Richmond parkrun is cancelled on 2020-10-31 – COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Richmond non parkrun 659 (for the 31st week) 17th October 2020



It is 31 weeks since parkrun 659 happened on the 14th of March, only the wisest envisaged that 7 months later we would still have no little buzz at noon.



A lot has happened since then, sadly thousands more people have died than in previous years, the Hospitality trade especially has been decimated to discourage people from getting within the Virus’ range from person to person, and people have had to get used to being isolated from friends and family.  More advantageously, Richmond Park is now far less part of the car traffic system of South London, there are far more runners (except for 9 o’clock on Saturday morning) using the Park and after a brief ban on cycling, there are more people at all levels on bikes in the Park.



parkrun had plans to recommence at the end of this month, but the startling resurgence in the incidence of the Virus everywhere, not least Richmond upon Thames has made this only a dream. There are lots of arguments that outside exercise is unlikely to be the place or situation most likely to be at risk, but the World still know so little for sure about Coronavirus that caution is the only course of action.



A vaccine does not seem to be either immediately available, safe or to give certain immunity. As yet the Test and Trace system does not seem to be effective, especially with the huge numbers of people daily becoming contagious. Testing could be an answer, people could only congregate in those numbers if they have been very recently tested negatively. Then parkrun have to do the logistics, can they/we police this to both be safe and convince the politicians that this something worth doing. For this to happen, the Prime Minister’s Moonshot testing target needs to be reached, and that can’t be guaranteed.



In the meantime, we run solo or in small groups. Is it that we want to be ready to resume when parkrun 660 happens, or do we just like running. One thing I notice, by always running with a Milestone or Apricot parkrun shirt on, the culture and enthusiasm is undiminished. In Richmond Park, I see lots of fellow parkrunners, but here and wherever I run, I get shouts, whoops and hollers from others in our community. Often when running, I imagine the scenes as we reconvene, seeing some for the first time since March 14th and others who I see regularly on my Saturday morning runs. The chance for runners to reach the milestone they have been poised on will be celebrated even more than in those pre Covid days that in retrospect we so undervalued.



One man recognised recently for his services to running in the community is Sir Brendan Foster. Running both 10,000 and 5,000m, he won Gold at Commonwealth and European Championships, and Olympic Bronze. He took a Geordie accent into the BBC commentary box; his pronunciation of the Portuguese athlete Rosa Mota was unique. However, his organisation of the Great North Run gave 2 million people the chance to compete in half marathons since 1981. Arise Sir Brendan.



Run for your life




John Graham



Richmond parkrun 659u – 8th Aug 2020

Covid-19 Framework

parkrun are beginning to explore, work out and announce the way in which the runs can resume. The way the infection is spreading means it is still far too early to put any timetable on a return. By comparing the pros and cons, the way in which we could at some time enjoy all the positives of parkrun while minimising the negative of risking spreading the infection, a Covid-19 Framework is being worked out.

The low risk of infection advantages include many of the reasons that make us chose to run. Being outside and improving fitness and lung function. The traceability of all who take part would help control any infections and also the briefings which can regularly emphasise the precautions of not running with symptoms, touching equipment and the more remote greeting of friends.

There will need to be more volunteers and new disciplines for them. More discipline for runners especially at start and finish. An app is being developed that will allow a volunteer’s own phone to scan the tokens. The tokens and everything else will need to be disinfected between runs.

The main and newcomer briefings will become more brief to minimise group time, and they will be health rather than socially orientated. The start will ideally be at a wider location, even if it means the course is longer.

The more that the problems are addressed, then parkrun can minimise those problems. The medium term objective of parkruns within a Covid-19 framework is being worked on. It will be a long time before the 25% annual growth rate, if ever, can be reached, or that we can return to the pre Covid-19 life we didn’t realise we were enjoying.

On the bright side, running in Richmond Park is a new joy. It is possible to run in a car free park within daylight hours. I still try to run the reverse course on a Saturday morning. This morning I was rewarded by twice encountering Sally Woodward Gentle and Andrew Wonderbrawn Brown. I restricted my greetings to their given names, or even at our speeds we would have been out of earshot before completed.

In April, the completion of Football’s Premier and Championship leagues, two Cricket Test Series, Schools hoped for return in September, a night at the Cinema seemed unachievable. If that can all happen the maybe parkrun is on a horizon. 

Happy running in maximum groups of six.

