Riddlesdown parkrun Event Report 24th March 2018 – Event 367



The One That Was Almost Censored

Report by Tim Allison
Photos by Simon Fisher (click on the link to view: https://www.flickr.com/photos/riddlesdown/albums/72157694202868244)


It was a beautiful spring like day for Riddlesdown parkrun 367, with the car’s thermometer registering well into positive territory, and the birds chirping their annoyance at being disturbed from the hedgerows on the walk down to the start. For how long the weather will last we can’t be sure, but with past years having crews getting sunk in the boat race, which is held again this weekend, today’s weather was certainly at the better end of the possible spectrum. Of course even good weather can’t mitigate the drowning the course has had over recent weeks. The downs are a mix of free draining chalk, and moisture retaining London clay, and suffice to say regulars will know which of the sub-particles hold the upper hand at this time of year. So warm and dry improved the course from “boglike” to merely “sticky” and 123 intrepid souls set out on a 5k run, ably assisted by many volunteers.
We had 9 parkrun first timers amongst our midst, tempted out by the spring conditions. The fact of losing an hour in bed later didn’t put off those looking for an early start to their weekend. Whilst 3 of those first timers were regular parkrunners, doing their tourism bit losing their Riddlesdown virginity, 3 were real first timers entering the parkrun family for the very first time. I’m assuming we had a Dad and daughter team with junior Eden Osborn sharing a time, but crucially “beating” Paul Osborn on their first runs. I’m not sure whose idea it was, or who dragged who round the course, but we hope to see you both again now you have PB targets to aim for.
Also amongst the first timers we celebrated with Nick Radford who decided to grace us with his 100th Parkrun, earning the black garment in the process. Nick has done 97 of his runs at Beeston Parkrun (which is Nottingham for those interested) and this was only his 3rd course (the other being Colwick just a few miles from Beeston) so we are honoured and feel there must be a reason for his visit to us on such an important milestone, though whatever it was we thank you for sharing it with us. No doubt Karen Wood, who crucially has 102 runs, is in on the knowledge too, as she shares with him the same three courses with a 99 – 2 – 1 split also becoming a Riddlesdown first timer.
I’m not sure of a quick way to work out the true tourist of the day award, but the third regular parkrunner making the bow amongst us was Karen Walsh, for whom this was her 72nd run. With a string of single figure appearances at many venues Riddlesdown became course number 28 in her portfolio. We may never see her again, but the majority of the courses are relatively local, so as possible venues begin to run out she may reappear on the circuit as second appearances are PB opportunities. Anyway regardless I think I can unofficially award her the tourist of the week award, at the risk of someone knowing better.
Whilst I have my tourist hat on, and although it is perhaps bad form to publicise alternative venues whilst holding the report writing baton for our own fine course, a quick plug for Mole Valley parkrun which is run in the beautiful surroundings of Denbies wine estate in Dorking. It had its first event last weekend, in the snow, and will no doubt appear on the course list of many Riddlesdowners at some point. Give it a go. (Small) disclaimer time - it has been set up by my sister-in-law!
In addition to Nick we had some other special runs this weekend. Both Katie Falconer-Wills and Harrison Hayman hit the bullseye with their 50th finishes, and a red T-shirt qualification. Despite the fact you get no official recognition for 200 runs, Peter Gibson (who has actually completed 215 runs), managed to get his 1,000km on the downs as he crossed the finish line to complete 200 x 1.6 laps of our course. Very well done!
I note we haven’t had a “news” update in a little while, and I have been absent from Riddlesdown for a little while too, so I don’t know whether recognition has been given, or maybe it is a little late in arriving but our Ange has now completed over 300 Parkruns (again no official T-shirt, but impressive never the less).
It was very pleasant for me to complete the course as I continue my rehabilitation and recovery. Of course it has been lovely watching so many good looking bottoms (I’m going to have to censor this in a minute Tim –Ed) disappearing into the distance as I have grimaced my way around but it was with some satisfaction to post my first time below 30 minutes since before Christmas. Numerically I was more than satisfied with a 69th position (Right that’s it! -Ed), as my birthdate is 6/9/69 (And why does that not surprise me? –Ed) so for once I had a smile on my face as I recovered bent over double, as usual, at the finish line. However, it is never a race (unless against yourself) and while midfield brings satisfaction to many, it’s the details at the front that we report on. Today’s podium is comprised of Hugo Hewitt with 17-20. Next over the line, completing the distance in 17-52, was Alastair Falconer. Third place was Dylan Wymer a few seconds behind with 18-21 as his time. With respect to the ladies we had top spot taken by Nichola Jackson (and 7th overall) in a time of 19-09. Second step was filled by one of our podium regulars, Grace Cooper, with 22-19, and the lowest tier occupied by Rowena Francis with her time of 23-19, exactly a minute behind!
Finishing positions aren’t the target for most of us, but potential PB’s can provide that excitement. 9 of you managed to bag one this weekend so congratulations go to all of you. Whilst, of course, they are easier to achieve the fewer runs you have completed, they are all special. Today’s (again unofficial) PB’er of the week award goes to Daniel Young who has run 6 of his 15 Parkruns with us, and has PB’d on 3 occasions here. Dan Hill, James Walton, Bala Chinnasamy, William Clarke, David Brown, Darren Kent, Laura Hickin and Sentha Balamurugan also get a PB name check. The only down side to what you have achieved is you have now raised the bar in terms of performance required to PB once more. Good luck to you all in that challenge!

