History in the making – Horsham Pioneers day!

It was a big day last Saturday, maybe not for all but certainly for your Event Director.

It had been hyped all week with the promise of cake for all and even the weather played fair with us as it didn't start raining till lunchtime!

Anyway, 5 years ago 30-40 runners and about 15 volunteers assembled by the band stand in the park to hear me describe a course that would become our beloved parkrun, there were lots of blank faces as i did and eventually i just said it was well marshalled and i knew Neil (Boniface) knew it and did not see anyone beating him! So we all walked to the tennis courts which would be our start that day and also for the first few years when we became "official". As i said in my briefing on Saturday without approval on a course we had nothing so this was essential to our journey and my eternal thanks go to those people who answered the call that day.

It was amazing to see so many of the Pioneers back, Duncan Partridge, my wing man in those first few "official" months who set up the course with me so often and did not run a single Horsham parkrun in those first few months as he was a serial volunteer! Lesley Pennington, our tail walker that day and many others who have been around more over the last 5 years including the Boniface, Broom and Wilcox Families, truly showing parkrun is for all and brings families together as well a runners. Some even wore the same shirts as they did then (hopefully they had been washed a few times since!)

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The start was always going to be logistically tricky as we were starting the Pioneers from the old start while the main field started from our normal spot....ish...... the fair was in town, like it had been 5 years ago and it meant we had to shift over and push the field through a tight gap. We also started remotely, with Claire on the phone to me to check if we had taken the picture and were ready, so with Christian holding both watches, Claire counted down to the start with me trying to sync up at the tennis courts! We were off, as the 2 fields charged towards the convergence point we had an surprise leader! Pioneer Mr Nic Butler had his moment of glory with a storming start leaving Neil Boniface in his wake...... for about 200m....!

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It truly was a gorgeous sight seeing the field join............all those people! I think the pioneers may have had it a little easier judging from where Gary Tomlinson (who lead the main field) hit the joining point!

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Gary Chased Neil hard for the whole run and with Neil leading home in 16.06 Gary came home in 17.16 with Simon Perkins 3rd in 18.13. For the ladies it was Kat Owens from Crawley in 20.38, followed by Kat Woodruffe destroying her PB in 21.14 and Evie Clarke in 21.18.

We had 53 first timers to either parkrun or Horsham and a rocking 79 PB's! We had 579 finishers in total and it should have been 580................ Last months parkrunner of the month, a certain Son of mine who seems to have found running in the last few months but i had asked to volunteer on this special day (because the original timekeeper, my Dad, its a family affair you know! Was unavailable) decided he could not possibly miss his parkrun and ran it as a freedom run before 9am! No time, no result, no run count towards his free t shirt but a want and a need to parkrun all the same, i am constantly proud of my boy, there are few people like him around.......

We had ducks,

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we had Mitchelson.......

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we had cake!

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and some of us worked right till the end!

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On wards then to next week and our marathon medal photo shoot for all our long distance hero's and then to our 250th run a week Saturday! Its going to be a busy month at Horsham!

See you in the park this coming Saturday for more fun and games (and running).

Phil and Team.