Princes Park parkrun review

Short review this week. I’m back in Liverpool for research and interviews, so I couldn’t turn down a chance to run at my home parkrun, Princes Park.

The course consists of two and a half laps around Princes Park, which is fairly hilly. The scenery is nice though, and being the only parkrun in South Liverpool it’s usually fairly well attended, regularly getting over 200 runners to turn up. Despite this, there’s usually not much congestion after the race starts, since the paths are fairly wide and there’s not usually that many people there.

As usual, my pet peeve surfaced; slower runners insisting on going at the front. This week was a double whammy: a man with his grandchildren in the second line, and then a woman running with a dog at the front.

Again, people are free to do the parkrun as they wish – that’s part of its appeal and why it’s such a great community – but this works both ways. Some people there aren’t aiming for new PBs each week, that’s cool, do your own thing, let a thousand flowers bloom, and so on, but other people are aiming to get a PB, and it’s unfair for someone to plonk themselves at the front, with hound, and then take up over half the path as other runners have to skirt round/avoid going arse over tit.

It’d be nice to see the group do something social afterwards (if this happens, I haven’t heard about it). There’s no talk of going to a cafe etc., which is strange since Lark Lane is so close.

Anyway, my run went very well. Despite having a few jager bombs and a cocktail last night, I felt alright at the starting line. My target was roughly 19:30, perhaps 19:20 to match the week before at Fulham, but I knew the hills would probably hold me back a bit.

I started strongly, working through the crowd at the start and decided to keep pushing when usually I would have settled down into place. I got the first half mile announcement from Nike+ with an average pace of less than 6 minute miles, so my target became keeping that pace going as long as possible.

Luckily, a lady gained on me and I used her as motivation to keep pushing. We overtook a guy in a MerseyTri t-shirt, and wasn’t feeling too exhausted at this point. This lasted for about a mile until the mid-way point, and then she pulled away (she came second, so at least I knew I would never have been able to keep up!). At the halfway point I was still hitting sub-6 minute miles, and I realised I could beat my course PB.2015-10-31 - Princes

At this point, I was left following a guy I’d noticed at the start. My new goal was to maintain the distance or perhaps catch up with him. Until about 2.5 miles, this was going well. He began to slow a bit and I started gaining on him. At just under the 3 mile point I was overtaken by a guy I’d passed early on, and I realised it was now or never to place fairly well. I’d hit the 3 mile mark, with Nike+ giving me an average time of 6’01/min miles, which was the motivation I needed. I just started to sprint, hoping I could hold on and reduce my average pace. I overtook the two guys I’d been following and pushed harder than I think I ever had before, determined to get a sub-19 time.

I crossed the finish line coming 5th, with my Nike+ saying I’d done 3.16km and my fastest 5k ever. It was a nervous wait for the result, because I had no idea if I’d actually done enough to beat my overall PB. Happily, I did – I (officially) crossed the finish line in 18:51, beating my course PB by 17 seconds, and shaving 2 seconds off my overall PB (set in Edinburgh, which is pancake flat).

This puts me in a good position for a strong half-marathon next week. I’m not expecting to get a PB for the distance, but I don’t think it’ll be as bad as I was expecting it to be. I think becoming a regular at the gym is having a positive effect, as is getting in some quality long runs too. I’m going to stick with what I’m doing until Christmas at least, and then have a review in light of the Manchester Marathon in April, since 3 runs a week might not be enough. Either way, I’ve got a spring in my step today. It’s good to be home.

Main points:

  • Laps: 2.5
  • PB Potential: Low – hilly course.
  • Facilities: Easy parking.
  • First-time friendly: Yes
  • Other positives: You get to be in Liverpool, and you might even get to see me.
  • Downside: Crowded start, no facilities on site.Princes - 5k Record 2015-10-31 - PB text

Fulham Palace parkrun review

This week was the first ‘big trek’ to a parkrun; we chose Fulham Palace parkrun, which was a one hour journey door-to-door. I managed to get back into Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales (Part 2), so the journey wasn’t a waste.