On to run number 368, when I suspect conditions will be at the other end of the weather spectrum. We should have our water features back!

Report by Tim Allison



Riddlesdown parkrun Event Report 10th February 2018 – Event 361



The One with the Excuse to Buy New Kit

Report by Helen Peters
Photos from Andy’s iPhone (click on the link to view them in Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/riddlesdown/albums/72157665730570728 )
It’s a phrase that’s been bandied about quite a bit recently, not specifically referring to our 9am Saturday morning trot across the downs, more often when people don’t fancy getting up for a Sunday early morning bike ride. The phrase?
There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!


I say this because yes it was a tad chilly last Saturday, yes you may have had to scrape a layer of ice off your car if you came to join us, and you did come to join us. But there were a lot of you that didn’t, we had our second lowest turnout since this time last year, just 103 runners.


Now surely the cold weather isn’t an excuse not to come for a run, surely it IS an excuse to get more kit? A compression base layer helps keep the cold out very well, layer it under your nice long sleeved thermal running top and if the weather turns a bit warmer (like it did this morning) you’ll find yourselves too hot!! Gloves and hats are good, the brighter the better; and the advantage is that they can easily be removed if you get too hot while running, though that does lead to bulges in strange places when you need to stow them somewhere rather than carry them. And apparently if all else fails then long trousers aren’t to be sneezed at!


In addition to the 103 runners, 21 volunteers turned out to do all manner of jobs, from setting out the signs, coning off ice, timing us and giving us position tokens.


Some of the volunteer roles can be done in the warm, such as writing this report and processing the results. But the real stalwarts, those that need huge thanks are the marshals, standing around in the cold cheering us; the barcode scanners, they need to take their gloves off to do their job; the finish line people, again they don’t get to trot around to keep warm! So THANK YOU!


Anyway speed doesn’t matter, time doesn’t matter so I’m not going to do my usual bit where I tell you who ran faster than anyone else etc. 10 of you did run faster than you’d ever run this course before and despite the slippery conditions (I know that 2 of you went over, running through the trees, you both got up, I hope you’re not too sore) managed to bag yourselves new PBs. Keep coming, the wet and mud is good training, think how much you’ll improve when everything dries up!


On a final note, hubby and I were walking Fred on Sunday afternoon, we crossed a totally waterlogged field, the comment was that give it a couple of months and it’ll be so dry it’ll be cracked dirt. So hang in there, keep running, coz to paraphrase a popular writer ‘Summer is coming’!



Report by Helen Peters



Riddlesdown parkrun Event Report 3rd February 2018 – Event 360



How Remarkable!

Report by Peter Emery

It was a quite unremarkable day on the Downs on Saturday. It was a day when the weather was not particularly cold, or particularly windy. It wasn’t wet, and it certainly wasn’t warm. It was an unremarkable day.

The conditions could not be described as remarkable either. It certainly wasn’t the wettest, nor by any stretch the driest. It wasn’t the muddiest, but it was still muddy. The stickiest? Probably not, as the day was not that remarkable.

Then there were the runners (and walkers). They all looked pretty unremarkable too. Not the biggest turn out, or the smallest. Certainly not the most fancyly-dressed group, not the least, or most, kitted up group.

So with such unremarkable weather, unremarkable conditions, and a damned average looking bunch of competitors, clearly this was an event which should be marked by an unremarkable report, and with such comment I strongly advise you to avert your gaze, distract your attention and look at the small print on a nearby jar of marmite as that might, just might, prove somewhat more remarkable.

