By Mark O'Neill
Photos by Alan Clarke
Saturday began, as it does now, with an alarm call, a light breakfast and the anticipation of tackling my 4th parkrun.
I have to admit, not since completing the 2005 Dublin marathon had I even bothered breaking out of a walk. No idea why. I just stopped running. (Well, there was that one time in Kingston, but that involved the number 57 bus!) But parkrun has rekindled my enjoyment of running.
On route this morning, I remembered the weather last week being drab and overcast. We had luckily beaten the rain by half an hour, but today we were gifted with a beautiful sunny morning. The overnight wind had died down offering us perfect weather for parkrunning, which allowed the running shoes to survive for at least another week.
Taking notice of the work involved to ensure the success of parkrun, I decided to make myself available for volunteering so here I am, hiding, where I can’t be seen, behind the text of the run report! But, as this shows, you can volunteer without missing a run!
Arriving at the starting point a bit earlier than usual, taking in the sights and sounds and witnessing the athletes converge from all directions, I noticed that my preferred warm up location under a particular tree had already been taken - by a bicycle! So after a quick scout around for the next available tree, preparations began.
A short time later, the first timers are called in. There seems to be an increase in numbers today as they listen intently and take on board the course lay out and requirements.
Following the information and instructions from Run Director Cal, I took up my position towards the back of the field awaiting the off. A nod and a hi to a few faces that are already becoming familiar, and we’re away!
A field of 648 pairs of running shoes took to the Tooting triangle today so once again it took a while for ‘us at the back’ to get going. Nevertheless, the reason we are there is to tackle the 5k ahead of us.
I guess improvement can be measured in various ways but, for me, although passed by one buggy and a couple of dogs, there were no nervous glances over the shoulder for the tail walker.
A topic of conversation amongst the runners on the triangle can be of great amusement. Today’s discussions ranged from appropriate wedding attire, a possible additional TV in the house, to a couple trying to decide on a name for their new cat. Priceless!
Elsewhere on the course we were receiving some awesome encouragement from the marshals, ‘’C’mon Tooting, you’ve got this’’ ‘’Leave nothing on the track’’ ‘’Keep it going’’ ‘’C’mon, big finish’’ however, it didn’t prevent me from once again being lapped by the elite runners of whom first home was Nick BESTER (SM25-29) of Herne Hill Harriers in a time of 17:22. Nick was followed home by Matt KAUFMAN (VM35-39) of Ealing Eagles Running Club in 17:45 with Alex LUETCHFORD (SM20-24) of Hunters Bog Trotters taking 3rd in a time of 17:55. For both Matt and Alex it was their first time running the Tooting triangle.
Alistair HEATHCOTE finished his first ever parkrun overall in 12th in a time of 19:18, while milestone shout outs are due to Gerry KERINS and Huw WATERS, who both ran their 50th parkrun today. Well done also to Stephen DARLINGTON, who went under 27 minutes for the first time at parkrun in a time of 26:50.
The ladies did superbly too, with Shamiso SISIMAYI (VW35-39) of Harrogate Harriers & AC first home with a time of 20:20 in her first appearance at Tooting parkrun. Shamiso was followed home by Esme FILLINGHAM (SW25-29) of Newquay Road Runners in 21:12 also her first appearance at Tooting and Ruth Jean CHALMERS (SW30-34) of Herne Hill Harriers taking 3rd with a time of 21:17.
Other notable achievements among the ladies saw Holly MCCARTHY arrive home with a new PB time of 22:10 while Victoria SHAW and Jessica STOCKS finished their first ever parkrun with times of 24:16 and 24:22 respectively.
Once again the juniors also displayed some fantastic athleticism, with Dylan SWEET arriving home in a time of 20:12. George MACKLIN in his first time on the triangle came home in 23:19, Hugo WARD in his first ever parkrun clocked a time of 24:06, and Julian SAKROUGE in his 2nd ever parkrun clocked a PB time of 24:31.
Even more awesome running from our junior stars saw personal best times set by Omari Montague with a time of 36:25, Tess KEARNEY clocked 31:17, Sofia GIRONI got home in 33:06 while Marta STEEDMAN and Matilda MARKS bagged their current PBs at 34:28 and 34:52 respectively. Finally, another impressive run from Esme FREEMAN saw her clock a time of 24:45. Epic running from all the juniors. The future is bright!
Of the 648 athletes that ran, jogged or walked the course, 108 were first timers with 49 running their first ever parkrun. 68 recorded new Personal Bests and representatives of 37 different clubs took part.
Of all the volunteers that make these events possible, some we see at front of house, on each turn, controlling the funnel, clocking times and scanning barcodes, we get to say hi and thank you. To the volunteers most of us don’t get to see or interact with, a big thank you goes out to you too from all of us.
Today’s event was made possible by 37 volunteers: Edith ADEJOBI, Tom BAKER, Richard BALLAM, Isobel BEINT, Cecilia BOGLE, Alan CLARKE, Emily COOPER, Catherine DA GRACA, Jaspal DHALLEY, Matthew EASTALL, Emily FOY, Simon FULLER, Catherine GOODALL, Jen HALL, Holly HAMILTON, Sarah HILTON, Bessie JIBUNOH, Paul JONES, Cal JONES, Nicola LYTTLE, Carol MCCALL, Alessandra MCCONVILLE, Michael MCGETTIGAN, Anna METCALFE, Carolina MOUNTFORD, Sarah O'CARROLL, Edward O'NEILL, Nandor ORBAN, Jonathan PEARSON, Andy PUSEY, Ben ROBACK, Victoria SPOONER, Dickon THOMPSON, Claire WALLS, Ken WILLIS, Nicola WORTON. Thank you all.
Roll on next week……