This was the fourth year running of this event and after being away the previous couple of days at a wedding thought I’d be able to get only a couple of runs in this year. This is what the event is about…
“Started in 2010, the idea is simple - On the first Sunday after the longest day of the year, to visit as many parkruns as possible. But while the potential total distance is quite large (35km or 21.7 miles), this isn’t a heavy duty running event, it is first and foremost a social day - there’s no official timing, runners can turn up at as many (or as few) of the runs as they want, and do as much of the courses as they want.”
The timing of our return from the wedding on Sunday morning meant that although I missed the 9am Bushy parkrun start I jumped out of the car at Crane parkrun for run number two and got that run in (23:50) before heading home to unpack bags, sort a few things out, jump on my bike and head to run four in Richmond park. I missed the third run at Old Deer Park but it was good to get to Richmond parkrun in good time and be properly prepared for the rest of the day (i.e., plenty of drink and food with me on the bike). Richmond was a good run and the fast downhill section early on got me running well and at an effort level that I carried on with till the finish (22:34). Had a great chat with Rodney on the way round - he was running between every parkrun this day (rather than the old ‘challenge’ of cycling between them) and went on to clock up nearly 45 miles of running on the day! Wow.
After Richmond I met up with Kirsty’s mum Liz who was cycling between the runs and we rode to Wimbledon parkrun together. We followed a lovely cycle path through deepest darkest Wimbledon Common and arrived with about 10 minutes to spare. Perfect.
Wimbledon was nice and dry for a change and conditions were pretty good under foot. I pushed fairly hard and finished in 20:25. Getting quicker…
A pleasant ride with Liz across to Kingston parkrun (just under five miles) and it was time for my fourth run of the day (many of the others were about to run their sixth parkrun this day). I started well and pushed pretty hard this time and finished in around 19:23. I was happy with that and looking forward to the final run in Bushy parkrun at 6pm.
Back on the bikes for the short trip to Bushy and then it was final run time. I ran almost all of it with the parkrun founder and good friend Paul and although after chatting for most of the first 3km things went quiet and we worked pretty hard (mostly into a headwind) for the final 2km. A 20:28 run finished the exertions for the day!
There were probably around 70 people at that final run and many more came and went in the earlier runs. Lots of people were cycling between the events - unlike the five of us in 2011. The event really has taken off - especially when it’s gone from 3 ‘longest parkrun’ events last year to I believe 13 of them in 2013.
I remember in 2012 there were about 12-15 of us cycling between the events and we tried to stick together. This time there were just too many groups of people and in some respects because of its popularity the event seems to have lost some of its small community touch. Nothing can really be done about this but its a shame. Many of our friends were running throughout the day and it was great to see them and share stories (and the end of day beer and pizza) but it really is getting a bit popular. I believe the event will still take place in future years but won’t have the ‘parkrun’ name firmly associated with it as it had done until now.
Long live the longest parkrun (or whatever it will be called)!