‘I am not a number. I am a free man. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered’
The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that there were the same number of finishers this week as there were last time out: 460. An admittedly cursory scan of our 493-event old parkrun shows that this mirroring in consecutive weeks is far from unique. The first time it happened was in events 12 and 13, back in March 2007, when 59 turned up one week, and 59 the next. Since then, and before this latest occurrence, it has happened six more times, most recently when 293 ran on both 7 and 14 December 2013.
This week’s attendance constituted the equal third highest, beaten only by the 492 of 27 June last year and the 475 of 9 January this year. When you consider that only 51 ran the first parkrun on the common on 6 January 2007, that’s some growth. But it has been steady. It took almost a year to get the first three-figure participation (112 on 22 December 2007), more than another to beat 150 (155 on 18 April 2009) and almost another to get more than 200 (202 on 13 March 2010). Three hundred wasn’t breached until 14 January 2012 (308) and the first run to exceed 400 was on 8 June 2013 (414). Thirteen runs have attracted more than 400 participants – and when it happens, it does feel rather crowded! We await the first 500-plus attendance with some trepidation.
The lowest attendance was naturally in the early months, when a hardy 30 turned up for run number 28 on 14 July 2007. Only 16 runs have attracted fewer than 50, most recently the 45 who made their way to the common on a very wet and very muddy Christmas morning in 2012 – those of us who were there will never forget it. That was also the last time an event didn’t make it into three figures.
It’s interesting, too, to examine this week’s runners who’ve made the most parkrun appearances. Among those who’ve run most or all of their parkruns on Wimbledon pastures (Charles Hampden-Smith: 339 out of 360; Nick McKay: 324 out of 338; Ian Higgins: 335 out of 335) there were, this past Saturday, those very welcome runners who have spread their love around. This week, most notably, there were Ingrid Wagner and David Venter of the Stragglers club, who I’m guessing know each other and possibly accompany each other on their parkrun tourism. This was Ingrid’s fifth run at Wimbledon, but she’s clocked up 284 in total at 74 different events, including runs in Poland, South Africa and Iceland. David also completed his fifth run here, but has run 282 in total at 72 different events, and also in a variety of countries.
The beauty of it all is that there’s no set way to enjoy your parkrun experience: some race it, some use it for training, some just enjoy a chat as they run. Similarly, you can clock up parkrun after parkrun at the same place (the Higgins Method) or visit as many different ones as your fancy takes you.
Back to this week's run, and it was a Wimbledon one-two in both male and female events this week. On the male side, Windmilers’ Keith ‘The Machine’ Macintosh (VM40-44) was first over the line in 17:27, his second first place in three weeks and ninth in 112 appearances. His team-mate Nick ‘Nick’ McKay (VM35-39) was next in 17:44 – Nick, who waited so long to finish first, has done so six times. The unattached Doug Morton (SM30-34) was third over the line in 17:46 – he has been first to finish on seven occasions.
For the women, it was a Hercules one-two, with Gina ‘John Kenneth’ Galbraith (VW40-44, flying above) crossing the line first (25th overall) in 20:05 – her 11th first place in 51 appearances – and Lisa Margaret Thomas (VW50-54) taking silver (38th overall) in 20:51 – Lisa has been first to finish on 46 occasions. As with the men, an unattached runner, Lucy Woolhouse (VW50-54) took the bronze (60th overall) in 21:42. Lucy has been first to finish on 26 occasions, and it’s good to see her running again after a nasty injury.
In the men’s annual points competition, Peter Alasdair Fergus Collins (Wimbledon Windmilers) has 5,524 points, Nick McKay (Wimbledon Windmilers) has 5,065 and Charles Hampden-Smith (Hercules Wimbledon) has 4,916.
The women’s annual points competition is dominated by unattached runners, in the shape of Liz Ostrowski (above) 5,352 points, Danuta K Grabda, 4,670, and Natalie Fell, 4,555. The best age-grades were achieved by some familiar names: Sandy Pfeifer (VM55-59) was graded 84.93% for the time 18:15 (sixth overall); Lisa Margaret Thomas (VW50-54) was graded 81.37% for the time 20:51 (38th overall); Lucy Woolhouse (VW50-54) was graded 81.26% for the time 21:42 (60th overall). Among the 78 personal bests, Calum Hutchinson ran his first sub-20, posting 19:59, after 116 parkruns here. That’s his third PB of the year, all of them inching closer to that magic mark – and he’s a JM11-14.
There were, as ever, some milestones: Natasha Hampden-Smith (top, with lovely cake) and Richard ‘Phileas Fogg’ Evans (above, with lovely trophy) both completed their 200th runs, and both have done nearly all of them here. Gemma Brennan finished her 100th parkrun, 90 of them here. Poised on the edge of greatness are: Sue Rothwell and Matthew Salisbury (both 249); David Hall (199); young Jessica Ward (99); Richard Crewe (49); and Anna Barker (one step away from the junior 10 t-shirt). A whopping 57 of this week’s runners were first timers, 36 of them doing their first-ever parkrun anywhere. Representatives of 27 different athletics clubs took part.
Wimbledon Common parkrun started on 6 January 2007, and since then 14,428 different runners, including participants from 623 athletics clubs, have completed 108,554 runs covering a total distance of 542,770km. There have been 18,556 new Personal Bests. The female record is held by Justina Heslop 16:33 on 17 March 2012 (event number 271). The male record is held by Chris Parr: 15:04 on 23 April 2011 (event number 224). The age-grade record is held by Jane Davies, who achieved 92.99% for the time 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.Peter AF Collins