This week we have another guest article. This time from Cathy Craig. Cathy is probably best know for her talented children but this week she gives the low-down on the First Saturday of the Month run in Letchworth England.
The First Saturday of the Month 5k is a timed run which takes place at Norton Common Letchworth. The race is run over two laps passing through a partially wooded area over footpaths, trails and grass. It’s organized by North Herts Road Runners with a Trail Running Association (TRA) permit. Registration is open to runners of all abilities with entries taken on the day of the race. We’ve been putting the races on since June 2011 and since then I’ve seen it transform into a well organised run popular with locals and visiting runners alike. The first race had 35 entrants but these days it normally attracts around 80 runners.
The race was initially the idea of our club president inspired by the Parkrun, a series of free weekly races held throughout the UK. What’s needed for a regular run like this is a small group of people who are willing to give up their time regularly. As not many people have the time to be able to help out every week, we decided to hold our races monthly. We tried the race out as a club only event with 30 runners taking part. I was one of the runners but unfortunately didn’t manage to finish as I had a niggling plantar fasciitis problem.
For the first few runs, we tested different ways of organizing the event and recording people’s times. Initially, each runner was given a number to attach to their vest. At the finish, numbers and times were recorded using a stopwatch. This method was used for a few months but as numbers of runners grew, it proved quite a lengthy procedure and it took a lot of time register people on the day and compile the results. These days, runners keep their number from race to race and we use an ipad app to record the times. North Herts Road Runners run for free while non-members charged a nominal fee of £2 to cover the price paid to the local authority for using the Common and insurance. Any extra money is donated to the Club’s nominated charity.
I usually do the registration as well as either recording times or positions and numbers at the finish. What’s good about helping out is that you get to know a lot of the local runners. It’s also nice that quite few people take the time to thank the volunteers before leavening. We seemed to have quite a few families running together this Saturday. I hope to encourage my grandson or grandaughter to come along some day. My daughter Hazel and niece Fiona, both new to running, had a go a couple of months ago and I’m sure they’ll be back again soon to try and improve their times. I was so proud of the both managing to finish and Hazel has gone on to run a 10k with plans to train for a half marathon next year.
This month I decided to run the race as well as helping out. Five minutes before the start I was done with the registration and took a jog up to the start point. I didn’t intend doing a fast run, which was just as well since the ground was wet and quite thick with mud in parts. I used a friend as a pacer and just kept behind her the whole course. She’s used to my heavy breathing and short steps so knew I was behind her. I managed a strong finish this month. Just over 30 minutes.
What’s great about the FSOTM races is the atmosphere, I’ve got to know a lot of people there and it’s a nice feeling to know that by helping at out I can help get some new people started running. Of course all this wouldn’t be possible without the help of the other volunteers; the Harbons, Miranda Morgan and Ernie Wilcock, Brian Bailey, Jim and Melissa Marvell and Colin Calcutt to name a few. It’s thanks to these guys who give up their time selflessly to keep the run going that we can have a regular competitive race in Letchworth come rain, shine, snow or sleet.
Looking forward to seeing you along at a FSOTM race soon.