This weekend we celebrate our 200th parkrun in Buckingham, a landmark reached in a little under four years. Elsewhere in the sporting world, double centuries are as rate as hens’ teeth; three darts will only get you 180; on the green baize 147 is the maximum you can pot and the worst ever drubbing in a British Rugby match was handed out to Holyhead who lost 181-0 in a Welsh league game a few years ago. The only recognised professional sporting events to have racked up the double century are the four flat racing classics, but these are mere babes compared to the daddy of them all, the Antient Scorton Silver Arrow archery contest which has been held in North Yorkshire since 1673. In 140 years of test cricket, 164 English batsmen have scored centuries but only 35 have gone on to make a double.
The 200 metres on both the track and in the pool has been the preferred distance for some of the truly greats of the sporting world. The current track world records are held by two of the icons of the sport, Usain Bolt and Florence (Flo-Jo) Griffiths-Joyner. In the pool the freestyle record has been held by the original Tarzan - Johnny Weissmuller as well as Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps. The women’s roll of honour is just as impressive including Lorraine Crapp (who clearly wasn’t), Dawn Frazer and the current record holder Federica Pellegrini. If you exceed 200lbs in the boxing ring you are officially a heavyweight, and if you failed to survive a 200 mile stage whilst repairing your own bike in early Tours De France you were considered officially a lightweight.
The first £200,000 footballer was World Cup winner Martin Peters when he signed for Tottenham from West Ham in 1970. Clearly times have changed - not only would Tottenham never go near a transfer record now, but a bog-standard Premiership footballer (and probably the Man City cleaners) are on £200k per week.
Anyway, enough of the wider sporting world, what have we achieved in our first two hundred events? Well in clocking up 176,000 km our runners could have circumnavigated the globe four times over, or to put it another way travel half way to the moon - not bad for 30 odd minutes of exercise on a Saturday morning. Around 20 of our regular runners have completed their own personal century, enough to take them all the way to Paris. Leading the way are Jonathan Fox who has run a staggering 169 times, and Angela Dyke with an impressive 138 appearances. When you consider that both our top male and female runners have each also volunteered over 30 times, there can hardly have been a Saturday over the past four years when they haven’t lined up at the skate park. Talking of volunteers, our two stalwarts Tony Metcalfe and Dave Hastings-Barnes (together with their four-legged friends) are both well past the century mark and well on the way to their own doubles.
Over the past four years our field has included runners aged from 4 to 77, coming from both near and far. If you live in the MK18 1 postcode area then you and 702 other running neighbours have registered. The top club in terms of appearances is (unsurprisingly) Buckingham and Stowe RC, whose runners have clocked up over 5500 appearances. Jennifer McBain leads the way with the most first finishes with 47, closely followed by Mark Palser with 44. Not many of us will ever come home first, but every Saturday we can see how we compare against our own personal best. One way in which this can be shown is in the age grade percentage - each week many of our runners score exceptionally highly on this grading, with one of our regulars Pauline Lucas near the top of our all time list.
Whether your personal target is to turn up more regularly, beat your personal best or encourage a new friend or family member to join us we look forward to growing together over our next 200 events and perhaps getting all the way to the moon.
Ian Barham January 2018