By Dan Watts
Photos by Dan Watts and Alan Wilkinson
Three years ago my family and I were at a farewell party for some friends who were emigrating to Singapore. “You must come and visit us!”, they said. 'Oh we intend to', I thought - 'there's a parkrun in Singapore!'
At that time there was just the one - East Coast Park parkrun, which started in June 2014. Now there are 3 - West Coast Park parkrun started in December 2016 and Bishan parkrun a year ago in April 2018. We booked to visit them in April 2019. On Saturday 20th April 2019 I visited the closest parkrun to their apartment - West Coast Park.
I was really looking forward to experiencing a parkrun just 137km from the equator, and because of this also dreading the heat and humidity - not to mention the 7.30am start time! So with the alarm set for 6.30, we ordered a “Grab” (Asia’s version of Uber) and arrived at McDonalds at 7.15, with plenty of time to go and find the people in orange parkrun volunteer vests
Just before 7.30 we had the first timers briefing, and the volunteers seemed surprised at how many first timers there were - 24 out of the 69 runners were first timers from all around the world.
West Coast Park parkrun is best described as an elongated figure of 8. The start is in the north west of the park and runners head south east, under an underpass (very similar to the one at Burgess) and do a clockwise loop of the south east. Then you head back up towards the start but then take the right fork for an anti-clockwise loop of the north west section. The finish is about 100m further on from the start.
At 7.39am, with 31 degrees C and quite possibly 100% humidity, we set off. After the first 200m I realised I could not keep up the pace I’m used to in the UK and had to slow down a lot. After 25 mins and about 5 litres of sweat I had completed a run in my 7th different parkrun country. This is a relatively flat parkrun and in the UK would be considered a PB course, but with the heat and humidity it was really tough. Only the top 3 managed sub 20 - Michael MCCARTNEY in 19:48, Johnny LOW in 19:52 and Aryaman NAGPAL in 19:55. I was almost 6 minutes slower than my previous parkrun time, but kudos to my wife Scarlett WATTS who was 2 minutes quicker than her previous time!
One thing I remember was overhearing a conversation which went something like this: There are 3 parkruns in Singapore. East Coast Park was the first, but West is best!
But what happened at Tooting?
This week 489 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 74 were first timers and 33 were running their first ever parkrun.
Among the first timers today were Bushy regular Jonathan DICKINSON and parkrun Ambassadors Douglas Archibald CAMERON and KC LLOYD, and Phoebe HILARY, completing her first ever parkrun at the age of 86, became Tooting Common parkrun's eldest female parkrunner.
86 recorded new Personal Bests, and representatives of 32 different clubs took part.
Gavin BRANDIE (VM40-44) of Clapham Chasers RC was first over the line in a new PB of 17:08.
Mark TATLOW (SM30-34) of Clapham Chasers RC was second over the line in a new PB of 17:22.
Olly BELLAMY (SM25-29) of London City Athletics Club was third over the line in a new PB of 17:33.
Lucie CUSTANCE (VW35-39) of Clapham Chasers RC was first over the line in 17:52.
Lois BOND (SW25-29) of Windsor, Slough, Eton & Harrow AC was second over the line in 19:20.
Ruth Jean CHALMERS (SW30-34) of Herne Hill Harriers was third over the line in 20:15.
Congratulations are due to Damian FLEMING, who completed his 100th parkrun today, and Helen OLDFIELD, who completed her 50th.
Aside from those mentioned above, other PBs of note today are as follows:
- Our junior stars this week were Riley JEIN, Sasha BENN, Finley ALLEN, Nicholas MONTAGUE and Verity O'CALLAGHAN, who all achieved new bests today.
- April MARRETTA LORD and Richard ROSENBERG made it a volunteering-PB double, helping set up and pack away while notching up new best times of 27:00 and 22:12 respectively.
- Jolanta URBANEK returned to Tooting Common for the first time in 3 weeks and improved the time she set over 2 years ago by over a minute, crossing the line in 23:18. Nice work, Jola!
Thanks to the volunteers
The event was made possible by 39 volunteers:
Liam O'HARE • Lucie CUSTANCE • Michael John MORFEY • Nicola Mary GEORGE • Mark SHOTTON • Marie-Anne WONG • Roger STEPHENSON • Selina WRAY • Carol MCCALL • Alan WILKINSON • Dillon O'HARE • Dan WATTS • Richard STANSFIELD • Simon HEMSLEY • Richard BALLAM • Emma HAINSWORTH • Richard BOGLE • Michael O'CONNOR • Jaik O'CONNOR • Sarah HILTON • Laura SWAN • Cecilia BOGLE • Sophie COLE • Bessie JIBUNOH • Sarah ABBASIAN • Nicola WORTON • Bronwen GRAY • Saoirse CARBERRY • Richard ROSENBERG • Nicola LYTTLE • Howard COAN • Liz A SMITH • Louisa MCLELLAN • Isobel BEINT • April MARRETTA LORD • Simon GALLACHER • Thomas WILLIAMSON • Christina BURMAN • Nia MICHAEL-GEORGE