Thanks very much to Steve for sharing a few of his many parkrun stories!
Name: Steve Darby
Home parkrun: Pegasus (Previous home parkruns in order: Leeds (now Woodhouse Moor), Dewsbury, Bradford)
Occupation: Dispensary Operator, Synlait Milk
Number of Runs: 400
Number of times volunteered: Officially 36 but many more unrecorded especially in the earlier years. Also ED at Dewsbury and then parkrun Ambassador in the Yorkshire region, which involved assessing courses, training new teams and generally supporting new parkruns.
Favourite volunteer role: They are all as rewarding, as long as you are doing something that helps make the event happen thats all that matters.
I volunteer at parkrun because: It is the best way to get to know lots of interesting regulars and visitors.
One thing I love about parkrun is: Whichever parkruns you go to anywhere in the world they all possess the same DNA which enables them to break down the barriers between so called ‘club runners’ and beginners/joggers. The attached photo is a great example of this in action. This was mine and Hannnah’s second visit to Bere Island parkrun off the south coast of Ireland. We had been a few weeks earlier to their inaugural run but this particular week in December 2014 really summed up what parkrun is all about. On the day in question the attendance was very nearly the entire population of the island with children, parents, grandparents and everyone else mingled in with not one but two Olympians in their midst, Sonia O’Sullivan (ex World Champion at 5000m) and Noel Berkeley (The Running Guru). The chap loitering by the telegraph pole in the background may also be recognisable to one or two people as PSH, the founder of some worldwide phenomenon known as parkrun. If this kind of event can’t break down barriers then nothing will.
My most memorable parkrun moment was: With 400 parkruns across 194 different venues there have been quite a few memorable moments. Amongst them:
1. Running something like 8km at the inaugural Worsley Woods parkrun in Manchester. Peter Woodward and myself took a wrong turn somewhere in the woods and got engrossed in a head to head battle down an old disused railway line. It was only when we had got well passed 5km and still had no sight of any finishing area that realisation suddenly set in! About turn…..
2. Heaton parkrun, also in Manchester, has been run three times each being quite memorable in it’s own way. a) Heaton is now 375 events old but back in 2009 at Event no. 1 there were just 32 runners in a typical Manchester downpour. The course map looked a little complicated but it didn’t matter because there was a lead bike! Unfortunately, I think the rider of the lead bike also found the course map a little confusing and crossing the line in 16:37 quickly confirmed that something was amiss. To this day that is still the quickest time to complete a parkrun but a bit of adjustment had to be applied to come up with some realistic results. Those were the days.
b) The second visit to Heaton was memorable because of pain. A dog owner whistled her labrador at exactly the wrong moment causing a squealing collision with both of us going head over heels leaving trails of skin and blood along the path. After the shock wore off we both got to our feet and gingerly continued with our respective running activities.
c) The third visit was several years later in December 2014 and attracted a lot of media attention including national TV coverage. The reason for the interest was that it was the day on which the ex marathon world record holder, Ron Hill, completed his 50 years streak of running on every single day. Hannah has a pretty impressive run streak of around 1500 consecutive days going at the moment but that streak of Ron’s was well over 18,000 consecutive days of running. Unfortunately it has now recently had to end due to illness but it served Ron well over the years.
3. The inaugural Graves parkrun in Sheffield in 2012 had an unusual incident. Being a 2 lap course we set off on the first lap without incident. However, as we came around to start the second lap we were confronted with a bouncy castle blocking the route. If nothing else it shows how quickly those things can be erected but the confusion resulted in runners scattering all over the place to get back on route.
This photo is of Hannah and myself at our first Australian parkrun at Maribyrong in 2015.
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