Pymmes parkrun (PPR) #408 – Comings and goings

It’s interesting to learn what brings people to PPR, especially to unadventurous creatures of habit like me who never venture to other parkruns. One of this week’s parkrun debutants was Rachel McArdle who in completing the “couch to 5k” programme chose Pymmes since her son, Edward, was running here. Edward, along with several other youngsters, was making his annual appearance so as to register a decent parkrun time in Enfield borough in order to qualify for some event or other. Since Edward ended up as fastest finisher by doing the Waterloo (18:15), I think he may just have scraped into qualifying.

Meanwhile the fastest female, Aimee Jenner, was also here on account of someone else – namely Mark Topham, who fancied a flat circuit for his comeback to parkrunning after a 5 year absence and, despite having a nightmare on the nasty slope third time round when he almost ground to a halt and started rolling backwards, still managed the Munich (19:38).

Equally interesting is what people do after parkrun. On the one hand there is the bizarre behaviour of the likes of Edmund, who runs home, and Jennifer who, in training for the London marathon, kept on running round the park until 10:00 a.m. at which point we were able to observe the rare spectacle of her being unable to speak. But only for about 10 seconds.

I am very much in opposite camp, cashing in on the virtuous feeling by self-indulging. So is Will Hoyle who was enthusing about going home to a barbeque (in February!!) featuring a 3kg steak, about which he was gushing so much, it wasn’t entirely clear whether or not he was sharing it with anyone else other than his mother whose birthday it is. Another person off to enjoy himself was Terence Buxton from Croydon who had ventured north of the river to have lunch with a couple of former work colleagues, who didn’t fancy a 5k run beforehand.

Three years ago 29 people completed the last PPR in February – in 2019 the same number got personal bests (PBs). They included a host of youngsters (Dominic and Edward Paine, Roni, Louis Rosengarten, Sam Wray and his Mum Sarah); Rebecca Hall (this week’s recipient of the PB charm that is the bit of cardboard standing in for the missing #53 finish token); PB regulars Sandra Cyrus and Parul di Meo; two of last week’s debutants (Fatma Mustafa and Victoria Caamano) and, in a pleasing mathematical sequence, some people keeping their record of getting quicker every time, namely Helen Duff (in her 3rd appearance), Rosslyn Medford (her 4th) Michael McDaid (5th) and Keisha Empson (6th).

There were, however, no personal milestones, leading Run Director Kat, having exhausted all the usual excuses for a round of applause (landmark runs, birthdays and marriages) to ask for any recent divorcees to identify themselves - GDPR and fears about the sharing of personal data have yet to permeate PPR. We owe it all to the volunteers whose tasks, as Kat pointed out, are straightforward, although Event Director Sharon did appear to be creating unnecessary chores by sprinkling the finish tokens all over the ground at the start.

In a new service being provided by the volunteers, marshal Luigi was offering “high 5s” to passing runners, joggers and walkers. Or, to be more descriptive, he was holding his hand aloft whilst enquiring “can we do one of these?” before thwacking any hand you managed to raise so hard that it added a couple of seconds to your time.

This all came as February 2019 became the first month in which all PPR attendances exceeded 100, thereby setting a new record attendance for a calendar month which is likely to fall at the first opportunity since March 2019 has the advantage of including 5 Saturdays. Unless of course we have a repeat of last year when the first scheduled March PPR became the only one cancelled in our history. Surely lightning – or more precisely the “beast from the east” – won’t strike twice, so come along and let’s make it 5 centuries in a row.


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Pymmes parkrun (PPR) #407 – The taking partrun

A great thing about parkrun is, in contrast to the insufferable pretentiousness of the “real world”, performance takes a backseat to participation. Last year, parkrun UK proudly announced that the average time in 2017 (29:06) was nearly 7 minutes slower than when parkrun started, reflecting how it’s the taking part which is all that matters. At Pymmes the all-time average time is 28:27 which on Saturday Jasmine fell 2 seconds short of. This may explain the expletive she uttered on finishing although it did rather look like it was her instinctive reaction on seeing me.

And PPR participation continues its inexorable rise – a 3rd consecutive week with over 100 people completing the 5k means that if we do that again next week, a new calendar month attendance record will be set which is amazing considering that the current record (September’s 434) was accumulated over 5 Saturdays whereas this month has only 4.

