Well, what an honour! I've been asked to pen this week's report. Was that a hint of desperation I detected in Andy's voice when he asked me?
I had planned to bring 'cake' to celebrate my 70th Wythenshawe parkrun, but having looked at the forecast I decided against being remembered as the person who brought the soggiest cake! What a contrast to last week's conditions.
Cycling from Timperley was not actually unpleasant, but by 8.45 even Oliver had deployed his brolly and was enjoying a chuckle whilst 197 masochists assembled under the large trees next to the 16th century hall that his mate Captain Adams had laid siege to some 370 years earlier. "I'm glad I wasn't there" pondered Oliver, recalling that Adams had got his head blown off in the fracas.
Anyway, the rain thickened and 9am came and went. Technical problems with the timing device were skilfully 'patched' and today's Run Director, Paul, piped up and led his victims to the start line. It's a requirement to provide a briefing at this point, so the dogs were gagged whilst Paul quickly welcomed tourists, explained the route, briefed the first timers, explained that we don't have sole use of the park, asserted that children must stay with and look after their parents, reminded Andy that 'it's not a race', encouraged everyone to follow the signs ("but not the yellow ones, they are for a different event"), etc, etc.
To Paul's eternal credit he managed all this, and a countdown to the start, in about ten seconds.
It was crowded and wet. I'm sure Matteo was pleased to have his new Sealskinz waterproof socks. I was certainly glad of mine, but very soon my feet were the only dry bits of my body.
The 'mud splash' was just that - a bit like the water splash in a steeplechase, but 20 times as long and full of mud. Great fun!
Slithering around the football pitches was, well, a slither. But the fast descent to the far bridge was (relatively speaking) a pure delight, especially for 'it's not a race' Holloway who managed to sprint ahead of a youthful rival.
So PBs would not feature today, would they? Well, they did! Congratulations to 14 of you who managed just that - Jaya, Jacqueline, Amy, Lindsey, Heather, Jane, Paul, Samantha, Philippa, William, Gareth, Stuart, Adam and Andrew. There were also PBs (obviously) from today's 26 First Timers, only 7 of whom had done parkruns before elsewhere. So well done to those folk for starting their parkrun careers on such a grotty day. Do come again!
First home was Andy 'it's not a race' Holloway, and bringing up the rear today, just beating the tail runner to the tape, was Jill 'I'm going as fast as I can' Holloway. Three more 'Holloways' were amongst the list of finishers, and it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that there were a further 11 Holloways masquerading as 'Unknowns', not forgetting any more Holloways listed amongst today's volunteers.
We all know (especially those of us of a certain age) that Andy 'it's not a race' Holloway is quite right in his assertion. It's all about percentages, of the age-related variety, with a talented lady once again taking the bow. Not many may know this, but our queen of the percentages today is currently rather high in the UK lists for 10km races in her age group. We salute you Jackie Cordingley, for your 'Performance of the Week'.
Percentages are of course important to the OAPs amongst us, and congratulations go to Michael Dunne for being first home, in 29th position, amongst the nine 'over 65s' amongst today's soggy participants.
Today's Tourists - they must be seriously addicted to turn out in such vile weather whilst on holiday in Manchester - appear to come from the height and breadth of Greater Manchester, apart from two significant chaps, Ben Barton and Rob Partington, who despite their Northern Names ventured out from the Isle of Wight and Greater London respectively. I hope you enjoyed your visit, and a cuppa at the café before your long journeys home! Well done to all of you, and on behalf of the 'management' I do apologise for the time that it took to scan your barcodes at the finish.
Today's event was plagued by technical problems, with large numbers of soggy barcodes contributing to the delay. I thought everyone was very patient whilst the hard-pressed volunteers refused to panic and eventually de-camped from the dubious shelter of the trees to finish their task in the warmth of the café, albeit the soggy runners still had to wait to get to the head of the queue before gaining shelter from the weather.
Talking of volunteers, as you know, the event couldn't take place without them, and today's team of Run Director Paul Lockett together with his finely honed squad of Beatrice Cordingley, Anthony Harrison, Andy 'it's not a race' Holloway, Richard Kenny, Katharine Lay, Alex Lay, Dorothy Muldoon, Anthony Southworth, Susan Steindorff, Martin Stratton, Margaret Tunney and Emma Willert are to be applauded, together with all theadditional folk who stepped in to help move the scanning firstly from in front of the hall to under the trees, and then to the café.
(Well done - I can hear the clapping in Timperley.)
Volunteers are always needed, and I'd encourage you to take your turn - we should all volunteer at least three times a year - by sending an email or a facebook message, or by filling in the sheet on the table at your next parkrun. There are always plenty of slots available which really do need filling, and it's fun and satisfying.
Almost finally (should that be penultimately?), a word to the 16 under 15s who took part today. I'm really impressed that you ventured out on such a grotty day, but I'm also envious of you all having years and years of PBs in front of you - enjoy that whilst you can.
Finally (post penultimately?), Andy has scripted a message that says "I may have mentioned it before, but please, please, please Don’t Forget Your Barcode". (You may need to re-print and laminate one if those I saw at the finish are anything to go by.) Andy harbours a dream of one day having a run with no Unknown Athletes in the results table so go on, make him happy!
See you next time