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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

On the run: injury curse strikes at Raphael parkrun

PUBLISHED: 13:07 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:07 28 September 2018

The gates of Raphael Park, at the southern entrance. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The gates of Raphael Park, at the southern entrance. Picture: CARL MARSTON


Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he heads to Rapahel Park, in Romford

I fear that my long unbroken sequence of parkruns has ground to an abrupt halt, due to injury rather than inertia.

Last weekend’s jaunt down to East London, to take part in the well-established Raphael parkrun in Romford, ended with me nursing a swollen hip and so facing up to a few days on the settee, armed with an occasional ice-pack and some anti-inflammatory tablets.

No matter, it’s been a good run of parkruns, spanning well over a year ….. and I will return.

The run-down

The Raphael parkrun had been on my radar for a while – a very popular event through a pleasant park in the London Borough of Havering.

Raphael Park is one of several parks strung out between Gidea Park (effectively East Romford) and Romford town centre, and is pronounced by the locals as “ray-fel.”

- On the run: Far from ‘barking’ at the Barking parkrun

I approached via the southern entrance along Main Road, which ironically used to be called Hare Street – even a tortoise, let alone a hare, would have gone on to finish the subsequent 5K parkrun quicker than me!

The park was once part of the parkland surrounded by the long-gone Gidea Hall, and its feature attraction is the lake, which was formed by damming the Black’s Brook on the western boundary.

On an overcast last Saturday morning, there were a couple of fishermen attending to their rods – I watched one try to land what he thought was a perch or roach – it was neither, though half of the worm on the end of his hook had been consumed.

Otherwise, the park was full of runners and joggers limbering up for the 174th staging of the Raphael parkrun.

The event started from near the bandstand, in the southern area of the park, and followed tarmac paths to and along the lake, before a slight incline up to the wide expanses of the eastern section, with its sunken tennis courts, sports fields and children’s playground.

It’s a three-lap course, with two large circuits and one smaller one, often attracting fields in excess of 300. The record total of 347 was set just six days after the last London Marathon, on April 28.

Saturday’s results

Grant Twist, one of the quickest runners in the Eastern region, led home a field of 226 in a swift 15mins 35secs.

A former member of Chelmsford AC, Twist was only eight seconds adrift of his personal best for the course. He switched from Chelmsford to Havering AC this year.

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Twist’s highlights of 2018 include a second spot at the Essex County Cross Country Championships, behind champion Adam Hickey, at Braintree in early January, and a 31:00 posting at the Viatlity London 10K in May.

George Dixon, a first timer at the Raphael parkrun, was second in 17:46 and Paul Wyatt, of Havering Tri, was third in 17:56.

Laura Tang, of East Essex Tri Club, was the first female finisher in 21:29, ahead of Springfield Striders’ Emily Smith, who posted 22:27 at her 208th parkrun – 172 of these have been at Chelmsford.


Last Saturday’s winner, Grant Twist, actually has the course best. He clocked a landmark 15:27 at the 158th event in early June of this year. His time from last weekend was the also the third fastest over the course.

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Other familiar names on the all-time list include Billericay Striders’ Crispian Bloomfield (fifth with 15:49), a regular winner on the Essex roads, and Halstead Road Runners’ James Smith (16th with 16:52).

International athlete, Faye Fullerton (Havering AC), is the female course record holder, thanks to her impressive 16:59 time from December, 2017.

Fullerton was first overall that day, something she has achieved four times in Raphael Park.

Young teenager Milly Presland, of Colchester Harriers, is the 10th fastest in the standings after her 19:20 run of March this year.

Carl’s experience

As I have said many times in the past, in these columns, every runner has to deal with injuries, and I am no exception.

Perhaps the exertions of the previous Sunday’s Great East Run half-marathon took its toll, who knows?

But after a swift first kilometre at Raphael Park, I suffered an intense pain below my hip, which caused me to pull up, then try to resume jogging, before eventually hobbling the long way to the finish at a brisk walk/limp.

You have to take the rough with the smooth!

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