The first thing that struck me about the parkrun was the amount of people who seemed fairly well off (I overheard a few conversations which were essentially turbo-charged middle class pains, and saw one guy in a ‘Harrow’ t-shirt). I was not in Liverpool anymore. Regardless of this, everyone seemed nice and the lady doing the pre-run talk was great (I’ve never heard the phrase ‘funnel-duckers’ before). There were a lot of people here, perhaps over 200 (checked – 257).

The course consisted of (almost) 3 laps of Bishop’s Park. Usually I dislike laps, but the surroundings were so nice I didn’t have a chance to get bored. There is one sharp-ish turn per lap, and the park was fairly busy. I saw at least one person have to jump over a dog (yes, I know everyone has a right to use the park, but surely if you see there’s a race going on you’d either put your dogs on a lead or go into the middle of the park which is empty?!). They also go for a coffee in the park afterwards.

This week there was a promotional stand for a local food market, which was giving out bottles of water, Innocent fizzy drinks, hemp coconut biscuits, and ‘Ener-C Powdered Drink Mix’. I’m not actually sure what the latter does, but the water bottles are fancy.

The park is very nice, but the toilets would not look out of place at a crack den. One was out of order, one had no lock on the door (…no comment), and the third looked like it hadn’t been refurbished since Labour last won an election. It was a bit of a contrast with the wider area and park.

The main problem I had with Fulham Palace was that the start was very, very congested. Part of this is due to the paths, which aren’t very wide considering the number of people running. However, most of the issue was caused by slower runners at the front. I don’t understand why people who are clearly not going to run a sub-25 (who from my experience tend to be stubborn, usually younger, men who think they can just show up to a 5k and boss it, or the man who had his young daughter with him, who could barely keep up in the first 100m) place themselves right at the front. It’s selfish, it’s rude, and it makes you look like a tit as people try to overtake you. I wish race leaders would remind people at the start to place themselves based on their ability. It’s a small thing to do, but it could mean the difference between getting a PB or not for some faster runners.

My run went very well (despite the people clogging up the start). I felt quite good by the time I’d got to the parkrun; no hangover, no stiffness, no little twinges. I decided that I would give this one a good go, and hopefully get the same time as I did at the Southwark parkrun last week (this would also help me see if the course was actually 5k).2015-10-24 - Southwalk

Weaving through the pack at the start wasn’t too bad, since it meant that I was running fast to get through and this led to me getting through the first mile in 5’49. This gave me the (crazy) idea that I could do the 5k in 6 min miles, which although a pipe dream kept me going through the second mile (at 12:17, so the second mile was 6’28… dream shattered).

My tactic was to keep overtaking, moving from group to group, since usually I tend to end up running by myself in races which means I have no-one to push me. Once the second mile was done, I knew I just had to hold on. I kept on jumping forward, overtaking a lady who had had a very strong run and who I’d keep seeing overtaking people. I had roughly .5 miles left and decided this was the time to go all out, managing to get some distance between her and me. Now I was just trying to keep this sprint up. I overtook the last guy, who seemed to be inspired by the competition and upped his speed; this was the only time I was overtaken. I tried to hold on, but he narrowly pulled away. I’m glad he was there, since he kept me going for the last 200m.

I crossed the line at 19:23 – very happy, especially when Nike+came in at 3.11 miles too. I felt like I’d given it everything (somewhat motivated by an element of class war, representing working-class northerners everywhere) and it’d paid off. This was my fastest parkrun since November 2014, and I feel like a sub-19 might be possible before Christmas if I keep up this training and gym routine. In other news, this was my 26th parkrun – I am now over half-way towards my free t-shirt!

Main points:

  • Laps: 3
  • PB Potential: Medium – flat course, but the pavements aren’t particularly wide and there are some sharp turns.
  • Facilities: crack-den style toilets, close to the District line, post-run coffee.
  • First-time friendly: Yes
  • Downside: Crowded start

Fulham Palace

Southwark parkrun review

This week, we found ourselves at the Southwark parkrun. For once I was fresh; not tired, hungover, nor injured. I was ready. The place was easy to get to, I got off at Canada Waters and walked for about 5 minutes, but there are closer Overground stations (I’m northern, how am I meant to know these things?!). Plenty of parking around the park too, it seems.

The course comprises of 3 laps of the south side of the park. 3 laps is my idea of hell, but the route has nice wide pavements, not many people around, and flat. For such a PB-friendly course, there were few people there – not more than 100 I’d say (checked, there were 123) – and no recognisable club runners. There was a very no-pressure environment.

