A visit to a marvellous friend, an inaugural parkrun at a gorgeous venue, a tweet-up with two ultra runners, and a whole bucket load of parkrun tourists. If there is a better way to kick off Juneathon, I certainly can’t think of it.
The marvellous friend
You know the type. You don’t see them for months, but when you text them to say “I’m in the area on Friday, any chance of a bed? Oh, and by the way, I’ll leave at stupid o’clock on Saturday to go to a parkrun.” reply with “Of course, it will be lovely to see you” rather than the more sensible “No, go away, you scrounging toe rag!”
The inaugural parkrun at a gorgeous venue
The course has been described as a zoom lolly with a bite taken out. There is a down and up out along a firm path, three laps of mildly undulating beauty, with a lovely section through the trees along a bark path, and then a down and up back to the finish. The café is lovely, the toilets are clean (and, more importantly, open before the parkrun) and the marshals are suitably encouraging.
It’s also worth noting that over half the field were true parkrun first-timers and there was a healthy number there sporting tops from local running clubs. Which bodes very well for the future. As does the wide range of times. I don’t know whether it was planned or not, but there were more than a handful of walkers, so the last person to cross the line did so in a time of 1:11:19. If anything is guaranteed to attract those new to running, it’s the reassurance that they won’t be the last over the line.
I’ve been following the running adventures of @mikew30 and @TeamB_O_B for a while now via the stalkers’ paradise that is Twitter. So when I spotted that they were both heading to Newark, I crashed their conversation and introduced myself. Armed with pictures (of @TeamB_O_B dressed as a clown) and a description of @mikew30 (I’ll be in my 50 t-shirt), I tracked them down and have now added a couple more names to my list of virtual-runners-I’ve-really-met-who-don’t-appear-to-be-mad-axe-murderers.
The parkrun tourists
We were out in force, and as Newark is in that strange part of the country which Southerners think of as “The North”, Northerners think of as “The South”, and locals know as “The Midlands”, there was a really nice mixture of die-hard tourists from all over, including:
- Paul Freyne (leader of the most events table);
- Mark A Jennings (one of only 6 parkrunners to run at 100 or more different venues);
- Dave Williamson (one of the Run Directors at Temple Newsam, who I met at Harrogate the day the Temple Newsam inaugural was cancelled due to snow);
- Vanessa Rayner (public transport tourist who has a very broad view of what’s walkable from a train station);
- The Cassells (whose t-shirts, when side by side, read “We Love parkrun”);
- Andrew Bailey (aka @jovialgnome, who has clocked up an impressive 46 different parkrun venues despite living more than 30 miles from his nearest one);
- Rosemarie Egbe (proud back-of-the-packer and two-time marathoner); and
- Pat Kimpton (who is, I believe, part of the team working hard to bring parkrun to Lincolnshire).
But my final mention has to go to Dave’s daughter Hannah, for whom Newark was parkrun number 51 at venue number 32. They may not be the most impressive junior stats on the most events table, but they’ve surely got to be somewhere close. They certainly impress me!