Saturday the 6th October saw parkrun celebrate its 8th birthday with the day also designated ‘International parkrun Day’. We decided to mark the occasion by making the pilgrimage to Bushy parkrun where parkrun started in 2004 with just 13 runners in Bushy Park, Teddington.
We left the house early as I was unsure just how busy the event would be in relation to the number of parking spaces available. In my usual fashion this meant we were quite early and the car park was relatively empty but this did not last long because cars started to stream into all the spaces around us. The Son was amazed by the amount of parkrun 50 & 100 shirts he saw on display before making his first sighting of the 250 shirt.
We went for a light jog around the nearby small pond and stopped to watch all the photographers lined up to capture pictures of all the nearby stags. Thankfully we were not caught up in anything like the unfortunate gentleman who was recently stalked by a stag in the same park. However, the stags were in loud voice indeed and were clearly enjoying the rutting season.
The end of year Bushy parkrun awards were being presented in the start area by the very lovely & talented Nell McAndrew so we made our way over to add our applause to the worthy winners. Everyone was soon lining up for the run briefing and we had to make sure that we were lined up near the back due to the sheer weight of numbers. The Son had never run in such a large crowd before and it was a case of making sure that we were safe and not blocking any faster runners.
Our run was soon under-way with a straight run along the sodden grass area that had clearly taken a good soaking the night before. There may have been hundreds of runners but everyone had clearly make sure that they were in a starting group suitable for their pace and the wide start straight provided room for us to keep at a steady pace.
The course is a simple loop around the footpaths of the scenic Bushy Park with plenty of scope to take in views of the wandering deer, the surrounding wildlife, and the frontrunners chained out ahead. The Son asked me to pace him again at a comfortable speed through the first half and then to let him know when we reached halfway where he would push on in a bid to beat his 5k PB. Everything was mostly going to plan, although I did have to swerve around a bit to keep close to him as the path narrowed in sections, and I gave him a shout to let him know we had reached 2.5k.
This would be the start of a short downhill slope back at our home parkrun in Gunnersbury Park but this was a flat course so The Son put on a burst of speed to ramp up the pace. Suddenly a boy of similar age passed him and I watched as The Son took that as a challenge and spent the remainder of the run trading places until the other boy sped of with the finish straight in sight. There is nothing like a challenge to get The Son going and I could tell he was putting everything into trying to beat this stranger. Sadly he would not win his race but I suddenly heard some spectator shouts behind us cheering on PSH, the founder of parkrun, so I hit the afterburners and crossed the line with The Son in a dead heat.
The Bushy finish funnel is a sight to behold and is one of the seven parkrun wonders of the world. The huge number of runners mean that there is a double finish funnel leading a good 60+ yards up until the finish tokens are handed out. The queue in each tunnel is regulated and I was left scratching my head just how they could match finish times with the correct finishers barcode but in parkrun I trust!
Nell McAndrew was standing near the end of the funnel cheering on all the finishers so we took a couple of minutes to say hello and ask to take a couple of pictures. She was really nice to us and everyone else and it was a real pleasure to meet such a lovely lady who is pretty accomplished runner (2 hours and 54 minutes marathon personal best).
The multitude of people manning the scanners recorded our times and The Son grabbed a cupcake before we headed home. There were a total of 994 runners for Bushy parkrun #420, not quite enough to beat the record of 1,000 from Jan 7th 2012, but it was great to take part in a parkrun at its spiritual home. As always we owe a big thank you to all the volunteers on the day and the magic funnel fairies were spot on with our times!
Running Dan parkrun result:
- parkrun time: 0:27:06
- Garmin time: 0:27:06
- Gun position: 589 / 994
- Gender position: 485 / 664
- Age category: SM35-39
- Age grade: 49.63 %
The Son parkrun result:
- parkrun time: 0:27:06
- Garmin time: 0:27:06
- Gun position: 588 / 994
- Gender position: 484 / 664
- Age category: JM14
- Age grade: 58.24 %