The best thing about Southwark is that there is a group trip to Weatherspoons(!!!!!!!!!!) after the run, for breakfast and coffee (and probably a cheeky quadvod if you fancied it).

My run went well. I’ve noticed that even though I’m getting (slightly) faster, I don’t feel it when I’m running. I’m doing a lot of exercise every day at the moment, between 3 runs a week, 2/3 gym sessions a week and 1hr+ walks on the days I’m not doing either, so my legs rarely feel ‘fresh’.2015-10-19 - Southwalk

Despite this, I pushed on and came in at a respectable 12th – you can see my result here. I felt like I could hold my pace for longer than usual, and that I still had a little bit left in the tank for the last 0.5 miles. I’d be interested to see what I can pull out when I’ve had a bit of a rest before a parkrun.

However, the only problem I had with the run was that my Nike+ came in at 3 miles, and Parker’s came in even lower (about 2.9 miles). The organisers say that GPS always comes in short, but I’m not convinced. This is really very annoying, since on such a nice flat course you could try for a PB, only to find that it doesn’t really count because the course was short. When I ran the extra .11 miles, I came in at 20:38 (which seems accurate, given I was at 10:20 the mid-way point). So, I’m taking my sub-20 result with a line of salt (and a shot of tequila), and hoping to repeat it next weekend.

Main points:

  • Laps: 3
  • PB Potential: High – flat, wide course (although not as flat as Hackney Marshes)
  • Facilities: toilets, parking, post-run Weatherspoons.
  • First-time friendly: Yes!
  • Downside: Not quite 5k.

Here’s proof of completion (or at least turning up!)

Southwalk
Looking fresh, as per.

Hackney Marshes Parkrun

This week I ran the Hackney Marshes parkrun. After last week’s driving debacle I decided to walk, and so made the first-timer briefing. There was a lot of parking at the Hackney Marshes Centre, too. Everyone seemed nice, lots of chatting and apparently they go for a post-run coffee too.

The course is simple – you follow the same path to the halfway point, then come back. It is amazingly hard to get lost. The route is mainly on concrete, with a little bit on a trail – and IT IS FLAT. I found myself running a lot, lot faster than I have been recently, it just seemed that the course was flying by. No hills!

I was surprised by how few people there were – 135 at this race, and it doesn’t seem to massively increase in other weeks. For such a strong, flat, fast course I’d have thought lots of people would turn up for PBs. Looking at the ‘First Finishers’ list is depressing – it should be humanly impossible to do a parkrun in 15:41!

My run was surprisingly good (although not 15:41 good…) – I was on the second day of this hangover, could have done with about 4 more hours in bed, and my legs were stiff by restarting barbell squats on Thursday – basically, I was a mess. 2015-10-12 - Hackney Marshes

I walked there to warm myself up a bit, and felt ok at the start line. I decided to push myself at the start, and even though I didn’t feel like it and my legs were fighting back. The course was really nice, and I knew I wasn’t too far from the first runner (which is always a bit of a boost).

After the halfway point I noticed a guy was closing in on me. He was easily over 50, so my pride kicked in and tried to keep me ahead of him. By the final half-mile I was flagging and he overtook me – no shame. I used him as a motivator to keep up, and even managed a slight sprint finish.

I crossed the finish line in 20:08 – so close to my current sub-20 target. If I wasn’t hungover, stiff, and tired I probably would have smashed it. You can see my time here. On an unrelated note, the guy who came first was beautiful. Well done Hackney Marshes.

I think I’ll be running around Hackney Marshes a lot more, Victoria Park gets a bit dull, especially when for the LSRs you need to get into the 4+ laps territory… and I hate laps.

Main points:

  • Laps: 1 (there and back)
  • PB potential: High.
  • Facilities: Sports centre which has toilets, showers, and a cafe. Lots of parking.
  • First-time friendly: Very!

Brockwell parkrun review

So, it’s been a while. In the last few weeks I’ve spent my Saturdays doing the Cardiff parkrun (terribly hungover), visiting my bestie in Lincolnshire for a top-notch birthday BBQ, and doing the Hever Castle Triathlon. I’ve been too busy to post about them, but suffice to say all the photographic evidence was terrible. So let’s move on. This week, it’s Brockwell parkrun!