Proceedings started with a somewhat unexpected comic turn from the race director, Ms Clark, who having battled both recent illness and year nines, now had to make herself heard over the barking of various canines and some sore throated coughing combatants as she introduced this bash, the first since event number 359 last week! She had forewarned me of her little wheeze. I now know how Gandalf felt when Bilbo announced to him his imminent disappearance at the Long Expected Party!

It was to be a visual joke, apparently. She warned the shivering flock to watch her.

‘Thank you very much. This is a visual joke. Welcome to event three hundred and sixty’ she bawled, as she pirouetted full circle in wellies and mud, over-egging, like Benny Hill emulating the sugar plum fairy. (It was hilarious, and you know it! - Ed) She carried on, not having to wait for the laughter to die down, and repeated the much known mantra of dogs having owners on a lead, parents having to be accompanied by children under eleven and say hello to Barry on his bend (not his bottom!)

There was reference to the yellow vested team, but whether this was the marshals or those choosing detergents of a non biological nature was unclear. (One group is essential to the smooth running of our Event, the other is not. I wouldn't have thought that was confusing.... - Ed)

‘Happy Steve’, the tailwalker , was introduced. Now I’ve known Steve for nearly thirty years and so I fear not in saying he can be the sort of man you tell tales to your kids about, to scare them. My sort of guy!

Nicki welcomed the Ealing Eagles, part of the flock of this week’s tourists. They certainly put the skylarks in their place, though I did catch one singing! (A skylark, that is, not an eagle, as they aren’t renowned for that!)

Unremarkable. And then the flockers were off! Leaving the marshals to.....do what marshals do without runners.

And even the number of pooches was unremarkable, though Express Pointer Pooch was eager to please and Pacey Poodle Pooch as ever seemed to be determined to drag its erstwhile owner to beyond limits she wished to inhabit.

It was a remarkable run for Paul Riches, as it was his fiftieth parkrun. Paul has never roamed much. His first event, in 2011, was at Roundshaw, and he clearly wasn’t impressed, as he left it exactly five years to the very day before running his second event at Riddlesdown, and he has been at Riddlesdown ever since, excusing three flirtations to Banstead Woods. He’s one of our own!

‘I like to do it in under thirty’, said Paul. He didn’t quite hit that in these challenging conditions, but he has a T shirt with his name on, (well, not actually his name, more a metaphorical name), coming his way. Not quite a mithril waistcoat, but not an unremarkable piece of attire.

First home this week was Pointer Ramsier, who had a short lead to Alix, behind. I tried to get a pithy comment from the winner, but got licked instead. Alix had been ‘jogging’ as he had a rather important 10k the following day in London with 16,000 others, all of whom he managed to beat! (I’m not sure how many of these the pointer beat, if any....).

Nicola Archer was first woman, continuing a remarkable record stretching back well over a year during which time she has only once failed to finish in the top ten overall, in twenty six events. (I believe she has always been in the top 3 female finishers - impressive record!- Ed)

I told her I was writing the report (as opposed to just being a strange man accosting out of breath women wearing relatively little apparel), and she suggested I try writing it in rhyme. So, just for you, NA:

There is a remarkable runner called Nicola
Who has barely a person in front-of-her
Straight off from the gun
She’s there, number one
‘Cos rarely can any woman better her

A quite unremarkable attempt at a limerick!

Asked about conditions, she said, ‘It’s that last field, when I think I can beat that guy, and then whowoaoarh!’ She then explained she had to do a couple more laps, and some time later, I saw her jogging home. Presumably she jogged there, so how many miles.....? Probably nothing remarkable to Ms Archer.

Somehow, in the unremarkable mud five people recorded personal bests, and twenty two ran their first parkruns. How many of these will leave it five years before their next one? By then the 204,000 kilometres run at Riddlesdown will have become over 300,000, and maybe someone will have beaten that pointer!

Remarkable remarks by Peter Emery



Riddlesdown parkrun Event Report 27th January 2018 – Event 359


And the going was gloopy

Report by Sara Crouch
Gloopy was the official description in the pre-run briefing, apparently suggested by Ange; not muddy but gloopy. However, the weather and course conditions did not seem to have put off many runners as there was an increased turnout compared to the previous week despite illness and injury affecting both runners and volunteers, and a generally happy atmosphere. Thanks to everyone who volunteered especially those who stepped in to help out following a late appeal for volunteers and to Andy for his role as run director as Nicki was ill - Nicki, hope you get better soon. (Thank you - recovering gradually! - Ed)

There were a few milestone runs; it was the 150th run for Brian TAYLOR and the 10th run for two juniors, Jake LEWIN and Noah WALING-SMYTH.

