There are two questions that people ask when they find out that you are a parkrun tourist. “Are you mad?” and “Which is your favourite parkrun?”. I don’t have an answer for either, but I can say that if I were ever to draw up a shortlist of my favourite parkruns, then Queen Elizabeth would be on it.
It’s not a pancake flat course. When the run director talks about the hill, they are not describing a slight, energy-sapping rise or a mild undulation, but a kilometre-long climb which fully merits the description. The male course record of 16:36, set the last time I was there, is held by James Baker. The female course record of 20:33, set at the inaugural run, is held by Elizabeth Hedley.
Today’s run, ably directed by Marie Appleton and flawlessly timed by Daniel Phoenix and Tom MacSwayne was the 20th and drew in a total of 45 runners, including:
The Touring Family MacSwayne
Tom, Tony, Dan, David and Alison were planning a barbecue at the park later, so decided to try out the local parkrun. Tom may well run a sub-17 at QE one of these days, but was volunteering today, and watched as first-time parkrunner Tony, a surfer by choice, clocked up an impressive sub-22 on debut.
The Family Cowlin et alia
The two youngest parkrunners there today were Iesha and Jordan. Jordan, the younger, ran most of the course with the oldest parkrunner, Peter White, before an impressive sprint finish which saw him overtake Jo Ball and Clive Tinkler to finish in a time of 38:40. His sister, Iesha, ran round with her father John, the resident course-setter-upper, just pipping him to the post to finish in 37:06. All of which meant that the tail-runner, Michael Rae, was able to record a new fastest slowest time.
The Visiting Family Browne
Richmond regular Sue Browne was down in Hampshire today with her daughter Amy swapping one undulating course in a beautiful setting for another. Amy has now run 2 parkruns at 2 venues – a tourist in the making?
The Regular Family Knight
Jo, Katie and Matt were the Knight family representatives today. Matt opted to run, while Katie clocked up her 18th volunteering role (handing out the finishing tokens) and Jo marshalled and wrote down details of non-scanning barcodes. Or she would have done, had there been any. Oh yes, and Jo also brought cake (well, pastries), as befits a member of the Cake Club.
The Victory AC runners
Four members of Victory AC were there today, cementing the club’s lead at the top of the QE parkrun club list. Ian Stott finished in 10th place (first canine finisher), James Leighton and Helen Clarke in 15th and 17th respectively, while John Cowlin had to settle for 40th position behind his daughter.
The record-breaking runners
10 runners managed to run PBs this morning: Janet Watts, Bronja Rate, Kevin Michael Martin, Louise Hutchinson, Andrea Vuniwaqa, Rachel Clay, Jon Tucker, Toby Clay, Matthew Smith and Julian Manning. Julian’s PB was a tantalising 20 seconds off the course record, and makes him only the second runner to run sub-17 at Queen Elizabeth.
The oh-so-close runners
Three runners came within a gnat’s crotchet of a PB – Gregory John Clarke equalled his existing PB and Alison Strudwick and Kiernan Easton were a mere 2 seconds off theirs (the latter despite stopping to tie both shoelaces part-way round).
The “I was promised a lie-in” runner
One of the unknown runners thought he was coming down to Hampshire for a nice little spot of cycling, only to find out this morning that his friends, James and Sofia had other plans. “Bring your running shoes too” is fair warning, isn’t it?