A momentous moment

By Paul Sinton-Hewitt, parkrun founder
— Friday 7 March 2014

Ten years ago I started writing the systems that would eventually manage the parkrun results. I've had help from a number folks over the years. People like Stuart Lodge, Chris Wright, Richard Leyton and Alan Dempster - all of whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. We have used ingenious methods, including sticky tape and string, over the years to ensure that the results kept on rolling. We've known for some time that the system had a limited shelf life but many other priorities got in the way.

Starting a few years ago we began focusing on building the foundation that would allow for our eventual migration to a new, flexible and powerful results processing engine where there would be no limitation on the number of events and or runners.

In the last 6-9 months, Alan and Richard have slaved over a hot stove cooking up the final "dish of the day" which has culminated in the retirement of our old results processing system.

I have been asked if I have any regrets or perhaps feelings of remorse or sadness as the system was switched off. This was my baby after all. I spent many hours every day for god knows how long crafting this system - often not really understanding what I was doing. The system was at the reach of its capability for at least the last year and as a result required many interventions to get the job done.

My vision for the new system was that every result could be processed and the parkrunners receive their confirmation of their result within an hour of the event teams submitting the results. With our new system, thus is now possible. We are at the start of our future. Everything is possible depending on our resource capability.

If you are a normal person then it’s hard to get excited by technology. This will be especially true if we get this change right. The only difference the parkrunners will see is that their result will be available earlier than before and their email might get to them before they get home. However, from where I stand this is the second most important moment in parkrun history - the first being that moment when those first 13 runners turned up on the 2nd October 2004. With this change, we will be ready to process as many events and as many runners as the parks can handle across all geographies.

So, I am as happy as a man can be right now. There is a new order. Long live the new systems.

It is fitting that I pay tribute to the folks who made this possible. Starting with Stuart Lodge who was instrumental in the very early days when I had absolutely no knowledge of PC's or the internet and who came up with the structure of how our results are displayed on the web. Then, Chris Wright, who took on the initial task of moving the database structures to a technology platform that run parkrun today and managing our initial foray into web technologies. And latterly, Alan who has hand crafted the whole revised results processing system. Finally, Richard who provides constant support on a host of issues that none of you will notice but without which we would be able to post a single result.
There are other folks too. parkrun is a collaborative effort, there are many folk who contribute all the time. But today is about these folks. I stand and applaud them. Their names are written into the parkrun DNA forever. My thanks to you all.

Paul

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