Monday, 19 May 2014

Huddersfield juniors parkrun event #1

After 2 years of behind the scenes hard work the first Huddersfield juniors parkrun was here and what an impressive turnout we had.

With excitement in the air all our team arrived early to make sure that everything was set up nicely and early so we could concentrate on assigning marshals to their positions, timekeepers their stop watches, scanners to the correct people and explaining to the funnel managers the plan of action. 

We were lucky to have Tom Williams from parkrun visiting to oversee the event and check that our event ran smoothly, and share some constructive criticism if necessary. It was great to finally meet him after running at a few events at the same time but never managing to talk to him. With the number of people at parkrun events sometimes it is difficult to talk to and catch up with everyone you want to in time you are there. So after I had been introduced to him and a quick chat I went back to the community room to help with the last few volunteers and to make sure Simon didn't want me to do anything else before things got under way. It was nearly time for the warm up with Louise and as I left the community room I was amazed at the number of juniors and parents that had gathered at the start and like the senior parkrun they were still streaming in at the gates with 5 mins to go. 

The excitement of the juniors was evident as they were encroaching on the start line and beyond as 9am got closer and closer, we had to move them back about 10ft by the time Simon came down to give the run brief. 

This was it, it was time to get the inaugural Huddersfield juniors under way, but we had to give everyone a quick brief on how the barcodes and tokens work, because as we found in our test last week there were a few that weren't sure. Once that was done we had to clear out of the way so that when we set the juniors off we didn't get trampled in the stampede. Then after avery anticipated countdown they were off and with a few screams of excitement all the juniors were safely off and running. There was a couple of falls at the start but all juniors got under way without any injuries or tears, a huge relief to all the team.

We moved down to the finish and set out the funnel where they would all be sent to collect their tokens and then be shown where to get them scanned to register their run and time. It wasn't long before we had our lead junior Sam Robinson finishing lap 1 and in a fantastic time too, there was a huge amount of marshals and other volunteers at the finish area. So the cheering and clapping for each of the juniors as they ran past must have been amazing from their perspective because there was not one unhappy face as they passed through to start lap 2. The steady stream of juniors was still In full flow as Sam came round to finish his run and he had to do a bit of zig zagging round some of the smaller juniors on his way to the finish line, and crossing the line in a superb time of 7m31s. 

He was closely followed by Matthew Burke (7m48s) who was fastest at last weeks test event. Having Sam in front of him might of helped as it gave him someone to chase as he crossed the line this time 8 seconds faster than last week. 

This also gave him the highest age grade percentage of all our juniors, an impressive 76.74%. Our fastest female was Lucy Margetson in an excellent time of 8m34s with an age grade of 70.33%, but all our juniors deserve a massive well done. It's not all about who's fastest or has the highest percentage, it's all about keeping fit and healthy and having fun in the process.

We had to be alert on timers as more and more juniors were crossing the line some sprinting and some strolling across with enormous smiles across their faces. Plus I could barely take my eye off the finish line and straight to see how the funnel system was doing, but when I did get a chance everyone seemed to be getting their tokens and making their way to the scanners. 

It almost seemed endless as more and more juniors kept crossing the finish line but after 23 mins Sanchia Edwards, our tail runner, crossed the line and brought to an end the first Huddersfield junior parkrun. It really took us all by surprise how many had turned up and had fun and run with smiles on their faces. 192 juniors completed the 2k making a warm and sunny day even more fantastic than we could have wished for. I had guessed at 100 during the week and the lead up to the day but to get nearly double that was purely outstanding.

The response we got from the juniors and the parents was amazing and we were surprised at how many children were already thinking towards next weeks event. With the weather being as good as it was there was already a large amount of non runners at the park with family members who were asking how they get involved for next week. Once all the runners had crossed the line we all congratulated each other on a great inaugural event that went off without a hitch. We managed to attract 192 juniors to our first event which was beyond all our expectations, we knew we would get about a hundred just from talk at the senior event. We didn't expect so many juniors that have had no contact with any parkrun event, not even their parents had been to an event before, a complete parkrun debut. Our attendance was the second biggest in the country and the largest weekly junior event and from our first event aswell! What will the next couple of weeks have in store for us and will we continue to grow or will our attendances dip? We are all excited to find out and the next few weeks will be awesome. I can already see that we will have a lot of wristbands to hand out soon to all our happy juniors, and we are looking forward to handing them out to them.