It was also the 50th birthday for Simon Stocks who turned up with a large cake for us all to share at the end and several of us were asked to take group photos of him and his friends to help him remember the occasion.

I am finding the course much harder going this winter than last.
As I walk to the start I look at the state of the path I will be running along mid course. Are the puddles larger? Are they across the whole width of the path or is there room to run around? Is it muddier than recent weeks?

Once the parkrun has started as I pass various milestones around the course I am interested in how muddy/wet the course is at certain points including (but not only);

the early slight bend to the right - seems to be getting less muddy;

the archway - needs a bit of caution but better than last time when Andy was run director and needed to warn us to take care there;

the sharp turn back - a few weeks ago on the second circuit I watched other runners going wide to the left but thought I had managed to run close to the bend the first time so tried to do again; I slipped but managed to stay upright; however, I now take this turn a bit more cautiously;

coming out of the woods - with the end of the lap approaching and on the second lap sensing the end might be near I usually try to avoid an obviously waterlogged stretch of the course but still find my chosen route is waterlogged and/or muddy. I wonder if these conditions might make me run a bit faster as I need to lift my foot off the ground to stop me sinking into the water/mud. Maybe I just need to try running through whatever is there but I haven’t yet set myself up to deliberately run into the water.

Overall I think the signs were slightly encouraging this week for an improvement in conditions, so I am hoping the rainfall during the week allows the mud to further reduce (although it is pouring down as I write this so this may be wishful thinking). I will be very glad to see the end of the mud and the water-logged sections. Although I didn’t see any slips this week I understand one runner fell over 3 times and lost a shoe.

At the finish this week there were a lot of happy faces and excited chatter. Runners were feeling pleased to have turned up that morning and to have completed the course, and I’m sure many of us will want to back again as soon as we can regardless of the conditions as we secretly enjoy to challenge ourselves and then feel good afterwards.

Onto the fastest finishers this week.

Dylan WYMER was again first over the line in 18:23, finishing on his own this week as the next finisher was nearly a minute and a half later; Daniel GILLETT was second over the line in 19:50, and then nearly half a minute later, Andrew BULL was third over the line in 20:17.

Grace COOPER was the first female over the line (17th overall) in 23:37, followed by Gabriela WILKINS who was the second female over the line (20th overall) in 24:15 and nearly 2 minutes later Patroulla LORKE was the third female over the line (36th overall) in 26:01.

As in my previous reports I’d like to list and congratulate everyone who achieved a PB in Saturday’s parkrun.

Christopher HODGETTS
James DUNN
Claire WOOD

It was good to see 13 first timers at Riddlesdown, 9 of whom were doing their first ever parkrun. We hope to see you again soon. You helped this parkrun reach a milestone participation number as Riddlesdown parkrun has now had 5,500 participants since starting on 2nd July 2011; they have completed 40,828 parkruns covering a total distance of 204,140 km, including 6,761 new Personal Bests.

Report by Sara Crouch



Riddlesdown parkrun Event Report 20th January 2018 – Event 358



Learning to Glide

Report by Ange Norris
Photos by Michael Wray will be available in Flickr soon! To view our archive of photos, click on the link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/riddlesdown/albums

Mr BBC was forecasting a day of rain from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. so the event was destined to be a good one for all aquatic creatures. Some more sane souls may have looked out of the window through sleepy eyes, appreciated where they were, so rolled over and pretended that they hadn’t heard the alarm. That sounds the most logical option but a chilly, wet January day does not put off most Riddlesdownites. At this time of year, it isn’t possible to chase PBs; it’s more a time to strengthen the legs, have a run with friends and just embrace the joy of running. (And definitely feel smug.) So many of us run through these conditions each winter and still come back for more.

The forecast turned out to be more pessimistic than the reality, with the pre-event rain easing off to give many a dry run, (from above anyway!) although the rain soon returned to cool the runners and volunteers. Sometimes the more adverse conditions seem to be proportional to the number of smiles seen. Nobody can resist a challenge. Today I heard the going described as ‘like ice skating’ and one runner said she ‘felt like Bambi’.

