By Jasmine Sandalli
Photos by Alan Wilkinson
I’ve barely got through the leftover mince pies and it seems it’s spring already!
You’ve be forgiven for thinking that the laws of time no longer apply if you were here at the first ever Tooting Common parkrun back in January of 2016 – in what seems like moments here we are three years on and 156 events in. Our weekly participation is growing ever stronger; this week we saw 655 finishers across the line with 39 tireless volunteers on hand to help them reach their goal, whether that be finishing faster, finishing first or finishing full stop.
Speaking of fast and first, Jon Harrison of Chorlton Runners broke the metaphorical tape in 17:12 with junior runner Tobias Allen of Newbury an incredible 25 seconds behind him in third. Tobias led home the 18 under-18s, a fantastic turnout for our potential future Olympians (no pressure). Meanwhile his clubmate Rachel Allen was third among the ladies in 20:29, chasing down Sinead Egan who finished 15 seconds ahead, and first lady Rachel Badham of West 4 Harriers, who ran a speedy 19:49 on her first outing at Tooting.
Rachel B and Sinead were all among the 132 parkrunners who recorded personal bests today; that’s 20% of the field! A huge shout out also goes to the 7 junior stars who joined Team PB: Curtis Hines, Hugo Scott, Jarvis Hines, Alex Guest, Poppy Rolfe, Eva Hagen and Stella Rodriguez Kanoti. Richard Rosenberg put his speedy feet to good use today; after storming home in a personal best time of 23:03 he left himself plenty of time to help ensure the funnel stayed in sync and clock a PB and volunteering double. (For those of you who ever thought you’d like to help out but you don’t want to miss a run… ) Special PB mentions go to Richard Stansfield and his first sub-21, Deborah Tarrant who sliced 53 seconds off her time from last month, and regulars Hannah Quick and Jennifer Slater – great work everyone!
Despite going for three years we are still regularly welcoming new parkrunners to the fold here, with 41 people – more than 6% of the field – registering their first ever parkrun. To see so many newcomers braving the Trioundabout every week is so inspiring, and reminds me to take advantage of the opportunity that parkrun offers as much as I can. On the other end of the scale Kathryn Evans of Roadhoggs Leicester finished her 232nd parkrun to become our most experienced finisher of the day - only 18 away from the 250 shirt! Speaking of milestones, congratulations go to Dan Abbott and Alice Williams who finished their 50th parkruns today and can look forward to picking up their red shirts. We’ll be keeping an eye on Phil Beckett, Derek Breslin, Steve Parker, Beth Francis and Liz A Smith next week, all on run number 49!
Now, my treat to myself… of the 655 finishers Harvey von Biel was our median position runner, finishing exactly halfway through the field in 26:48, while first time parkrunner Peter Ward came in closest to our median time in 556th place. 356 runners or 54% of the field finished inside the course’s current average finish time of 27:13. I’m not sure who reads this paragraph but I like to keep track of how Tooting parkrun continues to grow and grow.
The final word, as always, goes to the people who helped out today, and as parkrun can’t go ahead without the support of its volunteers I’d like to say a huge thank you to them all. If you’d like to get involved please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to one of the marshals at the next event, and if not that’s fine – just remember always thank your marshals on the way round and spread a little joy!
Love and cake