We hung about for a while talking parkrun with Tom, Helen and even Rosie before we started to tidy away all the cones, tape and signs ready for next week. Simon was doing the results from home so all we had to do was put things away in the community room and go home still on a parkrun high, which will easily last until next week when it starts again. #lovejnrparkrun

Below is a list of all the junior events in the UK with their record attendances and the attendance figures from their first event. Just like its not about who wins it's also not about who can attract the most juniors and have the biggest attendances. As most parkrunners know just because you have the big attendances does not mean you have the best parkrun, its all about the community spirit and the feel of a parkrun that stands out more. I have added this list as more of an example of how parkrun juniors is growing and how it began.    

Bushy - Highest 432 - First event 9
Huddersfield - Highest 192 - First event 192 (new this week)
Woodley - Highest 145 - First event 44
Savill gardens - Highest 134 - First event 43
Roundhay - Highest 131 - First event 66
Newport - Highest 126 - First event 110
Rushcliffe - Highest 124 - First event 118
Helix - Highest 123 - First event 87
Marple - Highest 118 - First event 118 
Southampton - Highest 112 - First event 68
Chelmsford - Highest 88 - First event 88
Brockwell - Highest 88 - First event 88 (new this week)
Winbledon park - Highest 85 - First event 68
Forest of Dean - Highest 77 -  First event 34
Harrow lodge - Highest 34 - First event 22
Mile end - Highest 21 - First event 21 (new this week)
Barking and dagenham - Highest 19 - First event 7

Keep running everyone

Sunday, 11 May 2014

AKoJA - All Kinds of Junior Awesome

This weekend was the first trip to Bradford parkrun for team Pattison and it was also the test event for Huddersfield junior parkrun, so an awesome weekend was in store but I didn't know just how awesome.

Parkrunday (Saturday) morning SJ, Dexter and I set off to join in with Arthur's run at Bradford parkrun which is a memorial run held annually to celebrate the life of Arthur James who sadly died at the age of 76 the night after recieving his 100 parkrun T-shirt and Jacket at Bradford parkrun. 

Arriving at Lister park in plenty of time we walked through the park towards the meeting point of Bradford parkrun and was greeted by lots of smiling people, flowers and balloons decorating the finish area. 

There was also a table full of books and photos of rememberence and also almost every single member of his family wearing special T-Shirts to celebrate his life. SJ teaches one of his great grandsons so we said hello as we arrived and then settled in waiting to be sent to the start by Sue the run director for the day as Linda was unwell. When we got the call to go to the start 400+ athletes walked down the hill and congregated at the start waiting for the run brief. As it was Arthur's run his daughter in-law gave a lovely moving speech and presented an 'Arthur' award for services to parkrun to Sue for all her hard work with parkrun and the community. Sue then carried on with the run brief (with an obvious frog in her throat) and we were soon on our way on the three lap course and in beautiful sunshine too thanks to the weather fairies.

Whenever we do a new parkrun we always find it hard to go all out without burning out before the end of the last lap. The unfamiliar course means you don't know how to pace your run properly and not running with the usual runners you're use to means you don't know what pace everyone else is running at even with running app or garmin. Well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it, well for now at least. The course itself is very nice and the park is lovely adding to the run, there are lots of flat and a long slight downhill before you get to the infamous teeny tiny hill at the bottom of the park. The teeny tiny hill is a short but steep hill that does drain the energy out of your legs that you thought you were saving on the flats and long downhill. After the 3rd climb of the teeny tiny hill my legs were quite tired and by the time I reach the bandstand for the finish I was really slow and crossed the line in 23.40 which for a flattish course was slow for me. After I finish, and as I always do when I'm running solo and SJ is with Dexter, I meet up with them and help with Dexter.  This means that SJ can run a bit faster while I run or walk with Dexter depending on how he feels. This time he wanted to go faster and we ran on and left SJ behind us to finish her own run and meet us at the finish. By the time Dexter and SJ had finished there was a lot of people gathered at the finish making it difficult for first timers to figure out where to go to get their barcodes scanned.   The scanners were not at the end of funnel like we are used to, as parkrun regulars they at least knew what to look for and soon had their tokens scanned and heading towards the playground so Dexter could have a play before we set off home. We enjoyed our trip to Bradford parkrun and would definitely recommend it and will be returning again at some point.

