It is said that London is the most surveyed city in the world just with the number of public cameras alone. This does not include the many more in commercial premises, where they are required by law, or private properties or cyclists or mobile phones. We literally bristle with them. It can be argued that they keep us safe and deter crime OR that they are Big Brother invading our privacy and liberty. Who would have thought ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ would so under-predict so soon after?!.
No wonder then that a recent survey (possibly by the drugs companies) said that antidepressants work (when compared with a placebo) and that we should all be taking more of them. What a depressing thought. Pass me a glass of wine instead. Oops – no! There was an article about more than a glass of wine a day exceeding the recommendations, shortens your life expectancy drastically. I’ll tell that to my 94 year old mother who lives in Italy!
Of course, here at Richmond Park parkrun we have no such problems, other than at the car parks where the cameras are trained on our cars. There go those romantic rendezvous to upset the Winston Smiths and Julias of this world! However, we can meet up at our briefing area in the safe knowledge that the nearest visible camera is 500m away at Pembroke Lodge.
WE of course, for the duration of our meetings and a long while after, have NO DEPRESSION!
People arrive and happily talk to fellow runners and even ‘first timer’ strangers, of which there were 86 today. There were also representatives from 42 different clubs. Can this really be a London suburb, where people have difficulty talking to each other? The odd post-run celebratory cake or sip of mead has been known to pass people’s lips purely in celebration and this contributes to the fact that no one needs to take antidepressants before or after. The very few that may feel a little depressed are those that, for various unfortunate reasons, have been unable to join us as usual. We are all aware that parkrun becomes our weekly antidepressant, in the nicest possible way.
At the end of our parkrun we all queue up in various stages of exhaustion, our barcodes in our hands, waiting to be scanned by those that have volunteered to make our day even happier. Most runners eventually recover enough to put a big smile on their face and thank the generosity of the volunteers. First, last, PB or not we have all spent an hour or so in one of the most beautiful parks in the world. A large percentage will be back next week to participate again – because we loved it. Depression – what depression? Maybe the NHS should prescribe more parkrunning.
Today we arrived with nature’s free antidepressant – the sunshine! Forgotten - the horizontal snow from 4 weeks ago. Even as I left the car there was the wonderful aroma from a flowering bush nearby, shaming any Parisian scent. Spring has at last arrived! Warming up, off piste, near the start line before the briefing, there were many muddy and boggy bits in the rough grass and paths to remind us of the recent rains. One great thing about the rain has been that the mud in the pond adjacent the start line has sunk underneath a layer of clear water and again resembles the pond we remember. Welcome back. And, as if to prepare us for the celebration of spring, the sycamores leading down from the start line formed an arch of yellow flowering branches, though I suspect most of us were looking down at the heels of the person in front, not at the splendid canopy above.
Today’s run director, Andy Caie, announced that we had been given 20 places for some of us to run in next month’s 10 mile race in the park. There would be no entry fee for those of us participating. HOWEVER, each runner is expected to raise a minimum of £200 to support the building of a new Visitor and Heritage pavilion adjacent to Pembroke Lodge. Anyone taking place will get a customised t-shirt and a voucher for lunch for 2 at the Pantry, Pembroke Lodge. Additionally, from Richmond Park parkrun's perspective, this is a great way for us to be seen to “give something back” to our beautiful park. The race is in Richmond Park on Sunday 13 May and details are at:-www.london10mile.com/.
This week 492 people ran, jogged and walked the course and 41 recorded new PBs. Richard McChesney, our fast walker, with his best time for many months, overtook me and many others, to beat me back in 31:32. He told me he was training for a race next week.
Gordon Barnes, in 37:06, was beaten by his 2 girls by 3 seconds, who achieved their PBs. They were chauffeured home, as reward, in the front box of their Dutch Bike.
Today’s male leaders were Dan Higgins in 16:34, closely followed by Martin Shore in 16:47 and Dan Afshar in 18:03. They all had tremendous age grade ratings of 81.79%, 82.52% and 78.58%, respectively.
For the ladies, Adrienne Baddeley led the way in 19:44, followed close behind by Charlotte Matthews in 19:51 and Amy Wilkinson in 20.25.
Jacqueline Millet achieved the highest ladies age grade with 82.5%. Close behind, and building back up after a small ‘break’, was Patricia Ainley with79.37% and then Alex Barr with 77.91%.
Osian Jones and Margaret Lord will be on their 100th, on the next run. Ross Langtree, a visitor, chose Richmond to complete his 50th and Hanna Davidson also achieved her 50th. Larry Woods and Alfred Taylor will also reach their 50th on the next run.
This week there were 23 volunteers giving their time so the rest of us could enjoy our run/walk. At least this week they had the sun shining on them too. As usual, a great thanks goes to them all. Their names are at the bottom of the results page. Well done to all of us!