welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s newsletter we hear from Tim in London and Jon in Perth, as well as the usual inspiration that is feedback from the field.
As I write this I’m sitting in the Oriel Grand Brasserie in Heathrow Airport Terminal 3. For the last for 4 days I have been here in London for the first ever ‘parkrun Country Manager Conference’ and as expected it’s been an amazing event that has been years in the making and was over far too soon.
I arrived in London on Thursday morning however the ‘official business’ didn’t start until the following day when I had breakfast with parkun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt (aka PSH). Although PSH and I speak often via Skype, we have actually only ever been face to face on a handful of occasions so it was great to once again be sitting down with the man whose small idea has gone on to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. After breakfast we were joined by Tom Williams (UK), Matt Shields (Ireland) and Bruce & Gill Fordyce (South Africa) for a meeting with adidas at their headquarters in Covent Garden. During this session each country manager had an opportunity to share their experiences of working with adidas thus far and brain storm on ideas for future opportunities. adidas have been the major sponsor of parkrun in Australia since September 2011 and it’s safe to say we wouldn’t be anywhere the position we are in today without their support.
On Saturday myself, PSH and the aforementioned Country Managers, along with Jakub Fedorowicz (Poland), Maxim Egorov (Russia), Ruth Shields (Ireland) and Noel De Charmoy (New Zealand), made our way to beautiful Richmond Park in southwest London for Richmond parkrun (see the photo above). I already knew this area well as had done plenty of running, cycling and dog walking there during my 10 years living in London. Funnily enough, for those of you who have seen ‘Fenton the dog’ on YouTube, the Richmond parkrun course runs right around the area where the famous pooch was filmed chasing deer, much to the anger of his tweed wearing owner!
After parkrun and of course a mandatory coffee, we made our way to the stunning St Mary’s University for the start of our conference proper. We established Country Managers were joined here by the new kids on the block: Anita & Alex (Bordeaux, France); Georgio (Sicily, Italy); and Marco (Milan, Italy). Did somebody say parkrun tourism? Over the next two days we proceeded to dissect the state of the parkrun nation, resulting in as many questions about the future as answers. We have many, many challenges to continue doing what we do however it is gatherings like this that will enable us to meet these head up and continue to grow parkrun, both in our existing countries and in new locations around the world.
Certainly one of the biggest challenges we face is in the area of risk management. As many of our events continue to grow in size this often results in increased risks to both parkrunners and the general public that we need to manage well or else face consequences that none of us want to see. In the coming months we plan to implement a new volunteer role at parkrun called the ‘running first aider’, essentially a first aid qualified parkrunner who is happy to run with a red armband and is prepared to act should an injury or illness occur during the run. Tom Williams recently commissioned a survey at Leeds parkrun where, from a crowd of 350 people, 60 had current first aid qualifications and another 140 said they would be prepared to get qualified should parkrun arrange the training. I would like to think that the enthusiasm for this will be similar here in Australia so stay tuned as we look to roll this out at your event.
Another theme to come out of the conference was the potential for growth in Russia. The country is larger than all of the other parkrun countries combined and the initial signs are that their appetite for parkrun is huge, so it isn’t an exaggeration to think that Russia alone could have 500 events in 5 years’ time!
More pressing for me however is the launch in less than 2 weeks of East Coast Park parkrun in Singapore, our first foray into Asia. By the time you read this I will be in Singapore catching up with former Albert Melbourne parkrun Event Director Carol ‘Half Pint’ Cunningham who will be the ED at East Coast Park. I can’t wait, Carol is one of the true pioneers of parkrun in Australia (and now Singapore), a totally selfless individual who did an incredible job at Albert Park for such an important period in parkrun’s history. I’m sure many of you have plans to get to Singapore for this event in the coming months so make sure you give Carol a big pat on the back when you see her.
So that’s it from me for now. The last few days have been truly inspiring, being surrounded by such incredibly capable and passionate people, and we are all now more motivated than ever to continue to bring you the free, timed, weekly 5km run that has had such a profound impact on all our lives.
Tim from parkrun Australia (get in touch)
p.s. Only 116 days until International parkrun Day 2014
Professor Alan’s Essential Stats
Number of runners – 9,936
Number of volunteers – 647
Number of new registrations – 1,674
Total number of registered parkrunners – 114,012
‘Channel 7 News and Canning River parkrun's first anniversary’ by Jon Storey
There were some exciting times over the last week in the West. On Tuesday evening, Channel 7 news told a story about the running phenomenon, parkrun, that is sweeping across WA. The news story had a great overview of parkrun and remained factually correct, even if there were some CNN style Geographic errors claiming Bunbury and Manjimup to be part of the Perth metropolitan area.
What effect did the news story have? Well there was a surge in new registrations at 4 parkruns in particular, Canning River (where the news story was filmed 3 weeks before), Rockingham, the soon to be launched Carine Glades (both of which were highlighted on the news) and Claisebrook Cove.
So on to the weekend. It was Canning River parkrun's 1st anniversary and the theme was "Disney". Our family took the easy option; we wore Disney themed t-shirts and Cameron (10) and Jennifer (9) took along there Mickey and Minnie plush toys.
We arrived at Canning River to be greeted by a number of runners wearing animal onesies, Mickey onesies, Robin Hood, Forrest Gump (complete with box of chocolates) and Pete Conroy, wearing his wife's strappy Bambi night shirt. During the normal pre-run briefing a number of 10-club certificates were awarded, it seems like such a great moment for the juniors to be presented their certificates on such an occasion.
