On the Run: a bumper field at the Peterborough parkrun
PUBLISHED: 07:30 03 January 2018
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different parkruns.
The Peterborough parkrun is one of the best supported parkruns in the country.
Fields of 500-plus are a regular feature of this popular 5K course, which is based at Ferry Meadows Country Park, to the west of Peterborough.
I stopped off on the way up to Derbyshire, and another Colchester United away-day (this time at Chesterfield, the home of the crooked spire, and Chesterfield FC) to join the masses last Saturday.
This was the 238th staging of the Peterborough parkrun, which was first held back August 3, 2013, when a total of 210 toed the start-line.
A much bigger field of 509 runners, joggers and walkers – not counting dogs and children in buggies – made the most of some unseasonably mild conditions last weekend.
True, there was quite a strong wind blowing across the lakes, on an exposed course, but not enough to put much of a dent in finishing times.
Starting from the Ferry Meadows Café, the route heads out around Lynch lake before rounding Overton lake, crossing Ham Bridge, and proceeding alongside Gunwade lake.
The course then returns via the same tarmac path to the finish, just beyond the cafe. A few puddles to splash through, but no mud and no ice. Ideal.
It is easy to forget that this rural setting, in the heart of Nene Park and sited around a wide meander of the River Nene, is less than three miles from Peterborough’s bustling city centre.
The pace was hot, at the front of the field – or so I was told – and the results confirm this. The first finisher beat 16 minutes and the first 13 athletes all ducked under 19 minutes.
Edgars Sumskis celebrated only his third ever parkrun with his third successive first place. The Latvian used to be a 1,500m specialist on the track.
In the two events leading up to Christmas, Sumskis had posted times of 15mins 55secs and 15:36, and he followed this up with a 15:57 clocking on Saturday.
Shaun Walton, of the local club Peterborough AC, was second in 16:40, while club-mate Chloe Finlay (also of the RAF) was the first female in 19:08.
I finished well behind the first three ladies, who were all members of Peterborough AC.
The high-calibre of the Peterborough parkrun, and the fast nature of the course, has led to 12 different runners clocking sub-16-minute times.
Lloyd Kempson, of Nene Valley Harriers, holds the course record of 15:14, which he set last June.
Former Suffolk-based athlete, Aaron Scott, has the second fastest time over the Peterborough 5K course, having registered an impressive 15:23 in March, 2014. He returned that summer to be an agonising one second outside his personal best.
Former Woodbridge Shuffler Scott, who now runs for Lincoln Wellington and Nene Valley Harriers, is a five-times winner of the Woodbridge 10K road race.
From our region, I spotted Haverhill RC’s Mat Bigley (16:56) and Ipswich JAFFA’s Will Law (17:50, from May 2016) among the top 200, while former Saint Edmund Pacer, Steve Robinson, holds the 13th fastest time of 16:05.
The biggest field so far assembled was for the 200th landmark event, when 722 finishers were recorded last April.
It was the ‘biggest’ parkrun I had ever-experienced, in terms of numbers. And I could see why.
A tranquil setting, close to a major city, a swift course and a region renowned for its athletics.
And while many parkrun courses, up-and-down the country, resemble quagmires at present, due to all the recent rain, the tarmac paths of Nene Park are perfect for running.
I managed 20:13, again outside that 20-minute mark. But it wasn’t for want of trying!
The Bury St Edmunds parkrun offered a very muddy and boggy challenge last Saturday. And it was a case of keeping it in the family for the Robsons.
Teenager Joe Robson led home a field of 212 in 19mins 48secs, while Mum Odette Robson was third overall and first lady in 19:56, just two seconds ahead of Stowmarket Striders’ Maddie Jordan-Lee.
Over at the Harwich parkrun, Robert Reason spearheaded a field of 80 in 17:38, ahead of Harwich Runners club-mate Mark Lloyd (18:36). Karen Stapleton (23.:16) was the first female.