After several months of preparation, this morning was the trial event for Southampton Juniors parkrun.
I’ve been passionate about starting a juniors event for quite a while partly for selfish reasons; I wanted a parkrun both my sons could enjoy. Although Daniel has completed almost 30 parkruns including one junior parkrun, he’s much happier running shorter distances than the 5km.
Having spent 5 months helping to organise the Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race (must remember to blog about that), I’ve only really had a week to focus on the final preparation for the juniors parkrun.
The venue and course was already agreed so I spent several hours preparing for the event. This included:
- making up signs
- organising the equipment for the event
- preparing printing out various documentation and forms for use by the Run Directors and event team
- organising volunteer rota
- writing notes for the pre-run briefing
This morning (Sunday 10th November), I loaded up the car and headed down to Riverside Park at 8:10am. As I pulled into the car park, Donna Lovelock, one of our Run Directors, arrived.
We were soon joined by several more of the core team including Sarah and Paul Shave, Emily Smith and Steve Robinson.
At this point it got a little hectic as parents and their children started to arrive. We set to work setting up the course. Although I had worked out signage requirements, I found myself making up new signs. I’m not quite sure where they ended up!!
There was a fair amount to do and Steve and the Shaves did most of the signage whilst Donna organised the volunteers.
It was great to see quite a few friends there including Philippa, Aaron, Laura (3 of the Thunder Run 24 team I’m organising) and Clare all with their children there. It was also great to see Winchester parkrun’s Event Directing team, Tansy and Dave Gill and their two daughters. The park was rapidly filling up with Junior parkrunners and their parents.
Our lead runner and tail runner couple, Ant Gritton (RunCamp’s main coach) and LIndsey Newbold arrived. Ant was also leading the children with a dynamic warmup prior to the run. What a star!!
Andrew Gould and his son did a great job of setting up the finish funnel.
Although I’d rehearsed the morning in my head, when it came down to it, everything was far more rushed than I’d hoped and before I knew it, it was 8:55am and time to start the pre-run briefing.
With such a diverse range of ages, it was difficult knowing quite how to pitch the briefing so I tried to keep it simple and light-hearted. Not sure if it worked but I got through it without too many puzzled expressions.
Before long, it was time to introduce Ant so he could do the pre-run warmup.
I had hoped to watch it intently but got sidetracked by something. Really can’t remember what now though!!
A little after 9am and we were ready for the start. 47 children and assorted adults set off on their 2km adventure around the course.
I went down to speak with Clare and watched the runners as they headed off on the course.
After about 5 minutes, the lead runners had completed the longer of the two laps so I headed back to the finish area to try and guide the runners into the funnel. Some of the children worked out that I was guiding them into the cones path to the funnel. Some were less aware of what I was trying to do and, as several people said afterwards, it was like herding cats!!
Emily took some great photos of the event.
The tail runner, Lindsey, reached the finish in about 17 minutes so we were done and dusted by 9:25 and left the park having packed up by 9:35am. I was home by 9:40am!!
Denise and the boys had other plans for the morning so I had chance to sort out all the equipment and prepare for the inaugural event, make up a fee more signs and then process the results. After a few posts on Facebook, time to write a quick run report, I was able to relax.
Many thanks to all the event team, volunteers, parents and children. I’m really pleased the event went well and proud to have been able to bring a new parkrun to life. This one is special to me. A Junior parkrun. Truly helping to inspire a new generation. Daniel has wanted a Junior parkrun ‘in his back garden’ since he ran at Bushy Juniors parkrun in the summer and, as I promised him on that visit, he’s now got one (not quite in his back garden but within 5 minutes from home) that hopefully he and his brother can enjoy with friends old and new for the next 7 years or more.
Although I’ve been Event Director of 3 parkruns (Eastleigh, Netley Abbey and Southampton) and have passed that role onto others once the events have established, I plan to Event Direct this junior event for as long as I can and hope that my family will become an integral part of the event. Several friends are already really excited about their children being able to enjoy the event on a regular basis. I can’t wait for the inaugural event and for the event to help make a difference to the fitness of local children.