On the run: Braving the elements at Pymmes parkrun
PUBLISHED: 13:41 27 January 2018
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different parkruns. This week he heads to Pymmes Park
I was in north London last Saturday morning, which therefore offered a vast choice of different parkruns, all within a short distance of each other.
From Lee Valley Athletics Centre, where I dropped off Harry, my youngest step-son, for sprint training, there are 10 parkruns all within the radius of seven or eight miles.
I opted for Pymmes Park, in Edmonton.
But I could just have easily visited Grovelands (Enfield), Walthamstow, Ally Pally, Finsbury Park, Oak Hill, Hackney Marshes, Gunpowder, Highbury Fields or Roding Valley parkruns.
Pymmes Parkrun is usually a low-key affair.
I’ve encountered some big fields on this parkrun tour, with 600-plus at Peterborough and more than 500 at Norwich, while closer to home, the Ipswich parkrun has attracted fields of more than 400 in recent weeks.
By contrast, Pymmes, an urban park squeezed close to the busy North Circular Road and Victoria Road in central Edmonton, has only once ever hosted a parkrun of more than 100 runners.
That was back on April 8 of last year, when 101 toed the line.
During the early years, fields of just five or six runners were not uncommon, but now figures are on the up and a total of 74 hardy souls assembled near the public toilets (always a glamorous choice for an event HQ) on a wet and dreary last Saturday morning.
It really was a morning of contrasts, for me and young Harry (nearing his 21st birthday).
While he was training indoors (in the dry!) at Lee Valley, in between spotting some well-known faces on and around the indoor track – Dwain Chambers and the Nielson sisters, Laviai and Lina, were apparently in attendance – I was getting soaked to the skin at Pymmes Park.
There were no former World and European 100m medallists, or twin sister Olympic 400m hopefuls, among the shivering few congregating by the Pymmes Park public toilets – so far as I could deduce – but then parkrunners are a breed of their own.
Thankfully, the Pymmes 5K route stuck to the tarmac paths, rather then the sodden grass, following a simple three-lap anti-clockwise course within the boundaries of the park (the name of Pymmes Park gets its name from a certain William Pymme, who built a mansion in the area during the 14th century).
Last Saturday was the 352nd staging of the event, which was first held back on April 9, 2001, when 19 runners/joggers/walkers turned up.
Teenager George Mangan led home the field in 18mins 13secs last Saturday, a personal best.
Although still competing in the 15-17 year-old age bracket, Mangan has already notched an impressive 233 parkruns.
Even more impressive was the run of Claire Cooney, who was not only the first female but also third overall, in a PB of 19:34.
Despite the constant drizzle, and a temperature hovering just a few degrees above freezing, three age group records were broken.
Cooney beat her own time by one second in the 35-39 section, while Mangan set a new course record as a junior (under-18) and Emily Hathaway (20:33) did the same in the female equivalent.
For the record, I set no records.
Looking further down the results, there was Stephen Adu running his 298th parkrun, and his 233rd at Pymmes.
Adu was 41st in 26:02, which apparently was his slowest time in two years, although I noted that he was actually first home at the 26th event of October 1, 2011 – albeit from a field of five!
Given the woeful weather – I took the decision to wear glasses, without wipers attached – there were a good number of parkrunners who chose to leave the sanctuary of their homes in Greater London, in favour of the tarmac path outside the toilets in Pymmes Park.
Like all parkruns, it has the feeling of a family affair.
En route the three laps, there was the odd pedestrian to overtake, the occasional dog and dog walker, plus some resident geese, but that comes with the territory.
I clocked a more than modest 20:10, despite the dripping spectacles, but I didn’t hang around to catch flu’.
Instead, it was back to Lee Valley Athletics Centre to grab a shower, and watch the sprinters go through their routines.
Dwain Chambers was nowhere to be seen. Pity. I wanted to recommend the Pymmes Parkrun to him.