Volunteer, Run, Support

This is what I did this weekend.  My body is telling me that it was great fun, incredibly rewarding and very tiring.

In order, marshalling at Clair pakrun, 14 miles along the South Downs Way, then lots of clapping, cheering and laughing at the London Marathon.

trypticI was tucked away at the top of the downhill section to marshal on Saturday at parkrun.  It’s a really good spot as you see people before they head off down the hill, although there is a spell for a few minutes when you don’t see anyone until the quick boys come past on the second lap.

On Saturday, it was great to announce the parkrunner of the month for March.  The winner, Sue, was there on day one and typifies what parkrun means to us. She comes down with her family, friends and neighbours and is always smiling.  She’s getting quicker as well and removed a huge chunk from her PB on pacer day.

I am currently in that bizarre space between recovering from one marathon and preparing for the next one.  It is 3 weeks until 3 Forts. I’m not really sure what to do.  I’ve never been in this position before with 2 marathons in quick succession.  I don’t really know what to do, but I think that my legs told me on Saturday.

Jay and I took the train over to Shoreham and ran home.  This takes in part of the 3 Forts course and I really love this part of the South Downs.  I know it very well from my cycling days.


SDW with JayAs well happen at the 3 Forts, we walked up the hills and ran the flat and downhill.

It was a bit of a struggle to get over Newtimber and the downhill sections are pretty steep, which is not the best way for my knees to spend the afternoon.  We did, however, make it back home in just over 2 and a half hours, which is the pace that I am going to be aiming for at 3 Forts.

It’s pretty easy to see from these photos why it is so great to make the effort to get up onto the South Downs Way.

10176002_10152052713948870_2040554537413339855_n1512449_10152052715343870_5976631921960673036_n10169233_10152052715903870_8481679623874353493_n 10259815_10152052716533870_542809171765658726_nSunday was London Marathon day.  I was more excited about supporting in London, than running in Brighton.  A lot more relaxed as well.

We got a really early train up and there were still lots of spaces at the barriers a couple of hundred metres from Tower Bridge.  Perfect.

10150525_10152056568983870_2457589160389092157_n10169308_10152054474513870_7659699769772001314_n10152581_10152054477933870_8913362640678586277_nAnd the parkrun meagephone even had a day out.

The first athletes who came through were the para-athletes.  It was pretty awesome to see these people.  Partially sighted or blind runners with their guides and amputees all went through.  It’s quite humbling and amazing to see how people overcome adversity.

1517529_10152054473723870_1631592760488459157_n10177861_10152054473523870_8544618290293146915_n10150518_10152054473128870_481376892090664372_nFinally, we saw Richard Whitehead.  This chap touched the hearts of many people during the Olympics and the place went crazy as he ran past.  It must have been such a buzz for him, as I imagine that was the reception he got most of the way round.

10172623_10152054474858870_5946735370797703889_nThe ladies soon came through at a fair rate of knots, followed closely behind by the men, including Mr Farah..

10250232_10152054474173870_6371328723228009484_n1006089_10152054475158870_8858036540090337016_nAnd then came the very impressive club runners and the masses.

10259935_10152054476018870_1692973975754862344_n1613984_10152054475503870_2087654854679487562_nWe watched all of our club runners come through and then headed off on the long walk over Tower Bridge, along the river to mile 25 miles.  It’s a long walk, but worth it.  It was still possible to get to the barriers to cheer people on.

The noise on the Embankment was at a different level.  It was the cheering point for many of the charities and the volume increased each time a specific charity’s runner went past.

This is where people need the help and they got it.

10176204_10152054478538870_4904806607836249576_n10006946_10152054479378870_8002352559975809149_n10154245_10152054478563870_5338783034525163681_n10178140_10152054479008870_2319659398545009841_n1781928_10152054478933870_5431676588939989938_n10246436_10152054479138870_1975636437013883556_n10250164_10152054479648870_152317070625188737_n10245579_10152054480238870_5231820463874588388_n1491692_10152054480423870_2912327495231922885_n10167934_10152054480648870_2227124048735896155_n10013585_10152054480088870_2378244714454393288_nIf ever there was any doubt in my mind about getting up very early on a Sunday morning, when I could have done with staying in bed, then I think that these photos prove that going to London was the best idea I have had for some time.

Well done to everyone for doing this, runners and supporters.  Well done all those BHR people who reached some amazing personal goals.  The most incredible performance came from Helen Pratt.  2 marathons in 2 weeks and the smile on her face on Sunday was just amazing.


So, it was time for a quick beer at the lovely Blackfriars Station before heading home after the most incredibly rewarding and tiring weekend for some time.


February at parkrun

February was the second of my 2 months as volunteer co-ordinator. I had done a 2 month stint last year, but I really thought January and February would have been much more difficult than it was.

It still amazes me the amount of good will from the volunteers, many of whom volunteer week in week out.  In February we also had quite a few first time volunteers, which is really nice.

Week one saw a bit of water in the park.

1619403_207189719480083_1576289392_nThe following week, we saw lots of water.

1896911_209570175908704_478340632_nThe last 2 weeks of the month were almost dry, although there was a mad panic as a fallen tree was blocking the path on Friday and the event would have had to be cancelled if we couldn’t get it moved.  Luckily, the council were brilliant and they moved the poor tree and cut branches to make it passable. During another storm on Friday night another tree came down, but luckily only half blocked the path, so the event could go ahead.

