Wimbledon Common parkrunner numbers crash…
After a stunning field of 548 last week, just seven days later Wimbledon Common participation had crashed to 360! This 50% decline represents a loss of over one park runner every single hour since the last event, and experts predict in three weeks time there will be no runners at all!
Oh, wait. A modest tail-off in New Year’s enthusiasm, pouring rain, 3.5 degrees centigrade and an skid pan for a course. What I should be writing about are the 50(!) very welcome new people who chose this awful day for their first run, and the tourist from Kingston (how bad was it there?!).
But firstly, and far more importantly…
Official changing of the guard
After several weeks of quietly and competently taking the reins, today was the day that Peter AF Collins was able to thank former event director Charles Lawrie for his four years at the helm of the best parkrun on the network. Joking aside (about Charles overseeing heart attacks, broken bones, hornet attacks and head injuries) it was a brilliant opportunity for the Wimbledon Common community to thank him for all his hard work and a job very well done. It is a long day for the event director, from the set-up to the clearing away, and few people stop to think about the significant responsibility that goes with the role. From maintaining good relationships with the Common Rangers, through implementing everything that comes from parkrun HQ as the movement continues to grow and become ever more complex, to dealing with people whose times had got muddled up, it is a big and time consuming job. We have been hugely lucky with Charles, Ian before him, and now Peter to have such talented and committed people to lead the event and organise the rest of the volunteer community who make parkrun possible. Thank you Charles!
That important ceremony aside, run director Steven Cull’s primary ambition was to get us away as fast as possible before we froze in that icy and persistent rain I mentioned earlier. This he did, and we were off in the chilly mud bath that the week of difficult weather had left for us!
Another huge shipment of milestone T-shirts are due to land in February, so hopefully not long to wait for Nigel Gray and Adam Trousdale laying claim to a red top to celebrate their 50th runs.
No T-shirts on offer, but our congratulations nevertheless to Jonathan Barnett and Christine McNeill notching up their 150th runs.
Finally, a big fanfare for Geraldine Hellings reserving her 250th prize in its slightly indescribable colour (sort of teal?).
Congratulations to all.
Twenty-four seconds separated the first three men and David Lewin (SM25-29 , Hercules Wimbledon AC) took the honours with a time of 18:22. Nick McKay (VM35-39, Wimbledon Windmilers) claimed silver at 18:34, with Jack Dickenson (SM18-19, Herne Hill Harriers) filling the third step in 18:46.
Eileen Brandley (SW25-29, Hercules Wimbledon AC) led the women home with a time of 20:29 (11th overall). It was Sophia versus Sophie for the remaining podium slots with Sophia Chastell (SW18-19, Garden City Runners) taking it with 22:03 (32nd overall), and Sophie McKay (VW35-39, Wimbledon Windmilers) right behind with a time of 22:10 (35th overall).
Given the lashing rain and wall-to-wall mud, unsurprisingly most of the 21 runners setting Personal Bests have just a few parkruns under their belts. Congratulations to Michelle Luck though, with a PB on her fifteenth outing. Dealing with the terrain today bodes well for Michelle’s performance in the (hopefully) forthcoming spring!
On a difficult day for age related scores, Michelle’s efforts earned her second place in that competition with 76.3%, just pipped to the post by Dieter Schlegel with his impressive for the conditions 78.2%.
Something a bit different
On a slow news day, I have a few spare inches to provide a link to a brilliant event that Sandy Pfeifer told us about.
Street Child is a great charity who believe that every child deserves the right to safety and to be empowered through education. Working in some of the poorest areas in the world, they strive to ensure that every child has the chance to go to school and learn.
There is nothing unusual about an organisation like that organising a half on Wimbledon Common to raise vital funds. What is slightly unusual is that the reference to the “half” is only tangentially related to the distance (where runner can select the 13.1 miles or opt for 10km). However, the true meaning of “half” in this context is that the organisers will be fuelling runners every two miles with a half pint of craft ale to keep them warm! Better still all fund raising will be matched by the UK government through UK Aid Match.
Making it happen
You were able to run at event 585 thanks to James Wallace, Alastair Brown, Peter AF Collins, Adam Harwood, Jayne Hurrell, John Sabourin, Lucy Woolhouse, Briarna Clifford, Steven Cull, Volker Vogler, Catherine Coleman, Christopher Cull, Sandy Pfeifer, Liz Ostrowski, Graham Trainor, Matthew Vie, Jo Manley, Nick Hudson, Jeremy Rolls, John Sasportas, Alethea Tabor, David Hopwood, and Pam Todd. Wimbledon Common parkrun depends upon our volunteers, and there are a number of gaps in the future roster. Please consider helping by visiting the volunteer pages and finding out how you can help make the next event happen.
Wimbledon Common parkrun started on 6th January 2007. Since then 18,909 participants have completed 145,761 parkruns covering a total distance of 728,805 km, including 23,506 new Personal Bests. The male record is held by Chris Parr who recorded a time of 15:04 on 23rd April 2011 (event number 224), and the female record is held by Justina Heslop who recorded a time of 16:33 on 17th March 2012 (event number 271). The Age Grade course record is held by Jane Davies who recorded 92.99% (21:24) on 29th January 2011 (event number 212).
Words Alastair Brown, pictures Jayne Hurrell