Banstead Woods Report for Event 548 – 18th November 2017
Report by Alison Cattermole Photos by Christopher Knight
Link to this weeks Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bwp_photographs/albums/72157689737225055
I am not going to write about today’s parkrun. Not that it wasn’t spectacular in the woods with those glorious tail-end autumn colours. The last of the leaves on the beech trees giving off an almost luminescent glow of orangey yellow and copper leaves coating the forest floor like a luxury carpet disguising the slippery underlay of gloopy mud. There were the usual stellar performances from the speedy and less speedy, 2 legged and 4 legged runners, those who are wheel assisted and, of course, the volunteers without whom parkrun wouldn’t exist. And, as you will see, I now realise how lucky we are at Banstead to have so many people willing to help out each week. But before I move on, worthy of note this week was that the runner who came in first was assisted by a rather gorgeous and very fast dog. Woof woof!!
No, today, I am going to write about my parkrun of 3 weeks ago.
I thought I was on for a good time. Perhaps not a PB (that boat floated last in 2014!) but maybe sub 40 minutes (I’m nothing if not optimistic). The weather was fine, the course was flat and dry with no obvious tripping hazards. It all boded well. But I had factored without the early start, the temperature of around 30 degrees Celsius and humidity at 80%.
Yes, folks, I was a parkrun tourist! After nearly 4 years parkrunning in Banstead Woods, my husband, Peter, and I found ourselves in Singapore on a Saturday and decided that we couldn’t miss the opportunity to try out another course, in another country, on another continent. A fitting place for him to run his 150th and me my 95th.
Amazingly, in a place as small as Singapore, there are 2 parkruns – an East Coast and a West Coast, though oddly, both are on the South Coast of the island. We decided to do the East Coast course as it looked on Google as if it ran very close to the coast. We were not disappointed.I had thought all parkruns, wherever in the world, started at 9am, but in Singapore to avoid the heat of the day, we started at 7.30am. As we fell out of bed at 6.45am, donned our running gear and grabbed a couple of bottles of water, I began to regret the last Singapore Sling from the night before!
The starting point was just like any other parkrun – runners appearing seemingly from nowhere, milling around, some doing warm ups and other chatting about the week past and weekend to come. There were the same parkrun flags, a few volunteers and the usually friendly regulars welcoming new faces. What is it about parkrunners that make them so warm and inviting? We chatted companionably to another tourist from Ireland, a couple from Australia and several locals. When the Run Director asked about tourists, around a third of the group put their hands up – the vast majority were from the UK. One thing I noticed immediately was that Peter and I were just about the oldest there. Later, a quick look at the results confirmed that of the 68 participants we were both the only runners in our age category. The first, and I suspect, only time I will ever be first in my age category. Result! Singapore would seem to be a young persons’ island.
The course was an out and back on a concrete track, 2.7km out and 2.3km back. After our starting instructions, we walked en masse to the start line. It was already feeling very warm. But the sun was shining and the course was completely level. I was looking forward to this.There were so many things that marked this parkrun as different from Banstead - The trees for one thing. In Banstead Wood we are blessed with majestic oaks, beech, chestnut and ash to name but a few. In Singapore, the trees along the track were palm trees, lime trees and colourful flowering bougainvillea in orange and white.The next thing I noticed was the number of people. In Banstead Woods, save for a few hardy dog walkers and supporters, parkrunners mainly have the woods to ourselves. Not so the East Coast parkrun in Singapore. There were several organised groups of people running on the same course and many solitary individuals. We don’t see many Buddhists in Surrey, but there were a several groups of orange clad, hairless gentlemen walking slowly along the path, usually followed by a similar number of secular walkers. On the sea side of the path, there were groups practising Tai Chi, moving as if in slow motion, in unison around a tree. There were a number of dog walkers, other people out for a Saturday morning stroll before the day got too hot. On the land side of the path was a service road being used by pelatons of cyclists in their usual garish colours of lycra – not unlike any Sunday afternoon in Surrey. To say the area was like Piccadilly Circus would be fanciful, but given the early hour and the fact that the path was only 3m wide, the place was crowded! In Banstead Woods I am avoiding tree roots, exposed bricks and muddy puddles; in Singapore, I was weaving in and out of Buddhists, walkers and dogs, and avoiding oncoming runners. It was quite stressful!