I wasn’t feeling it this morning. I have a killer sore throat and could have done with another day in bed, but I got myself up and in the car for 8:10am – plenty of time to do a 30 minute journey, right? Wrong. Roadworks, diversions, and congestion (thanks Boris!) meant I arrived at Brockwell at 9:05am. Grand.

No briefings for me.

I rushed to the Lido (the website gave this as the starting point), to see people packing up the start line and moving it to the finish. I could just about make out a load of runners in the distance, so I got a move on and caught up with them.

The paths were wide and the park seemed very, very nice. The course consisted of one whole loop of the park and then a shorter loop. I was too caught up with making my way through the pack to really take any of the scenery into account or to get peeved by the laps.

2015-09-05 - Brockwell Park

As you can see, there are big hills on the course – it adds to the fun really – and it would be really hard to get lost. No cones needed here!

There was a big group here and they all seemed very social and chatty – there is a cafe on the park and people go for a coffee there.

Personally, my run went quite well, all things considered. I managed to come 75th out of 255, and finished with a gun time of 22:54 (versus 21:07 on Nike+). Clearly I couldn’t have been that late!

I’m hoping to get back to sub-20 runs soon, with training for the Grand Union Canal Half Marathon in November, and then upping to training for a marathon in April or May next year (since I won’t be doing London). I need to start getting some quality long runs in, which have been neglected for the past few months!

I think the main lesson I’ll take from this morning’s run is that I spent 100 minutes travelling to run for about 21. Next time I’ll get the train.

Main points:

  • Laps: 1.5
  • PB potential: Low, unless you’re used to hills.
  • Facilities: Parking, cafe, lots of shops nearby.
  • First-time friendly? I don’t know – but it is late-runner friendly.

    Brockwell Park
    Here’s me and Parker, she’s in her t-shirt for the Berlin Marathon which she completed last week (puts my triathlon into perspective) – and for once neither of us were hungover!

Beckton parkrun review

Today was the start of my ‘run every parkrun in London’ challenge with my pal Eleanor Parker, beginning with Beckton Parkrun (for no reason other than it was close to where I’m living at the moment).

There’s a carpark on site, and plenty of space around the park to… well, park. This being London most people walk since there’s always a parkrun fairly close by. Public transport-wise, Beckton Park and Royal Albert DLRs are right next to the park, as is the bus stop for the 300 and 376. If you’re flying in, City Airport is very close (don’t fly in).

I met Parker there around 8:30, chatting as we watched people turn up. This is one of the smaller parkruns I think – last week there were 37 runners (with a strong showing from the East End Road Runners club). If you’re often in the top ten in a busier parkrun, coming to Beckton might be a good way of finishing first for a change (keep dreaming, David). One of the nice touches here is that they have a book swap area, no donations needed. I like little things like that, it helps build a sense of community.

There was no first-time briefing, but the pre-race briefing covered everything – although the way the course was described was a bit confusing, once you were running the marshals made it clear.

The course is two laps (bloody laps, they’re everywhere), the first slightly shorter than the second. You follow the inside of the park on grass until you come to a path. Follow it round and then run down a long-ish path, and then go back on yourself. This bit’s nice, since you get to see other runners and give encouragement/scope out who’s chasing you. Following this, you turn right and carry on on a loop around the park. The second lap is the same, until you exit the long-ish path – then you carry on forward and then follow the cones to the finish line. Once you’re done, there’s free tea and coffee – AND SWEETS – provided in a little shelter.

According to Nike+, there is literally no elevation. That’s not true – but there isn’t much of it. One problem I did have with the course is that it only came to 3.03miles. Perhaps that’s my GPS messing up, but I think it’s more likely that you’re meant to be much closer to the trees when you run on the inside of the park than I was. Ideally, there’d be some cones or something making people stay closer.

Overall, the course was good, no hills tricky bits. Alternating between path and grass was nice, especially for those with weaker knees etc. I think there’s good potential for a PB on here, but make sure you do the whole distance, and watch out for big branches and stuff on the route. I’d happily do this parkrun again – and with the numbers being lower than other parkruns, there is a nice community feel.