So parkrunday done and now it was onto junior parkrunday and our test event for the Huddersfield juniors parkrun. 

We were up early at 6am because the boys decided it was time, I think they were just excited for junior parkrunday and to be honest so was I. So we packed up the car and set off in plenty of time, and arrived at Greenhead park at 8.15 and met up with Simon and Louise and we got straight to work setting things up. I went round the course with Simons daughter Sanchia to put out the cones and mark out the Marshall places with numbers so they can easily find their designated spot. Whilst I was doing this Simon was assigning the marshals their hi-vis and giving them their numbers for on the course. Louise was preparing for the warm up and meeting and greeting the parents and juniors. As well as drawing the start and finish lines with the help of her daughter Molly. It wasn't long before the park seemed to be full of Hi-Vis covered marshals, photographers, and other volunteers, it almost looked like there was more volunteers than juniors. 

Soon it was warm up time, Louise had some music with her and gathered the juniors to take part in our first warm up before the run started. Almost all the juniors took part and they had smiles from ear to ear whilst jumping up and down and performing high knees etc. 

Warm up done and it was over to Simon to give our first run brief, which was done with an air of relief given how long it has taken to get to this point. Then Simon gave a quick countdown and the Huddersfield juniors test event was under way and the smiles on all of our faces grew substantially as all the hard work was replaced by 33 happy juniors charging down the starting straight towards the first corner.

It wasn't long before the first juniors were coming round to complete their first lap and the time surprised us a little and when the rest of them came through to complete lap one, not one of them had stopped smiling, helped on by all the cheering volunteers around the course. Soon our first junior was crossing the line in an impressive time and still smiling, quickly followed by more and more juniors. 

It soon became clear we had a few little tweeks to change for the inaugural event next week as the funnel system was a little unclear and needed managing a bit better. Plus as we are all used to the main parkrun event and people knowing how the token system works we forgot there might be a few juniors that don't know what to do, so for next week we need to give a clearer run brief our first timers briefing. Other than that the test event went perfectly and all juniors came in smiling and giving us positive feedback on the course and marshals. Best of all the weather fairies also worked their magic for the junior event and held back the rain until everyone had completed their run and had a play in the playground afterwards.

We processed the results as best we could as some of the athletes had registered at the last minute so the system didn't recognise them so we could completely process the results straight away. Simon later put the times up on our Facebook page so that the junior and/or parents could see their times. There were some stand out performances today from the bigger juniors but my star of the week goes to a little girl who was only 4 years old a couple of weeks ago. She crossed the line after running on her own, without an adult in a very impressive and smiley 13.52, a true future star in the making.

So we now have the nervous wait for next week where we will be creating AKoJA (All Kinds of Junior Awesome) at our inaugural event and with a lot more Juniors. As long as we can iron out those little kinks then it should be a very successful event and if we can attract as many marshals as we had today every week then we could have a very popular junior parkrun.

Keep running everyone 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Bluebell 10m Trail run oh... And Trooper lane

Last week I completed the Huddersfield half marathon and thought you couldn't get a tougher run....oh how wrong I was, along came the Bluebell 10m trail run and Trooper lane.

I joined this run at a very late stage thanks to the lovely Pauline who unfortunately couldn't take part anymore and she kindly let me take her place. So I turned up early on Sunday morning to a very busy Heath Rugby Club and was greeted by friendly marshals directing cars to parking spaces close by. When I had parked and walked back to the Club I joined my fellow runners gathering in front of the club house after collecting numbers etc. I met up with Simon, Jo, Neil, Martin, Mark, Pauline, Ian, and many more familiar faces from parkrun and there was lots of sarcastic talk of why are we here can we go home please. It was all centred around the part of the route called Trooper lane which apparently was worse than the killer hill last week at the Huddersfield Marathon. I had heard Trooper lane being talked about for weeks now and was very curious now to find out what everyone was talking about. I was hoping that it was a bad as everyone had been talking about in a slightly sadistic way, plus at the finish there was a river crossing which sounded interesting too.