The first half of the run was directly into the rising sun and I was very glad of my baseball cap. It kept the sun out of my eyes and stopped the sweat dripping down and blinding me. After a kilometre running under the palm trees, we emerged to run alongside the shore, no more than 20 yards away with a narrow but inviting sandy beach and the waves gently washing up.I passed a group of four patient fishermen, their rods and fine lines forming a feint triangle in the haze and through the mist I could see a solitary paddle boarder gently gliding across the calm blue.Ahead of me I could see dozens of ships, which with the sun so low in the sky appeared in silhouette. Crude carriers, container ships, tugs, cargo boats…. all in a neat row queuing to come into port of off-load their cargo or take on another. I wondered where they were going to, where they were from and who was aboard ….
When I got to the ‘half-way’ point at 2.7km, there was a smiling volunteer on a bike cheering me on and ensuring I did indeed about turn. Suddenly, all the black boats came into sharp focus and with the sun behind me I could see them clearly, the containers piled high on top of one another, the long low flat deck of the oil tankers with their various pipes and pumping equipment, the busy top sides of the tugs. The tide was on the turn and I saw the boats were not in a straight line but actually at the same jaunty angle.
The run back to the start was exhausting, the heat began to tell, my legs felt heavy and my pace dropped to not much more than a crawl; and I was pretty desperate for drink!
But before I knew, it was all over and I had survived. Not a great time, over my 40 minute aim, but it was a time nonetheless. And I wasn’t actually last! Andrew the tail walker was several runners behind me.
I must give a shout out for the volunteers at the Singapore parkrun. There were so few. Indeed the Run Director had press-ganged his entire family of four, including his young children, to help and without them I’m not sure how the run would have happened. They don’t have the luxury of a report writer and the photos on this run were taken by the Run Directors teenage daughter with her iPhone; they don’t always have photographs.I am so glad we didn’t bottle out at 6.30am and stay in bed. We survived the humidity and temperature, met some lovely people and got to feel that same lovely smug post run feeling before a day of extreme sight-seeing.
All in all, a typical parkrun experience proving that where ever you run, whether your home run, another run in the UK or further afield across the world, you are assured of a great welcome, a familiar, efficient operation and best of all, the encouragement and support of fellow parkrunners. Thank you Singapore and thank you parkrun for this global phenomenon. It made my holiday.
PS. No cakes in Singapore either, unlike Banstead Woods this week. Thanks to the baker (Lorraine Garrod 200 parkruns) – they were yummy!
HERE ARE THE STATS FROM THIS WEEK’S EVENT:
This week 181 people ran, jogged and walked the course.
The event was made possible by 19 volunteers:
Therese PANETTA • Susan ESSLEMONT • Andrew STALLEY • Don ESSLEMONT • George FROGLEY • Alan IMESON • John MACMILLAN • Waller PAUL • Gill STALLEY • David MORRIS • Chris J EVANS • Nicholas FOSTER • Emily OLIVER • Patricia FROGLEY • Oliver ZONFRILLO • Christopher KNIGHT • David GEORGE • Elliott BURTON • Alison CATTERMOLE
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Banstead Woods parkrun Results Page.
The male record is held by Kevin QUINN who recorded a time of 15:25 on 7th June 2008 (event number 54).
The female record is held by Natalie HARVEY who recorded a time of 17:01 on 30th July 2011 (event number 216).
The Age Grade course record is held by Clare ELMS who recorded 89.66% (18:42) on 26th April 2014 (event number 361).
Banstead Woods parkrun started on 16th June 2007. Since then 8,780 participants have completed 84,538 parkruns covering a total distance of 422,690 km, including 14,018 new Personal Bests.
Event Reporter Alison Cattermole