By Gareth Jones
Last week we had a triple celebration: our 400th event, delayed slightly by cancellations, was commemorated with some splendid fancy dress, including a rather speedy gorilla (thank you, Carl HALL), International Women's Day was commemorated with a pre-run photo of those runners from the fairer sex, and finally the first time parkrunday has also been a Leap Day was commemorated, but regrettably not with my suggestion of requiring parkrunners to leap over a steeplechase barrier in the final straight. We also had a very welcome mass take-over of most of our volunteering roles by St James Runners, and a fantastic new M65-69 course record of 18:55 from Austin SOANE. Other runners who had cause to celebrate were Alison CROOKS for her 300th parkrun, Richard VENABLE for his 100th, and Joseph ANASTASI, Costin BANESCU, Joanna HARKRADER, Emily HAYES-ARTER, Patricia KENYON, James REAVEY, Isabel SARGENT, Shona MACKIE and Kathryn WHITE for their 50th. (Oh, yes, somebody else completed his 450th, another round number.)
As this momentous occasion was approaching, our Event Director Rob KELLY asked me if I could think of any interesting properties of the number 400. Apart from the obvious fact that it is a perfect square (20 times 20), to a mathematician it is a fairly tedious number. Today's number, 401, is much more interesting since it is prime, meaning that it has no factors other than 1 and itself. This may seem rather a specialised fact, but don't knock the prime numbers: they and their mysterious properties underpin the cryptographic systems which (one hopes) ensure the security of our personal data and financial transactions.
Today's run typified the British weather. After a rainy night we set off with a pleasant mixture of sun and cloud; by the time I passed 4K we had a light, cooling shower, and when I started clearing up the signs it was cold, penetrating rain. Fifteen minutes later, the sun came out to dry my soaking clothes. There were no course records today, but Tim COAK completed his 200th parkrun, Sean PEARCE and Melissa TICKNER their 150th, Andy MANSFIELD and Kat WALKER earned their black 100 Club T-shirts, and Lily CLEMENTS, Jane SOMERVILLE and Ruth WALTON their red 50 Club T-shirts.
Enough of the past, what about the future? With parkruns and other meetings with large attendances having been cancelled in many countries, we were lucky to have an event today. It is not clear how much longer we will be able to do this: running is a healthy activity, you are much less likely to pass on or catch a virus outdoors than indoors, and parkrun doesn't rely on the presence of the emergency services; however, lining up to start a run and queuing in the funnel or for scanning are hardly compatible with 'social distancing', and it might be politically difficult to allow some sporting activities to go ahead while others are cancelled. By the time you read this, parkruns and other similar events may have been cancelled. Such a decision will be taken at national rather than local level. Even if we do continue, it would be entirely understandable if those in more vulnerable groups decided to avoid running or volunteering until the danger has passed. Indeed, several of my friends with delicate medical conditions have already made that decision. Of course, if parkrun is cancelled, freedom runs are always possible.
Whatever happens, take the advised precautions, and stay safe.
This week 878 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 59 were first timers and 128 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 61 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 64 volunteers:
Gareth JONES • Mike SMEARS • Kim Diane KELLY • Emma LEE-CHOON • Trevor Alan ELLERY • Su WHITE • Susan MADDOCKS • Nicki TAYLOR • Christopher Edward BROWN • Tony LEES • Meeje BRETT • Kate BUDD • Malcolm John WHITE • Jill Alison WHITE • Andrew BURNIE • Elaine June WINTER • Jennifer MARSHALL • Rob CALLEN • Karen BRYANT • Sue WILSON • Andrew ADAMS • Nic WOOLLARD • Denis COADY • Peter ROE • Neil WELLS • Paul TONGS • Rachel NICE • Kim BATTEN • Paul Henry ARMSTRONG • Karen PIGGOTT • Matthew HOLMES • Rob HEATHER • Kali BANDA • Zillah LEACH • Rob FRANCIS • Phil BLAKE • Dominic WILLIAMS • Jan BRAY • Claire ROBINSON • Pietro Daniele FRANCESCHINI • Jerry CROCKER • Mattia DAL BORGO • Stephen MADDOCKS • Alexander JOHNSTON • Jon TRIGGS • Fiona DONOVAN • Alan MCAULEY • Sarah WEBB • Alison CATT • Emily NICE • Kathryn SIMPSON • Bethany NICE • Krystal PATERSON • Monica HARRIS • April MUNDAY • Matt GOSS • Esmee CHADWICK • Jonathan CARTER • Matthew PREBBLE • Craig DOLDER • Isobel STARK • Richard HURREN • Jimmy O'BRIEN • Polski WALKER
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Southampton parkrun Results Page.
The female record is held by Lorna RUSSELL who recorded a time of 16:40 on 18th May 2013 (event number 46).
The male record is held by Alex TEUTEN who recorded a time of 14:50 on 30th March 2019 (event number 353).
The Age Grade course record is held by Austin SOANE who recorded 91.55% (18:09) on 11th August 2018 (event number 319).
Southampton parkrun started on 7th July 2012. Since then 26,022 participants have completed 262,802 parkruns covering a total distance of 1,314,010 km, including 42,599 new Personal Bests. A total of 2,161 individuals have volunteered 17,262 times.