Another measure of taking part is in the sheer accumulation of 5ks and so it came to pass on Saturday that participation met performance when Peter Hall, still wallowing in the “bloody miracle” of having completed 100 parkruns last week, thought he’d witnessed another apparition as Mike Cummings lapped him early on Peter’s second lap. Mike went on to record Pymmes’ 6th fastest time ever and from the vantage point of 2nd place, I can say that he was so far ahead that I convinced myself he’d dropped out after the 1st lap.

Quick as he was, Mike’s per capita time was not as impressive as that of Vanessa Anthony who completed the 5k in 26:50 whilst being 25 weeks pregnant and pushing round her 3 year-old son in a buggy. So that means the 3 of them took just under 9 minutes each to get round. And in the best amateurish traditions of parkrun, Vanessa’s reward for her monumental achievement was a bit of cardboard with the number 53 scrawled on it, as the official #53 barcode remains AWOL, despite Diran’s offer of an amnesty to its hostage taker.

Milestones of the week included Patrick Moran completing his 150th parkrun. Patrick’s soundbite on reaching this milestone won’t inspire anyone looking to finesse their Tinder profile this weekend as he described himself as a guy with “diarrhoea, a hamstring injury and bad breathing.” Well hello ladies. Of the 3.3m people globally to have done parkrun, 27,000 have made it to 150 runs and Patrick sure has found a way of standing out from the crowd.

50 runs further on and joining the 11,400 who have chalked up 200 parkruns were Saturday’s fastest female finisher Kirstie Tew and Mary Solomon, who, after 194 parkruns at Wolverhampton and not having run anywhere else since July 2016, contrived to complete her 200th at Pymmes whilst visiting her (absent) daughter this weekend. Such is the fate of parents: you sit through hours of their school plays and then they stay in bed on your big day.

Kirstie and Mary were among 17 very welcome PPR first timers, including parkrun debutants Fatma Mustafa, Maya Guillen and Victoria Caamano. Over a quarter of everyone else achieved personal best (PBs). It’s all too easy to lazily just highlight a few - so here goes. The youngsters had a field day with PBs for Phillix Bunyungo, Samuel Lindsell, Poppy Allwright and Philliman Ssentongo (the 4th quickest under 11 time ever); Mark Hamlin racked up his 12th PB in his 19th consecutive week at Pymmes; Simon Marshall overturned a 6 year-old PB; Tonya Babb had a 4th consecutive faster time and Nad Rajapaksa and Keisha Empson both got a 5th. Not to mention Sonia Gibb who was 15 minutes quicker than before.

Our gratitude is as ever owed to the volunteers – the Wrays and the Gilberts, the recuperating Andrea, Parul di Meo, whose amazing running of PBs was finally ended by last week’s gales, Kat “who needs a megaphone when I’ve got a voice like this” Millward, Ricky carting the kit around despite being unwell all year and all under the guidance of Diran and Sharon. Let’s do it all again next week and seal that attendance record.


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Pymmes parkrun (PPR) #406 – Worth ‘Tooting’ about

As a fully committed tourist, it is not often I return to a parkrun
other than my home course in Tooting but this week, the roaming duo (my 14yo daughter and I) needed somewhere fast to run. We are both training hard and wanted to test ourselves. This was her first time to Pymmes
despite having run at 65 different parkruns. I had been once before, in 2013 where I recorded my highest ever finishing position of 3rd out of the 26 runners that day. That seems a long time ago.

So it was great to return to find the same low-key, friendly parkrun I remembered from 6 years ago. The field was a little bigger (119 runners today) but nothing like the 900 we can get a Tooting. It was with real joy that I jogged round for a warm-up lap, fondly remembering the course. Across the top, gentle down to the bottom, passed the pond (do I go outside the post or inside risking a slip and an early bath), up the 'hill' (don't let it take what little speed I have), the S bend, past the pigeons, see the finish (but it is still too far away), repeat, repeat, done.

And the course did the trick. I managed my fastest parkrun since 2014 and my daughter got an all-time parkrun PB so thanks to everyone for putting on a great event. The volunteers were so friendly so thanks to Conor, Susie, Nick, Rosalind, Kat, Luigi, Does He Take SUGAR, Chaoran and Timothy.

Huge congratulations go out to Peter Hall for achieving his 100th parkrun today. After starting his running at Walthamstow parkrun, he's done a bit of touring but most of his runs (64) were at Pymmes which he loves, especially as it’s just a stones throw from his daughter’s house. Thanks to Rosalind for the yummy cake. It is not long to go before she is making her own cake for her 100th celebration.

