Parkrun: run #58; volunteer #59; 50th finish at Littleport

Littleport parkrun has taken place 177 times now; I’ve now finished 50 of them. I completed the course in 34:36 before chatting with the barcode scanners and sorting the tokens ready for next week.

Run #58

Last night, it rained and it rained and it rained. A lot of our course is on grass, so there was a lot of ‘glutinous’ mud, as the run director put it during the briefing, to suck the energy out of every step. It was a hard slog, although my watch was telling me I was doing a decent pace; it certainly didn’t feel like one. Colin met me at the end of the second lap, just before the course diverges round the last curl to the finish funnel. He runs a lot faster than I do, so he’d finished about ten minutes before. I was really flagging by this time, but his support got me there with an attempt at a sprint finish.

I was delighted to finish in under 35 minutes, a whole minute faster than my last parkrun at hilly Herrington Country Park.

Littleport parkrun’s winter route, as completed by me this morning.
Image from Strava.

Volunteer #59

I am usually found handing out the finish tokens at our parkrun; only once do I recall the tokens being in the wrong order: every ten were in the reverse order, so that the tokens ran 10–1, 20–11, 30–21, etc. in the Great Finish Tokens Decimal Swap (GFTDS) of 2023. When the person who did the tokens that week found out, they were mortified. However, as I told them, it gave me an improved way of handing the tokens out; I think I made them feel better about the whole thing.

When it came to my turn to sort the tokens, I was worried that I’d repeat the GFTDS or worse. I’d also been worried the night before that if this heavy rain didn’t stop, I’d be fishing the tokens out of the bucket we collect them in after scanning. Luckily, by the morning, it had stopped, but it left the course with ‘glutinous’ mud, as the run director put it in the briefing.

The tokens are sorted by means of a board with hooks for tokens 1–10, 11–20, 21–30, etc. As I was carrying this to the bucket by the barcode scanners, I saw someone who often sorts the tokens – correctly. I asked her if she had any tips. She said to sort them onto the hooks first, then sort each hook into order. Coarse-grained sort, then fine-grained sort. I’d imagined doing that sort of thing, so it was good to have it confirmed by the expert.

The coarse-grained sort went ok, although my brain didn’t like the fact the hooks weren’t numbered 1–9, 10–19, 20–29, etc. Not everyone had passed through the finish funnel when I started the fine-grained sort, so I began at the beginning. For each hookful, I made sure that the lowest number was on the top and and the highest number was on the bottom. I had to think about which way they would go back onto the pin when the day’s finish-token giver-outer gave it to me to put the sorted tokens back on.

I think I did it right. It’s unfortunate that I’m not giving out the tokens next week: I could’ve pretended all was well if I’d messed up!

Littleport parkrun #177 report

One of the volunteer roles to write up the morning’s events for the news section of that parkrun’s web presence. One of our writers, Peter Royle, volunteered to write up today’s the report for Littleport parkrun #177.

I was chatting to Peter while I was sorting the tokens, when he noticed my shoes. When I first started parkrun, my running shoes were a novelty, and they were a conversation starter most weeks. Some people have dogs; I have my shoes.

Over time, people generally got used to them, so the conversations died down. Then I stopped running parkrun and volunteered instead; giving out the finish tokens is a role that can’t be done when participating, unless you can guarantee you’ll be first, or perhaps second, and the funnel manager (or the finish token assistant, if you have one) doesn’t mind holding on to them for you till you cross the line. There’s no such danger of troubling our funnel manager for this: I’m usually very far down the results list.

All this means that there’s a new wave that aren’t familiar with my shoes, so when I run now, people are interested again.

I talked to one of our super speedy runners, who observed that he couldn’t get any speed up in his trail shoes. I said he should get some like mine. I think he was quite taken aback, but he was very interested in them. He was keen to know what sort of distance I ran in them; I said I was a 5k runner, so I couldn’t tell him how they’d pan out for running the long distances he tends to run. I only remembered later that I’d run 6 miles in them, and they were great (except for the bit across the egg-sized stones).

Peter was also interested, and we discussed them for a while, then he asked if I could take a photo; I said yes; I stood sorting ten tokens into numerical order while he bent down at my feet. Must have been some sight.

A pair of black Vibram FiveFingers V-Trails being worn by someone in black running leggings. FiveFingers are 'barefoot' running shoes with separate toes.
My trail-running shoes.
By Peter Royle.

As he’d taken a photo, I suspected I’d be in the report this week, and I was right.

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