Some of you will already know that there is a Park Run coming to Letchworth.
Park Run has been looking at a run in North Herts for about 4 years and have visited a number of locations.
They have settled on Letchworth and the Grange recreation ground.
Yes its very close to our FSOM.
We met with Park Run in May to discuss their options and expressed concern that it would be very close and that might impact on our event. However, NHDC are under strong political pressure from Govt to hold a run and this location is seen as the best option.
I know that many of you, like me, support Park Runs. They are great. I hope that you will also support the Park Run in Letchworth as well. It can only be good and might just attract more members to NHRR.
The question is, what do we do with the FSOM. The club committee will be meeting to talk about options at some point. If you would like to give me your views, I would welcome them. Either on this forum or my e-mail
You have spent a lot of time organising our FSM race over the past few years and it will be a great shame this is overshadowed by a Letchworth Park Run. I know they have been trying to secure the Common for a Park Run but it was turned down due to overuse of the ground especially in the winter. The FSM races have been well attended and everyone enjoys them. We still have the Santa Canta in Dec. I hope.
I am very torn. O
On one hand i think we should stop on a high and embrace a Letchworth parkrun. On the other I love our little race and wonder if our regulars would keep running the fsotm and then parkrun the other 3 saturdays in the month. I'd hate to see the fsotm gradually shrink into nothing :-(
P.s. it's parkrun...all lower case and one word...
is there no way of joining parkrun and having the event at two locations ? first of the month at the common as normal, all other weeks at the other location.
As long as it was properly highlighted on the web page it shouldn't cause too much confusion, lots of other runs have different summer/winter courses this could just be a slight location adjustment, could keep best of both worlds then.
Be a shame to lose the FOTM and its scenic route to an inferior course.
Or Move FOTM to a Sunday ?
As a family we got into running through Viv doing the FSOM. Although Viv and Chloe would happily do park runs the other weekends the FSOM is a priority. It's a much nicer course than Grange recreation ground. Could parkrun just operate on the other Saturdays of the month.
I like the fsotm as its a tough 5k and will continue to support it.
Perhaps use it for strength training (those inclines are tough) then hopefully get a better time on the Grange course.
I will still do other local parkruns too as they are fun.
I would certainly look to keep the FSOM going and see what impact this parkrun has rather than take a decision to cease the FSOM event.
Whilst it is likely to be popular and may impact the numbers slightly the FSOM has been going for many years and is popular because of the atmosphere that surrounds it and also the scenic location of the 5k race.
It is also a way of introducing several people to running and NHRR in particular. I would expect there to be a large degree of loyalty shown to the event from a lot of local runners and those who currently enjoy the event on a monthly basis.
If these initial thoughts prove to be unfounded and the numbers decrease greatly then it would be worth reconsidering and maybe looking to organise a final "send off" event that could be used as a celebration for all of the years achievements.
However, my optimistic side tells me that letchworth and the surrounding areas are more than capable of sustaining a weekly parkrun and monthly NHRR 5k.
I concur with Stewart's thoughts although if numbers do greatly decrease I'd look at other options like a different time on the Saturday or moving it to a Sunday like Ollie suggested. I personally would always choose FSOM over Letchworth Parkrun although I think it's good to have a run every Saturday in Letchworth as a option. FSOM was the 1st officially timed run I'd ever done and helped me greatly regain my fitness and get back into shape after I had my ankle reconstructed, (although I lost my 2nd income winning Boris Johnson lookalike competitions, I have the pics still as proof haha) it was then I found out about NHRR and what a great club they were with such awesome people, then I went on to do the Standalone 10k and join the club and running became my main hobby after that. Let's all get behind FSOM and I'm sure it will remain a great Letchworth community event.
As a parkrun vet I'm torn too. I would say keep them separate for the time being then review. Having FSOM as part of parkrun would mean using their operating procedures (eg rules about dogs and children, timing, using their software for results processing etc) - would we be OK with that? And changing to Sundays might mean competing with races eg the XC's are all Sundays.
I'm also not sure about whether the area proposed could handle 200+ people showing up, there's not much parking and they'd be competing with Sat morning footballers at that time. Personally I help at Wimpole a lot and wouldn't intend to change that, but would be OK helping occasionally if it becomes established.
we already use the same timing system as parkrun although they have a whole load of website-related stuff we don't use
My thought is to keep going with FSOM and see if parkrun has any effect on our numbers, but I think people will probably do both (running round a football pitch every week will soon get boring)
Are you going to do a survey of some sort this weekend at FSOM to see what the runners there say?
Think you'll have to see how it goes once parkrun is up and running - but essentially both FSOTM parkrun are trying to get the same pool of people out at the same time to run .......and for that matter marshal and organise
Interestingly parkrun grew out of an event like FSOTM in the early 2000's - both having the same ideals and goals.
