503 is a magic number
The 503rd running of Richmond parkrun saw a record but rather uncanny number of participants taking part - 503 to be precise! I am not a statistician but I wonder what the odds are of that happening.
We had a high number of first timers with 79 joining us to sample our beautiful course. Perhaps a certain iconic race on Sunday had inspired people to come along and try out a parkrun, with several completely new to the event. There must have been a certain marathon magic in the air. Indeed, we were fortunate to welcome two visiting runners from Warsaw who were reporting on Sunday's London Marathon and previous participants themselves. Saturday saw finishers from both Paris and Brighton putting on their running shoes again - fantastic after such a short space of time. We also had two pacers from the London race no doubt loosening limbs before undertaking their wonderful task of helping others to their target times. Even one or two runners of London had ventured out for a final parkrun before the big day. As we ran I heard one of the cyclists asking if people ran the day before the marathon!
The London marathon is a truly great event and Brendan Foster who was commentating for the final time summed up its unique appeal. Whilst he reported enjoying seeing the great world record from Paula and male course record from Kipchoge, he said for him the marathon was about the 'people, participation and London.' For one day London comes together in this great festival of sport. There is a buzz among runners prior to the race as stories are shared of completed or missed training, no doubt fuelled by jangling nerves. A real sense of camaraderie exists, this year most overtly dramatized by the man who sacrificed his time to help one runner in the final finishing straight. Spectators come out in their thousands to lend vocal support and turn the streets into a celebration of running. Many hold motivational or witty banners to spur on runners. One apparently read ‘I don’t know you, you don’t know me but I am proud of you all’…. Brings a tear to the eye even if you are not running.
I see parallels here with parkrun, the ethos of which is based on participation and a shared spirit of endeavour. Parkrun brings people of all backgrounds together whether sporting or not, and transcends all ages and geographies. Whether you are a spectator or a runner there is a real sense of achievement, empathy and goodwill. Every runner their own ‘reason to run’, which was used by the marathon as a motivational tool this year, whether it be about sporting performance, getting fit, overcoming ill health or just wanting to make friends and share in a collective experience.
Motivated perhaps by the magic of the marathon our parkrun saw the excellent number of 89 PBs this week. There were also milestones from Samuel CALABRIA, Florence HUTCHINGS, and Ben RUSHBY who marked his with a new personal best.
First across the line this week was Simon J BARRETT in 17:19 closely pursued by Tom BUCKLEY in 17:22. Hugo GARLAND followed in a highly creditable the line in 17:52.
Stephanie AINLEY lead in the Ladies in a shade over 20 minutes. Claire ALTMANN was second over the line in 20:24 with Sarah BAILEY in third in just over 21 minutes.
Three runners achieved age grading of almost 80% - the run first finisher alongside Mitch PHILLIPS and Colette HEWITT.
Thanks go to the wonderful team of volunteers and finally congratulations to anyone who ran in London or took part or plans to in one of the major spring marathons.