There are of course some runners who don’t appear to sink and glide across the mud, which others are cautiously tip-toeing through. Look out for the soon to be published, ‘Guide to gliding’, containing the top 10 tips for effortless Riddlesdowning in winter. I am told all types of mud will be covered – from thick and gloopy to thin and deceptively slippery.

The two runners at the front were giving a fine demonstration of gliding, although for those with an interest in the popular topic of shoes, you could have the full half hour argument on the merits of either spikes or trails. The lead changed several times at certain parts of the course according to the conditions underfoot. Tatsuya wore spikes which won him a lead where more grip was needed; Dylan wore trails so was able to take the lead on the stony paths. Neither shoe, or indeed any type of shoe, is much help in the swamps on the open field – that’s where the ability to glide is useful!
Dylan must have been a superior glider this week as he managed to keep the lead here on the second lap and pull out a 17 second advantage but I’m sure Tatsuya will be hot on his heels again another week, looking to pip him to the line.
Next to the finish line was Paul Baillie, then Michael Davis just another 11 seconds behind him. Michael finished only 9 seconds slower than his run here in August when conditions must have been far more favourable, so today was a far superior run.

First lady was Angela Taylor with her dog excitedly leading the way. It was her first time at Riddlesdown; most of her 57 parkruns having been at Reigate Priory. Twenty four seconds later and separated by one place, was Juliet Cleghorn. She had a strong run, having been recently injured, which gained her the highest age grading of the day - 75.92%. Third lady was Hannah Willis on her third run here and her first time to achieve a podium place.
As usual, there were first timers – 13 all together, 10 new to Riddlesdown and 3 completing their first ever parkrun. The newbies Jonathan Handcock, Nicola Scott and Kirsty Moore all ran around in great times which they will surely lower in the future.

David and Kathryn Neumann have run 167 and 132 runs respectively, mostly at Reigate Priory. At this point in my ramblings I realised I had mentioned Reigate Priory twice, so had a quick look at their web page and found the reason that we had a few runners from there. I don’t know why, but it seems that their event was cancelled this week.
Another first timer to us was Stephen Skillington who normally runs at Castlebar and belongs to Mayo AC – what a great name. I must admit my first thoughts here were of egg mayo, (like all true runners I think of food a lot,) but having spent a while googling Mayo Ac I have learnt all about their club and that Mayo is the third-largest Irish county by area. The wilds of the rocky Atlantic coastline are now on my wish list of places to visit. After all this reading, I am more knowledgeable and realise it is no wonder writing a Riddlesdown report takes me so long!
Another great club name I spotted was Black Pear Joggers – a cue for more googling. The results come up with Black Pear Joggers in Worcester where I found mention of the name Dan Cale, who was the runner here, in a race report there. Dan has run at Worcester parkrun 176 times out of 293 in total. Where were the rest? Well, all over the place. He has run at 110 different venues and therefore wins our super tourist of the week award.
Sam Risby is another tourist who was here for the first, and probably the last, time. He has run at 37 different events out of his 59 runs.

Other first timers here were Robert Zietz, Clare Berryman, Claire Wood and Stuart Woolven. Claire normally runs at Bushey but has had a six month break from parkrunning. She came a very creditable 90th here, whereas at her last one in Bushey, she came 696th. That must be such a very different experience.
Jim O’Sullivan was the one and only PBer this week. He must love the mud as his three runs have been twice last winter and now once this winter. During the year he has improved his time by 7 minutes and 5 seconds. Well done Jim.
Dan Hill, with 5 runs since 23rd December, has PBed in his last 2 runs and was oh so near to PBing again. He finished in 21.47, just 1 second off his PB.

Apart from those two, most other runners were way off PB time, but who cares? parkrun is here for far more than achieving PBs. Peter Emery came for a gentle run and chat, quite likely about the birds, (and bees?) before running at a mob match in Epping Forest in the afternoon, for his club South London Harriers.(Peter was also enjoying his last parkrun before his 6th decayed - Happy Birthday for Thursday, Emery! - ED)

Out of our 97 finishers 25 are members of a club, with 5 of these being members of South London Harriers. Some tend to think that clubs can be elitist but our results show differently as the club runners are spread out from 1st to 87th with 5 crossing the line in succession from position 42 to 46 in just over 28 minutes.
As always, we must thank all of our volunteers who braved the elements to ensure the event went smoothly -

Report by Ange Norris


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