John Graham

Richmond parkrun event statistics

Problem with results? please contact

Events: Still 659

Finishers: 25,898

Finishes: 190,104

Average finishers per week: 288.5

Volunteers: 1,138

PBs: 28,079

Average finish time: 00:27:36

Average finishes per participant: 7.3

Clubs: 1,211

Female record: Lucy HASELL – 17:11 – Event 203 (17 Sep 2011)

Male record: Adam CLARKE – 14:31 – Event 608 ( 6 Apr 2019)

Age graded record: Jane DAVIES - 95.43% 21:54 – Event 363 (27 Sep 2014)

Stats last updated: Sat 08 Aug 2020 08:46:40 UTC



Richmond parkrun 659g – 9th May 2020

The Long Peak

Despite all the advice, I sleep about two feet away from an illuminated digital clock on my radio. If and when, and sadly at my age it is largely when, I wake up during the night, I like to know the time. The clock/radio also has the day and date on it. This is particularly useful during these days that pale into each other without the distinction of so many of our chosen activities. Slowly, SAT 09 MAY focuses up and I realise it is parkrun day. Well I pretend it is, I still run from my house the parkrun course at around 9 o’clock on Saturday morning, worrying what would happen if 500 Richmond parkrunners did the same. To assuage my guilt, I run clockwise from Sheen Gate, where there are always several groups of people standing at least two metres apart shouting out those affluent suburban conversations that now include Waitrose queues as well as the traditional subjects of house price, schools, and holidays. Within the park, social distancing even at that rather popular time is not a problem, but the Gates are where people like to see and be seen. Today, the worry that stopped me concentrating on my running was the thought that parkruns may be stopped for more than 26 weeks, and we report writers will run out of letters to add on to 659. The thought is obviously a lot more serious than that, but I am sure it is taxing the minds of parkrun directors and above. “How, especially in a narrow path environment like Richmond can the start be made safe?”  It is very hard to imagine how this will be achieved, so it could be a long haul till parkrun 660.

The last report raised attention to NHS Charity initiatives, of these, the closest to home was the 2.6 Challenge run for Serge Lourie, who has done so much Charity work in his lifetime. He had recently recovered from Covid 19 so was in no fit state to run the Marathon distance he had planned. He intended to cover 2.6 km, but exceeded this to reach 2.6 miles. Crikey Serge - that is almost the 3.1 miles of parkrun. At this rate, he will be ready well before Run 660 to resume his total of 322 5km’s. Donations to the Kingston hospital Charity in Serge’s name totalled over £11,000. Absolutely brilliant. 

I know Serge isn’t the only Richmond parkrunner to have contracted Covid 19 from the Coronavirus. My sympathies to the increasing total that have, and I hope you will all make as successful a recovery as Serge.

Now a very small gripe. I try always to mention the Tamsin Trail. It is used for the first 200m and the final half of our parkrun. Our Course as described on the welcoming and inclusive web site refers to it as the Tasmin Trail, spelt as if it were some kind of magical shortcut between Australia and New Zealand. The Trail is named after the daughter of the anonymous benefactor who gifted the money needed to make it runworthy. The young lady’s name was TAMSIN, I hope that this can be changed on our web site.

Eventually we will have parkrun back, stay fit, well and happy enough to enjoy it when it returns.

John Graham



Richmond parkrun 639e – 18th April 2020

Helping the NHS

Weeks of lockdown completed: nearly 4 (in case you had lost count)

Weeks without parkrun: 5 (yes, really)

Your run report writers have been asked by our Organiser Extraordinaire, Sally Woodward Gentle, if we would like to continue writing occasional reports, with “something upbeat and vaguely running inspired”. So here goes. 

This week we have three examples of initiatives to help the NHS, or more specifically, the staff who work within the NHS, started by individuals who have shown imagination and kindness. I should declare an interest at the outset, as I have two daughters who work in the NHS, and I am attempting to return to add to my previous 43 years service.

First, we have the Run for Heroes initiative, launched at the end of March by a lady called Olivia Strong, which encourages people to use their daily exercise to run 5k, donate £5, and nominate 5 people to do the same. All proceeds are donated to NHS Charities Together, a national organisation that represents, supports, and champions NHS charities, which has set up a national appeal to acknowledge and support NHS staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients. The original target of £5,000 was reached in 4 days. The new target is the rather larger sum of £5million, and the money raised currently stands at over £4million. Given that the target run is 5k, this fundraising effort should be particularly appealing to parkrunners.

A second really heart-warming initiative, also raising funds for NHS Charities Together, is the single-handed effort by Captain Tom Moore, who gave himself the challenge to walk 100 laps (or lengths?) of his garden before his 100th birthday at the end of the month, walking 10 laps a day. He aimed to raise £1000, and completed his challenge on 16th April, when the sum raised was standing at about £14million! He has not stopped, and the sum raised is now £25million (at the time of writing). His effort is the largest sum ever raised in a single campaign on the Just Giving site, and the Just Giving company has also made a donation. The completion of his 100 laps was marked by a guard of honour from soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, (Captain Tom was born in Keighley, Yorkshire) and there are plans to mark his birthday with a Spitfire salute. What an amazing man. His challenge to himself has captured the nation’s heart.

