You can always tell when there’s a ‘big race’ on a Sunday – the volunteering schedules at Parkruns are full or nearly full. For the uninitiated, the reason is this: Regular Parkrunners who have entered the aforementioned ‘big race’ often do not wish to risk getting injured and such is there dedication to Parkrunning that they volunteer to marshal, funnel manage or time at an event instead. So this week, when I decided to volunteer at Fulham Palace Parkrun, I completely forgot that the London Marathon was the next day and found that Run Report Writer was the only role left for me to fill. The London Marathon isn’t my excuse for wanting to volunteer and not run by the way – some months ago, in a moment of weakness, I decided to enter the 2017 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 mile cycle this July so at the moment a 5k run doesn’t sit comfortably with my mandatory Saturday cycling session.
Having settled then for Run Report Writer, I nearly forfeited the job when I saw a tweet by the BBC’s Sophie Raworth saying she wanted to volunteer at one of her local runs (Fulham Palace being one of them) and she had found that all roles had been filled. As, unlike me, she is a bona fide journalist I though it only right to offer her the task of writing this but she politely declined. I doubt it was because she felt eclipsed by any of my well-articulated and witty previous efforts. Firstly, I suspect that she hasn’t read any of my earlier reports (Has anyone?) and secondly, she probably just decided to have a lie-in on the Saturday before running 26.2 miles the next day.
Those of you who regularly run at Fulham Palace will know that it is notoriously difficult to judge attendance numbers. The arena in which we gather is very large making a head count difficult and to make matters worse not everyone intending to run attends the briefing (Tut! Tut!). However I got the feeling, when the Race Director ask first timers for a show of hands, that we had a bumper turnout. Well I was right! This week the 188th Fulham Palace Parkrun was run, jogged or walked by a record number of 485 people of whom 106 were first timers.
In fact, the first runner over the finish line (there are no ‘winners’ in Parkrun) was a ‘Fulham Palace First Timer’ himself. It was Aidan Johnson of Rotherham Harriers (in London for the Marathon?) running his ninth Parkrun who managed 16 minutes 12 seconds (that’s 3 minute 14 second kilometres or 18.5 kph if you were running on a gym treadmill!) Ben Morrison came a creditable second, over a minute behind Aidan, running his second Parkrun in 17 minutes 19 seconds a new PB. Third was Stuart MacDougall of Fulham Running Club (our ‘home’ club) running his 250th Parkrun in 17 minutes 21 seconds. Well done to all three and massive congratulations to Stuart on completing 250 Parkruns.
The first female runner to cross the line was Sarah Johnson of Trentham Running Club crossing the finish line in 17 minutes 52 seconds. Alice Riddell-Webster of Fulham Running Club finished second in 19 minutes 24 seconds and achieved the highest age grade score of 86.43% (for a detailed explanation of Age Grade scores, ask someone who understands them – not me!) Third female runner was India Weir of Thames Valley Harriers who finished in 19 minutes 41 seconds. Congratulations to those three too.
The runner with the most Parkruns under their belt was Andrew Byram who was running in his 253rd event.
Large amounts of coffee and cake were consumed after the run in Fulham Palace’s Drawing Room Café. At one point the queue nearly stretched to the door!
Thank you, as always, to the 29 volunteers who made Saturday’s run possible.