The night before parkrun, Jennifer had decided that she wanted to run with me and that she wanted a PB. I'm sure she was regretting that decision on the day. I also inherited Jack Kenny, the event director's son (Adrian was run directing on the day). On the signal we were off around the serene park that is Canning River Regional Park. The course comprises of one loop amongst bush and swampland, crossing the Canning River twice, it's a fantastic course, flat and extremely friendly.
Within 500 meters the Minnie plush toy was discarded by Jennifer, so that meant I had to carry her for the rest of the way. After about 2.5k Jennifer also needed to offload her hat. She put in a ton of effort for the rest of the run and I closely supervised her, whilst ensuring that Cameron and Jack didn't leave us all behind.
We reached the end and Jennifer did record a new PB (32:16), she was shattered that was a record by 32s an achievement she also had whilst running with her dad at Pioneer parkrun.
So the festivities continued and an anniversary wouldn't be complete without cake made by the volunteers, a BBQ, some wine and last but not least the medal presentation for the top 3 males and females in the annual points table. Thanks to Adrian Kenny and the local community at Canning River parkrun, for hosting us once again, we always have a great time there and congratulations on achieving your new course attendance record of 267, bettering the previous record by 105 (I'm sure there weren't 105 of us travelling over from Claisebrook Cove).
Upcoming Special Events
14 - Frog Hollow (Vic) launch, Shellharbour (NSW) launch, Lakeview (NSW) launch, Mitchelton (Qld) 1st anniversary
21 - North Shore (Qld) 1st anniversary, Gladstone (Qld) 1st anniversary, Carine Glades (WA) launch, Mosman (NSW) cancelled
28 - Logan River (Qld) 1st anniversary, Mornington Peninsula (Vic) launch
5 - Aveley (WA) 1st anniversary
12 - Pittsworth (Qld) launch, Gatton (Qld) 1st anniversary, Noosa (Qld) launch
19 - Armidale (NSW) launch
26 – Coomera (Qld) 2nd anniversary, Maribyrnong (Vic) launch
Feedback from the field
Jeanette Algie - Last Saturday morning our family braved a chilly morning to participate at Toowoomba parkrun. I completed my 9th parkrun equaling my PB time. My husband Mike and eldest daughter Julia completed their 4th parkrun, with my daughter also achieving a new PB time. parkrun has given our family the opportunity to be involved in a single event every week and support each other's achievements. My daughter, (who finishes well before me) is always waiting for me along the course to run the last hill home with me, encouraging me to push harder and finish strong. We then both go back and do the same for my husband. We all look forward to 7am on Saturday, it has become a new family ritual and a wonderful way to share time with our teenager, doing something we all mutually enjoy. Toowoomba parkrun is exceptionally well supported by the community and must be close to averaging the highest number of runners in a provincial event each week. Margaret and her team are truly incredible and exceptionally dedicated. Thanks to Margaret and her team for providing our family with the opportunity to start every weekend with very special family time together.
Rachel Launders - Last week (30 May) was my first St Peters parkrun. I’d never run 5km before without stopping, but I figured it was for all ages and all levels of fitness so if I needed to walk for some of it, that would be just fine. But I managed the whole run, including up to the Pinnacle of Pain right in the middle of the course (loved the smiley face at the top of the hill), so I was totally thrilled with my effort. Next week, I’ll be pushing myself to be a bit faster to get a PB, and, more importantly, I’ll be better prepared with a smile for the photographer near the end of the course!
Gary Nisbet - Thank you Sandgate parkrun and parkrun Australia for my 50-club shirt. For me, this shirt represents a significant milestone in my life as all 50 runs were completed at Sandgate, my home parkrun, consisting of 30 PBs and a loss of 30kg over a period of 12 months, all achieved by Sandgate's 1st anniversary. More runs to run, more PBs to achieve, more weight to lose, more parkrun friends to meet! I wore my shirt with pride at the launch of Berrinba parkrun on Saturday which was my 30th different event (total 79th run). I’m looking forward to receiving my 100-club shirt in the not too distant future with 50 runs at home and 50 runs away. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Alan & Roisin Burrell, Wynnum parkrun Event Directors on achieving their 40th different event on Saturday. Great job! Well done Alan & Roisin!
Donna from Mind, Body & Soul Transformation - Gorgeous (albeit chilly) morning for a PB at Gatton parkrun! Another sub 25 I think.
Lauren Tilden - I turned 30 last Friday and ran my first 5kms last Saturday. It was a personal goal I had set myself to participate in a running event. 3 months ago I was 14kgs heavier and couldn't run to my letterbox. Thank you for making Penrith Lakes parkrun possible!
Drop me an email if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners.
Name: Sami Dale
Home parkrun: Mitchelton
Occupation: PA for a large mining company
Number of runs: 33
Number of times volunteered: 6 in just under a year.
Favourite volunteer role: I've enjoyed all the roles I've done so far. I'm avoiding time keeping though!
What do like about volunteering at parkrun: I enjoy being part of the team. It's nice watching all the different ages of people and fitness levels taking part in a great community event.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: Recently I was tail runner and decided to take the whole family along. My husband (Phil) ran on his own while I had Joseph (6) on his scooter and Toby (4) in the stroller. The plan was that Phil would run back and meet us after completing his run. All was going to plan - the kids and I were having a wonderful time. I even got called a "show off" by an elderly passer-by as I was running back carrying the official parkrun flag while pushing Toby in the stroller. Phil met up with us about 2km from the finish line and all was going to plan until Joseph stacked it on his scooter, cut his knee and freaked at the sight of blood and screamed for the last 2km. It made for a stressful end to an otherwise enjoyable morning at parkrun!
How can we improve volunteering at park run: I can't really think of anything. It all seems pretty good as is.