Well, firstly I should kind of apologise as this Run Report is not going to be particularly good – primarily as I mostly missed this week’s parkrun.
I didn't see this happen
As many of you will know, I have managed to snaffle myself a place in the London Marathon this year and am getting towards the sharp end of the training. My Long Slow run currently sits around the 18-19 mile (29-30 km) mark and so training is taking a big hold on my life. This week, I decided to do what many people have done and run my Long Slow on Saturday morning timing my arrival at a certain big tree for 9am with around 5km to go. My plan was to get up early for a decent breakfast, leave at 7am to run to the park the long way round (12km) before meeting a couple of friends at 8am for an 11km lap of the park then run parkrun and go for coffee as usual.
This mostly went well, I ran well to the park, but then a few things conspired that meant we didn’t make it to the start of parkrun until just after ten past nine – long after the field had disappeared down Chestnut Avenue. To be honest, I was wondering if we would get overtaken by the leaders as we rounded the Diana Fountain to head for the start – but we just managed to avoid that.
There were probably some announcements
In my head, I was still thinking this was okay – my LSR pace means I was hoping to do something like 25 minutes for a finish time around 37-38 mins including my lateness and so I would catch up with the field quite quickly and finish towards the back of the main pack of runners! However, I hadn't taken into account dying a thousand deaths!
Science tells us that the body can store around 2,000 calories to use during exercise and so if you are planning on burning more than that level then you need to replenish those stores, by eating or drinking on the move. My 24km warm-up burned almost exactly this magic number of calories and so I reached the startline with the petrol tank on empty.
Added to this, whilst I was carrying half a dozen energy gels with me, I decided not to use them – the key reason behind this decision was that I am pretty stupid! I took one as soon as I realised what was happening, but by this point it was too late and my fate was sealed.
It meant my pace dropped about 500m up Chestnut Ave and from running strong my stride became a shuffle, my head dropped and I spent the entire time working out how I could get back to the startline in the shortest possible way. My kilometre splits for the 5km went 5:31, 5:55, 6:22, 6:33 and 7.28! I had to fight hard to keep that last one under 7 1/2 minutes!
But I made it! I crossed the line, scanned my barcode and stumbled around looking for Carol Dickinson who had made a lemon drizzle cake - you've got to refuel!
So what did I experience at parkrun other than a whole world of pain?
Well I found out that Sally Willis who was hazard marshal stayed in her position even until I had shuffled past and gave me an encouraging cheer. I caught up with Juliette Jowit trying to convince her four year-old daughter, Lucy, to keep going – which she evidently did. I caught up a few people (although not many) and then with a young girl Ellie Gonsalves, who was running her first parkrun. Her mum, Hayley (well done on the new PB!) has caught the bug and so convinced Ellie to come along and whilst she was finding it tough she still had enough in the tank that with a bit of encouragement to beat me to the line.
That was about it, so I am writing this Run Report from a rather passive viewpoint!
The 561st Bushy parkrun
We almost hit the thousand for another week with 994 runners completing a lap of our course.
This is what I am told the start looked like
First back to the big tree was Talas Telkovsky who ran a new PB (16:19) for his third first place finish in his 15th parkrun, Andrew Lawrence (16:25) was second with Andrius Jaksevicius (16:25) third.
Harry Matthews was the quickest of the junior field – he celebrated winning the Brighton Youth Race last week with a new parkrun PB (16:29) this week. Harry was followed home by Ben Tatters (18:09) and Fred Green (18:37) – also a new PB!
The ladies were led home by Jay Marie O’Hanlon (18:25) on her first parkrun with Junior athlete Isabel Atkins (19:31) in second place and Nicola Swaffield (20:01) third.
Isabel’s new PB time might have given her second place overall, but she was also the quickest of the juniors ahead of Libby Brown (20:46) and Joanna Boxall (21:05)
New Milestones, PBs and WAVA scores
115 new PBs were set, with eleven coming from athletes with over 50 parkruns to their name! Well done to Harry Matthews, Fred Green, Kevin Dargue, Chris Humphris, Libby Brown, Fin O’Regan, Lilian Mace, Richard Boxall, Martin Powell, Laura Mosley and Sandeep Bal!
Junior 10 Club - Isabel Atkins, David Mason and Alisa Eedy all celebrated joining the 10 Club with new PBs and they were joined by Thaddeus Saunders and Maddie Brown
50 Club – Only one runner completed their 50th parkrun this week, so well done to Juliet Lack who will be looking at sizes for her new red T-shirt
100 Club – Big congratulations to Simon Webb and Susan Noone who both ran their 100th parkrun and so will be sporting new black tops sometime soon!
