In which some potentially bad news became some very good news
Without wishing to make light of a very serious incident, if ever there was a time for a resurrection to occur on a parkrun course, it had to be the Easter weekend.
Thankfully, miracles do happen, with the help of very attentive fellow parkrunners, staff from the Ranger’s office and the medics who arrived in good time.
To explain: Rob Howe was on course this Saturday to finish only his second parkrun when he collapsed on the home straight, victim of a cardiac arrest. Fortunately, a doctor, two nurses and a physiotherapist with CPR training were among the parkrunners. An ambulance was called (five turned up in the end!) and long-time parkrunner Andrew Fickling sprinted to the Ranger’s office to get some assistance; that arrived quickly in the form of a defibrilator – in the meantime, the doctor and her three assistants were giving Rob CPR and keeping his airways open. The defibrilator was used twice and, after the medics arrived, a third time, bringing Rob around. With his friend Iain Corbett, Rob was taken to St George’s in Tooting; Iain was told that had it not been for the first aid he was given on the spot, Rob would not have lived.
The fantastic news is that Rob was stable by Saturday evening, having had a stent put into a blocked artery. By Sunday he was able to move around and have a shower. By Monday he was looking and feeling normal and hoping for a Tuesday discharge – he says he’ll be back on Saturday, but not to run, and he certainly won’t complete the final 200 metres of what would surely have been the slowest parkrun ever. Rumours that the timer is still standing there by the horse trough have proved unfounded.
Plaudits must go to the four people who immediately attended Rob: Collette Frittelli, Anne Walker, Martina Jones and Jo Ward – suffice to say, they did a wonderful job. Great work too from the rangers and the medics; and you would never believe Mr Fickling had run a marathon the week before, the way he legged it to the Ranger’s office.
It seems almost insulting to talk about mere running after Rob’s narrow escape, but that’s what we were there for, after all, on a course that was slightly damper than the past few weeks but still constituted good going.
In a reasonably close finish, Jorge Raso of Herne Hill Harriers (SM25-29, pictured) finished first in 16:32, his seventh pole position out of seven appearances on this course. In his only other parkrun, at Richmond last September, Jorge also won. Ten seconds behind, with a PB of 16:42 was the unattached Neil Riley (SM25-29), a winner here on two previous occasions. And in his 99th parkrun, 80 of them at Wimbledon Common, Wimbledon Windmiler Keith Macintosh (VM40-44) was third in a PB of 16:48 – this a week after running a best-ever time of 2:40:22 in the London Marathon.
The ladies event is becoming ever more competitive as some familiar names who’ve been running here for a while find hitherto unexplored realms of form.
In her 199th parkrun, all but four round our strangely quadrilateral course, Windmiler Sophie McKay (VW35-39, pictured, in the pink top if you're wondering) took the honours with a fantastic PB of 20:10 – it was her seventh first place and no doubt her best yet, and she was 34th overall. The similarly familiar Lucy Woolhouse (VW50-54) was second in 20:23, 40th overall; and first-timer Julia Chen (SW20-24 – sounds like a postcode!) was third in 21:24, 57th place in the whole run. A mention must go to Scarlett Walker of Surbiton High School (JW11-14), four seconds behind Julia, who set a PB of 21:38 in her 37th appearance – her fourth PB of the year.
There were 87 PBs from the 346 finishers, which this writer works out at more than 25 per cent of the runners. Incroyable.
Peter Justin Collins (VM40-44) of Hercules Wimbledon set a new PB for the second week in a row, clocking 17:37 and his highest-ever age grade, 79.28%. Volunteer coordinator Charles Hampden-Smith (VM50-54) of Hercules, also just a week after completing the London Marathon, ran a PB for the first time in nearly two years in his 266th run (255 of them at Wimbledon Common); he shaved seven seconds from his best to record 19:11.
Further down the field, in his 81st parkrun, his 77th here, Stephen Johnson (VM50-54) took 19 seconds off his PB, set almost a year ago, by stopping the clock at 23:18. And, yes, at last: three and a half years and 181 Wimbledon Common parkruns have come and gone since Windmiler Phil ‘Tosh Spice’ Tosh (VM45-49) last beat his best, and how easily that barrier eventually came tumbling down as a man who did his first parkrun back in September 2008 ran eight seconds faster than ever before to record 24:18. Well done, Phil, a shining light on our times.
There was also a second PB in two weeks for Serpentine’s Robert Fortes (VM65-69), who finished this week in 26:16; and we pay tribute to Wimbledon Windmiler Soo Yau (VW45-49), who last recorded a PB in her third run at Wimbledon Common in April 2011. This week she beat her previous best by 14 seconds in running 29:04 – and all this in her 84th run here, her 108th parkrun. Sooper.
Last but not least, it was a Holly Holly day for Holly Betteley (JW10), who took almost two minutes off her best to post 31:34.
It was great to see 44 first-timers, too – you are very welcome and we want you back for a second run.
The top age grades this week were: Lucy Woolhouse (VW50-54), 84.3%; Keith Macintosh (VM40-44), 81.25%; and the remarkable Keith Spacie (VM75-79), 81.09% (for a time of 24:46).
The podium positions in the men’s points table are filled quite tightly by Nick McKay (VM35-39), 4,459 points; Charles Hampden-Smith (VM50-54), 4,429 points; and Peter AF Collins (VM50-54), 4,423 points.
In the ladies’ points table, the top three positions are also nicely poised: Lisa Margaret Thomas (VW45-49), 4,193 points; Lucy Woolhouse (we won’t mention her age group for a third time!), 4,185 points; and Sophie McKay (VW35-39), 4,162 points.
Thanks as ever to this week’s volunteers: Adam Harwood, Andrew Fickling, Carol McCormack, Charles Hampden-Smith, Charles Lawrie, Emily Keller, Frances Le Grys, Frank Pacifico, Liam O’Hare, Lily Snow, Norman Urquia, Peter Alasdair Fergus Collins, Phil Tosh, Rob Crane, Sandy Pfeifer and Stephen Vey. Representatives of 17 different athletics clubs took part this week.
Wimbledon Common parkrun started on 6 January 2007; since then, 10,270 different runners, including participants from 442 athletics clubs, have completed 72,189 runs covering a total distance of 360,945 km, and there have been 13,633 new personal bests.
The women’s record is held by Justina Heslop, who ran in a time of 16:33 on 17 March 2012 (event number 271).
The men's record is held by Chris Parr, who ran in a time of 15:04 on 23 April 2011 (event number 224).
The age grade course record is held by Jane Davies, who recorded 92.99% (21:24) on 29 January 2011 (event number 212).
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Wimbledon Common parkrun Results Page.