Last Saturday morning Sue and I turned up for our last parkrun at Wythenshawe until 19 December, when I’ll be disguised as a Christmas tree.
The Sale Harriers running club has developed a habit of celebrating special occasions by way of mass attendance at Wythenshawe. Thus ‘Sarah’s Wedding Party’ pushed attendance above the 300 mark around which it currently hovers.
They all completed the run in a sufficiently composed manner to enable the header photo to be taken. Well done the Harriers.
Meanwhile, conditions were again good for the 5km run, with the muddy passage unusually dry. It also seems to have received a dose of hard core since last week! Fast Andy will be devastated.
Anyway, Sue wandered off with her still sensitive Achilles, to marshal at ‘The Far Bridge’, where she took a few snaps that illustrate the diversity of this weekly free event.
Near the front, the runners really are running. These folk will all get round in under 20 minutes.
I’ve just been overtaken by an athletic lady, but to my amazement I had been able to keep up with Richard and Matteo for a while. They dragged me to my first ever sub 4 minute kilometre. Thanks folks.
Here’s Jan, heading for a personal best (PB) despite looking as if he’s about to fling himself into a bed of nettles. Matteo, in the yellow vest, is using the ‘Fast Walk’ technique.
Pushchairs and dogs accompany quite a few of the runners. It’s hard to keep up with some of them.
After the buggies come the fun runners, enjoying their gentle Saturday morning jog/chat before settling down in the café to enjoy as much coffee and cake as may be made available from those completing ‘landmark’ (50th, 100th, etc) runs. It’s poor form not to bring celebratory cake on such occasions, which occur most weeks.
After a short break, the leaders soon come past on their second and final lap. Just visible in the distance (below) is Rob Jowett, on his way to his 6th consecutive finish at the head of the field. Also his 6th consecutive PB – he goes faster every week.
It’s not about winning, though, as parkrun is NOT a race, though ‘Fast Andy’ is as hot on the heels of Rob as any old timer could expect to be. There’s also an ‘age related’ result. Age grading takes a runner’s time and uses the world record time for their sex and age to produce a percentage score (world record as a percentage of the runner’s time). ‘Fast Andy’ came second on both counts this week. It just wasn’t his day! But he did manage an age related percentage of over 80%, a figure that Rob Jowett can only dream about. In 209 events, only 25 of the 4738 people who have admitted to taking part in Wthenshawe’s parkrun have achieved this feat.
Sarah’s wedding party eventually plodded through. The Sale Harriers treat the parkrun in the right spirit, saving their energy for proper races.
Mark Sydall, known affectionately as ‘Syd’ is another character who probably derives as much pleasure from the parkrun as whoever comes in first. He’s one of a breed of ‘slower’ participants for whom parkrun has provided an opportunity to improve their fitness by expending a few calories before settling down to cake and coffee in the café.
And the reason for the ‘How did that happen?’ headline…
This was my 80th run at Wythenshawe. My PB of 21.33 was set 66 runs earlier in perfect conditions in August 2012. So at my advanced age I would never get below that. Would I?
So where did 21.04 come from, and the landmark age related percentage above 80%?
Strange things can happen…
(To put this into perspective, I was overtaken on the second lap by an even more elderly gentleman, a proper runner unlike me, whose pace I couldn’t match.)