Numbers in February have been fantastic, apart from the 3rd week when we have the doubt over the fallen trees and it was half term.  Every other week we had more than 100.  I would love to average over 100 runner each week during 2014.  I think we can do it.

We also had a great really nice visitors this month.  We had a big group come over from Eastbourne parkrun.  They were a really lovely group of people.  Again, of different abilities and very friendly.  We also had a 250 t-shirt in the park, which belonged to Becky Thurtell. She visited with David Piper, who himself had a 100 t-shirt. We were also visited by the Flynn family. 5 of them ran with well over 600 parkruns between them (photos below).

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We have now ordered the pacer t-shirts.  We are going to have numbers 24 to 34 minutes on the t-shirts in order to cover the bulk of the runners.  We had planned to start this in February but it just didn’t happen. I’m really looking forward to launching pacer day.  It will really add to the event and I love seeing people have the chance to improve their achievements.

It’s been another amazing month for juniors in Clair Park. One of the reasons for launching parkrun was to help give others the chance to do sport in the way I did when I was a kid. I was amazing lucky.  I had 2 incredible supportive parents who did all they could to support me in my sporting activities and a school that was incredible.  In the last 2 week of the month around a quarter of the runners were juniors.  They run to the start line to get to the front and then rush to get to the first corner first.

IMG_6507We have already handed out quite a few 10 t-shirts (Orson and Lewis have theirs in the photo above) and there are a lot more on 6, 7 or 8 run, who will get to 10 runs in the next month or so.

A very wet Clair parkrun 8th February 2014

I’m not going to write about parkrun every week. To be perfectly honest, it’d get a bit dull.

However, if anything out of the ordinary happens, then I will make an exception.

The weather has been appalling for the last few months.  More rain than I can remember falling before.  When we first started to plan parkrun around this time last year, we visited Clair Park and it had been raining heavily.  The section at the bottom of the course was totally flooded.  I imagine that it is down to the drains getting blocked following the leaf fall.

So I guess what greeted us was to be expected.  I had no particular role this week, so I was free to take some photos and I was lucky that it happened this week.

Here are a selection of the photos I took.  There are more at – https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.209565615909160.1073741864.136451203220602&type=3

1908115_209565805909141_1642140366_n 1907921_209570249242030_1216276450_n 1907572_209569959242059_25559404_n 1798628_209568785908843_929661987_n 1620428_209567189242336_294319873_n 1620927_209566525909069_1236391388_nI did wonder how people would react to this, especially the juniors. It was amazing.  Everyone got stuck in and seemed to relish it.

There seemed to be a real buzz afterwards today, as people had something extra to talk about.

The power of parkrun does not and hopefully will never cease to amaze me.

January at parkrun

January at parkrun was fantastic.  We managed to avoid the rain on the day of the event, but there was often standing water at the bottom of the course and the finish area is a bit of a mess.  Still working on that.

We averaged over 120 people per week, with 481 people completed the course in the 4 weeks in January.

I am keen to encourage local running groups / fitness groups to visit parkrun on a Saturday morning as a social event for the group to get together and also have a lovely 5km trot around a park.

It was really lovely to welcome the Aspire ‘We Run Hassocks’ group on the 11th January.  There were 17 or 18 of them and I recognised quite a few of them from passing them on the streets of Hassocks.  They share the same ethos that we do at parkrun.  There is a big range of abilities and everyone is extremely encouraging to each other.


It was also really nice to present t-shirt to quite a few juniors this month.  Lily and Lewis have both run all of their parkruns at Clair, so may not have been parkrunners if we hadn’t launched in Haywards Heath.  They are both from families who have really embraced parkrun as well, as siblings and parents are also running regularly.


We also presented December’s parkrunner of the month.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult to decide on the parkrunner of the month.  The folks at Tilgate warned us of this.  The awarded Jay with the award and here are his new shoes courtesy of Sweatshop.

jays shoes

Jay and his family have become and massive part of the parkrun team and there does seem to be a hole if they are not there.

Clair parkrun – 4th January 2014 – Friends from Australia

parkrun on the 4th was a pretty special one for me.  I had been looking forward to the New Year and the inevitable bounce in numbers that the New Year brings.  parkrun has never really been a question of numbers for me, more a question of creating a welcoming atmosphere for people to enjoy themselves.  However, the lure of getting an attendance in 3 figures each week was pretty strong.  We had 91 runners today as well.  Given the bad weather, not a bad figure.  100+ here we come.

I have been conversing on Facebook and Twitter for a while now with the McGaw family who are heavily involved with parkrun in New South Wales in Australia.  They are in Sussex visiting relatives and have decided to tour round 3 Sussex parkruns.  They have already visited Hove and Preston Park before coming down to Clair.  It was brilliant to swap running tops with David and to meet the whole family.

Neil and David - Copy

I bought a cake from the Real Patisserie and decorated it with the relevant flags.


It is really interesting to see that the parkrun experience over the other side of the world is the same as it is in the UK and it is fantastic to meet such like-minded people trying to achieve the same as us.  It was a real eye opener to talk about the increasing obesity problem in Australia and worries that they have over here.  Given that they are such a great sporting nation with the outdoor lifestyle that we perceive, it is hard to imagine that this is such an issue over there as well.