Thursday 3 January 2019

Retrospective 2018 wager update

The 2018 wager was who could knock the most off their all-time parkrun PB. Adrian was the only one who managed to beat their all-time PB in 2018 so scooped the whole pot.

The next wager is still in the development phase. More info to come.

Sunday 30 September 2018

Parkrun Standard Scratch Score (SSS) Map occasionally publish the standard scratch scores of parkruns (most recently here). I want to find the easiest fastest parkrun near me so that I can dominate my friends.

Therefore, here is a map of all the parkrun SSS's mapped:

The locations of all parkruns will not be exact because the plotted point is just the name of the parkrun, not the exact parkrun location (e.g. 'Stratford-upon-Avon', not 'Recreation Ground, Swans Nest Lane, Stratford upon Avon').

The numbers indicate the ranking on's SSS list.

Monday 25 July 2016

3x1 Mile Relay

The #roadtosub20 team put in another EPIC relay performance today at Battersea park.

The time was in the region of 16:45, but official times will be released tomorrow. A sleepless night of anticipation awaits us all.

Saturday 25 June 2016

Saturday 19 March 2016

Goodbye Devil Shoes

The friendly new trainers

I did my first park run in my new trainers today and I'm pleased to report that the skin on my feet is all intact.
Stupid cursed trainers are on the way to charity.
Good riddance!!

Monday 29 June 2015

parkrun tourism and why I want to win one

***   I'd like to start this blog post by preempting the pedants amongst the readers.  I am aware that parkrun is a run and not a race.  If I accidentally call it a race, I do so meaning a race against oneself or a race against friends.  It is, after all, these friendships and the rivalries forged from them that drive many of us to self improvement.  That is the spirt of #RoadToSub20   ***

The apartment and ferry were booked, we were to drive down towards Bordeaux to a small town called Saint-Quentin-de-Baron where we would have our first holiday as a family, the wife, the child and I.  Naturally I'd packed my trainers and some suitably luminous T-shirts with the plan to slip out early on the occasional morning to log some scenic miles.  "Will you do parkrun in France?" she asked.  The thought hadn't even occurred to me to check if France was a participating country.  As it turns out, it is.

Les Dougnes is the first parkrun in France and as luck would have it only an hours drive from where we were staying.  It was settled, I would get my weekly parkrun fix.  With a little further investigation, as one does, it became apparent that Les Dougnes parkrun had been started just two weeks prior to our family break, another happy coincidence, at this rate people will start to think that I planned our holiday around this 5k run (For the record, and if anyone will believe me, I didn't).

A quick glance at the previous results showed that there were 12 participants on the inaugural run and just a single runner on the second outing.  Initially it was the thought of being part of a fledgling event in a country that had not had the pleasure of the parkrun spirit that got me excited.  But when I saw the times I got a pang of intrigue.  The first place finisher on the first week did so in a time of 20'42", that same athlete was then the sole runner on the second week with a time of 35'57".  My progress recently has seen me post times edging towards 20 minutes and so my mind turned to going for the win.  There were several factors to consider, what would the terrain be like?  Was this mystery athlete on form on his first outing or just coasting?  Would he even be there?  Upon reflection these were all out of my control so I decided to prep well and see what happened on the day.

This desire to win got me thinking, I've always been fairly competitive but why did I want to get the first place finishers token so much?  It wasn't the thrill of going toe to toe with another runner, we all love a good burn up on the finishing straight but there were too many unknown factors for that to be the answer.  I boiled it down to this - I'm into the stats of my running (I'm sure readers of this blog know this already), and coming first would be an absolute.  I often check my performances on Power of 10 and Run Britain to see where I came, top 50% of the field, top 20% top 10%, and have revelled in improving over the unnamed masses over the last year.  But regardless of the competition, to come first would be a tick in a box of achievements.  Please don't think of me as naive, I'm aware that there will always be faster runners out there, lots of them, but for my own game of collecting stats, winning was something I wanted to do.

A quartet of runners.

There was yet another happy coincidence, fellow Hilly Field parkrunner and Kent ACer David Devlin and his wife were in France and due to Les Dournes too.  How about that for a stroke of luck.

Les Dougnes is easy to find, it's right next to the massive electrical sub-station just as it says on their web page.  What I'd failed to read on the webpage was that park runs across the channel start at 8:30am!  I thought I'd left plenty of time so rocked up at a leisurely 8:30ish only to see Dave gesticulating for me to hurry up.  "Come on, they were gonna start but I saw you pull up in the car park so I got them to wait for you'.  Realising the error in my ways I got myself ready and dashed over to the starting point where I meet Anita who was run directing and her partner Alex (The mystery athlete).  A quick introduction, a well rehearsed run briefing and we were off.

