Last week, with many of our regular runners off at South Norwood parkrun for mob matches (two – one a Striders vs. Harriers Croydon derby, the other a meeting of the church running groups), numbers were down somewhat. This week, our numbers were added to by a sizeable influx of parkrun tourists.
Many of the tourists were there to support one runner in particular, John Butcher. John, who is 87 years old, was running his 242nd parkrun – at his 100th different parkrun venue. Reaching 100 different parkrun locations makes him a member of the Cowell Club, named after Chris and Linda Cowell, who were the first male and female parkrunners to reach that (unofficial) parkrun milestone. John was wearing a distinctive parkrun tourist bobble hat, while many of the other tourists sported the “Cow cowl” – a distinctive black, white and yellow neck-scarf that can only be purchased after you have reached parkrun’s Most Events table (20 parkrun venues, usually): If you look at these closely you will see that they feature cow heads – and there was one on the front of John’s bobble hat as well. It was my pleasure as Run Director today to present John with a framed listing of all his parkrun venues, in order. John also holds records at many parkrun venues for his age class, and today added Lloyd parkrun to that list as well, setting a VM85-98 record of 39:34.
Other notable tourists were the Pattison family. Matt and S-J Pattison’s stories feature in my book “parkrun: much more than just a run in the park” – Matt was quoted (p166-7) talking about the friendships made or re-kindled by parkrunning, and the joy of bringing family and friends together. Sarah-Jane’s story features near the end of the ‘Bounding dogs and bouncing buggies’ chapter, where she talks about starting parkrunning after her third son, Flynn was born, pushing him in the buggy. Five and a half years later, Flynn is parkrunning himself, has already reached the 50-parkruns club and is about to reach the 20 venues mark to have his own place on the Most Events board, and today greatly enjoyed running through Lloyd parkrun’s mud. His oldest brother, Dexter, who like his parents is already in the 250-club, was not so happy about the mud, while Clark (100-club) didn’t seem to mind much one way or the other. I wish all of you many more years of happy parkrunning.
All of today’s runners were treated to another edition of the ‘wandering course’ forced on us by the construction of the new cycle path. This week a diversion round the fencing at the top of the sports field produced an extra, short, uphill section, which several people complained about as they passed the marshal standing there – along with comments that we keep changing the course (yes – don’t blame us, blame the council) and about the rather blustery wind – although one runner, after finishing, noted that she was relieved it had at least been against her on the downhill, not the uphill. The mud came in for comment as well, of course, with some tourists commenting ruefully that they had brought trail shoes but arrived a little late, so the trail shoes were still in the car!
Today’s first finisher was a visitor, Jack Leafe (South Derbyshire Road Runners) in 18:57, followed by Lee Flanagan and Simon Ambrosi (both Striders of Croydon) in 19:44 and 19:55 respectively.
Jenny Rowe (Striders of Croydon) was first woman at 22:59, followed by Kyra Sethna-Macintosh and Gulcin Erten (both Croydon Harriers) in 23:55 and 24:19.
Top age-graded runs came from Matthew Stone (76.29%), Lee Flanagan (71.88%) and visitor Anne Ramsden (70.61%).
Wendy Field reached the 50-club today, while Jamie Taylor reached the 100-club – please both remember to log onto your profile, follow the link and claim your T-shirt. Mark Tittle was delighted to reach 150 parkruns, and Lynn Seymour reached her 200th parkrun, with several people running at Lloyd parkrun today to be there for the occasion – they will have to come back again in about a year to see her reach 250!
Many thanks to all of today’s volunteer heroes, without whom no parkrun could take place. Nick Fiander, Erik Schrijnemaekers, Marcelo Kern and Paul Elliott arrived early for course set-up. John Chambers and Stephen Tyler (the Ref) were today’s timekeepers, while Noah Tolfrey handed out the finish tokens. Kyra Powell, Eleanor Hunt and Ben Hansen scanned everyone’s barcodes, and Joy Harris, Krzysztof Klidzia, David Graves, Nick Fiander and Aidan Dixon were your marshals. Dave Linkson took the photos, Joanna Scanlan and Eliane Martini were the tailwalkers and Joanna Scanlan processed the results. Aidan, Richard Corby and the Ref did much of the post-event clearing away. And special thanks to Foong Cheek, who did a bit of everything, from helping Aidan set out the finish funnel to starting up the third, backup-backup, stopwatch (which turned out to be rather important today) to handing out fliers for the Croydon Half Marathon.
Finally, do consider running the Croydon Half Marathon, which is being held by Striders of Croydon on Sunday 31st March. The course is two laps of roads pretty much around the outside of Lloyd Park. We have fantastic specially-designed medals for the runners, while local sports shop The Winning Margin is sponsoring the technical T-shirts. Anyone willing to marshal during the race would also be very much welcomed – ask me for details! (https://www.nice-work.org.uk/races/CroydonHalf)