'Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car'
“If an alien was to hover a few hundred yards above the planet
It could be forgiven for thinking
That cars were the dominant life-form,
And that human beings were a kind of ambulatory fuel cell:
Injected when the car wished to move off,
And ejected when they were spent.”
So wrote Heathcote Williams in his epic anti-car poem Autogeddon, which is well worth a read, like so much of the reclusive man’s output. We have our own little weekly Autogeddon at Wimbledon Common parkrun and from time to time it threatens the existence of our event. It stands to reason that there isn’t nearly enough space in the car park for everyone if the near-400 runners we get at this time of year were all to drive here. And if the car park is full, you are simply not entitled to park where you like on the roads that lead on to the common, especially not if it means access to the rangers’ offices is hampered. Unfortunately, that’s what happened this week, and whatever each individual parkrunner feels about the situation, it does not go unnoticed in ranger HQ – and rightly so. The rangers have to be free to go about their work, much of which is devoted to ensuring that the competing demands on the common (from wildlife, ambulatory fuel cells, dogs, horses and so on) are both catered for and do not spoil things for each other.
I think most of us have driven to the common at one time or another, so this isn’t to say there’s no sympathy for individual runners in cars: sometimes getting here on foot or by bike, or on public transport, first thing on a Saturday morning can be a bind. Waking up and hopping in the car to arrive five minutes before the off is often the most attractive option, especially in the dank winter months. But please bear this in mind: parkrun happens with the permission of the powers that be, and as powers that be so often do, the powers that be have the power to... well... to be ruthless and stop it happening. So please, if you are driving, share a car if you can, and get here early enough for a place in the car park. If you can’t get in there, please park away from the common. Better still, run, walk or cycle here; or take the bus (number 93 from Wimbledon or, the other way, Putney gets you to Windmill Road). If all else fails, other parkruns are available.
Sorry to nag.
Well, event number 439 went ahead with a bit more mud than we’ve been used to, thanks to some unseasonal rain, often accompanied by some even more unseasonal cold winds, giving us some bizarre hot and cold weather even within a single hour. Nevertheless, there were 371 runners, of whom 40 were first timers – welcome to all you newbies and please come back (but not by car if you can help it).
In the male event, first over the freshly baked line was Nic Gould (pictured above, SM30-34) of Thames Hare & Hounds in 17:05 – this was his 13th first place in 29 appearances. An unknown runner was second. And the unattached Richard Crewe (VM35-39) was third in 17:29 – Richard has made the cut (Crewe. Cut. Gedditt? I’m wasted here), ie been first to finish, once before, and this week he was just four seconds outside his PB on the common.
In the men's annual points competition, it’s an unexpected return to first place for your writer, Peter Alasdair Fergus Collins (Wimbledon Windmilers), with 5,424 points. Andrew Lenon (unattached), who slipped back only because he didn’t run on Saturday – not in this parkrun, at least – is second on 5,215. And the estimable James Hawker (Wimbledon Windmilers) is third on 4,841.
In the women’s event, Lisa Margaret Thomas (pictured above, VW50-54) of Hercules Wimbledon was first (28th overall) in 20:10 – amazingly, this was her 43rd first-to-finish in 187 appearances. Denise Barnett (VW40-44) of Thames Hare & Hounds, was second (36th overall) in 20:28 – Denise has been first to finish on five previous occasions. Samantha Pickford (VW35-39) of Wimbledon Windmilers was third (38th overall) in 20:36 – Samantha has been first to finish on four previous occasions.
In the women's annual points competition, there’s one old name and a couple who are less familiar with the thrill of a podium position, transient though it might be. (Incidentally, all are ‘unattached’, which shows you don’t have to belong to a running club to excel.) First is Lucy Woolhouse (unattached) on 5,974 points. Next is Danuta K Grabda (unattached) on 5,313 points. And third is Liz Ostrowski (pictured below, unattached) on 5,082. This, incidentally, was Liz’s 50th parkrun, so well done Mrs O.
The best age-grade times were recorded by: Knut Hegvold (VM50-54) – graded 83.52% for the time 18:06 (6th overall); Lisa Margaret Thomas (VW50-54) – graded 83.14% for the time 20:10 (28th overall); and Lucy Woolhouse (VW50-54) – 83.07% for the time 20:58 (44th overall).
Fifty-two of you recorded personal bests. Among these were young Morgan Wroe (JM11-14), who posted 30:51 in his 35th appearance – the first sub-30 can’t be far away. Gordon Lilly of Hercules recorded his second PB here in as many weeks with 19:21, this in his 96th Wimbledon Common parkrun, his 103rd all told. And the fantastically named Fearghal Hainsworth chose his 33rd Wimbledon Common parkrun to get under 27 minutes here for the first time, by the unusual and devious means of getting under 26 minutes too – posting a brilliant 25:40.
Some milestones to report: both Chiara Samele (pictured above with cake) and Richard J Mellor completed their 100th parkruns – 79 of Chiara’s have been on the common; Richard has done 83 on our hallowed ruts. As well as the aforementioned Liz Ostrowski, Wimbledon Common first-timer Kate Holden posted her 50th parkrun on Saturday – most of her others have been at Bolton. Well done, Kate.
And Fred Jimack, JM11-14, achieved the coveted youngsters’ white technical shirt by running his tenth Wimbledon Common parkrun.
Representatives of 20 different athletics clubs took part last Saturday.
Wimbledon Common parkrun started on 6 January 2007; since then, 12,306 different runners, including participants from 523 athletics clubs, have completed 89,986 runs covering a total distance of 449,930 km, and there have been 16,075 new personal bests.
The female record is held by Justina Heslop, who ran in a time of 16:33 on 17 March 2012 (event number 271).
The male 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.
These words were brought to you by Peter AF Collins. Other words are available.