18:49 Jeremy Smith
21:03 Tom Tinsley
24:04 Dave Kear
24:41 Elisabeth Stoddart
27:15 Sionna McCutcheon
Gateshead parkrun: Yincent Tse 26:37 (New PB)
Whitley Bay parkrun: Dave Saunders 21:27
Sunderland parkrun: Dave Wotton 23:31
Bushy parkrun: Sumanth Nayak 19:52
A trip to Bushy Park, the Mecca of parkrun, is as close to a religious pilgrimage as it gets for me. This is the birthplace of parkrun, where it all began just over eight years ago with only a handful of runners out for a casual 5k. Forget the Great North Run or the London Marathon. This is a free run/race that now regularly attracts over 800 runners! Accompanied by five other Toonrun regulars/lunatics, I took the overnight bus to London Victoria Station, followed by two short train rides to Teddington. The park was just a mile away from the train station and as we got there at 8am, it was a hive of activity, with people out for a run, attending bootcamps or warming up for the parkrun. After introducing myself and my crazy comrades to the race director and stretching out my stiff legs, I lined up at the start, absolutely amazed at the turnout. To my surprise, the RD announced our visit at the run briefing and even commented on the fact that some of us were wearing just vests!
The one lap course is very flat and fast but a lot of it is on grass and after a spell of overnight rain, much of it was soggy and slippery. I was told after the run that this was their first rainy parkrun in over a year. Some luck! Just like the Town Moor, Bushy Park has its own four-legged residents, in this case deer. There was one particularly mean looking stag waiting around the corner near the finish. As I entered the huge finish funnel and got my barcode and token scanned, it was interesting to see how they handled the huge crowds. At Toonrun, joining the 50 club is a big deal but Bushy is a sea of 100 and even the most prestigious 250 club t-shirts! After the run, we headed to the cafe in the park for their fantastic full English breakfast, huge selection of cakes and a bit of chat with the friendly locals. I probably spent more money on travel and food for this free run than an entry into the GNR but it was absolutely worth it!