The great and the good
Fewer than 0.2% of the UK population are parkrunners. Not very many. Consequently, many who don’t run think we’re heroes. The growing national obsession with getting leaner and fitter, and the consensus that among the recommended methods of doing so, running isn’t an easy option, add fuel to this notion. The reasons why we’re parkrunners are, of course, many and varied. Nevertheless, to get up early on a Saturday morning, venture into the fresh air and run in all weathers, is seen as commendable.
Those among us
Even if we’re not all heroes, there are those among us we can rightly applaud as milestones are celebrated. This week we had a bonanza. A rare (unprecedented?) double handover of the 200 Collins Cup, and ladies equivalent, to Keith Macintosh and Kylie Corso, junior Gilbert Dunleavy on his 10th run looked pleased as punch, and Nicola Whitford achieved an impressive score of 450 runs. Nicola has the unique distinction of having a corner named after her, is part of the volunteer coordination team and all her recorded 450 runs have been on the Common. Kylie, apart from 200 runs, has volunteered 140 times in just five years and carries out invaluable work behind the scenes coordinating volunteers. Keith’s running achievements could fill an entire news report. Just to mention a few, Keith has been first into the funnel at our parkrun 11 times, as well as 13 times at other parkruns. His marathon PB is 2:36:11 and he has finished first in eight marathons including Nepal and Afghanistan. Keith also supports and fundraises for charities in some of the poorest and most remote areas on the planet. Sounds heroic to me. Finally, a word for Richard McDowell who finished fourth in 17:52 pushing a buggy and at the same time also doing some maths lessons for his child on the way around – “that’s 1k done, how many more to go?”
From start to finish
We kicked off with this week’s Run Director, the self-proclaimed bossy Francesca Carter (above), making a good job of keeping everyone quiet during her briefing, before heralding everyone off to the hornet-course start. From what I heard, the hornet course seems to be growing in popularity, but you do miss the opportunity for a good natter on the way to the start. Down at the sharp end, the swiftest gentlemen were Adam Harwood, Hercules Wimbledon AC, in a new PB time of 17:16, James Maloney, also with a PB time of 17:39 and Keith Macintosh, Wimbledon Windmilers, in 17:44. The fleetest ladies were: Andrea Stehlikova, Thames Hare & Hounds, in 21:41, Claire Adams, Clapham Chasers RC, in 22:38 and Sophie Russell, Wimbledon Windmilers, in 23:19. Top percentage scorers were: Gavin McLaughlan, Wimbledon Windmilers, 80.96%, Keith Macintosh, Wimbledon Windmlers, 79.32% and Damian Shirley, Highgate Harriers, 75.84%. In addition to our first two runners, 59 others knocked up a PB. And, as far as I could tell, 376 parkrunners headed off happily to enjoy the rest of the weekend. Some left the Common, while a goodly bunch of us headed for the café, there to enjoy the social side of parkrun and tuck into the delicious home-made goodies.
All creatures great and small
While considering other Common users, and admiring those that buzz around it, let’s not forget the hornets. The hornet is the largest of the eusocial wasps. Their eusociality is the highest level of organisation of animal sociality, defined by the following characteristics: cooperative brood care (including care of offspring from other individuals), overlapping generations within a colony of adults, and a division of labour into reproductive and non-reproductive groups. That’s why you don’t see any hornets on the Jeremy Kyle Show.
Report John Carter ♦ Photography Stephen Willerton (start shot Maarten D'Haese)