The location at Norton Common being a bit more central actually makes a better location for an event like a 5k
- I personally think NHDC should be installing proper paths on the common to make a circular circuit if their main concern is wear and tear - it 'muds up' in the winter with just the general public using it. NHDC must have some criteria on paved paths as they are there already in part crossing the common. I would take this back to NHDC as a suggestion / action. - they seem to have a budget to maintain the Greenway..... especially if they are pressing for activity events like this to happen.
As for parkrun - I imagine to find a 5km route from The Grange would be 'XC like' in places - and possibly they'll have to use part of Norton road ?? Aren't they planning to build up there shortly ?? So doesn't sound ideal. Think everyone will be driving there. Despite this parkrun is a worthy cause and must be supported.
However given a choice between running on Norton Common or up at The Grange - Norton is miles better so will always turn up there if FSOTM's on.
B.T.W. Standalone was superb - as usual - I wasn't - must be getting old.
I thought it was only me that thought fsom is a tough course I'm glad to hear I'm not mentally I really struggle with this one.
Being a new member to the club my first contact was through FSOTM. I remember the warm welcome and the enthusiasm from all present.
Having this race is a regular gateway to the club other than the fantastic standalone so it would be a real shame to lose it. The reminder emails which I forward have finally convinced my brother to run his first 5K tomorrow. As long as I drive round his and blow a foghorn in his ear.
I believe there is a certain credit or kudos attached to running a 5K whether competitively or not that is managed by a running club. I for one would happily run/volunteer at this and then the parkrun other weekends but as mentioned before there would be no point if the numbers dropped off. In which case Stewart's idea of a big send off sounds like a good way to go.
I've had a lot of admiration for Richard for setting this up and all the volunteers at NHRR who have given up time to put on the FSOTM, once established there has been a huge commitment to keep the event going and the FSOTM has succeeded in that. The organisation of it in more recent times has edged it towards a parkrun style event (bar codes/timing) .
I love the ethos of parkrun, and the way it attracts new people to running - but very aware of the number of volunteers required to make it a success on a weekly basis. Two parkrun type events in Letchworth competing is going to be difficult to sustain ( and confusing for new runners)
I think the long term solution is to upgrade the Common with a Greenway style track which would enable running in all weathers. The FSOTM could then be absorbed into a parkrun on a decent course in a central location. We'd have less/no commitment to organise it, but could tap into the new runners who want to join a club just as we do with the FSOTM.
The common is a very unused area - (one huge legacy of the FSOTM is the way its got so many people regularly using the common) the Heritage foundation and council should spend a bit of money to get more people using it in all weathers .
In summary FSOTM has the location and plenty of regulars - and parkrun has a huge resource to organise and run events weekly. The long term aim should be to combine the two.
Really grateful for all the feedback.
If yesterday was anything to go by there may just be a possibility we can do both.
Keep it coming.
I think there are a couple of slightly separate questions here... 1) Is Norton Common suitable for a parkrun or could it be made suitable? and 2) If the parkrun goes ahead as proposed at the grange, what does that mean for the continuation of the FSotM?
On number 1, I feel the main obstacle to running a larger race on a weekly basis is the impact it would have on the wide grassy stretch between the current start and finish. I'm pretty sure that would get muddy with potentially twice as many people running it more often. I can't see a route that would avoid that. A path could be possible but I tend to feel that would change the character of the common, making it more like a park and less like a wild area.
The common is a nature reserve as well as a park and I have seen it used by lots of different people for different things. Walking there at various times, you'll see many people using it for dog walking, wildlife spotting, cycling, skateboarding, yoga classes, geocaching, and yes running.
On question 2, assuming the parkrun goes ahead at the grange recreation ground, I don't think it's at all easy to predict the impact on the FSotM. From a personal point of view, I think the FStoM is great as it's really convenient and the common is a lovely course (plus the organization and support is great of course!). Given the choice, I'd definitely like to keep running it, and I suspect a lot of the current runners would think similarly. With that in mind, I'm not sure it's obvious that the start of a parkrun in Letchworth would mean a migration of participants from the FSotM that would stop it being viable. It could be that the presence of a new parkrun can increase the pool of runners who take part in these kind of events. If the Letchworth parkrun somehow got to a similar size to the Stevenage one (i.e. 200+ runners a week), I think we would possibly find there were new people who would come to the FSotM for a change of course every few weeks.
I think one limiting factor in this can be the availability of volunteers to run the various events. Parkruns seem to require something near 20 volunteers every week and I guess the FSotM isn't too far off, though not week in, week out. I believe that on occasion it can be hard to muster all these people and I hope that a new parkrun won't detract from the volunteers for the Stevenage parkrun or the FSotM.