No new T-Shirt, but well done to Tony Chapman, Alexandra Mason and Keith Morris who all completed their 200th parkrun at Bushy this weekend.
As for the WAVA Threshold – four runners managed to hit the magic 80% score, so well done to Harry Matthews, Jay Marie O’Hanlon, Laurence Duffy and Isabel Atkins!
From the back of the pack…
The only other thing I wanted to mention was the proposed course change that was mentioned on our social media last week. I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain some of the thoughts we have had and the reasoning behind the change.
It has basically stemmed from conversations with the Royal Parks Authority who were getting increasingly concerned with our ever expanding numbers and the impact on the park itself. 1,000 pairs of feet down Chestnut Avenue is not helping the health of the chestnut trees that make that walk so iconic.
There are a few other factors that are brought to play when trying to find solutions in the fact that the other side of Chestnut Avenue is really the preserve of the dog walkers – we have in some ways trained them over the years to go to that side of the park and so a switch to there would cause no-end of complaints from people who have just as much right to the park as we do. So Bushy parkrun like almost all the running events in the park will always be on the East side of Chestnut Ave and that is the area we had to work with.
We had discussed a number of different potential courses with the Royal Parks and have found one which we all feel balances the needs of our community with the impact on the park and other park users. The Royal Parks have agreed with our thinking and so all we need to do now to fully confirm things is to have the course professionally measured.
Our EDs, Ray and Hayden measured it with a wheel and are happy with it, but to keep up the standards we need to get in an official and this may take a few weeks to organise.
One man and his wheel
The suggestion is to have a test run on the new course in early April and assuming all goes okay, to move to the new course from then onwards. This is a critical moment in our history as it is a key step to safeguard the long term future of our run. We would love to keep our existing route, but we need to have a positive and respectful relationship with our landlords - who I should add are hugely supportive of what we do.
Also talking about respect, we also have to park considerately, not in the yellow lines or hatched areas. Things like this will also show we are not respecting the park and must stop
From looking at the comments on Facebook, I can reassure people that the proposed course is as good as we can think of in terms of keeping what makes Bushy special. It should still be flat and fast and so your PBs will still be realistic targets, although Andy Baddeley will have to work hard to set a new course record.
- The start is on a wide avenue, so the field should string out a bit before hitting the first turn
- The start and finish are convenient for the carparks from the logistical point of view of getting our gear to where it needs to be
- The finish is also okay for the Pheasantry from a community point of view – it wouldn’t be parkrun if it didn’t end with coffee and cake!
- We get to keep the course as single lap, mostly on tarmac
NB. The course doesn't cross itself at the 2km and 4/5km points as this would be dangerous, but does return to the same junction - perfect for High 5-ing!
But personally, I am most pleased that the finish line is in the same place as it currently is – albeit going in the opposite direction! That point I think makes a lot of difference – that big old oak, is probably the most famous tree in all of parkrun, maybe even in all of running!
The old Bushy Park Time Trial used to start from there and obviously now it is our finish line – I am pretty sure it was the inspiration for the original designs of the parkrun logo which have evolved to the version that we have today. So I guess, every member of the 10 Club, 50 Club, 100 Club or 250 Club, all the people who bought the parkrun T-shirts from Wiggle last year etc. wears that image on their chest. Everyone from the 14 hardy souls who ran around a chilly Sosnivka parkrun course in St Petersburg, Russia to the 85 who fought up the hills of Dunedin parkrun, NZ – every one kind of knows that tree!!
I’m not even sure if the bit where you go past Cutty Sark or across Tower Bridge on the London Marathon course or Heartbreak Hill in Boston is as famous as that gnarled oak tree! And it would be a shame if we lost it being such an icon and so I think it is a huge positive that reaching it remains the target for every Bushy parkrunner and our timer will have the same spot to shelter on the odd occasion we get a few spots of rain!
Before we all get sentimental about a change to something we all love. One final point which Ray mentioned to me – late March or early April may well see the final running of Bushy parkrun on its current course, but that is the fourth iteration of our 5km lap. Many of you will know that we used to run it in reverse, but in the very early runs BPTT started from a couple of different spots in the carpark before we settled on the present course, albeit going anti-clockwise. So yes, our present course has been iconic, but Bushy parkrun evolves and in the same way that we moved from names on sheets of A4 to barcodes and from laptops to hand-held scanners we need to continue to evolve to continue the positive nature of our relationship with the people who manage our beautiful park!
So whilst it will be different wandering down to Lime Avenue for the start, I hope you will all be as enthusiastic about the new course as the one many of us have spent many hours running around.
Anyway, that’ll do for the today!
PS. Thanks to Dave Papworth, Jo Gleave, Nic Wiseman and Anna Slater for the photos
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