You may need to go and grab a coffee/tea/wine/whatever - this is going to be a long one! There is SO much to say about a brilliant morning at Gunnersbury.
We visited today for the first time and we loved it! A visit has been on the cards for ages but the need for a parkrun starting with “G” prodded me into action.
So, as if this morning wasn’t good enough already, I’m now the proud owner of a “Stayin’ Alive” badge! (Not sure what that is? Click the little icon below). To celebrate this milestone, you’ll see a bit of a theme below!
(Friday) "Night Fever"
All through the night Run Directors, volunteers and parkrunners alike were kept awake by howling winds and concerns about what dawn might bring. Neighbouring Osterley had already cancelled and Gunnersbury was on standby. True, it was very breezy, but it wasn’t raining, it wasn’t freezing and no trees were down. Much to the relief of 541 participants we were good to go. (Curiously the last time we had 541 runners was exactly a year ago.)
Of these 32 were taking their first ever parkrun steps, 48 were visiting from as far afield as South Africa and 23 completed their important 2nd parkrun! Well done to all.
"More Than a Woman"
This week’s excellent Run Director was Kay LYDALL and in her opening brief she let us all know that today was Arlene GALLAGHER’s special, milestone birthday. Three very well deserved cheers were given. We all have Arlene to thank for Gunnersbury parkrun - her drive and enthusiasm set the event up almost 8 years ago, and since then more than 14,000 people have taken part, with many having their lives changed for the good in ways they might not have imagined.
Arlene and her lovely (and very speedy) daughter
"You Should be Dancing"
Since Gunnersbury parkrun has been set up 399 events have taken place - next week is the FOUR HUNDREDTH. That is a big deal. Time to celebrate! There will be dancing (maybe), cake (almost certainly), festivities, and as a special treat there will also be a different course. Watch out on facebook for more news on how this fantastic milestone will be marked.
"How Deep is your love"
We’ve all seen the hashtag “#loveparkrun”. It’s a force for good, uplifting and life affirming.
This morning it was a pleasure to meet Gunnersbury parkrun legend Alan Anderson. Alan is 84 and last year became only the 17th person to complete 500 parkruns. He’s also volunteered over 200 times and could still give most 2 decades younger a run for their money. His wife Anne has been a keen supporter of parkrun herself, unfortunately she struggles to walk now. So that she can still enjoy her Saturday morning parkruns Alan pushes her round the course in her wheelchair. They are normally at flatter, smoother Osterley but as it was cancelled Alan came back to Gunnersbury, undeterred by the less forgiving course. If that is not inspiring or heartwarming, I don’t know what is.
Alan Anderson and wife Anne
Also showing love, in a different way, was the fantastic team of volunteers. Many were taking on volunteer roles for the first time ever - and hopefully found that it brings its’ own rewards.
So, thank you to the following people who made this morning happen: Abi BARBER, Louis BRADY, Nick DAVIES, Dominic DUROUX, Arlene GALLAGHER, Charlotte GILLILAND, Mark HILL, Leah HILLMAN, James HORREX, Dorothy JOHNSTONE, Margaret Joyce JONES, Sam LARCOMBE, Andrew LAWRENCE, Jeremy LUMB, Kay LYDALL, Esther MCDONNELL, Laura MEZZALIRA, Claire RUSSELL, Wendy SCOTT, Simon SMITH, Marc THOMAS, Jodie VICKERY, Kelsi WALE, Jackie WARD, Anna WHITE, and Janet WIMSETT.
If you’d like to show a bit of parkrun volunteering love then drop an email to email@example.com to find out more.
Everyone was great, and I’d like to give a special mention to Andrew LAWRENCE and (signing) Wendy SCOTT for one of the best First Timers briefings I’ve heard (I need to up my game!) and also to Laura MEZZALIRA and Charlotte GILLILAND for being the most cheerful token hander outers.
Jive talking, apparently, is to stray from the topic a bit. Well.....my home parkrun is Tring and we were struck by a few things. Like Gunnersbury it runs on what used to be Rothschild parkland; they both have mansions, they both even have “temples” and they both have museums nearby. Tring’s houses the world’s largest collection of stuffed animals (seriously). We (me and my wife Moira) really enjoyed visiting the museum in your park - they’ve done a great job with it.
Tring has deep and ancient roots - at the intersection of the ancient Ridgeway, Icknield Way and Roman Akeman Street. We were surprised to find that there have been even more ancient traces of people running about Gunnersbury Park - for 440,000 years, albeit clutching flint axes and not barcodes.
Spot the difference: Temple v Summer House
OK - back to the parkrun and some notable results.
It’s not a race. But its always interesting to see how rapidly some people can cover 5k! First female finisher this week was Melissah GIBSON in 18:29, for the men Joe CARTON was handed token number 1 just 17:18 after Kay shouted “Go”.
Being an old timer I always sort the results by age grade, where we see a different picture. Jane ROWDEN led the way for the ladies with an impressive 85.95%, and Alan Phillips led the charge for the men on an equally impressive 78.45%.
Milestones: I don’t know if anyone else earned a “Stayin Alive” badge but I do know that both James WRIGHT-SMITH and Katy STIRLING completed their 100th parkruns and earned a coveted black T-shirt. Good work.
Surprisingly there were no more milestones runs this week….but, by the looks of things a whole lot stacked up for next week.
Andrew and Wendy welcoming first timers and visitors
They tell me that any dancing - not just DISCO - is all down to keeping rhythm. With that in mind I award a special prize to Stephen PRICE who finished with a syncopatingly, beat-keeping time of 23:45!
I think that’s enough!!!
Laura and Charlotte - smiling token hander outers
THANK YOU Gunnersbury for being brilliant.
We enjoyed our morning and will be back.