Wimbledon Common parkrun, Event number 706 – 18th September 2021

Getting back in the saddle

It has been nothing short of fantastic to return to the Common and pick up where we left off on 14th March 2020. I am the penultimate writer on this rota - so not much more “gosh”, “wow”, “we’re back” to go! It does feel very strange picking up the digital pen again, my go-to blog editor feels slightly odd, the flickr password has changed, the was-then-still-newish summary results from HQ feels very alien etc. etc. But no matter, my job is to tell you what happened, so here goes.
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getting into it

Firstly, as Gilmar Wendt did his expert Run Director rounds, he uncovered no fewer than 66 first timers who have no knowledge of Wimbledon Common parkrun pre-COVID, or the not-parkrun pandemic gap. In terms of tourists he hit gold, as while suppressing his disappointment of a first offer of Bushy Park someone shouted out Washington DC, USA. Sadly, the previously reliable weekly Australian visitor may still be a little way off, but Washington DC is terrific progress!

Gilmar had just a couple of milestones this week, but nevertheless very special ones. Serial volunteer and comms guru James Spinks completed his 250 run, and former local Richard Hurrell returned to the Common from Norfolk to celebrate his 200th with us. I am sure he will come back for his 201st to return the cup!
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Richard - we know you have the cup!

The course felt immaculate to my feet; recent rains had dried up leaving a firm, mainly smooth, surface. No few than 74 people found it so perfect that they popped in a Personal Best. A very special mention to Simon Woodington (VM40-44, Hercules Wimbledon) who ran faster than ever with a time of 20:27 on no less than his 142nd outing on the Common - beating his previous record set on bonfire night 2016 by a handy 23 seconds. Well done Simon and well done all.
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conditions superb underfoot

204 not-out

parkrun is all about friends and stories and they don’t come better than this one. You might not remember what you were doing on Saturday 19th September 1970 (quite a few of you weren’t even there) but, in addition to being the day of the first ever Glastonbury Festival, it was also the day that Wimbledon Common parkrun legends Francesca and John Carter tied the knot and started their fifty-one year and counting married journey together. Sharing this nugget with friends before the start, they discovered that also parkrun legends Jenny and Malcolm Brookes were doing exactly the same thing on exactly the same day 51 years ago! How bizarre is that?! Massive congratulations to all four, and wishing you all many more happy years together.

More friends next week

Next week we will take time at the beginning of our run to remember three special people who epitomised parkrun: Pete Mulholland, Nicola Whitford and Doug Laidler. We lost all three in the last eighteen months, and all three made a huge contribution to our event. Much has been said and more will come on Saturday, but I think of Pete every time I pull my shoes on. As an occasional runner, I entered a 10k in 1992 as something to do as a newcomer to London on a wet Sunday morning, and later that week there was a short note along with the results (Stamped Addressed Envelope days!) - “Alastair, Congratulations on your run. I notice you are unattached. We run out of Lauriston Cottage every Wednesday evening at 7. You would be most welcome to join us. Best regards Pete Mulholland”. I did and I’ve been running ever since. Although I’ve never been quick Pete always asked after my latest performances, found me half a dozen marathon places, cheered me on in the darkest recesses of Surrey Quays, and always had the right word to say. Join us next week to hear much more about Pete, and fellow giants Nicola and Doug.

Results from this week

In the ladies event Abigail Grey (JW15-17, 16th overall) pipped (I am assuming sister!) Emily Grey (JW15-17, 25th overall) to the line with 19:53 to Emily’s 20:13. Both on their third parkrun, both setting PBs, both ones to watch! Julia Donovan (VW40-44, Wimbledon Windmilers, 34th overall) completed the podium in 20:35.

For the men it was the battle of the Ryans with newcomer Ryan Gresty (VM35-39) edging it at 17:34 to Ryan Keane (SM30-34, Thames Valley Harriers) by a single second. Richard Cohen (VM35-39, Wimbledon Windmilers) followed behind with 17:47. All three set new Personal Bests for the course, Ryan G on his first visit, Ryan K his second, but Richard after an impressive 55 Wimbledon Common events.

In unsurprising news, Lucy Woolhouse (VW55-59) posted the best age grade score on 88.58%. The only other athlete to go north of 80% was newcomer Patricia Ronksley (VW60-64, Stragglers) with 83.32%. Congratulations to all.

Full results can be found here.

Thank you

Event 706 was brought to you by Colin Harris, Simon Cheetham, Alastair Brown, Helen Beeby, Chris Rebbeck, Stephen Harland, Sue Glanville, Kylie Corso, Jennifer Brookes, Amelia Ashton-Jones, Bob Walsh, Sandy Pfeifer, Louise Robinson, James Spinks, Suzanne Robinson, Matthew Searle, Graham Trainor, Bronte Trainor, Jo Manley, Amelie Morel, Gilmar Wendt, Guy Hallifax, Jane Scoon, Eliza Shute, Jackie Mclaughlan, Laura Solomon, Paul Fontes, Claire Boynton, Phoebe Lander, Christine Fent, Tamsin Abbey, Bea Loteryman and Nis Arend.
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making it happen

It took 33 people to make this event happen, and we desperately need more help. A quick glance at the website reveals that the future roster is looking distinctly patchy, with the vast majority of roles filled usual suspects. If we shared the load equally, each parkrunner could volunteer two or three times a year, and we would be covered. Volunteering is great fun, and there are roles to suit everyone. It is dead easy to get started, the best way is to look at the rota above, read the getting involved pages, make your choice and email the super friendly volunteer team.
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super friendly volunteer team in action

Finally, in terms of being a good parkrun citizen, we have got back to the levels where I can once again nag you about the car park. With 428 runners, 33 volunteers and assorted supporters, the car park was full and queuing from 8:50am. You know the drill - if you have to drive please cram your car full of runners, better still park away from the Windmill and use the jog in as your warm up, and for the top prize get the number 93 bus!
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A good warm-up sir? About ten minutes that way...


Wimbledon Common parkrun started on 6th January 2007. Since then 25,850 participants have completed 202,342 parkruns covering a total distance of 1,011,710 km, including 30,404 new Personal Bests. The male record is held by Chris Parr who recorded a time of 15:04 on 23rd April 2011 (event number 224), and the female record is held by Justina Heslop who recorded a time of 16:33 on 17th March 2012 (event number 271). The Age Grade course record is held by Jane Davies who recorded 92.99% (21:24) on 29th January 2011 (event number 212). These figures were made possible by 1,235 individuals who have volunteered a total of 11,432 times.

Words Alastair Brown, pictures Bob Walsh