Run Report Event No. 452 23 February 2013

I want to marry you!

Wow, I am going to use this word repeatedly on this report, but WOW, what an amazing day!

I want you to picture the scene, for those that were there it may help to relive the moment and for those that were absent I want you to get a feel for what truly happened.

So imagine you have travelled a few thousand miles from the USA to see your Manchester based boyfriend, he has decided to make a weekend of it and you are staying inLondon. He invites you to Bushy Park, Cradle of parkun.  As you enter this beautiful park you see lots of activities as the pre-run preparations start up…

This lady is Danielle Falco and her boyfriend is Andy Kearsley (Woodbank parkrun in Cheshire is home).

Picture yourself as Danielle, Andy guides you to an empty park bench and all seems tranquil.

Unbeknown to Danielle, Andy has a surprise up the sleeve of his red parkrun 50 t-shirt…

Some runners gather around your bench, almost like a human amphitheatre and unseen hands queue the music.

What happens next is a dance flash mob, one that has been weeks in the planning. From Andy’s initial email enquiry sent to Bushy parkrun Event Director Ray Coward, a snowball of enthusiasm and joy has formed, catching up in it Zoe Riding’s wonderful YouTube viewed choreographing resulting in hours of parkrunners practising at home, through to ensuring the music, courtesy of Suzan Baker and her PA aka car stereo being in Bushy early enough to be parked in exactly the right place.


Well planned logistics, all seamlessly bringing together a wonderful moment.

Please take the time to view the video as my simple narrative will not adequately describe the grace, poise, professionalism even of the routine, let alone the dancers and subsequent successful proposal.

From octogenarian runner Madge Bradsell to 9 year old Ben Dickinson the whole parkrun age grading and community turned out. It was truly a beautiful and wonderful reflection on the community that has built up around Bushy parkrun and demonstrates so well that this is not your average weekly, free 5km timed run!

I am not sure who was more on edge, Andy who was about to propose to Danielle or the collective Bushy community.

Andy then continued with a silent proposal of romantic phrases which were written on a series of A4 paper (the idea was from one of their favourite films Love Actually) which flapped away in the wind before he finally produced a dazzling diamond ring.

OMG, what a spectacle, we often hear about running singles and meeting partners through parkrun but is this the first marriage proposal?

A wonderful set of pictures and video can be found on our Facebook page courtesy of David Rowe and Jed Leicester who both captured not only the moment but the feel and total atmosphere.

Thankfully, Danielle said yes and a collective cheer went up, we all wish you health, wealth and happiness for your forthcoming wedding and life together. Huge parkrun congratulations to all involved!


The Run

All this excitement even before the run, we then made our way to the start line, with the only mishap of the day being the megaphone, which finally has given in to its fair share of ups and downs and gave up the ghost. The runners had to listen carefully and quietly to catch the run briefing by Run Director Ray.

Then we were off and away. I was in the middle of the field, running with the lovely Sharon Rowe. Whilst we chatted and ran I was able to reflect on this wonderful wider community that runs at Bushy. We also saw a marshal at Church Grove gate end of Bushy by the cricket pitch, somewhat  infrequent but more than a welcome sight and one to whom Sharon in her usual bubbly way thanked before we were off.

One of the other highlights to me was on the final straight just past the last tree, when we overtook a group of about 3 runners. Once we were a few feet beyond them when I realised one of the runners, a teenage girl, had caught us and stayed on our tails. With a little bit of encouragement from me I pointed out that not only was she was faster than us but could probably also catch a man about 4 positions away. It was great to witness that not only did she do exactly that, but she went on to take 7 positions. Wow, what a runner!

I loved my run today and had a good old chin wag!

So post run there were congratulations of the newly betrothed as well as Kirsty’s 300th and Rachel’s 100th !

After the run my roving reporter (I had to dash to a chairty launch) Julie Papworth caught up with the happy couple here is what they felt!

After the run I managed to speak to the happy couple to discover that they met via the World Wide Web, not as you would expect on a dating site but on a gaming site some 3 years ago where they played Scrabble and cards.  Their long distance relationship developed as they started to use Skype before Andy visited Danielle in the USA and the romance blossomed. The happy couple have been busy visiting all the London tourist landmarks this week on Danielle’s first trip to the capital before the lead up to Bushy’s best ever kept secret event. Andy got the flash mob idea of the perfect proposal after seeing the original video which took part in  Central Park. Coincidentally, Danielle comes from New York where there isn’t a parkrun and when they move there hopefully after their summer wedding, they even discussed about introducing the event to the Big Apple.

Danielle was overcome by the friendliness of the Bushy brigade and practically everyone wished them congratulations as they made their way around the course. They went around most of it together but being the devoted wife to be, she kind-heartedly let him sprint on ahead to rejoice in the post proposal run as Andy conquered the course for the first time in a respectable time of 22.49.

During the celebrations, Andy Pillidge kindly gave a still trembling Andy a jumper and gloves to keep warm before we all headed to the warmth of the café where the happy couple could discuss their forthcoming nuptials. Unfortunately though it appears that parkrun first timer Danielle didn’t have a barcode as Andy must have been preoccupied and forgot this minor detail!

He chose Bushy for the flash mob venue as it’s where the life of parkrun began and how appropriate that they now start the journey of their new life together. The good news is, we are all invited to the wedding! Congratulations from all of us at Bushy, you are now one of the family so come back and see us again. I am sure like a lot of us, now every time you hear Bruno Mars, you will want to start dancing!

Thank you Julie!