Third, and much closer to home, is a very new fund-raising initiative. Richmond parkrun’s very own Serge Lourie (322 parkruns), well known to most regulars at Richmond as a dedicated runner and volunteer, including as run report writer, is starting a Just Giving campaign by taking part in the London Marathon 2.6 challenge on 26th April. That day would have been the 40th London Marathon, and although the event has been postponed, not cancelled, the organisers want to raise money to help those charities which would have benefited from the April event, and which will now be in serious financial difficulties without the funds which would have been brought in. The 2.6 challenge hopes to inspire people to create their own athletic activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26. Serge is planning to walk 2.6k to raise money for Kingston Hospital Charity and the staff there. Many of you will know that Serge has a long association with Kingston Hospital and has been very active in raising money for it in the past, but this new campaign stems from a very personal reason to be grateful to the hospital. You may be thinking that a 2.6k walk is a very modest target for someone who has run marathons and is a regular parkrunner, but Serge was discharged from the hospital only on 31 March, having spent 10 days there as a patient, including 3 days in Intensive Care. He is now convalescing, but after such a serious illness a walk of 2.6k is a real challenge, even to such a previously active person as Serge. His target of £1,000 was achieved within 24 hours, but more would be very welcome. If you would like to support Serge, please visit his Just Giving page at

So this week, as we think of all those affected by COVID-19, our weeks without parkrun pale into insignificance. But the examples of generosity, kindness, and thinking of others demonstrated by Olivia Strong, Captain Tom Moore, and Serge Lourie will surely help us remember that not everything is gloomy in these troubled times.

Stay well, and keep safe.

Patricia Ainley


Richmond parkrun 659d – 11th April 2020

This morning parkrun sent out an e-mail for a revitalised apricot running shirt. They have taken the opportunity to add a new sponsor, and a message:

                                WE’LL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER. 

Not strictly true, or it would offend the social distancing rules. I think it means that maintaining something akin to our chosen lifestyle will need us to stay resolute, observe all the measures that Scientific evidence points to lowering the infection rate of Coronavirus so the NHS can manage, and to stay fit and healthy as individuals.

The character Papillon, in the autographical book and film of the same name, was imprisoned unjustly in French Guiana for 14 years including attempted escapes and long solitary confinement punishments. Whenever Henri Charriére, nicknamed Papillon (Butterfly in French) and played by Steve McQueen in the film was incarcerated, he resorted to exercise, when all else was taken from him. In one punishment scene, he was put, in the searing heat in a 2m x 1m x 1m corrugated iron box; he had started doing press up even before the padlock was secured.

Our conditions are nowhere near as unpleasant, but the film made an impression on me back in 1973, and again, now as parkrun, Club cycling, gym and cycling in Richmond Park have been taken from us, for our own good. Let’s hope that curve is flattened sufficiently soon that exercising in our own home and social distance observing running, remain allowed. 

I still run in Richmond Park, often after dark so as not to offend those for whom the act of breathing would be denied a runner. I hope that intolerance does not become rife and the experience we are all going through allows us all to appreciate our differences.

Professional and competitive athletes have had their lives put on hold, incredibly frustrating for an Olympian on a four year cycle. In our, more Corinthian world, some parkrunners have been denied the opportunity for a milestone. As report writing normally includes a bit of research, I thought I would check them out, assuming that post-lockdown they have ran regularly.

First up was Sally Woodward Gentle, who’s first Richmond parkrun was 12 years ago on 12th April 2008. She would have achieved the blue 500 T shirt last Saturday, joining that small exclusive group. Denied by circumstances, it will be something to celebrate 3 weeks after our parkrun is restarted.    

Others who would have had celebrations over the last few weeks.

Anne Stephenson (VW60-64) 250 today

Robert Atkinson (SM25-29) 100 on 21st March

Benjamin Marshall VM40-44) 100 on 4th April

Graham Atkinson (VM50-54) 100 on 4th April

Gillian Sandy (VW55-59) 100 on 4th April

Mike Lammiman (VM50-54) 100 today

Natasha Kim Walsh (SW30-34) 100 today

Ian El-Mokadem (VM50-54) 50 on 21st March

Suzy Bean (VW50-54) 50 on 28th March

Peter Hinton (VM35-39) 50 today

Mark Pilkington (VM40-44) 50 today

Congratulations to all and even more when they are able to complete their runs.

Happy lone running, give those hikers, dog walkers, buggy pushers and all other pedestrians a generous 2 metres. 

John Graham 





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