Out of the 119 runners, a brilliant 14 PBs were achieved. Well done all. There were also 23 first timers at Pymmes and I'm sure they were made to feel very welcome, as we were.

Finally, as my time as Event Director of Tooting taught me, getting names down on the volunteer roster can be the trickiest bit of the role but being part of the volunteering team is also the most fun you can have. So step up, volunteer and make your Event Director and Run Directors week as easy as possible.

Thanks to everyone,

Simon and Yvette Lewis

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Pymmes #405 run report (02/02/19) ‘S no day better…

All good Pymmes run reports seem to start with a comment on attendance so who am I to ignore a winning formula? This Saturday marked the highest attendance at Pymmes parkrun (PPR) so far this year with a total of 110 walkers, runners and joggers, the fifth highest ever. Numbers were boosted by a contingent from nearby Ally Pally which was cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions. For those who braved the arctic temperatures, they were rewarded with the chance to run in snow flurries for the first lap but it seems we haven’t quite matched last year’s Beast from the East and the snow soon disappeared.
We had 20 first timers, 4 of whom were brand new to parkrun. Welcome to Adelina Fino, Christian Vinco, Lucy Lord and Stephen Lord. We hope to see you back next week. If you can make it out in this weather, coming back for a second time will be much easier!
14 people got personal bests (PBs), including our first finisher, Paul Martin who has been setting a string of PBs recently at a variety of local parkruns. Not to let the family down, his daughter Amy also got a PB. Rosslyn Medford and Eks Oliver both posted PBs as rewards for turning up for their second ever PPR. And like last week, Sandra Cyrus clocked up yet another PB, further cementing her record of the most PBs at Pymmes (now 26 in 169 PPRs). The other PBs were gained by Nicola Vallins, Sarah Moore, Michael McDaid, Sarah Hitchcock, Denise Ahmed, Rochelle Lee, Sheryl Moore, And Rajapaska, and Keisha Empson. Well done all!
Congratulations must also go to Phillimon Ssentongo for reaching his Junior 10 and qualifying for the white milestone t-shirt, and to Million for the (arbitrary) non-official milestone of 150 runs, all of which have been run here at Pymmes.
In true low-key Pymmes style, we had a famous parkrunner with us and we didn’t even recognise him! If you’re reading this Imran Ali (AKA the Imranator) – sorry! How were we to recognise you without your characteristic grinning selfie at the start line or any leaping, heel-clicking antics while running? We hope you and your family enjoyed your undercover tourist trip to Pymmes.
As always, we must give a big thanks to our contingent of volunteers, including Timothy WILLIAMS, Ricky QUIZA, Luigi STERLINI, William HOYLE, Sharon ARTHUR, Irena COLE, Kayla IZZET, Z JUNIOR G, I YOUNG G, and Kat MILLWARD ably led by this week’s RD Diran. Not only did they get the job done, they did it with a smile and a cheer, and star jumps if you’re Irena. A rather cold Kayla was out marshalling on the course, although I’m not sure if her shaking tambourine was to help encourage us or just because she was shivering so much from standing in the cold and snow flurries. Two other juniors stepped up to time-keep and hand out finish tokens and did a stellar job. At least until mum finished her run of course and was then free to take over handing out the finish tokens!
This leads to three pleas:
• Firstly, please pay attention during the run briefing and leave any conversations for during the run (if you have the breath for it) or afterwards so that others can hear. You may have heard it before but the person next to you may be a first timer or new to Pymmes and hasn’t.
• Secondly, our events run through the generosity of our volunteers. The roles aren’t onerous, unless you’re stuck doing timekeeping with Luigi and his large collection of bad jokes and atrocious puns, so why not volunteer one week? You’ll get the chance to don the coveted hi-viz, join the ranks of the 231 individuals who have volunteered at Pymmes over the years, receive gasped thanks (or grunts that could possibly be thanks) from runners as they pass on each lap or reach the finish, and go home with the glow of achievement that only comes from supporting others.
• And finally, don’t forget your barcode! We had nine unknown runners this weekend. Oh, and if you do forget it, don’t forget to hand back your finishing token anyway. Although it has a convenient hole in one end, it’s not a souvenir for your key ring, like my cousin thought when she went to her first parkrun.

If you happen to be holding onto token number 53, please let us know and bring it back when you join us next Saturday for what will hopefully be Peter Hall’s 100th run.


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