere so must have already graduated, but great to see so many people sporting their team colours.
I honestly feel quite emotional watching parkrunners assemble for and participating at a parkrun. People of all ages, shapes and sizes, a healthy scattering of tutus, fancy dress, club t-shirts, it’s genuinely uplifting, and all that a parkrun should be.
Even though we walked round, and took just over an hour, cheery volunteers were still patiently waiting to cheer us home through the funnel of cones and to time us back. It seemed to go quickly. Yes, it was a three-lap course, but there was so much to see, and such good parkrun companions the time flew by. We even got to see some of the speedier parkrunners come flying through the finish funnel as were finishing one of our laps. Epic running.
Once we’d finished, and been timed in and scanned there was still sufficient patience in the team to allow for more posing for photos at the end. All possible combinations of people and selfie frames with the Humber Bridge doing its thing in the background were accommodated.
Finally, back to the car park. I wasn’t able to join the gathering for post parkrun coffee and catch up, though I was warmly invited and made to feel very welcome, but I did get to admire the cake. Excellent. Oh, and for the record, I may also have got not one but two almond shortcake biscuits in the shape of a milestone tee. I might also have eaten these on the drive home, scattering crumbs all over my car and lap. If I did, then just so you know, it was totally worth it.
Today’s full results and a complete event history can be found on the Humber Bridge parkrun Results Page, today’s results are here https://www.parkrun.org.uk/humberbridge/results/350
Just so you know, here are some general Humber Bridge facts, they may come in handy if ever you have a local parkrun pub or café quiz say, plus inherently interesting I reckon:
- The male record is held by Kris LECHER who recorded a time of 15:40 on 2nd June 2018 (event number 210).
- The female record is held by Della HATFIELD who recorded a time of 18:30 on 25th June 2022 (event number 347).
- Humber Bridge parkrun started on 7th June 2014. Since then 7,957 participants have completed 44,721 parkruns covering a total distance of 223,605 km, including 7,501 new Personal Bests. A total of 526 individuals have volunteered 5,093 times.
Are you still here? Thanks for sticking with me! Just like with the tailwalker, you are here to support me right to the very end. I appreciate that.
Thank you Humber Bridge parkrunners and volunteers one and all for making this such a fantastic parkrun tourist experience. You are all STARS! I feel lucky indeed to have chalked up this most excellent parkrun at long last. It was just joyful. What fantastic ambassadors you all are for parkrun in general and Humber Bridge parkrun in particular. At the end of the day, parkrun is about communities, and bringing people together and this event does exactly that. Be proud of yourselves, you are The Best!
Lucy Marris, A448776
Give me a wave if you see me out and about! Happy parkrunning ‘til then.
and a bonus smorgasbord of photos just because, you’re welcome!