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Friday, 29 June 2012

The Longest parkrun - Yorkshire 2012

The Longest parkrun - Yorkshire (Sunday 24th June 20102)

What is it about?

The Longest parkrun is about bringing geographically clustered parkruns all together on the first Sunday after the longest day in one big celebration of all things parkrun.  It is parkrun tourism gone into overdrive, sampling two months' worth of parkruns in one single day.

The idea is to spend 45 minutes at each of 7 venues and completing a 5K Freedom parkrun at each. But people are free to choose to do some of the venues rather than all of them and to do less than 5K if they choose to do so.

How was it born?

The Longest parkrun -Yorkshire goes back to a post run coffee after one of the Leeds parkruns when I uttered the words 'I've been thinking......'. This was immediately followed by Tom Williams saying 'You know have I!' and Sam Dooley with 'Lets do it' or words to that effect.

We then quickly got ridiculously over enthusiastic and declared that we were going do all the Yorkshire parkruns, numbering 10 at that time, on a date as near to the shortest day of the year as we could arrange.

We put an open invite out and loads of people said they wanted to do it as well.

Within days it then dawned upon us that this was a disaster waiting to happen - taking a big group of people around 10 courses, consisting of 300 miles of driving, with many of the courses needing to be run in the dark and every likelihood of bad weather conditions wasnt something that could be described as sensible.

So we cancelled.

But then as the day grew nearer, and because the seed had now been planted, three of us (Myself, Tom Williams and Guy Willard) just decided to go and give it a go anyway. Tom had also been inspired by another shortest day run and really wanted to do a big challenge involving a lot of running in the dark with head torches (nutter - and to think that they put this man in charge of all the parkruns in the UK :p).

On the day itself most of the parkruns were cancelled due to ice and snow, temperatures were sub zero for most of the day and we finished 3 and a half hours later than we expected - but we did finish and we loved it.

35 miles of running, 300 miles of driving, 10 parkrun courses and a bucket load of exhiliration.

But we were 100% right in cancelling this as an event for more people, it would have been foolhardy in the extreme.

However, the logistical challenges were now more known and there had to be a way of pulling this together in a way that more people could enjoy - the feeling at the end is just brilliant and probably on a par with the overwhelming sense of achievement felt after most marathons.

So, despite having to contend with considerably larger distances than for the original Longest parkrun centred on Bushy, the mission was now born to get an event up and running in time for the 2012 date.

The Route

I was keen to start at Leeds because, being the first ever Longest parkrun outside of London, it was fitting that it should start on the very same spot that saw the first ever parkrun outside of London 5 years earlier. So, after much changing due to various events competing with our use of facilities, the route eventually became:

1. Leeds
2. Roundhay
3. Harrogate
4. York
5. Dewsbury
6. Huddersfield
7. Leeds

The Participants

Our Furthest Traveller

Louise Ayling travelled up to Yorkshire from her home parkrun of Wimbledon to take part. Louise had the very unusual distinction of already having participated in a previous Longest parkrun, the original SW London loop centred on Bushy.

Why did Louise travel so far? Was it worth it? Did she enjoy herself?

I'll let her tell you in her own words:

Leeds  - Leg 1

Roundhay - Leg 2

Harrogate - Leg 3

York - Leg 4

Dewsbury - Leg 5

Huddersfield - Leg 6

Leeds - Leg 7
Canine Paticipation

The Airedale Dodgers sent a crack team of Chris Healey, Tracey Healey, Margaret Fletcher and William, a very cute dog who was described by another runner as 'adorably obedient'. All that I know is that when he hit the floor after crossing the finishing line at York to complete his 4th parkrun of the day, it wasnt in exhaustion but more because he felt that such efforts meant that he deserved to have his chest of course I obliged.

World parkrun Record? 

In the list of completions below  you will see an entry for 'Team Family Newell', this was a team effort by dad Jason, mum Sarah (who actually ran a PB at Roundhay) and 6 year old Jamie.

The 'Survivors' Roll Call
Family Completions:

Team Family Newell - 26:10 (Jason), 32:06 (Sarah), 22:54 (Jason),
24:49 (Jason), 39:04 (Jamie - age 6 in wellies), 33:13 (Sarah), 23:16 (Jason), 27:27 (Jason), 32:50 (Sarah)

Full set of 7 x Full parkruns
Ben Forwood (Leeds) - 30:09, 29:09, 29:56, 39:04, 31:20, 28:59, 29:40

Martin Downey (Huddersfield) - 28:40, 29:11, 29:43, 30:14, 31:07, 34:57, 35:00
Louise Ayling (Wimbledon) - 31:49, 31:34, 31:00, 33:18, 33:40, 33:10, 34:25

