A very ranty blog which may feature parkrun tourism.

My friends are fighting and it’s making me feel sad.

Sad and uncomfortable.

Sad, uncomfortable and angry.

Sad, uncomfortable, angry and very, very ranty.

So before I start throwing things, I’m going to vent.

(1) “Not always” is not the same as “Never”

(2) “Sometimes” is not the same as “Always”

(3) “I don’t have a problem with it” is not the same as “No-one will have a problem with it”

(4) “I don’t have a problem with it” is definitely not the same as “If you have a problem with it, you’re wrong”.

(5) “I’d rather you didn’t come today” is not the same as “I hate you and I never want to see you again”

(6) “It wasn’t an issue when ten people did it” does not imply “It won’t be an issue when one hundred people do it”

(7) Saying “let things evolve naturally” is meaningless if you have already upset the balance by introducing a new element.

(8) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

Seriously! Things change! Deal with it!

Inaugural tourism

Before June 2011, new parkruns (in Greater London) weren’t a thing. The number of parkrunners who turned up at a parkrun’s first event was broadly speaking the number of parkrunners who turned up at the next nine events and first events attracted fewer than 100 people.

Between July 2011 and February 2012, local inaugural tourism started to emerge. Events such as Riddlesdown, Nonsuch and Gunnersbury which were within easy reach of the larger South West London parkruns saw large numbers of local parkrunners popping along to their first events to have a bit of a nose around and to see whether the new parkruns were more convenient to get to. There was also a small but growing community of dedicated tourists (myself included) who started to cotton on to the fact that visiting inaugurals offered an opportunity to socialise with other tourists.

From February 2012, inaugural tourism took off. It was included on the most events table as a statistic, and it was far easier to climb up the rankings of inaugurals than the rankings of overall different parkruns. It also offered a short cut onto the table, as you needed to visit 20 different parkruns but just 5 inaugurals to find your name in lights. The “Riddlesdown” pattern of massive inaugural with much more modest numbers in the following weeks went from being unusual to being the norm, and gradually inaugural tourism went from being a harmless bit of fun to something with consequences.

To begin with the hints about this were subtle. New parkruns stopped being announced on the parkrun show and familiar faces from parkrun HQ stopped being regulars at new events. Gradually the message has become stronger, and parkrun tourists have been asked to consider the strain that they are placing on new events and to consider visiting new parkruns in weeks two or three or four rather than in week one.

To consider. To consider visiting later. This isn’t a ban. It isn’t “go to a first event and we’ll delete your barcode”. It’s a request. It’s parkrun HQ (and parkrun events teams) saying “very large first events sometimes cause problems”. Sometimes. Not always. Sometimes. It’s parents expecting a new baby saying “While we’re in hospital, we’d rather only deal with close relatives. Once we’re home, close friends. Once we’ve found our feet a little, all and sundry will be welcome to drop over. But please, while things are new, don’t make a special trip to see us (or rather to glance at the baby and then spend a few hours chatting to your mates) because we’re new at this and we’d like a little space”.

So. Please stop fighting. Inaugural tourism is not always a good thing. It’s not always a bad thing. It is sometimes good and sometimes bad, and like alcohol, should be enjoyed responsibly.

In the light of the new feedback on inaugural tourism, I’ve made a flowchart to help me decide whether or not to go to an inaugural. To help me. Not you. You may do what you like.

inaugural flowchart 2

About abradypus

A Bradypus or Sloth am I, I live a life of ease, contented not to do or die but idle as I please; ... [Michael Flanders and Donald Swann]
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15 Responses to A very ranty blog which may feature parkrun tourism.

  1. John Matthews says:

    Lovely. Sums it up very nicely. The ability to misconstrue a statement, either deliberately or on the grounds that ‘I kind of know what they mean but it could be taken a different way and then what if, eh?’ is very odd. Either other people will misconstrue it, in which case that misconception can be responded to. Or no one will. In either case, mentioning it, as if doing some English practical criticism at primary school level, is pointless.

  2. JovialGnome says:

    As always you appear to have hit the nail firmly on the head! Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

  3. abradypus says:

    Thank you all. I always fret a little bit when I hit “post” on a rant, and it’s reassuring to hear that I’ve made a little bit of sense.

  4. tykeinbrum says:

    Quite a lot of sense, entertainingly made. I haven’t drawn up a flowchart, but were I to do so, it wouldn’t be entirely dissimilar to yours.

  5. Ooooo…. You do rant rather well, Louise 🙂

  6. Ooh I love a graph, thank you.

  7. Norm says:

    Excellently said.

  8. gasterop0d says:

    It’s good to rant. Well said, could not agree with you more and other than the bit at the bottom about playing fields, I’d pretty much come to this same decision myself. I’m now going to add your bit from the bottom too. 🙂

  9. Harry says:

    Great article! It strikes me that it’s almost, for want of a better expression, a conflict of interest really. With the inaugurals featuring on the most events table (even if it is essentially just a bit of fun) you are almost at the point of encouraging people to do them. And of course there’s the ‘not a race’ but there is a points competition and a most first finishers table discussion too, but perhaps for another day! Loving the flow chart too!

  10. plustenner says:

    had never thought of it like that before, and using your anology of the new baby. it does make a lot of sense to rather visit a new parkrun after the first few runs. It will still count towards ‘number of different events you have done’ 🙂

  11. zoeforman says:

    Good balanced view

  12. Joe 'The Pirate' Ellis says:

    Its not a rant – far too calm and considered. A rant has an uncontrolled element of passion or anger. All good imo but not to be taken too literally.
    However, moving on, what about flash mobbing? or slap-downs between local running clubs?
    A local Running Club recently invented an FA Cup type knockout competition where each round is played out at the same parkrun on the same day (or two days). All involve a head to head run the winner of which is decided by the time plus the difference in the pb’s being added to the slower pb. Obviously all ties are to be run on the same day but the date of the tie is decided by the two concerned to mutual convenience. The venue of each round is located at smaller local parkruns to give them a boost. This too puts a strain on a parkrun’s organisation which is not always good. And its a run not a race?
    I instinctively liked the idea, but . . . . . . . . . . .
    The Pirate

  13. fundabolt says:

    I get it. It now makes perfect sense hearing a parkrun friend say: “We’re starting up in February but don’t tell ANYONE!”

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