by Peter Roe
Another "ordinary" Saturday morning in Southampton Common, and another "normal" parkrun to kick start the weekend. But what is "ordinary" about 1000 plus people of all ages and abilities turning out to run 5K at another parkrun? If we look a little closer we may find ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
In fact on a lovely spring-like, sunny morning 1066 ordinary parkrunners came to the Common to do battle; not with William the Conqueror, as at Hastings in 1066, but with their own physical limitations and the lure of a lie-in on a Saturday morning. This battle suffered no arrows in eyes as we all won at the 348th Southampton parkrun.
Some frustrations and concerns have been expressed in recent weeks about the congestion in the field of runners, particularly at the start of the parkrun. This was addressed in two ways today. Before the run, experienced pacer Nic WOOLLARD, gathered the volunteer pacers (in the light blue tabards with large time numbers on the back) and got them to spread out along the starting field of runners to give people a better chance to find their own pacer, and an appropriate place to start running from. Secondly today's Run Director Malcolm WHITE, as well as the usual pre-run briefing, gave a very reasonable and impassioned plea for people to be sensitive and thoughtful of other runners; especially at the start and the obvious bottlenecks, as we approach the first Bellemoor turn and the slight narrowing over the little stream bridge. If we all took this advice it would smooth almost all of the little niggles that a field of our size inevitably creates, as one of the great core values of parkrun is its inclusivity. So thank you to Malcolm for handling a sensitive issue with firm and radical (as in going to the root of a matter) diplomacy.
Talking of thank yous, a special round of applause must go to our almost resident volunteer Phil BLAKE, (the timekeeper with the Tilley hat) for 'clocking' up his 50th timekeeping role today. Thank you Phil for extraordinary dedication.
I always love to see parents and their children running together and today was no exception. Quite near the beginning of the run I observed one small boy who was struggling and had presumably been complaining to his accompanying dad. Then I heard the wise father encourage his lad with this apposite advice: "I know son, but we have to change your mindset from, 'I can't do this' to 'I can try to do this' ", which I thought was the perfect tone and not harsh or 'pushy'. To the anonymous father and son, well done!
For a few years now I've noticed another dad and his son running together, so today I wanted to know some more. It turns out that Josh SPRADBERY, who is 11 years old (12 next week, he was keen to insist!) has managed 138 parkruns and has a very respectable PB. Of 25:01. Last March Josh was all set to run his 100th parkrun on his 11th birthday, with cake and helium balloons and accompanying grandparents, but the run was cancelled because of the heavy snow borne by the "Beast from the East".
So all the celebrations happened the following Saturday, minus the by then deflated balloons. But there is an even more extraordinary twist to this family tale. Dad, Mike, has never got round to getting his own barcode, but making sure his son always has his, so Josh has 138 runs to his credit and dad Mike has nil! Well officially that is - in reality dad has done 135 runs! What great love and dedication; so we must take our hats off (Tilley or otherwise) to both dad and son. Nothing ordinary here then?
Milestones today were reached by Lauren SHERMAN NIAS and Carly BAKER for their 100th runs, and Greg STROUD, Graham PAVEY, Sam MARSH, Gordon COCKBURN and Peter BOUSTRED for their 50th completed efforts. Natasha FRASER-COXBRIDGE and Charlie CROSS completed their 10th runs in the junior category. Whilst not a T-shirt award, Steven HAYES-ARTER crossed his 200th finish line, which is no mean feat. Well done to all these "battlers".
With the Oscars this weekend, our own nominee for "Best Impersonation" has to go to tail walker Sam RADFORD (of Solent Running Sisters), who impersonated a fox with leggings adorned with little foxes and sporting a wonderful bushy fox tail from her tail walker jacket. Apparently no vineyards were ruined, nor chickens traumatised, but in a superb role reversal, the fox followed the hounds. So if you find anything boringly ordinary about parkrun at Southampton, please let me know, as I've yet to find it; because all this "ordinariness" will happen all over again, every Saturday at 9:00 am.
This week 1066 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 91 were first timers and 146 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 52 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 59 volunteers:
Gareth JONES • Ian GRASMEDER • Kim Diane KELLY • Roy S MCLOUGHLIN • Marc HOLMES • Trevor Alan ELLERY • Peter LEWIS • Kate BUDD • Malcolm John WHITE • Jill Alison WHITE • Elaine June WINTER • Carrie FUNG • Timothy SLY • Jonathan MARSDEN • Sue WILSON • Nic WOOLLARD • Paul EDMONDS • Ian HART • Peter ROE • Sam RADFORD • Paul TONGS • Kim BATTEN • Paul Henry ARMSTRONG • Karen PIGGOTT • Sarah RUSSELL • Sheila FOX • Vi GONIN • Julie HUMPHRIES • Kali BANDA • Guy RADFORD • Connie GREEN • Zillah LEACH • Laura LEA • Debbie LLOYD • Barbara COGMAN • Phil BLAKE • Paul LEEMING • Julian WALLER • Jo ROLFE • Tom RUSSELL • Glenn MEDCALF • Michael CARTER • Alexander JOHNSTON • Nicky PUGH • David BAKER • Graham EVANS • Dave JUSON • David POMFREY • Hayley OBEE • Michael SWANN • Michael DODD • David BALL • Josephine HARTLEY • Gavin MILLAR • Milz DECHNIK • Megan FREEMAN • Charlotte TURNER • Nicolas MOSKALA • Connor BLOOMFIELD
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 Mahamed MAHAMED who recorded a time of 14:56 on 17th September 2016 (event number 221) and by Unknown ATHLETE who also recorded a time of 14:56 on 8th September 2018 (event number 323).
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 21,328 participants have completed 208,317 parkruns covering a total distance of 1,041,585 km, including 35,530 new Personal Bests.