The One with Lots of Tourists
Report by Tim Allison
Photos by Andy Leigh (to view the photos click on the following link:https://www.flickr.com/photos/riddlesdown/albums/72157692332456435)
Weather and course conditions had improved slightly over the week to encourage 167 Riddlesdownites to make the start line for parkrun number 357. There were rumours of the reappearance of grass in places on the course, although some remain sceptical. The ratio of puddle to mud had certainly improved however, and whilst a move from squishy to merely slippery is heading in the right direction, in truth the course was still on the slow side.
We had 4 parkrun first timers in our midst, perhaps slow on the New Year’s resolution front, and a further 5 runners on either their 2nd or 3rd run, but their first at Riddlesdown.
It seems it’s never too early for a bit of tourism. Harry Handcock for instance on his 2nd run was obviously trying us out following the slopes and woods at Reigate Priory. Graham Sampson on his 3rd run was making a change after 2 previous runs at slightly further afield Guildford. Richard Flatters was also on his 3rd run, on his 3rd course to date, having previously run at the slightly odd combination of local Banstead Woods, and the more distant Brighton. The award, if there is one, for oddest tourist however would be shared between James Dunn and Julie Southworth. James was on his 2nd run, having previously completed, back in September at Preston, and Julie, also on her 2nd run, visited us after completing at Worsley Woods. (I had to cheat and look this one up. It’s Salford, Manchester.) We would love to have you both back again, of course, but with course separation at about 250 miles between both of those venues and where we consider “home”, frankly your 3rd runs might be anywhere!
In total there were 17 finishers visiting Riddlesdown for the first time. In addition to the aforementioned I will create a “tourist’s podium”. In 3rd place Nick Stone, having completed 129 parkruns now, with Riddlesdown being his 24th course. One step higher in 2nd would be Jo Gambell who, in addition to numerous volunteer appearances, has completed 233 Parkruns, with Riddlesdown becoming her 47th different course. I am sure on an ordinary week that would be considered the winner, but remarkably, and therefore in 1st place is Geoff O’Grady. Geoff has had 289 runs and we have the privilege of being his 73rd location!
With so many newcomers Andy gave the relatively simple instruction to simply follow Hugo should you not be sure of the layout of the course. Hugo picked out for special mention as he was qualifying for the red 50 shirt this week. Hugo has run 48 times with us, his other 2 being at Killerton (Exeter this time I found out as I cheated and looked it up again!). Hugo is a regular first finisher and has a Riddlesdown PB of under 17 minutes. Hugo is one of our junior runners and on his 48 runs with us he is rarely found outside the top ten, and indeed given his age on most of those occasions he would have been considered a youngster.
Outside of Hugo’s 50 we had no other landmark runs however. We did have 5 PBs though which surely qualify as special. Daniel Youngs, Justine Gyimah, and Frances Hall, were all on the 2nd spin around our course. Daniel took just over a minute off his previous PB in setting 22:10. Justine finished in 37:14 knocking nearly 2 minutes off her previous time. Frances took over 4 minutes off in recording 49:31, and has confessed to targeting a further improvement to become a sub-40 runner (you don’t have to do it next time though). Janice Betts on her 3rd visit also posted a 4 minute improvement in finishing with a time of 42:12. Finally Dan Hill on his 4th trip posted successive PBs in improving last week’s from 22:23 to 21:46.
Onto the fastest finishers this week, and Hugo couldn’t add to the celebrations however. It was once more Dylan Wymer leading the pack home. Dylan’s time this week was 17:42 which was 10 seconds faster than 2nd place finisher Harry Lawson who in turn was just ahead of Hugo who came home in 3rd setting a time of 18:03.
The first lady finisher this week was once again Nicola Archer who had the 10th fastest time of the day with 21:07. In 2nd was Grace Cooper, another regular on the podium with a time this week of 23:43. On the bottom step finishing 3rd was Gabriela Wilkins with 24:22.
Undertaking a different Volunteering role this week I was somewhat relieved that everyone was allocated a time, and I got to know a few more names too. As far as I am aware no disasters with times, positions or barcodes! 24 volunteers are to be thanked this weekend. Many roles can be combined with running too so it isn’t an impediment. Vacant roles can be found for any first timers so please come forward.
Next week a new role for me too, I think. A chance to gently try out my legs after a few week’s absence and be the tailwalker.