Steven King (Redcar) - 31:41,34:06, 39:29, 42:18, 39:58, 39:02, 50:33

Joanne Scantlebury (Leeds) - 30:29, 32:07, 34:00, 33:00, 30:27, 32:27, 34:30

Richard Smart (Pontefract) - 27:50, 31:00, 32:00, 34:00, 35:00, 30:00, XX:XX

Nicki Dawson (Hudderfield) - 29:34, 29:00, 29:53, 33:39, 29:34, 32:17, 33:34

Antony Naulty (Woodbank) - 25:42, 25:22, 24:26, 24:58, 22:25, 24:21, 23:39

John Robson (Roundhay) - 21:00, 20:41, 20:12, 20:50, 19:54, 18:30, 19:55

Helen Barrows (Pontefract) - 27:42, 30:08, 29:19, 33:30, 32:52, 31:53, 36:53

Matthew Kelly (Huddersfield) - 25:41, 24:17, 25:21, 23:45, 21:31, 25:13, 24:22

David Crossley (Barnsley) - 25:49, 27:17, 26:07, 26:22, 25:13, 23:01, 22:52

Michaela Sill (Leeds) - 25:49, 27:17, 26:07, 26:22, 25:13, 23:01, 22:52

Simon Edwards (Huddersfield) - 28:20, 28:42, 30:16, 31:50, 33:06, 33:32, 36:32

Dan Ovington (Pontefract) - 25:31, 25:54, 26:15, 31:13, 33:10, 33:20,41:23

James Vickers (Leeds?) - 23:57, 23:37, 23:08, 25:19, 24:11, 22:16, 23:25

Guy Willard (Leeds) - 27:35, 26:35, 27:35, 23:37, 25:06, 22:39, 23:23

Mike Dunn (Roundhay) - 7 completed, times unknown (approx 25 mins avge)

Matt Jackson (Leeds) - 19:09, 20:07, 20:19, 22:06, 21:06, 20:16, 21:25

Bartosz Lewandowski (Huddersfield) - 25:39, 26:10, 26:06, 27:24, 26:38, 27:06, 28:36

Melvyn Burton (Pontefract) - 28:12, 30:00, 29:27, 31:37, 31:51, 28:54, 31:56

Mark Nicholson (Huddersfield) - 29:36, 32:08, 34:30, 37:06, 39:46, 33:31, 42:57

Steve Darby (Leeds) - 26:10, 19:46, 26:06, 21:47, 25:12, 23:16, 19:37

Deborah Howarth (Huddersfield) - 29:36, 31:44, 32:50, 33:24, 30:09, 32:19, 33:12

Diane Kolat (Huddersfield) - 29:22, 31:24, 30:42, 32:30, 30:37, 32:24, 33:45

Simon Newton (Pontefract) - 18:27, 18:57, 19:24, 19:34, 18:15, 17:35, 17:51

Completion of 1 or more venues:

Liz Guthrie (?) - 5 x Full 30:30, 32:00, 33:00, 32:50, 30:15
Margaret Fletcher (and William the dog)(Airedale Dodgers) - 4 x Full
Chris Healey (Airedale Dodgers) - 4 x Full
Tracey Healey (Airedale Dodgers) - 4 x Full
Lee Dolman (Huddersfield) - 4 x Full
Ken Fox (Leeds) - 3 x Full (between stints photographing the first and last events)
Dan Holdsworth (Leeds) - 2 x Full (19:44, 23:16)
Kerry Noble (Huddersfield) - 2 x Full
Lorraine Ovington (Pontefract) - 1 x Full, 1 x 1 Lap
Dawn Broom (Hull) - 1 x Full (21:30)
John Broom (Hull) - 1 x Full (18:06)
John Cassells - 1 x Full (30:25)
Joanna Cassells - 1 x Full (30:25)
Tom Williams (Leeds) - 1 x Full (19:24)
Catherine Thompson (Barnsley) - 1 x Full (35:00), 3 x 2 Laps, 1 x 1.5 Laps
Mark Harrison (Barnsley) - 4 x 2 Laps, 1 x 1.5 Laps

The 7 x Sub 20:00 Challenge

There had been a couple of attempts in previous years to run each of the 7 legs of the Longest parkrun in under 20:00 but the task hadnt yet been achieved. It was a challenge that caught the imagination of Simon Newton of Barnsley Harriers and so he threw the gauntlet down and went after the elusive string of 7 sub 20:00 clockings. To help him on his way a group of people offered to provide pacemaking services:

Leeds 1 - No pacemaker
Roundhay - Steve Darby
Harrogate - Tom Williams
York - Steve Darby
Dewsbury - Dan Holdsworth
Huddersfield -  Matthew Pierson
Leeds 2 - John Broom

The challenge started well (Simon Newton to the right) :
and kept on going well for all of 1.5 miles, until this happened:

but he valiantly picked himself off the floor to complete the first run in a remarkable (considering the circumstances) 18:27

Despite  this less than perfect start to the challenge the next five courses were run in times of 18:57, 19:24, 19:34, 18:15 and 17:35. And so it came to the 7th and final run at Leeds and equipped with a shiny new pacemaker in the shape of John Broom (who had actually run 18 miles earlier in the day) Simon set off in pursuit of the final sub 20:00 clocking:
.....and brought it home in an incredibly impressive last leg of 17:51.


Does It Feel Good To Complete A Longest parkrun?

I think these pictures of Ben Forwood and Helen Sharp might give a clue:

Special Thanks

Helen Durrant (York parkrun Event Director) - A fantastic effort in getting a new course sorted out in a matter of days.
Linda Bussey (Bradford parkrun Event Director) - For saving our skins on Saturday evening.
Kerry Noble (Huddersfield parkrun Event Director) - For remaining calm and composed when faced with the prospect of running a parkrun right through the middle of 20,000 people.
Nicki Dawson (Dewsbury parkrun Event Director) - For providing the backup plan.
David Crossley/Michaela Sill - For the efficient production of course maps to keep people on the right track.
Dr Ken Fox - For taking all these much appreciated photographs.

 A couple of those deserving of special thanks, Event Directors Nicki Dawson (Dewsbury) and Kerry Noble (Huddersfield), giving it full beans on the last leg at Leeds.

And My Favourite Quote.....

....actually came from someone who didnt even take part. Liz Jones (Leeds) posted on Facebook after the event:
'Spare a thought for those of us who did none of the venues and just think how envious we now feel!'

Thats looks like one person whos already signed up for next year :)

The Next Event

Will be on Sunday June 23rd 2013 - make a note in your diaries!