The story is that there is no story.
The event has been dogged by bad luck over the last couple of weeks – hornets and head-spearing branches causing painful injuries from which the victims have thankfully recovered, as well as much lesser problems such as exuberant canines. So perhaps there was a slightly nervous air of apprehension amongst some as we gathered pre-run on what was a more or less perfect early autumn morning this Saturday. Would something else completely unforeseeable occur ? But luckily the beautiful weather foretold a trouble free event on the participant front, not an ambulance in sight nor a first aid kit called into use. A mercifully uneventful week.
Following a more or less dry week, the course was in pretty benign shape, dry but not too dusty. There is still, however, a large persistent puddle blocking the way about half-way along the avenue leading from the lake to Nicola’s corner (where the run rejoins the “main road” up to the Windmill). But the slime-fests which characterised many of the runs up to June are a distant memory.
The weather, the conditions and the end of the holidays evidently persuaded a large number of new runners to give Wimbledon parkrun a go this week. There were 53 First Timers, roughly a seventh of the field which, for a run that has been going for 7 years is a sizeable proportion. A few were already parkrun veterans from other events but most were new parkrun participants and all are very welcome.
A topic which comes up is the question : is parkrun a race ?; the answer is no it isn’t and to call it a race might deter people from participation. In fact the great thing about parkrun is that it gives you the freedom to make of it what you will: it is what you make it. Based on entirely anecdotal evidence, some like to turn up and have a run mainly to get the blood going or put in some exercise at the start of the weekend; for others, the run is largely incidental to the craic; for others still, competing against friendly rivals – which, at the risk of official reprimand, one has to say can sometimes feel quite like a race - is the thing. Of course, almost everyone would like to improve their own times.
The first male runner home this week was Stephen Thackeray (pictured) a parkrun vet but running for the first time at Wimbledon, in the sparkling time of 17:16, followed in fairly close order by Fintan Parkinson (17:23) , his first time at Wimbledon too, so also very well done and Peter Justin Collins (17;36), of whom more below.
The first female runner was Claire Grima (also pictured) in a very fast time of 18:12, followed by Lucy Woolhouse (20:36 and who also achieved the second highest age grade) and then Ruth Wallace (20:41), who is regaining form after her baby.
The week’s best age grades– and arguably therefore the best performances – came from Sandy Pfeifer, Lucy Woolhouse and Marilyn Clarke; the first two 83% plus and the third 82% plus (details below), grades which are very difficult to attain: well done all.
In the same way that the weather attracted a lot of first timers, it also resulted in a large number of PBs. Well done to all those who achieved one. Peter Justin Collins (aka Peter Collins the younger) managed one on his 147th run, inevitably coupled with his highest ever age grade, a brilliant run; Scarlett Walker continues to go from strength to strength, going under 21 minutes (20:51) for the first time on her 50th run, a great run for the JW11-14 category. Other notable PBs include Joanna Ward (40 runs) Richard Young (38), Hilary Knight (31) and Barnaby Simpson among the adults and Celia Willis (16) and Charles Davis (17) among the juniors.
Before moving to the placings, it should be mentioned that Saturday was trouble free for participants, but not glitch free. There were timing problems which were seamlessly dealt with after the run, many thanks to Charles H-S and Kylie Corso amongst others.
Men's podium placings:
Stephen Thackeray (VM35-39) (Unattached) was first over the line in 17:16.
Fintan Parkinson (VM35-39) of Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC, was second over the line in 17:23.
Peter Justin Collins (VM40-44) of Hercules Wimbledon AC, was third over the line in 17:36.
Current standing in the Men's annual points competition:
Charles Hampden-Smith (Hercules Wimbledon AC) 9557 pts.
Nick McKay (Wimbledon Windmilers) 9490 pts.
Joe Busa (Unattached) 8910 pts.
Women's podium placings:
Claire Grima (VW35-39) of Hercules Wimbledon AC, was first (7th overall) over the line in 18:13 - 32nd time in 41 appearances.
Lucy Woolhouse (VW50-54) (Unattached) was second (31st overall) over the line in 20:36 - has been first to finish on 20 previous occasions.
Ruth Wallace (SW30-34) of Thames Hare & Hounds, was third (33rd overall) over the line in 20:41 - has been first to finish on 21 previous occasions.
Current standing in the Women's annual points competition:
Lisa Margaret Thomas (Hercules Wimbledon AC) 9573 pts.
Lucy Woolhouse (Unattached) 8963 pts.
Natasha Hampden-Smith (Merton mini-marathon trial) 8090 pts.
The following runners recorded the best Age Grade scores:
Sandy Pfeifer (VM50-54) was graded 83.62% for the time 18:13 (6th overall).
Lucy Woolhouse (VW50-54) was graded 83.41% for the time 20:36 (31st overall).
Marilyn Clarke (VW60-64) was graded 82.83% for the time 23:06 (96th overall).
This week there were 381 runners, of whom 53 were first timers and 64 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 22 different athletics clubs took part.
Wimbledon Common parkrun started on 6th January 2007, and since then 10,992 different runners, including participants from 464 athletics clubs, have completed 78,404 runs covering a total distance of 392,020 km, and there have been 14,519 new Personal Bests.
The women's record is held by Justina Heslop who ran in a time of 00:16:33 on 2012-03-17 (event number 271).
The men's record is held by Chris Parr who ran in a time of 00:15:04 on 2011-04-23 (event number 224).
The Age Grade course record is held by Jane Davies who recorded a 92.99% run (21:24) on 29th January 2011 (event number 212).
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Wimbledon Common parkrun Results Page.