2015-09-05 - Beckton Park

My run was terrible. I had gone out the night before – I was trying to be good with my low alcohol wine, but once I finished that I moved on to tequila and water, white wine, and even had a beer at one point. I took the night bus home, but my phone died and I didn’t know where to get off… so I ended up in McDonalds, chatting to some police officers, and then jumped into a taxi. Got into bed about 4am, and then got up at 8. I would have given up if it wasn’t for the fact Parker was doing it too, and she was travelling much further than I was. Guilt got me out of bed.

So, there I was at the starting line, 9am, probably still drunk. The aim was to get round without throwing up. I set off at my usual pace, and I felt like I could hold on. Clearly I didn’t, and my run was about 30s/mile slower than usual. At the first turning I stepped on a branch and did something to my foot – I did a mixture of hobbling and running for about 50m, shook it off, then got back into the run. This was a mistake. I felt I finished fairly strongly, finding it in myself to have a bit of a sprint towards the finish line. Overall, I came 8th – clearly due to the small turnout rather than a strong time.

I felt fresh afterwards, but by the time I got back and out the shower the hangover had returned – or perhaps it had only just started. Then my foot started to hurt, and now I have bad heel pain when I try to twist my foot inwards. Not ideal. The lesson here is DON’T DRINK AND RUN KIDS! See my times here.

Main points

  • Laps: 2
  • PB potential: High – if you do the full distance.
  • Facilities; Parking, tea, coffee, sweets, book bank.
  • First-time friendly? Very!
Beckton Parkrun
Parker and me, looking fresh at the finish. There’s also a moody filter going on.

St Helens parkrun review

It’s my final parkrun in Liverpool for the foreseeable future, so I groggily dragged myself down the Knowsley Expressway to Victoria Park, this time for the St. Helens parkrun. The more astute amongst you will remember that the Widnes parkrun was also at a Victoria Park, but that just goes to show that us northerners aren’t very original when it comes to naming parks (and we just really bloody love Posh Spice).

There’s no carpark, but luckily I’m fast becoming a pro at squeezing into tight spaces… also, parking isn’t a problem here. Finding the starting point was easy – it’s the pavilion in the centre of the park. I was surprised by the size of the crowd, but it turned out that another local parkrun was cancelled for the day so the dedicated had flocked to this one – there were 245 people today, compared to between 160-200 normally. The first-timer briefing and pre-run briefing were both comprehensive, with plenty of clapping for volunteers and a lady who was completing her 100th parkrun. Always a nice touch, and the pre-race vibe was really positive. There didn’t seem to be many club runners either (not that club runners are a bad thing!).

The course is three ‘big’ laps and one ‘small’ lap of Victoria Park. Both laps includes a gradual hill, which although not particularly steep (~40ft) does hit you by the third time round. The course was a concrete path, no track or grass, and had a lot of turnoffs. Thanks to a liberal use of cones (something I never thought I’d have to type) it was easy to keep to the course. Once you’ve crossed the finish line there’s free tea, coffee, and biscuits available. I don’t know the nutritional benefit of a post-run shortbread, but at that point I didn’t care.

The main problem I had with the course was the start – again, it was crowded, with people pushing to the front who really had no business being there. This isn’t some sort of ‘humble-brag’, trying to imply that I’m a fast runner and I’m held back by Tom, Dick, and Harry (I’m not even allowed near them, thanks to the Home Office’s liberal application of restraining orders). I know I’m never going to lead the pack and because of that I don’t have my toe on the start line. I’m happy a line or two behind, and if need be I’ll work my way forward at the start of the race. However, this becomes so much harder when you have a group of slower runners who insist on placing themselves right at the front, standing side by side and essentially blocking any number of faster runners getting past.

For me, it comes down to basic manners – everyone there is trying for a PB, and for the faster runners losing 10s at the start of the race because they’re ducking and diving to get past others can quite easily be the difference between a PB and a narrow miss. I’m not sure people realise they’re doing this, and I would love for marshals to mention this at the start of races, especially since parkrun’s laid back, friendly manner makes behaviour seen as competitive slightly out of place. Basically, my message is – if you’re running 25 minute 5ks, DON’T STAND AT THE FRONT.

End rant.