On our way - The group is made up of 75% Hilly Fields parkrunners
The course is a 3 lapper, with mildly undulating terrain consisting of 90% sun drenched gravel track and 10% woodland trail.  Even ay 8:30 it was HOT! Anita and Alex were excellent hosts, they'd even brought tea and coffee with them so that after the run we could head to the shaded woodland area there there were picnic benches.  Anita told us that she's not promoted this run in any way yet wanting to iron out any kinks before too many people get wind of it.  Also seems like a good idea to me to start it out in the sticks where it can grow organically rather than Bordeaux where it would very much be under the spotlight.  I have every confidence that this run will grow as Anita intends it too and if the welcome we received is anything to go by then I'm sure is will easily become one of the friendliest parkruns out there.

And to the results... I did indeed win my first parkrun.  Don't believe me?  Here's a pic of the first place finishers token.

Still don't believe me? Check out the Results page.

Alex may not have been aware of the race he was in that day but he really helped me enjoy the experience by pushing me all the way.  I'm also pleased to report that Alex's course record remains intact, did I mention it was very hot?  Maybe next time eh?

Fantastic day, great people, milestone achieved.  All in all a memorable holiday experience.


Please don't forget you can sponsor me to run the Berlin Marathon in September at my Just Giving Page.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

2nd attempt at Sub 20

While Adrian was trying (and failing) at a sub 20 attempt, I found myself running in the extremely difficult, but picturesque Ashton Court parkrun. 2.5km uphill, turn around, 2.5km downhill. One of the good points of a simplistic course like that, is that it makes for interesting split times: a glance of the stopwatch at halfway revealed I’d taken 13.20 to get to the top of the hill. My finishing time? 23.16. 

So with that knowledge, it should be immediately clear to the reader that I had abandoned much hope of winning this bet long ago. Bar some long term injury, or horrific mid-race attack involving a dangerous escapee from London Zoo, both my competitors were too far ahead for me to ever mount a competitive challenge. I could point to my prolonged absence from exercise as an excuse, and there is some truth in that (in the parkrun directly before my operation I was only 20 seconds behind Adrian), but that only tells a small part of the story. In truth, Adrian’s dedication had been his biggest asset; probably putting in more effort than Tommy and I put together. He deserved to win the pot for that alone. 

In addition, he’d conducted himself with good grace (with the exception of his shenanigans at Peckham). I’ll admit to being disappointed when I saw he had missed the mark by just 10 seconds. 

So it was with some excitement that I joined him on the start line of Fulham Palace parkun. Adrian was planning another assault on the sub 20 barrier, and had extended this invite to Tommy and I. 

Both of us had accepted, but Tommy admitted to “being nervous that Adrian was going to win the pot all week.” So sure was he that he’d brought along a mini bottle of Prosecco as a surprise to celebrate Adrian’s achievement. 

There was a reason he chose that particular venue. That corner of west London is particularly flat, and rumour had it that the course is fast.  

The rumours are true.

I kept on Adrian's heels for as long as I could (roughly 1km) but eventually I had to surrender ground and run my own race.

So the second attempt at a sub 20 time was well underway, and Adrian had settled into his pace.  Infact that is incorrect: Adrian had settled into a pace he couldn't maintain.  I crossed the line to see him lying breathless in the morning sun.  "I detonated" he exclaimed, pointing to his time of 20.10.  

So that was that...Except it wasn't.

Next to Adrian was an even more breathless Tommy.  It turns out that the threat of Adrian winning was enough to spur him on to an outstanding performance, surprising everyone with a stellar time of 19.40.

Tommy hadn't so much broken the 20 minute barrier, but had flamboyantly smashed it into pieces, and rebuilt it in his own form.

Tommy celebrating in front of some bags...obviously

So after exactly 40 weeks the pot is won, in a most surprising fashion.  Or maybe it's not surprising...Tommy was the fastest when we started the bet.  Perhaps, after all this we've learnt nothing?

'Champagne' celebration

I'm being flippant of course.  I can only speak personally, but the past 40 weeks have changed the way I think about my health, from how much exercise I do, to what I eat.  I thought I was in reasonable shape before; it turns out I was wrong

Now, the question moves on to 'What next?'  All three of us have decided it's easier (and more inspiring), to think of a new challenge rather than cancel the direct debit.

This Friday, we take to the pub to discuss how we can structure our new challenge.  All ideas welcome.

The sun doesn't set on #RoadtoSub20, like all amateur athletes, we just move on to the next target.

The #RoadtoSub20 athletes, with a couple of partners.  All except Adrian ran a PB