My day started with an alarm going off at 5:45.
Not my usual waking-up time on a Saturday, but to do all the things I wanted to in the day it was a necessity.
I had agreed that I would join my wife and son near Sheffield in the evening before a birthday meal for my father-in-law tomorrow lunchtime because I was going to Watford to see them play against Liverpool today (let’s not mention the result…).
So, as is usual when I go to a lunchtime match, I looked for a south London parkrun to do before the game rather than my home location of Basingstoke. Having done a number of these already, I plumped for Tooting Common as it was a new location for me.
Looking at train times earlier this week it soon dawned that there were rail replacement buses from Basingstoke all weekend - hence a 6:23am bus rather than a 7:30am train, and the very early wake-up!
Anyway, the journey went smoothly and I arrived at Tooting Common via Waterloo and Balham (not Clapham Junction and Balham as there were more rail replacement buses) at around 8:30. I found the start area and started to chat to Run Director Rob Woodward. At this point I should point out that I am the Event Director at Basingstoke parkrun, which at present gets similar numbers to Tooting Common, so when I visit other events it is always good to compare notes. Rob told me a bit about the history of Tooting and the course, as well as introducing me to Event Director Ken, who told me more.
Then is was time for a short warm-up before the first-timer briefing from Cindy and then the main briefing from Rob - who was very conscious of time after I had mentioned we once started Basingstoke parkrun at 8:59 causing a number of people to be late! Today’s event started at precisely 9, and after a busy section near the start the promise of a fast and flat course was fulfilled, with only short sections that were narrow and nearly everyone doing a good job of staying left as instructed to by the marshals.
After one lap I thought I was on for my fastest ever parkrun time, but I had misjudged where the lap started and at the end I had to settle for my fastest parkrun of 2021, finishing 19th in 19:30.
That was over three minutes behind the first finisher - Nick Bowker in 16:07, , with his 3rd first finish in his 4th Tooting Common parkrun. Second home was Will Cormack in his first ever parkrun, and third finisher was Pip Bennett, who had only been to Tooting Common parkrun five times before.
As I started my second lap, someone on the side of the path said ‘I haven’t seen any women go past yet’. They wouldn’t have had to wait long as not far behind me was first female finisher Rachel Soares, in her 4th parkrun at Tooting Common. Georgina Willis was second female finisher in her 13th parkrun, and Lucy Flitcroft was third female finisher, and also set a new PB of 21:25.
Our highest age-grading today was from Nick Bowker, who achieved 81.80%. For those of you who don’t know what the age grading is, it compares your time to the world record for your age and gender allowing comparisons between the times of any two people. Second highest age-grading was from Matthew Taylor (81.53%) and third highest was from Sarah Ridout (78.14%).
There were nine milestone runners this morning. There’s now a new milestone club for reaching 25 runs - which the quintet of Erica Hambly, Conrad Young, June Mellor Andy Davison and Rebecca Dixon did today - and that earns them the opportunity to buy a purple t-shirt. While the quartet of Craig Duncan, Phil Clark, Hannah Furey and Jess Timmiss did their 50th parkruns, and can get a red t-shirt.
In fact, there was a total of 483 people participating today - and among them, we had 33 people doing their first-ever parkrun. Welcome to you all - hope you enjoyed it and become regular. Also, 48 people (including me) visited Tooting Common parkrun for the first time.
Also a word for our volunteers. There were 33 today, led by Run Director Rob. We owe all of them a huge thank you for ensuring that Tooting Common parkrun can operate.
And so having finished and scanned in, I met a friend from work and we just had time to make our way to Balham for a well-earned and very tasty breakfast before headed off to watch the football.
I certainly liked the course and the friendly welcome this morning and will hope to return to Tooting Common soon. If anyone finds their way to Basingstoke parkrun, I hope you will also find yourself welcome - although the course is certainly not as flat!
Thanks to the volunteers
We are very grateful to the volunteers who made this event happen: Tom ARMSTRONG, Richard BOGLE, Gareth BRIGGS, Jane BUTLER, Sophie COLE, Alexandra DE MARIA, Laura DE ROOY, Carlos DIAZ, Craig DUNCAN, Rob EMMETT, Max FITZPATRICK, Damian FLEMING, Katherine FRENCH, Simon GALLACHER, Cindy GODWIN, Jeremy HEARD, David HEPWORTH, Sarah HYMAS, Cal JONES, John KAZANTZIS, Joseph LINES, Ciar O'HARE, Liam O'HARE, Mavis ORBAN, Nandor ORBAN, Morgan PHILLIPS, Oscar READ, Max REKHI, Sarah VAUGHAN, Kate WHITAKER, Bethan Wyn WILLIAMS, Ken WILLIS, Rob WOODWARD
Full results and a complete event history can be found on the Tooting Common parkrun Results Page