Milton Keynes parkrun, a History. Part II. The First Five Years

Looking back it is fascinating seeing how parkrun has evolved, how the tone has changed, and how we have been able to reward our running community. I do wonder if, perhaps, the anniversaries didn’t mean as much to be early on. It was a bigger deal when we reached 20 runs! For our 2nd anniversary I didn’t even write a report, I just posted up the numbers. Maybe I was too tired on the back of a 4th consecutive sub 20, the first three of which were all PBs? After that we had the wonderful Paul Woodward taking over as editor-in-chief, so we have his words to thank too.

The first five years in numbers

It is the numbers that really interest me. You will see that in our first year we had 1058 different runners attend the event. On 31st August 2019 we had 1075 run that single morning. That record didn’t last long, but that is next weeks story.

In the early years we were always inclusive, but not proactively so. We used to write race reports, we celebrated winners, we awarded trophies to those runners that scored the most points in a year. Now I prefer to celebrate everyone. In 2013 I donated two concrete cows to Milton Keynes parkrun. Ahead of the curve, I wanted a sustainable award for the future. One that shouted out “We love Milton Keynes!”. I think you will agree that the concrete cows do exactly that.

Those first five years were a steep learning curve. The technology moved on leaps and bounds. When we launched we had been sent metal discs for the positions, replaced by the first iteration of barcodes just in time for event 1. The Access database had to updated every Friday night, and we would scan off a hand held scanner enabling an auto-search of 50-60,000 athlete records (On my first parkrun we had to search by typing in each persons name, or their code if they knew it. Imagine trying that now. I had to cancel for floods, snow and ice, create different routes (another part of this series). And deal with the runner’s heartache at reaching milestones yet not having the t-shirts available. You may recall we started with Nike, moving through Adidas and onto Tribe.

I would not have been able to do any of it, if it wasn’t for an incredible team. Right from the off I had runners asking if they could help out volunteering, and I soon was soon surrounded by wonderful people. I am glad to know all of you as my friends. Thank you.

After our 5th anniversary parkrun exploded, and you can read all about that, next week.

Below are some excerpts from each run report (except 2012) and links to the originals as they creep beyond 2000 words

Race Report – Event 53 , January 15th 2011

Happy Birthday To Us

As soon as I started singing I regretted it. In my mind I sound like the love child of Bryn Terfel and Jon Bon Jovi but I do suspect that in reality I sound like Cheryl Cole before digital enhancement, and my vocal chords reminded me of this immediately. But I bravely soldiered on and as you all joined in I think I was sufficiently drowned out.

We had an incredible 215 parkrunners, smashing our previous best by 65, I am truly amazed at the turnout and I hope it stays that busy.

We also gave out 10 t-shirts to Sophie Atkins, Charlie Fenton & Mel Wood. Congratulations to you all. Laura Fuller, yours is waiting for you!

As for the race itself, it was easily won by Rob Baker, despite going off course at 1km as he followed the Movember 10k markings. Well done Rob


Race Report – Event 106, January 21 2012

MiltonKeynes parkrun started on 16th January 2010, and since then 2,620 different runners, including participants from 165 athletics clubs, have completed 16,390 runs covering a total distance of 81,950 km, and there have been 4,007 new Personal Bests.

MiltonKeynes parkrun event number 157 19th January 2013

Wearing shorts was a bad idea!

This week there were 149 runners braving the snow, of whom 14 were first timers and somehow 9 people recorded new Personal Bests! Representatives of 18 different athletics clubs took part.

We had a number of celebrations prior to the run including some milestone T-shirts presented (well done Ami Gardner and Sam Bickle). There are still a number of T-shirts to be claimed so if you have earned one and not yet received it then let us know. We also had a very moo-ving and emotional moment with the presentation of the male points award. I will treasure it all year and try not to break it (or rather try and keep it away from my 3 year old!). Caroline Beechey wasn’t there today to collect the female points trophy but should be along soon.

Finally, and most importantly, we had a massive round of applause for the sterling efforts of Dean Sartin and Keith Curwood. They had somehow managed to run 23 parkrun laps in the previous 23 hours. The final lap to make it 24 in 24 hrs was completed in 32:09. Fantastic efforts guys!

We had two people reach their 50 milestone T-shirts today, our parkrun event director Gareth SNELSON and Dean B. SARTIN. Well done! Remember you can only reach these sort of numbers by turning up, running and bringing your barcode! Unfortunately we had 7 unknowns today whose efforts in the snow won’t count towards their T-shirts.

Huge thanks to this week’s volunteers for standing around in the snow or putting the signs out

Milton Keynes parkrun event number 206 18th January 2014

This week there were 383 runners out on our 4th Birthday. Hope you all enjoyed the out and back loop with an extra hill thrown in for fun. Hopefully the flooding will go down soon and we can get back to normal. We had planned on pacers this weekend as part of the Birthday celebrations but the route is slighter longer at around 5.5K. We will hold the pacing event as soon as the normal route is back.

We had the presentations today for the 2014 male and female Milton Keynes parkrun points champions. Huge congratulations to Ed Vout and Julie Loxley. Both very deserved winners. See last week’s report for short articles from them both.

Welcome to the 54 first timers that joined us today. Some were graduates from the recent David Lloyd Redway Runners beginners group running with thier DLRR buddies. Hope you all enjoyed it. Let us know how you got on, we always welcome feedback on the event. We had some serious parkrun tourists in Michael White (197 runs) and Stephen Lee on his 99th parkrun at his 49th different course! Well done Stephen and good luck next week on your 100th run.

Milton Keynes parkrun event number 258 17th January 2015

Happy Birthday to us!

This week we had a massive 517 runners turn up to help us celebrate our 5th Birthday which is our 3rd highest attendance ever. Not bad for a very chilly, icy morning! If you look at how our parkrun has grown in that time it is such a fantastic achievement and all those involved should be mighty proud of themselves.

We have the following sent in from Lucy [this years points winner] about her running experience:

It was in the summer of 2013 that my training took a turn ….. for the better! The reason? The discovery of Milton Keynes parkrun of course! Chris found parkrun on the internet & we excitedly looked forward to our first timed run round Willen Lake. It was a lovely run & the sun was shining, lots of friendly people around & I was so pleased with my time but I wanted to improve it, each week….. the rest is history, 18 months on & we’re still loving our early start on Saturday mornings. I’ve only missed attending Milton Keynes parkrun twice, once to do Edinburgh parkrun & the other due to sleeping through my alarm!! I need a lay in sometimes….

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