Rachel Lonergan

Since the arrival of the 250 Club we don’t often have time before the start of a run to mention much about newly arrived 100 club members at Bushy, understandably given the numbers but a shame nonetheless. So we try and capture their name in lights within the main body of the Bushy Run report. So I am going to delight in talking about one newly arrived member to the 100 Club, Rachel Lonergan.

Rachel is a passionate Bushy parkrunner with now 92 runs at Bushy, but she also goes on tour having run at Harrogate, Old Deer Park, Inverness, Guildford, Crane, Basingstoke, Newbury and Bexley parkruns. An intrepid explorer with her best position 3rd female and 16th overall runner (it’s not a race!) at Bexley. When Rachel isn’t running she is a volunteer, and an avid one at that. As a regular volunteer, Rachel has undertaken to my knowledge at least the roles of Number, Registration, and Marshal; maybe the next step for her is Timer…

Bringing her zest for life and joy to all, I am not sure I have ever seen her anything other than effervescent. Without revealing all of my parkrun prowling, I can confide to all that Rachel completed her spring target of a PB at Brighton Half Marathon last weekend and has the Nice Marathon and maybe even a cheeky little triathlon if I can persuade her, also in her sights this year.

Rachel, you’re a star and welcome to the 100 Club.

Kirsty, perpetual runner

This Saturday also saw Kirsty Bangham reach 300 runs, not a parkrun t shirt Club or other recognised event but a massive accolade none the less. Most of the important stats and background were given when Andy wrote the Run Report for Kirsty’s 250th run. But to achieve another year of running, Kirsty has continued her tourism and maintained a steady presence at Bushy, the type of dedication that gets you a 250 Club gold bling t-shirt to wear with pride on your 300th Bushy parkrun.

Well done Kirsty!

Another 250 member!

Now I have very strong views on volunteering in general and also specifically at parkrun. At the start of the year Tom Williams wrote in his parkrun newsletter a brilliant set of pros and cons to volunteering and a reflection on the subsequent recognition and reward.

I am firmly of the view that volunteering means you should get your own rewards on a personal level; it’s not about the accolade but the pleasure of helping others and your own generosity. I don’t subscribe to the view that volunteering roles should be on a league table. I DO however, agree they should be logged and that maybe you could view these volunteer positions on your parkrun profile? That way at least there is a record for you to put in to context.

That said I have to thank Suzan for the heads up, also the James Bond style data gathering from Sharon, together they confirmed that Ray Coward has completed 250 volunteering roles!

As a runner Ray has completed officially 6 parkruns (5 at Bushy and 1 atEdinburgh). However, we all know him as our very own Bushy Event Director, Run Director, the man behind our megaphone at the start and there again at the end with the clipboard. Ray is also the parkrun kit pixie extraordinaire but above all this work Ray is a truly lovely gentle man.

Today sees the mile stone of 250 volunteer roles, 249 at Bushy parkrun and he also had one step in to the breach volunteer role at  Edinburgh too.

That’s a greater volunteer rate than most put in to their running before you consider the effort on the collation, organisation, scheduling, sending out of all the Club t-shirts with his wife Ann who is not far behind in this achievement having completed about 246 volunteering roles.

We all have stories and great moments with Ray but I would like to give my own viewpoint. My memory of first becoming aware of Ray was just before I gained my 50 shirt when Ray as Run Director mentioned about a need for volunteers, feeling inspired I volunteered.

However, the biggest impact Ray has had on running in my life is far bigger than that. Ray took me to one side in the Pheasantry last year and introduced me to someone called Paul Graham. Ray knew I was looking for a structure/club/coach for my running novice son. Through this introduction Harry has now become an excellent runner, growing in confidence and certainly ability (having beaten his Uncle’s PB this weekend and gaining the £50 wager thanks to encouragement from David Rowe). So in my Hall of Heroes Ray is definitely a platinum member.

Ray, I salute you sir, but most of all I believe Bushy parkrun would not be the friendly, slick operating machine, that it is today welcoming such large crowds and pulling off organisation that outstrips most organised road races on a weekly basis without you.


Out of the 861 runners (291 females, 524 males and only 46 unknown) there were 610 were unattached to any Running Club with 117 runners achieving a new Personal Best (including my son!), the experience of the field had a cumulative of 45,017 runs between us. There were 125 juniors, 175 seniors and 515 veterans.

First man home was Rowan Axe (Cardiff AAC) in 15:11, second man home was Bradley Goater (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow AC) in 15:17 and the third runner home was Anthony Jackson (Sittingbourne Striders) in 16:00.

The ladies were led home by Cathy Ansell (Herne Hill Harriers) in 17:38 ahead of Elise Forster-Brown in 19:51 and Anna Uren in 20:11.

The junior boys event saw Bradley Goater JM15-19 (2nd male finisher overall) lead the field home, ahead of James Hancock JM15-19 (Sutton & District AC) in 17:42 and Harry Spawforth JM15-19 in 17:45.

Whilst the junior girls saw almost  a repeat of the ladies results  with Elise Forster-Brown JW15-19 ahead of  Anna Uren JW14 followed by Freya Thomson JW14  (Thames Turbo Triathlon) in 20:38

Bubbling under, just short of their next:

  • 49 runs completed – John Birchall, Michael Phillips and David Vaney.
  • 99 runs – George Longstaff.
  • Raj Patel and Madge Bradsell on 249 runs; Stuart Lodge and the t-shirt team of Suzan Baker and Carol Dickinson on 242 runs.

New Club Entrants, Those achieving their milestones:

  • 50 club – Nick Hancock and Jed Leicester.
  • 100 club – Libby Brown and Rachel Lonergan .
  • 250 club – none this week!

That’s it from me for a while, enjoy running and #DFYB.