Anyone for Dennis?
It was parkrun eve (otherwise known as a Friday) and I was nervously watching the weather reports hearing about the imminent arrival of Storm Dennis. I was planning my Bushy Pilgrimage for parkrun day this weekend and as I watched the list of cancellations grow due to the imminent storm and parkruns which were already flooded, began to wonder if it would be able to go ahead. As a parkrun ambassador in South Africa, a bit of wind, rain and mud were not going to stop me but this weekend was my only chance on this trip to go back to where it all began and as I was also bringing my youngest Granddaughter (age 8) along for her very first parkrun, I really wanted her to have Bushy parkrun as her first one.
parkrun day arrives, and I’m up bright and early and with some trepidation I check yet again to make sure Bushy is not on the casualty list for today. With spare trainers, dry socks and extra jackets all packed I go and grab my Granddaughter and we make our way from the middle of Kent to Bushy parkrun. As we arrive the wind starts to pick up, but we find a happy bunch of volunteers setting up and are greeted with huge smiles and introduced to the RD for the day. We also met a very special young man Wally and Craig. Wally had some of his family with him today to mark his 499th parkrun which really was special as they are not able to be there next week for his 500th. Craig came from Scotland with a very large bag of treats for the volunteers as he was doing his 150th parkrun today.
Mike TIVNEN did the first timers briefing this morning and greeted not just myself from South Africa, but also parkrunners from Vancouver and Brisbane along with 41 first timers and 116 parkrunners visiting Bushy for the first time. Despite the wind he still managed to put smiles on everyone’s faces, firstly telling us how he had been invited to attend that very first time trial and didn’t go because it was a day just like today (and now regrets it LOL), explaining their double funnel and also telling my Granddaughter where the best puddles and mud for jumping in were, even though she only had trainers on and not welly boots – Thanks Mike ‼
Now it was time to parkrun. Ray COWARD RD for the day got the crowd assembled, and went through the pre-run briefing for today, including the pacers that they had today. Then we were ready to go. This was quite a sight, I’ve seen parkruns with this many parkrunners before in South Africa plenty of times, so the large number was not anything new for me, but to see this crowd so spread out with such a beautiful wide starting area and everyone had so much space really was a spectacle.
Very soon with the field thinned out and as we mostly walked our way around this beautiful parkrun we were greeted by very friendly marshals (all wrapped up in nice big warm coats, hats, scarves and gloves) all of whom were clapping, congratulating everyone and giving them warm smiles as they passed by them. As we went by we decided all these heroes needed to be in our pictures for the day after all there is no parkrun without volunteers, and they made everyone feel so welcome. Every marshal took the time to tell my Granddaughter how well she was doing and some giving her high 5’s along the way. To see the way that made her smile was heart-warming.
We were also lucky enough to come across a herd of deer, mostly sheltering under some trees but we were lucky to have one stag in close proximity on one side of the path and 4 deer walking towards us on the other side. Then as we were on the final stretch two swans were close to the bank of the pond, yet another spectacle.
The finish at Bushy was a very warm welcome even on a cold windy day. We passed the timekeeper to yet more congratulations, collected our finish tokens and couldn’t resist the photo of my Granddaughter with one of the scanners just before she had her barcode scanned for the first time.
Although it’s true you can be certain of a warm welcome to any parkrun you attend, Bushy has to be on every parkrunner's bucket list. You not only get the very warm welcome, but you get a magnificent park, the wildlife roaming close by and you get to see just where parkrun all began, it’s a “wow” combination. Today there were 70 volunteers who turned out on a cold, windy day to allow 1295 parkrunners to do parkrun – I would like to personally thank each and every one of them for their time and commitment, and also those behind scenes who we rarely see on the volunteer rosters yet spend their time during the week answering emails, looking after social media and doing all those other tasks which need to happen behind the scenes every week in order for parkrun to take place.
Some results & Pacers
parkrun First Timer and Colombian running champion Muriel Coneo looking strong and finishing fourth overall in 17:31
And finally... here are a couple of running taps...
Cat & Sam - blowing hot and cold in the funnel - he is running the London Marathon for Water Aid
and finally, finally... meet Sanka - Marshal point 2 at Church Grove Gate is his favourite spot...
Same time next week...
Nickie Sale (with additional material from Andrew Howarth).
Thanks also to Wendy Stokes for some of the photos.
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