Actually, there was another thing which I thought was a bit off today. I was running behind a gentleman who insisted on wearing a running top, shoes… and running tights. Nothing else. Now I’m obviously no prude, but at 9am there are some things I don’t need to see jiggle. Certainly the last thing I want to be running behind for 5 minutes is someone in very tight running tights, leaving literally nothing to the imagination. Now, I don’t want to come across all Mary Whitehouse… but SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

End second rant.

Overall, St. Helens parkrun was good. Yes, laps are a killer, but there is a great community feel there – the volunteers were numerous and cheered us on, and free drinks and snacks are a plus. The hill isn’t too big a challenge but it keeps the course interesting. There is also a flickr page for the parkrun, with a few of people taking photos on iPhones (I’ll throw some up if/when they’re uploaded). Results were out by 1pm. I’d be happy to call it my home parkrun!

2015-08-29 - St Helens runMy run was ok. I was pretty excited for this one, since it’d be the first parkrun in ages when I’d be able to run on fresh legs – no gym or run the day before. Foolishly, I went out to see my old drama group do Sweeny Todd (very good, by the way… clearly quality improves when I’m not involved) and stayed out until about half one. I got into bed around 2, sober, but couldn’t get to sleep. I got up at about quarter to eight after about 5 hours of sleep. So, dreams of a fresh run were dashed.

As usual, though, once you start most of these little gripes disappear. I felt like it was a good run, slightly more consistent than usual. As you can see from my Nike+ report, my GPS is crap – it looks like I’d had a few drinks before I decided to start. Hence, the report reads 3.18 instead of 3.11 miles – still, that’s 5 seconds off the Widnes parkrun the week before. See my times here.

Main points

  • Laps: 3.5
  • PB potential: Medium – hill might slow you down, as might the start…
  • Facilities: None that I saw. Free tea, coffee, and biscuits.
  • First-time friendly? Yes!

3 things I learned from Liverpool’s local election results (number 2’s a shocker!)

My to-do list is scary. Actually, there’s no single to-do list, but rather a range of different to-do lists scribbled over different apps. Things have gotten so bad that I’ve made a to-do list which comprises solely of ‘sort out to-do lists’. How meta.

One of the things that’s been sitting on a few of my to-do lists is to put Liverpool’s local election results into STATA and see if the data throws up anything interesting (I know, I need to calm down). Funnily enough, the data confirms a lot of what I had already accepted as fact. This is good for me, since I’m the kind of person who prefers statistics to case studies or ‘common knowledge’.

Anyway, I thought instead of just hiding the results away and perhaps forgetting about them, I’d throw them into a little blog post.

NB: the graphs below will not look great because STATA seems designed to impede the production of presentable graphs. Also, spoiler: number 2 isn’t really a shocker, I just hoped a Buzzfeed-style title would draw in an audience. Next week: 6 things the Liverpool Tories did which lost them votes (you won’t believe number 3!).

1) Labour’s vote was more efficiently spread than the Conservative’s vote
SS by VS LE

The graph above shows that, on average, both Labour and the Liberals did better in Liverpool on any % vote share than the Conservatives could expect to do. This suggests that the Conservative vote was more concentrated in safe wards, and coupled with the fact that many Labour-leaning wards were smaller, meant that the Conservatives had to work harder to translate votes into seats.

However, there were two local boundary reforms between 1945 and 2003. It stands to reason that changing how Liverpool was divided up would impact on the translation of votes into seats. The next graph breaks up the period into the three boundary regimes.

SS by VS LE by BO

As we can see, until 1952 the relationship between vote share and seat share was almost exactly the same for the two main parties. However, the 1952 local boundary reforms significantly benefitted the Labour party – on average, a vote share of 40% for both parties would result in ~30% seat share for the Conservatives, whilst Labour could expect ~50% of the seats.

Following the 1973 boundary reform, the Conservatives were further harmed by a concentration of votes in a small number of wards, meaning that even when their voters turned out in high numbers, the party could expect a significantly lower seat share – on 35% vote share the Conservatives could expect just over 20% of the seats, compared to Labour’s 40% and the Liberal’s 35%.

Overall, these results suggest that Labour’s vote was indeed spread more efficiently across the city than the Conservative’s vote was. However, when the Liberals replaced the Conservatives as the main opposition to Labour, they did not suffer with this problem to anywhere near the same extent.

