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