An early review of 2012 and a brief glimpse at 2013

It’s normal to look back at the events of a year and decide how successful it’s been at the end of December. However, I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while so here goes…

At the start of 2012, I was Event Director of one parkrun; Eastleigh. Participation was building nicely with the attendance record towards the end of January. Iwan Thomas turned up for the New Years Day event and was largely responsible for helping to draw new runners to parkrun.

In Feburary, I was shortlisted for Eastleigh’s Sports Awards Senior Volunteer of the Year for the voluntary time I put into parkrun. It was an honour to be put forward and be shortlisted. I was also shortlisted to carry the Olympic Torch but, unfortunately, wasn’t chosen. I had a 1 in 10 chance though so can’t be disappointed.

Skip forward a couple of months and the popularity of Eastleigh parkrun meant that the management in charge of the University fields where the event was held decided that we’d outstayed our welcome and that they needed to reseed the field in the areas damaged by our runners. This left us with a problem; no venue for our event.

Fortunately, the park management team at Royal Victoria Country Park were more than happy to accommodate our event temporarily and, as it turns out, permanently as we set up a new parkrun there in 10 days. Some achievement and still the fastest parkrun activation (thanks largely due to not needing to find an event team).

While Netley Abbey parkrun started up, we needed to secure a new venue in Eastleigh as Lakeside was too small for the growth of runners. Fortunately, Eastleigh Borough Council came forward with the suggestion of using the Old Golf Course at Fleming Park. This is a gem of a park largely unused in recent years due to the golf course and the public feeling as if they were forbidden to access the land.

Netley Abbey was growing nicely and we started up Eastleigh parkrun again and the Old Golf Course proved popular. Within a short time, Southampton City Council decided that they wanted to get in on the action and have a parkrun so my 3rd parkrun was conceived. It was great that with a little persuasion we were allowed to use Southampton Common as this is relatively flat and very well located.

In the background, I was involved in initial meetings with local council with regards to setting up parkruns in the Havant and Farnham areas. Although my involvement ended after the first meeting where the idea was sold convincingly, Havant parkrun has become well-established and I shall be visiting Alice Holt parkrun near Farnham tomorrow.

Between Eastleigh, Netley Abbey and Southampton parkruns, we’re seeing close to 500 runners in total participating each week which is great (hope to grow that to 650-750 next year). We have a team of over 15 Run Directors covering the 3 events and each event is self-managing thereby freeing myself up to both run and turn my attention to new challenges!

In terms of my running, it’s been ok. Some average performances at 10Ks at the start of the year and some poor performances at the Solent Half Marathon and Great South Run in the Autumn. Mostly down to illness and a lack of quality training. On the plus side, after about 30 years, I’ve taken up swimming again and now go 2 – 3 times a week. I’m slowly making progress but need to improve for reasons that will follow in a moment. Things aren’t all bad though as my parkrun PB is within reach (just 8 seconds away from current performance) and my last parkrun was my highest ever age-grading.

Earlier this month, I was asked to be Guest Speaker at a conference for the local Sport and Physical Activity Alliances. These are committees made up of Sports Development Officers from the local councils and service providers who are all focused on reducing the number of people that take no exercise and increasing the percentage of those that do. The chosen subject was parkrun of course and it was great to highlight what a positive impact parkrun is having within most of the boroughs in Hampshire (with parkruns in Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Havant, Netley Abbey and Southampton and new parkruns due immintently in Alice Holt and Brockenhurst). I was also asked to start the Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race. Was great to be asked and do that role.

And so, I look briefly to 2013. My aims (as detailed elsewhere in the blog) are to follow a plan that sees improved performances at 5K, 10K, half marathons and more. As well as hoping to compete in the Bramley 20 (mile), I hope to finish the Brighton Marathon and complete my first triathlon at Eastleigh. If those aren’t challenges enough, I’ve agreed to Race Direct the Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race. Hopefully my organisational skills and experience will make that fairly straightforward.

In summary, a pretty good 2012 and hopes for a great 2013!

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