2) Labour did better when turnout was high

VS by TO by BO

Again, if we choose to split this period up into the three different set of boundaries we can see three different patterns emerge.

In the first period, we see that in fact higher turnout tends to slightly benefit the Conservatives at the expense of the Liberals. This relationship is minor, however, and the Liberals were goosed either way. Turnout seemed to have no impact on the Labour vote.

Between 1953-73, we do see a strong decline in Conservative vote share as turnout increases. Indeed, this is almost totally as a result of the rise of the Labour vote. This suggests that it was Labour that lost elections, rather than the Conservatives winning them, by not getting enough supporters to vote. Labour apathy benefitted the Tories.

In the third period, we see a similar pattern, but with different parties. Low turnout now seems to benefit the Liberals, and as turnout increases both Labour and the Conservatives can expect to increase their vote share. However, this result is skewed somewhat by the anomalous 1979 local election result (the three dots to the far right). This local election was held at the same time as the 1979 General Election, at the end of the unpopular Callaghan government. As such, both turnout and Conservative vote share are exaggerated here, and without this year included the Conservative trend line becomes much flatter, suggesting that over this period as turnout increases Conservative vote doesn’t change.

However, the third period hides important changes in the effects of turnout on Conservative vote share, due to the party’s rapid decline from 1973 to 2003. If we split the third period into decades (nb the 1990s includes up until 2003…), a clearer picture emerges.

In the 70s, there was a slightly negative relationship between turnout and vote share. This became more dramatic in the 1980s, somewhat explained by high-stake elections in the 1980s surrounding Militant, which would generate higher turnout from its supporters, whilst Conservative voters would face pressure to vote Liberal to keep the trots out. Finally in the 1990s/early 2000s, we see that as vote turnout increases the Conservative vote share increases slightly, but this is all pointless because they rarely top 10%…Con VS by Dec in 70-03

3) The Liberals took more votes from the Conservatives than Labour

This statement passes for common knowledge in the political history of Liverpool, and is justified by the data. VS by Lib VS 2

We can see that in 1953-73, as the Liberal vote increased, the Conservative vote declined whilst the Labour vote remained static. This suggests that the Liberals were indeed taking votes from the Conservatives whilst barely denting the Labour vote. What should be noted though is that, on average, it took a Liberal vote of over 10% in this period for Labour to best the Tories (although as previously mentioned, even with the Conservatives ahead in the popular vote Labour could still win a much greater seat share).

Between 1973 and 2003, the Liberals begin to take votes from both the Conservatives and Labour – although for every percentage increase in the Lib vote share the Conservatives suffer to a greater extent than Labour do (based on the steepness of the line).

Obviously, this is only a basic analysis of election results. There is still plenty to do which could generate quite a bit of new knowledge (and plenty more which would generate nothing). So far though, the ‘received wisdom’ seems to be legit.

NB: if you’ve got any comments/tips/advice/demands for money let me know either in the comments or on twitter, @DavidJeffery_.

Widnes parkrun review

I’m still in Liverpool, so my travels took me to Victoria Park, for the Widnes parkrun.

The first thing I noticed was that the park is surrounded by residential streets, and since there isn’t any dedicated parking space I had to squeeze in on the pavement where I could. Despite arriving about 20 minutes early space was already sparse so do leave time for space searching – or get public transport/walk.

The course is three and a half laps. Generally, I don’t like laps since the thought of ‘another two to go’ can be quite draining, but the park is very nice and there’s plenty to keep you distracted as you run round. There is only one tricky turn on the route, which is a sharp left as you approach the lake. Today the course was fairly dry, but there were a few leaves, some mud, and bird and dog poo (at least, I assumed it was dog…) around the lake, so it’s not unimaginable that someone taking the corner too fast could slip into the lake. In fact, I’d pay good money to see that happen. Nike+ reported just 37 feet of elevation over the whole three laps.

