Roadrunners’ ‘takeover’ of the 570th running of Reading parkrun was a big success, with a huge turn-out on a glorious day. The special occasion has been marked by an in-depth report from the front line by one of our own, DIMITAR GOSPODINOV.
I have to admit I am not much of a parkrunner. Living in Burghfield Common, in order to get to a parkrun I have to either drive, which feels wasteful, or run on the side of the road down to Prospect Park looking at all the things people have discarded from their cars, plus an uphill run back adding up to over 10 miles in total distance.
So, most Saturdays I opt for a solo run on the lovely trails of Englefield Estate I have on my doorstep. Parkrun is usually a social event for me and this week I have a really good reason to make it down to Thames Valley Park — Reading Roadrunners ‘takeover’.
I joined Roadrunners in between lockdowns back in 2020 looking to try something new and improve my running. I had been thinking about going to the track sessions for a while before joining but the idea of going around in circles didn’t sound like something I would enjoy. I was so wrong.
The club offers so much more than track sessions, from couch to 5k, pub runs, cross-country, day trips and social events. But what grabbed me straight away was how friendly and supportive everyone was.
If you are looking to improve your running or just make some new friends, I would encourage you to come to Palmer Park on Wednesday evenings and join one of the groups.
At TVP, it is just after 8.30am and the place is already buzzing. I say a quick hello to our run director Fergal Donnelly and I am off warming up and chatting with friends.
There are green Roadrunners vests everywhere and I am going from conversation to conversation until I hear that there is a briefing for first-timers happening. This should apply to me but talking to people is more exciting and I decide that getting lost is a low risk.
We clap for all volunteers giving up their time every Saturday to make the event possible. Next, we are on to parkrun tourists. We start from Bracknell and finish all the way to Australia. The thought that maybe living in Burghfield Common is not a valid excuse for only making it to 12 parkruns over the last year crosses my mind and we are off to the start.
Today I am trying to avoid my normal routine of starting too quickly and slowing down in the last mile. With quite a few sessions in my legs this week already and the Thames Valley Cross-Country league tomorrow I decide to pace myself.
I see Pete Jewell (above) disappearing into the distance quite quickly. I have to admit it is a nice sight to see. Pete has struggled with injuries lately but is quickly getting back into shape, so I am sure I will be seeing his backside more often and many people will be losing their VM60 course records in the area.
The first two miles are steady running alongside Tony Page (right) chatting and thanking the marshals, but with a mile to go Tony picks up the pace and all of a sudden I run out of conversation.
Once we are done and scanned we are straight back to the finish line to encourage all the other runners and walkers. It is always great to see all sprint finishes and people having fun.
With 295 runners we had some great achievements today, Thomas Palmer not only finishing first comfortably but also running his 250th parkrun; first female Penny McCrabbe coming in 25th overall, Phil Burke running a PB of 20:11 in his sixth parkrun — I don’t see his PB starting with a ‘2’ for much longer.
Also, there were some really impressive age-grade results with Jane Davies achieving over 90 per cent in VW60 and Pauline Siddons, Pete Jewell, Chris Webber and Claire Marks all above 80 per cent.
Thanks to the volunteers who made this event happen: Mark Allen, Art Atwal, Pauline Bravet, Angela Burley, Michelle Dean, Fergal Donnelly, Katherine Foley, Elizabeth Ganpatsingh, Nicola Gillard, Jon Green, Sophie Harris-Watkins, David Hodgkinson, Charlie Jackson, Lee Jackson, Elizabeth Johnson, Sue Jones, Jon Kew, Sara Lopez, Hannah McPhee, Kaja Milczewska, Laura Priest, Ruth Rogers, Chris Smith, Stephanie Smith, Bob Thomas, Michael Turner-Hibberd and Sam Whalley.
Many thanks to KAJA MILCZEWSKA for the pictures.