Event number 76 may be a somewhat indifferent number, but today Eastleigh parkrun enjoyed one of its most momentus days in its history. UK 400m record holder and Commonwealth gold medal holder Iwan Thomas announced earlier in the week that he planned to attend Eastleigh parkrun this week. Demonstrating he was not put off with a fair amount of "Twitter bating" from runners who were keen to beat him, Iwan turned up with plenty of time to spare. The 5k provided the perfect final hard run as preparation for the Great South Run the following weekend.
Whilst we'd love to put down today's attendance to the beautiful autumnal day, we have a feeling that Iwan may have provided a pull to many runners today. Indeed, 225 of you crossed the finish line today - a new record attendance level for Eastleigh. Runners were also treated to a London Marathon Mall-esque experience at the finish today with the finishing path lined with enthusiastic, cheering spectators (we would, of course, like to point out that the running experience of Eastleigh parkrun far surpasses that of any London marathon).
Today's race director Henry Hopkins didn't disappoint with his now famed pre-race talk. Rather than blast us with facts about the number 76, however, he only needed one maths stat up his sleeve this week: if Iwan could maintain his 400m record pace for the whole 5k race, he would complete the 5k in a mere 9:14! Iwan, somewhat unsurprisingly, declined the challenge, preferring simply to avoid being "spanked" by too many Eastleigh parkrunners (his words on Twitter, not ours!). Henry also made some important announcements which are highlighted at the end of this race report.
When the gun went this week, one could have been mistaken for it being the start of a race of Iwan's preferred 400m distance. Runners sprinted towards the trees on the far side of the lake in an attempt to get away fast - perhaps keen to try and get an early lead on Iwan. However, once runners settled in their paces, it was a returning John Collier (SM20-24) of Westbury Harriers who enjoyed his fifteenth win at Lakeside today. Mark Shepherd (VM40-44) of Team Kennet put in one of his strongest runs to date to finish in second place in 17:16 with Peter Baksh (SM20-24) of Beckenham AC rounding off the podium placings with a highly respectable 17:22 - faster than any time he's run at his regular haunt of Bromley parkrun.
The ladies' race was of a similar high standard: Jane Pidgeon (VW45-49) of Notts AC put in a sterling run in her first Eastleigh parkrun to cross the line first in 19:36. Jane's time is also a new category record for the VW45-49 age group - well done Jane! Emma Stoodley (JW14) of Winchester & District AC knocked 12 seconds from her previous Eastleigh best to finish second in 19:46, with Karen Hazlitt (VW40-44) of Winchester & District AC finishing third in 20:11.
We'd also like to give a special mention this week to our ninth placed finisher, Paul Stoodley (VM50-54) of Winchester & District AC. Not only did Paul knock 25 seconds from his previous best time at Eastleigh, but he also ran a new VM50-54 category record.
Jane Pidgeon and Paul Stoodley both finished with age graded scores >83% this week, with Jane scoring 83.25% and Paul 83.13%.
However, it seems that many more of you were spurred on by Iwan's appearance at Lakeside today: 9 runners finished with times under 18 minutes, and 25 of you broke the 20 minute barrier (11.1% of the field). We wonder if this is a record? We also note that there were a massive 66 news personal bests today - that's 29% of you running faster than you've ever run at Eastleigh parkrun!
However, the most important stat of the week is that 37 of you can say that you "beat Iwan Thomas" in a running race. Yes, 16.4% of you ran faster than the 400m record holder today. However, whilst we'd like to say that Iwan had to work painfully hard to finish today's parkrun in 20:41, we did note that he spent much of the race talking to weathergirl Alexis Green (who also ran an excellent 20:42 for her first Eastleigh parkrun - there aren't many women who can run that fast!) demonstrating that he definitely has more in the tank.
The event ran exceptionally smoothly today, which was made all the easier by the good number of volunteers we had today. We are still, however, struggling to get enough volunteers on some weeks (and we don't like to ask!), so please continue to volunteer your services by emailing email@example.com if you find yourself free on a Saturday morning (or want to rest up for a race on Sunday, but would still like your parkrun "fix" on a Saturday!). Volunteering earns a maximum 100 points for up to three events, so it can appeal to your competitive side too! Even when you've earned your maximum points for three events, you will still earn one volunteer point for each time you volunteer after that.
The points competition remains tight for both the men and women this year: Andrew King of Winchester & District AC is leading the men's competition with 1,886 points, with Peter Costley (South West Veterans) hot on his heels with a score of 1,761. Colin Burville (Winchester & District AC) is in third place with 1,693. Barely 100 points separate the top three in the women's competition: Kathryn Steel is currently leading the way with 1,887 points, closely followed by Karen Bolton (Southampton Running Sisters) with 1,805 points and Tamsyn May Smith (Lordshill Road Runners) with 1,771 points.
Since Eastleigh parkrun started back on 8 May 2010, 2,050 runners from 122 different clubs have completed the race 9,417 times and covered a distance of 47,085 kilometres. The male event record is held by James Baker who ran 15:54 on 06/08/11, event number 65. The female equivalent is jointly held by Claire Nichols and Barbara Hosack who ran 18:19 on 22/05/10 (event number 3) and 19/06/10 (event number 7) respectively. Ian Reade holds the age graded record with a hugely impressive score of 85.36%.
PLEASE NOTE THESE IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS:
Eastleigh parkrun moves back to Wide Lane Playing Fields on Saturday 5 November. This is to protect the paths at Lakeside as the weather becomes wetter, and will also make for better running conditions (the paths become submerged in water towrads the end of November).
November sees the launch of the Movember initiative, which raises money for prostate cancer each year. Further information is available at http://uk.movember.com/ All it really involves is growing a moustache, or other entertaining facial hair! We look forward to seeing the results of your efforts at the last parkrun in November (26th)
Please note that to start the parkrun at Lakeside on time, we aim to do the pre-race briefing at 8:55 with a view to starting the race at 9am. Make sure you leave home in plenty of time! This is in order for us to be able to use the course before the railway starts steaming up.
Feedback, comments and questions are always welcome, so feel free to email us if you do have anything you'd like to mention. You can also follow the Eastleigh parkrun on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/eleighparkrun) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Eastleigh.parkrun).
We look forward to welcoming you back next week and for many weeks to come!