By Caroline Sams, Guildford parkrun Run Director
Wow – what a morning. You know exactly of what I speak, but I will recap anyway, because it is simply such fun to relive Saturdays throughout the week! I was totally blown away yesterday - quite literally - by both the strong winds, and the amazing efforts of our dedicated volunteers and parkrunners. We took our Halloween theme to the next level this year, with the launch of ‘bring your own’ parkrun-themed pumpkins. They were everywhere; out on the course, lining our very first pumpkin finish funnel, and decorating our scanning tables. There were bats, cats, rockets, “I love parkrun,” and parkrun logo inscriptions, friendly faces, and ghosts! Inspired.
Whilst England were busy finding their way into the Rugby World Cup Final, a loyal 432 runners ran, jogged and walked the course, some of whom braved the gales with witches’ hats, face paints, ghoulish masks, zombie and pumpkin costumes. There were 63 first timers and 33 new Personal Bests. A magnificent team of 36 volunteers took to the field with pumpkin cones and spooky surprises – I believe there was a tall wolf lurking in the football field, treats on Nightingale Road and a giant hairy spider on the corner of London Road!
Back to the running. No brainer to congratulate all of YOU who achieved the 5K distance, including Caroline Cross who joined the 100-milestone club and our very cool, calm and collected Brandon Acres, who this week qualified for a 25 volunteer T-shirt. I must also draw attention to some frankly super-human times from a couple of local legends. Our resident course record holder, Phil Wicks, finished first, with an impressive time of 16:21; closely followed by Paul Pollock, who is a former Irish Olympic marathon runner. Ben Evans - wearing a Halloween mask - and a regular first finisher at Guildford (despite cancer treatment a few years ago), still came in third. Our first lady was Carolyn Baxter, who came in well under 20 minutes, with Jacqueline Penn in second and an under 10 incredibly the third female!
Week on week, we hear again and again that ‘parkrun is a brilliant and wonderful community event,’ etc, etc; but I won't avoid underlining this cliché, because the intrinsic spirit of the parkrun "movement" is - really and truly - precisely what I want to applaud. It is without reasonable doubt, the epitome of the hashtag (bear with me) “winning at life.” We will see you in two weeks’ time at Guildford on the 9th November. Wherever you end up going next week, please (for the sake of the volunteers and Run Directors), do not forget your barcode. I will leave you with this brilliant image of a perfect pumpkin symbolising this mantra, by Simon Ritchie, one of our junior parkrun Run Directors. Make it break the internet! Have a good fortnight all.