It was time to head to the start which was across the road in the grounds of Clay House and whilst we were waiting for the start I finally managed to meet Mr Ian Rutson (regularly talked about on the parkrun show, despite them not wanting to). Simon, Mark, HerWerMerNerBen (Ian R) and I were discussing our warm up routines which basically consisted of standing around which we all thought was fair enough. 

After a run brief we were set off and 450+ crazy people were charging round the field in excitement of the upcoming picturesque but devilish run. Running through the Clay house grounds was soon brought to a near standstill as 450 runners had to get through a gateway. Luckily there was a few friendly marshals to help and we were soon on our way again through the woods on a fairly solid woodland trail. I was running quite close to Simon and as I know he is a little faster than me I planned to try and keep with him as long as I could and as we left the woods and joined the canal I even passed him. He wasn't far behind me and that was good because I knew I was keeping a good pace. After what seemed forever we finally left the canal and were directed by yet more friendly marshals around a few bends and along a couple of roads. Until we hit an incline now as I had not done this run before and not knowing the area to well I thought this was the start of Trooper Lane so was almost contemplating walking even at this early stage. Happily I didn't give in to my doubts and kept going and at the corner where I thought we would turn and keep going up I was greeted by a flat road and a couple of helpful marshals helping us cross the road. At this point I knew that this was the last flat before the Trooper beast, and as I rounded the corner the hill started. It was fairly steep to start and then there was a fork in the road with the right fork being Trooper lane and just the sight of it had me walking almost instantly, I need to stop giving into hills so easily but oh well. Simon managed to carry on further and flew past me with ease around the first corner, I started to run again but was still only about a tenth of the way up the hill it wasn't long before the hill became steeper and almost everyone I could see was walking at this point. Some would rest then run a bit some were just happy to walk and a select few were jogging, very slowly but were at least keeping the legs going. Finally we started to reach the top and there was a fairly big crowd cheering people as they reach the top and when you reach the top there was a water station and it was a very welcomed sight. 

The next mile or 2 was a run across the tops of the hills with stunning views not that I could enjoy them as I was trying to keep my feet on the uneven ground. After a steep muddy track down there was another steep hill to climb not as far but it was too soon after the long downhill and the legs just couldn't adjust enough and it wasn't long before me and Simon both started walking again. The next two miles were more of the same downhills and uphill each time getting smaller than the last but as you tackle one you get even more tired and the next one feels just as big last. Finally after countless fields, gates, stiles and steps we were on our final descent into Elland park wood and a 1km long run through the bluebells. It was very beautiful but even surrounded by the lovely bluebells there was a few ups and downs to drag that little extra bit energy out of your already stamina stripped legs. There was one last steep downhill which made your quads scream or your calfs in Simons case before you were finally back on flat roads. With about half a mile to go you pass a very appealing pub which almost makes you stop for pint and a rest but you can also see the marshal up ahead where you drop down onto the canal path, so you know you're nearly there. But even though you're on the canal and you know the river crossing isn't far away it feels like another 5 miles before you start to see and hear the point you cross the river. When I arrived the nice marshals advise you to hold on to the railings as you go down the steps but the way I felt there would have been no way I could have done it without them. As you cross the river there is a banking full of people cheering and taking photos, lots of people were running across but I was too busy enjoying the cold water on my feet. 

After all the uphills and downhill my feet might as well have been on fire so the icy water was fantastic at the end. So when I climbed the bank at the other side and all you can see is this enormous finish funnel lined with people cheering it helps you run for the line and finish in style. 

Fantastic, what a run, and I can say that at least 95% of the runners would say the same. Even if like me you ran round going "oh no more hills" when you cross that line and look back fantastic is pretty much the only way you can sum it up. I crossed the line in a time of 1hr38m which considering the hills and the regular bouts of walking I think is a fantastic time and at my first attempt too.

After you finished you can't help but go back to the river crossing to watch and cheer everyone else across. There was plenty of happy faces and friendly chatter on the banks of the river, with everyone sharing times and their versions of Trooper lane. After all of the parkrun crew had finished we then went for a celebratory drink at the pub we passed near the end of the run, it was a great ending to a excellent morning of fun, friends and running.

Let's see what happens next year, yes?

Keep running everyone

Thank you to Tim Walker, Tony Pinnington and Jo Talbot-Paterson for the pictures they are awesome.