“We’re going to need a bigger funnel”
By Richard Stansfield
Photos by Holly Hamilton
Congratulations to all 953 people who ran, jogged and walked three laps of the Tooting Triangle on Saturday, you’re all record breakers! Just a few days ago Jasmine wondered, in the last run report of 2018, whether 2019 would see Tooting’s attendance record of 817 broken. Well it didn’t take long. With the help of 166 first timers at Tooting, 97 of whom were possibly putting New Year resolutions into action and running their first ever parkrun. It meant Tooting was the third biggest parkrun in the UK on Saturday, with only Southampton (1,062) and Bushy Park (1,505) seeing a larger turnout. All of whom were part of parkrun’s highest ever total turnout, over 340,000 participants. So you’re not just record breakers, you’re double record breakers! We hope you all enjoyed it and will come back soon.
It’s amazing to think that it all started less than 15 years ago with just 13 people in Bushy Park, and even five years ago the total turnout at the start of 2014 was 40,000 parkrunners. And it wasn’t just Tooting that broke attendance records on the first Saturday of 2019. Over 70 new attendance records were set around the country. Our near neighbours Clapham Common were almost as busy, with 871 people taking part, making them the sixth busiest in the UK. Still a little way to go before we match the world’s biggest parkrun, North Beach, Durban, South Africa, with a record attendance of 2,527 set in January 2018. They must have a really big funnel.
Of course not all parkruns are that busy. If you want to get away from the crowds then Bickershaw parkrun, near Wigan, had just two participants on Saturday, who were outnumbered by the three volunteers. It may be the smallest parkrun in the country, but then you need an invitation from Her Majesty to be able to take part, as the course is completely within the grounds of a closed prison.
One person who didn’t need to queue to pick up their finish token was Jeff Cunningham of Herne Hill Harriers, who was the first finisher in 17:05. The last time he was first across the line at Tooting was run number 75 back in 2017. The second man in didn’t have his barcode, so will remain anonymous, whilst the third finisher was Luke Pikett in 17:50, who must enjoy starting the year with a few laps of the Tooting Triangle, as he was the first finisher twelve months ago on the first Saturday of 2018.
Jordan Foster of Nene Valley Harriers, completing her 54th parkrun, and her fourth at Tooting, in 18:21, was the first woman to finish. Her time was a new Tooting PB for her, and with an age grading of 80.65% meant she also topped the age grade table ahead of Jeff Cunningham (77.66%) and Stefan Klasener (77.36%). Phoebe Heinrich of Clapham Runners, was the second woman in 21:17, in her first ever parkrun, and third woman was Sophie Wiles of Epsom Oddballs (a running club for all ages, shapes and sizes – now that’s a club I’d fit right in), finishing her 65th parkrun, and her first at Tooting, in 21:42.
Amongst the Juniors, Esme Freeman was the first Junior Woman in 24:50, just three seconds in front of the second Junior Woman, Georgina Waight, who’s well on her way to claiming her 50 milestone shirt in 2019, have already completed 41 parkruns. There were also some amazing Junior PBs. Isobel Burghes was over three and a half minutes faster than her last parkrun back in 2017, with a new PB of 25:10, Mabel McCarthy improved her PB from last November by over four minutes, finishing in 26:40, and Ella Pal set a new Tooting PB of 26:44 on her 110th full parkrun (she’s also done 118 junior parkruns!).
Dylan Sweet was the first Junior Male to finish, once again dipping under 20 minutes, with a time of 19:58, on his 80th parkrun, whilst JM10 Freddie Hake exactly matched his time from before Christmas, with another 21:38, putting him sixth on the overall age gradings with 72.96%. Jacob Dilley improved his PB by over two minutes, finishing in 25:27, as he completed his 10th parkrun. Which means Jacob can now claim his white junior milestone shirt, along with Julian Sakrouge, who also finished his 10th parkrun on Saturday.
There’s also a black 100th parkrun top waiting for Orla McLarnon who reached that milestone on Saturday, and just missed out on a new PB at the same time, running her second fastest ever time at Tooting. Whilst Adam Walker completed his 200th parkrun, in a new Tooting PB of 18:36. Just 50 to go for his 250 milestone top.
If round numbers are your thing (and they are mine), then it was good to see some parkrunners breaking through 20, 25 and 30 minutes for the first time. Thomas Costin, who completed his first Tooting parkrun back in October in 26:11 and has gone on to set a new PB every time he’s run since, this time knocking another 72 seconds off his previous best, breaking 20 minutes with a magnificent 19:29. (What’s the secret of your training Thomas?) Neil Sutton broke through 25 minutes, with a new Tooting PB of 24:55 on his 267th parkrun, and Jennifer Denitto went under 30 for the first time with a new PB of 29:49. Amongst 112 PBs, regular Tooting Run Director Laura De Rooy knocked 15 seconds off her previous best from last May with a time of 27:07, and Sheen Montague continued his recent fine form, knocking another 49 seconds of his PB set just before Christmas, with 33:04. Well done, Sheen! And Sophie Cole made it a PB and volunteering double, after knocking almost two minutes off her previous Tooting PB with 31:02 she then helped sort all those 953 tokens in the café afterwards. (I wonder which was quicker.)
A big thank you to Sophie and all of the 37 volunteers who made this event possible:
Lucie CUSTANCE • Joshua PEWTER • Janice HARDMAN • Celia DAWSON • Andrew SIMMS • Mark SHOTTON • Maureen KENNY • Craig BARNEY • Carol MCCALL • Sarah HYMAS • Richard STANSFIELD • Jordan FOSTER • Richard BALLAM • Richard BOGLE • Tom BAKER • Michael MCGETTIGAN • Jo CIELUCH • Cecilia BOGLE • Stuart HAMILTON • Mavis ORBAN • Holly HAMILTON • Sophie COLE • Kat HARDY-KING • Helen GOWER • Nicola WORTON • Simon FULLER • Kim BOYD • Madeleine GASCOIGNE • Gillian DEANE • April MARRETTA LORD • Dana ELFRING • Francesco MARRETTA LORD • Simon GALLACHER • Anna METCALFE • Francis ROSENBERG • Thomas WILLIAMSON • Christina BURMAN
See you next weekend!