I remember not so long ago (possibly before we made it free) there were a lot fewer runners at the FSotM, but it was still a good fun event. Not sure if there is really any minimum number that makes it viable. I guess if it feels that the effort put into organizing/setting up/marshaling etc it is out of proportion to the numbers turning up that would be an indication.
I think we could consider moving the FSotM to Sundays to avoid there being any obvious direct clash with the parkrun. I don't think there will be many people that will want to do two events in one weekend (running or volunteering), but there will be some people that would have a preference for a Sunday for whatever reason. I can see that this will cause some clashes with other events though as more races tend to be Sundays. If this were to happen, I think we might have to skip it on the day of standalone and possibly move the greenway challenge by a week. Looks like there would be no clash with the cross country this year, but I guess sometimes there could be.
To be clear, Clare and I very much appreciate the ethos of parkrun, particularly around participation and inclusiveness. This especially meant a lot to Clare whist she was doing the (wonderful!) NHRR beginner course and wanted to be able to practice events with no pressure to run all the way or finish in any particular time.
James (and Clare)
I think moving the first Saturday of the month to a different day would result in it being majority club members only, with non members opting for parkrun. I think it would be good to keep them both on in the short term and then review. It could even be a bonus to have them both running (volunteers aside) if it could be promoted as being a "harder" version of the parkrun once a month.
What a fantastic morning!
Up until today I had been in the court thinking that maybe we should retire gracefully from fsom and accept and support parkrun in Letchworth . However if we can get over 120 happy runners out on a morning like today, I have changed my mind totally. Ok, I might be a bit excitable as I am just coming back to running after 5 months of injury, but I thought the atmosphere this morning was just fantastic. Runners of all abilities, longstanding fsom runners and several new runners, braving our soggy, muddy but very lovely Norton Common. Let's keep going as long as we can!
I agree Caroline...love fsotm!
I absolutely agree with Caroline - over 100 runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities out on a soggy Nov morning shows how much support there is for FSOM. Why shouldn't the two events exist side by side? We should keep FSOM going as long as people want to turn up for it!
I think regular FSOTM runners will continue to run and support FSOTM.
I'm sure the Grange parkrun will be successful, otherwise they wouldn't go to the effort of setting it up, but I don't think it will detract from our FSOTM. It may even drag in a few parkrun regulars who don't know about FSOTM (how they wouldn't know is beyond me!) to Norton Common, as they mix with our FSOTM runners at the Grange parkrun. A sort of cross pollination!
I'm certain that anyone running both events will find Norton Common is a lot more enjoyable place to run (albeit a bit tougher). Everyone runs for different reasons so you may gain a few and lose a few.
Personally, I'm not really interested in helping out at a parkrun, as it's not really club based, but I will always be there for the FSOTM. I'm sure there are others who may feel the same.
Let's keep it going!
The First Saturday of the Month is a fantastic event. I would always favour this over any parkrun. The team are amazing. It’s a lovely route. Ok, it isn’t not a PB course, but that’s not it’s charm. It’s charm is the beautiful route. The diversity in the terrain. The birds, the muntjac and of corse, the Squirrels. The NHRR Squirrels are the greatest contribution to FSOM. The support and dedication, the help and support. Free water/tea/ coffee afterwards. The route changes so much throughout the seasons. I just can’t see how anybody who knows about the FSOM would chose any parkrun over it. Especially considering that you can run parkrun every week apart from the first week of the month. It’s an absolute no brainier for me. FSOM wins every time. The first week of the month has only one choice.
My view is that this should remain the greatest off road 5k on the first Saturday of the month. It just is.
However, we should also support parkrun, but it should not supersede FSOTM. It would be great for people to have the opportunity to racevevery week- this is a good thing, no doubt. But given the choice, which I think there should be, there’s a clear winner for me.
Agree that NHRR should support the Park Run in Letchworth as much as we can. They are looking for volunteers already so please do sign up if you can spare the time.
Obviously once a month the Parkrun and our own FSOTM will conincide. If and how this will impact the FSOTH, negative or positive, will left to be seen.
See you on the 2nd December for the Santa Canta Special of FSOTM
I went looking on the parkrun website to be nosy, see what the route was etc and couldn't see anything about Letchworth.
Does anyone know when it is starting? And how is everyone so well informed about something that I can't find at all?!?
Ali, they need a core team in place first. I was unaware too until Dickie started this thread, but the next day there was a post on the Stevenage parkrun facebook page which the Comet picked up:
There'll be nothing on the official parkrun page until they get a start date, and even then they'll keep it low key as some new events have been swamped with parkrun tourists in the past.
I think it'll be early 2018 sometime