It didn’t really feel like the start of a new era (Gunnersbury Park no longer in the EU) and over 700 runners assembled at the start for the fifth consecutive week. Our local MP, Ruth Cadbury, chose to run at Osterley which appears to be her favourite. Curiously Boris Johnson represents a constituency in the only outer London borough which has yet to get a parkrun. I’ll leave that topic there!
These unprecedented numbers have called for a longer finish funnel but otherwise the current course with its uphill start has coped pretty well. At the end of the last decade the attendance record was a mere 687 – attracted to the well promoted and eagerly anticipated 400th edition last August using a special course. The average for the first five runs of 2019 was only 596. In 2018 it was 512 and 2017 a mere 420. Attendances in the first few weeks of a year are supposedly bolstered by newcomers becoming parkrunners or in more than just isolated cases doing a single parkrun and ticking the box. More about that in a moment. The figures prove pretty conclusively that parkrun, certainly Gunnersbury parkrun, is steadily getting more popular and it can’t all be down to global warming. Many reach the park on a Saturday on foot, on a bike or public transport. The current carpark is close to capacity most weeks. The excellent new café engages extra staff to cope with the extra business. We are good for the local economy.
The excellent mathematician Elliott Line (Elliottline.com) releases a wonderful parkrun summary each week which includes the probability of a parkrunner appearing next week based on the number already completed. For instance, this week the figures suggest that a runner who has already completed between 100 and 150 parkruns is quite likely to be running again next week, over 300 – very likely, over 400 – almost certainly but for relative newcomers, say less than 50 runs, it could be classed as unlikely, maybe one in three chance. On a worldwide basis, for those in the 10-19 range the probability is less than 9%. There are over 3 million parkrunners who have done one but fewer than ten parkruns. Obviously that 3 million includes those who ran for the first time this week and some of them (but only a few) will proudly be wearing their 50 vest in just over a year from now. parkrun could be accused of being addictive but as addictions go it must be one of the most healthy. It is a well documented fact that more people (maybe 10,000 more people) “get their barcode” each week than do their first run. Week after week more people do their first run than do a second run or a third run. It is only when people reach say 20 runs that the probability exceeds 10% that they will run again next week or to put it another way it is likely they will run again but only sometime in the next two or three months.
This week’s 41 parkrun virgins were (in finishing time order): Daniel BENTON, Kevin O’MALLEY, Arthur RANK, Reya SHARMA, Phil. BENTON, Blair FLYNN, Chris MacRILL, Edward FARRELL, Emma BENTON, Adam MURPHY, Calum MacINTYRE, Lucile BURLOT, Ian WILSON, Ruth COOPER-DICKSON, Christopher YOUNG, Richard WATTS, Raquel NUNEZ, Jack WINDSOR, Andrew CLIFTON, Matthew LUCAS, David BROWN, Henry BECKET, Ryan WILSON, Ashley WRIGHT, Amy UNDERWOOD, Ran WEI, Grace HOLROYD, Laura THOMAS, Radostina PEYKOVA, Teresa WALTON-SMITH, Raquel SOTO MARIN Angela WOODS, Robert LONGSON, Alecia PAYNE, Amy CLEAR, Isabel ALBUQUERQUE, Rian PATEL, Sangita SHAH, Sonia HOQUE and Dhama T. We will look out for them running with us again soon. Chances are some of them will, some of them won’t and some will try a different parkrun.
Let us have a look at some earlier samples. On 4th January 2020 we had a number of runners who made their parkrun debut at Gunnersbury and 14 of those didn’t run again during January. However, this week Caitlin MOSS (teenager) who had run 27:35 at Gunnersbury went to Longrun Meadow parkrun in Somerset and did 24:56.
Going back three years to 2017 and to the first Saturday, 7th January, when we had 16 making their first appearance at a parkrun. Two have never run again, one made a pilgrimage to Bushy and left it that, seven others have run just a handful, another five have done in the region of 20 and just one, Ellenor PEARSON has really got the bug with ten runs at Gunnersbury (parkrun pb 27:41) and 56 at Moors Valley in Dorset where her pb is 28:08. On the first Saturday in February in 2017 we had 20 first time parkrunners in a field of 407, 300 fewer than today. Of the 20, three have never run a 5km parkrun again and half the sample have yet to get into double figures. I put it like that because Jayne TURNER made her fifth appearance just four weeks ago so the flame is still alight! The heroine of that sample is Ms V WALKER (Ealing Eagles) 37:30 three years ago who ran this week in 26:08 on her 98th run at Gunnersbury. Four others have done at least 20 runs including at least one in 2020. Finally on 4th March 2017 we had 25 parkrun first timers. Of those six have yet to run again and a further eight are still in single figures. A trio are well worth a mention – Gabriella EVANS (Ealing Eagles) ran 37:34 on her first run but has improved to 31:19 at Gunnersbury, 31:23 at Osterley and 31:35 at Northala Fields. Mariam Vanessa ZAREI and Joshua EVANS have both run 59 times, always at Gunnersbury, not always together. There is a suggestion in the figures that March is a more promising month in which to start but more research is needed!
This week 710 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 99 were first timers and 101 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 39 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 40 volunteers:
Niall QUINN • Lucy HALE • Steve NEWELL • Martin RIDDLE • Nick DAVIES • Tom KERRY • Allie COLLINS • Tom IRVING • Henry BROOM • Megan RATCLIFFE • Sophie SANTRY • Alex WILSON • Jo BENNETT • Paul NIGHTINGALE • Francisco VENTURA • John HERRIOTT • Bruce LI • David REAY • Kieran KENNY • Alex GILLESPIE • Nikos KASSAPAKIS • Kevin GARDNER • Helen PUGH • Stuart PUGH • Alan PHILLIPS • Maggie ROXBURGH • Catherine ROBERTS • Michal WOZNIAK • Alexander WONG • Ali MULLALEY • Paula KIRBY • Joanna DUDZIAK • Monica LOMAS • Anna SHIERSON • Catherine SCOBLE • Mark HILL • Valerie FOUGERES • Jodie VICKERY • Deborah CLUNE • Maddie EASTING
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Gunnersbury parkrun Results Page.
The female record is held by Alison LUNDY who recorded a time of 17:09 on 26th November 2016 (event number 262).
The male record is held by Jonathan POOLE who recorded a time of 14:52 on 8th September 2018 (event number 351).
The Age Grade course record is held by Jane ROWDEN who recorded 92.82% (22:31) on 22nd June 2019 (event number 392).
Gunnersbury parkrun started on 29th October 2011. Since then 15,709 participants have completed 143,565 parkruns covering a total distance of 717,825 km, including 22,355 new Personal Bests. A total of 1,244 individuals have volunteered 9,659 times.