Our run report this week is written by Nick Sirs.
I’m pleased to have this opportunity to write the parkrun report as I have a long association with Guildford, with running and with Stoke Park. The story begins around 45 years ago in the mid 1970s when I was a pupil at the local grammar school. This was a turbulent time for Guildford and the country generally. We were in the middle of an energy crisis which led to frequent power cuts. I remember walking home from school down a darkened High Street with the shopkeepers scrabbling for candles. At about this time we were all shocked by the Guildford pub bombings in which five young people lost their lives and many more were injured. The TV and newspapers at the time were all filled with animated discussion about the upcoming referendum as to whether we should stay in the EU. Thank goodness that matter was amicably settled back in 1975 ...
In the midst of all this my running career had tentatively begun when I joined the school cross country team. On Monday evenings we would do a training session heading out from the school then down into Stoke Park. I remember doing repetitions around the clump of trees in the middle. We would have been a bit of an oddity back then - a group of schoolboys in shorts and vests, trotting along the path. Back then you rarely saw anybody out running. Certainly you would never see a woman running - it was widely understood that women were unsuited to endurance events. The thought of a woman being a long distance runner was as unlikely as there being a female Prime Minister! If we schoolboys, circling round Stoke Park in the mid seventies, had been gifted with foresight, we might have been startled by an image of hundreds of runners gathering at the far end of the park. Not only that - many of the runners were women! Indeed there seemed to be all sorts there - serious athletes, middle-aged men in lycra, grannies and grandads, teenagers, schoolkids, small kids, babies in buggies and dogs on leads - parkrun is truly for everyone.
My first experience of Guildford parkrun was on a frosty morning in December 2012. There were 76 runners there that day and seven volunteers. I’ve run several more times since finishing as high as seventh and as low as 550th (as tailwalker). I’ve done most of the volunteer roles at one time or another and I’ve marshalled at most points on the course, discovering some unfamiliar corners of Stoke Park along the way. Today I was on finish tokens which is usually a good gig as you get to say hello to everybody in the run.
It was a lovely day for running, one of those days when late summer runs into early autumn. One of the nice things about Guildford parkrun is that you can see all your runners arriving as they all walk across the fields from the direction of the Spectrum car park. Even into its 368th running, Guildford parkrun attracts plenty of new visitors. There were sixty-three first timers this morning and thirty-two of them were running their first parkrun ever. We had a few milestones this morning. Congratulations to Christopher Kennedy, Nikki Storrar, Suzanne Perrin and Katerina Rose for completing their fiftieth parkrun and to Sam Bell and Phil Butler for making it to their hundredth!
Everything seemed to go pretty smoothly this morning. The 533 runners set off and quickly formed a long multi coloured column snaking around the park. The first finisher today was Josh Carter, one of those first timers to Guildford. Josh more normally runs at Woking but today was first placer here in a very respectable 17:30. The first female finisher was perhaps the youngest person to achieve this honour. Katie Wealden has run many times here, both in the senior and junior parkruns, and today achieved a new PB of 21:04 - a brilliant performance for someone in the JW10 category. Katie’s performance also gave her the best age graded score today at 81.01%.
It seemed to be the day for PBs. Apart from the sixty-three first timers who achieved a PB by default, a total of 103 runners set a new PB for this course. I shall throw in a word at this point for John Collins who has been our backmarker in recent weeks but today managed to break the hour for the first time! If you missed a PB this week, you can have another go next Saturday when we shall have pacers.
I shall finish by thanking RD Julie Bryant and her magnificent team of volunteers, without whom this event would not have been possible! I thought the guy who gave out the tokens was especially brilliant!
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Guildford parkrun Results Page.
The female record is held by Emily WICKS who recorded a time of 17:31 on 8th October 2016 (event number 227).
The male record is held by Phil WICKS who recorded a time of 15:14 on 23rd September 2017 (event number 274).
The Age Grade course record is held by Jane DAVIES who recorded 90.41% (22:25) on 27th April 2013 (event number 57).
Guildford parkrun started on 10th March 2012. Since then 14,728 participants have completed 112,253 parkruns covering a total distance of 561,265 km, including 19,088 new Personal Bests. A total of 1,127 individuals have volunteered 7,239 times.