It’s hard to miss the starting point here, right next to the pavilion in the centre of the park. The paths were fairly wide so there didn’t seem to be much bunching at the start, despite there being 150-odd people present. There were a lot of volunteers today, and one of them took the children who weren’t running to the first marshall point to cheer on runners – a nice touch if you don’t want offspring to ruin your PB chances, like they ruined your finances and social life. The volunteers were all very supportive here, smiling and clapping as I ran past, although at the finish line I did hear one of them having to ask how long the course was…! Also, nobody here seems to take it too seriously so the vibe is quite relaxed – I spotted very few club shirts. When I’d finished, I did see one woman hand her son (I hope…) a water bottle and run along side him as he drank it. That was probably a bit too much. Calm down.

The website says there is a coffee social after each parkrun, in the park’s cafe which opens at 10am. Since it started to rain I didn’t stay, but I think things like that are a nice touch if you enjoy social interaction. There was also a photographer there today – I’m not sure how regular of an occurrence this is, but it meant I had to control my usual ‘I-hate-the-world-and-everyone-in-it’ run face as I passed him. I look forward to the inevitable embarrassing gurns captured forever (if there are any, I imagine they’ll be put on the event’s Flickr profile here). Results were sent out before 1pm.

Overall, the Widnes parkrun was enjoyable. It’s another young’un, this being the 32nd event and again I can see it developing a strong community. However, for me, the 3.5 laps means that Croxteth Park just edges to the finish.

2015-08-22 - Widnes run

My run felt good but my energy dipped early on – it didn’t help that I’d be doing leg exercises in the gym the day before (I refuse to use the term leg day) – and the laps got to me. I just find myself getting bored. Early on I counted 7 guys ahead of me, and so I set a goal of holding my place and finishing in the top ten. As Nike+ shows, in a bid to pull away early I probably went off a bit too fast, and then my average speed fell from 6’05/mile to 6’43/mile. Either way, I still finished in 9th place which I’m happy about, but after my next triathlon I’ll be throwing in some speed, hill, and pacing work to build some consistency in my running. See my times here.

Main points

  • Laps: 3.5
  • PB potential: High – as long as you don’t fall in the lake, and you don’t mind laps.
  • Facilities: None, until the cafe opens at 10. Plenty of seats in the centre for spectators. Flickr profile here.

Update: here are the two pictures I could find of me. As always, I’m looking glam and dressed to impress.

Widnes Parkrun start Widnes Parkrun

Credit to Waldemar Rutkowski.

Croxteth Hall parkrun review

Since I’m still in Liverpool, I decided to go further afield for my weekly parkrun – and drove on down to Croxteth Hall parkrun.

The course is a single lap, on pretty flat terrain (Nike+ reported an elevation of 20ft, which was barely noticeable). The path is a mixture of concrete and trail which, despite recent showers, wasn’t too muddy and there were plenty of volunteers lining the course so it was hard to get lost. There were a few dog walkers on the route, but apart from that the park was fairly quiet. A lot of the route was in the shade, so on sunny days it would probably stay quite cool and you wouldn’t need your factor 50 (though I won’t be held responsible for any dodgy tan lines you might end up with).

My only complaint was that the start was very cramped, with many slower runners (including children) at the front. This carried on for perhaps the first half-mile of the run. I imagine this could be sorted fairly easily by asking people who are hoping for a sub-20 finish to move to the front, sub-25 just behind them, etc.

Either way, this is a minor gripe (and common to a lot of parkruns). The park is lovely – especially the grand Croxteth Hall – the route is flat, and the volunteers were all very friendly and encouraging. The onsite parking is convenient (and less than 5 minutes away from the starting point – which is right next to Croxteth Hall), and so are the toilets. Although only young (this was only the 23rd iteration), the organisation was slick – I can easily see the run regularly passing the 200 runners mark as word spreads.2015-08-15 - Croxteth Hall run

My run was good – I always find new locations mentally easier since I concentrate on the surroundings and forget about the effort/exhaustion. Compared to last week’s parkrun, I was 22s quicker – but that’s probably due to the lack of hills rather than improved fitness. See my times here. I’m hoping to get back to the 19m-somethings, and then eventually sub-19m… MamaJ also enjoyed the route, with the horses grazing an added bonus.

Main points

  • Laps: 1
  • PB potential: High – could get slippy after a bit of rain though. That might mean you move quicker, or it might mean you break your neck…
  • Facilities: Toilets, onsite car parking, playground (meant to be for kids, but I had a little swing as I waited for MamaJ to finish)