The Mystery of the People in the Park
“You know Holmes, this could be your most challenging case yet,” whispered Watson.
“Indeed,” murmured the celebrated detective; “it has all the hallmarks of a dastardly plot by that dark demon of evil, Moryferrier”.
“Of course,” said Watson peering through the bushes, “there has to be some fantastical reason why nearly 80 people have gathered in the park at nine of the clock on a freezing dank January morning when decent folk would normally be huddled up in the fug of Costa Hall”.
“My dear Watson, I think we can, if I am not mistaken, say that this is a not so secret meeting of the society they call the Cranleigh parkrun”.
“Amazing Holmes – how on earth did you manage to deduce that so quickly?”
“Elementary my dear Watson. Look – that charming lady, if I’m not mistaken is Caroline Todman. Her disguise as a top fashion model would be perfect except for that blue tabard which to me indicates she is a run director – and as it’s Cranleigh, despite the attempts to confuse us with the Siberian conditions, it will be Cranleigh parkrun”.
“And regard over there – those people, who are hoping that their thick furs, hats, gloves and scarves, would allow them to fade into the background as normal polar explorers, have made the fatal mistake of donning yellow hi-viz jackets”.
“Ah – I see, the French have arrived!” exclaimed Watson.
“Eeer no – I propose that they are actually those who are known in the innermost circles of the Illuminati as the volunteers – I suggest we are looking at Helen Bryce, Andy, Harris, Jane Heathcott, Ian Helm, Harriet Irving, Stephanie Lawson, John Mckenna, Mackie Ringrose, Deborah L Riseley, and Bridget Slater. Thogh I need to reflect if running the course backwards and confusing people is a volunteer role Chris Finill can claim.”
“And judging by the cut of their costumes and colour of the mud on their boots, there are volunteers from afar; such as Mike Sankey – the mix of pine needles and grey mud suggesting Bracknell - and Cheryl Sacks – ooooh, that is a challenge, mud from 144 different courses unless my eyes deceive me, but predominantly the mystical Ally Pally.”
“And that wise looking one – do you see the grooves in his shoulder – obviously from continuous use of sub aqua tanks (could be useful today) which means John Green, turning up for his 150th stint at the top of the far hill.”
“And behold Watson those three - Martyn Greaves, Chris and Kate Mason - are undoubtedly the course setting up team.”
“But how on earth do you know that Holmes?”
“Look closely Watson, their noses are the same blue colour as the director’s tabard, indicating that they have been out here in the freezing cold since the cawing of the dark crows broke the silence of dawn”.
“Now hist Watson; look, the people now depart – to the untutored it may seem like that they are out for a gentle stroll. However, given my trained eye and my memories of the case of the spotted Surrey Half Marathon - along with the paucity of dogs and the somewhat alarming display of Lycra - suggests they are trying to run, jog and walk – possibly as much as 5 kilometers”
“Kilometers!” exclaimed Watson.
“It is a strange reference, you may be more comfortable with 248 chains… now let us remain silent for about 20 minutes, and then you may see something that not many are privy to…and best you have your trusty revolver to hand in case things take a turn for the worse…though looking at Andy Harris it might be best if you had your stethoscope and AED ready…”
And yet again Holmes was proved right, his findings rivalling the amazing conclusions he made in the case of the missing knee support. Peering through the damp green canopy he revealed many secrets. In summary…
In just under 20 minutes in bounced, slipped and slid Mark Rowlands – often a Guildford runner but today recording his first first at Cranleigh. Following him in, despite only (literally) running up to the start at the last moment was regular Ian Helm, with Stephen Deasley the next man in, recording his equal best finishing position at Cranleigh.
Holmes also drew attention to the veteran Andy Rees, in ninth place making his first appearance in the top 10 in 39 Cranleigh runs. Andrew Ferrier continued his comeback from injury, finishing in 10th place to celebrate his amazing 200th parkrun. (The cakes were appreciated, though Holmes is sending them off for forensic testing to challenge Andrew’s assertion that he had made them (and the Sainsbury’s label) himself.) And thank you to Andrew and others who helped the gentleman who had a ‘medical episode’ and ensured he was brought home safely.
Holmes also noted, with a slight blush so redolent of the last time he encountered the enthralling, Irene Adler, that there was a strong performance on the female front.
Nici Cahusac finished third overall and first female with an impressive (at any time, let alone in these conditions) 21:35. Next was the aforementioned Cheryl Sacks (she of 307 runs on 144 courses), and in third place the relative beginner (10 runs) Annemarie Nicholls, yet again turning in a good performance; always about 26/27 minutes despite the varying conditions – we look forward to seeing what she can do in the warm and dry!
It didn’t need a great detective to spot that Connie Turner managed an impressive run with a buggy that threatened to find a route of it’s own. Penny Lynch and Catherine George – as ever – managed exceptional formation running to finish with the same time once more.
Even the hard-bitten Holmes couldn’t resist a faint smile of admiration as he saw several family groups defy the weather and get around somehow – full marks to young and nearly young Nathan and Jan Poole, Lucas and Jon Robinson, Beata and Ines-Angel Milne (Ines on her first run – nice time to choose!). Young Georgina Storey ran very well, with a grand smile, though she is now old enough to part company from mum Ruth – who had to run hard to stop the dog doing its slightly worrying Hound of the Baskervilles impersonation.
It was also obvious to Holmes – and indeed Watson who commented on their somewhat glazed expression – that a few people had decided this cold muddy January day was a good time to see what delights the Cranleigh course held – apart from those already mentioned welcome to John Trafford, Helen Morton and Sam Gritton.
And well done to those – not recorded – who turned out and managed a lap of the course prior to greater things soon.
Holmes tapped the ashes out of his pipe, startling the Labrador that was sniffing around his feet, and rose with a final insight.
“I suggest that the sapping, slippy, skidding mud means that for once nobody did an all-time best time – but nobody can gainsay that everyone showed amazing grit and fortitude to turn out – perchance we will see them again next week when we can explore further the mystery of the people in the park.”