On the run: pipped at the post at Burnham-on-Crouch parkrun
PUBLISHED: 18:54 07 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:54 07 September 2018
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he heads to Burnham-on-Crouch
Burnham-on-Crouch is more renowned for its yachts and sailors, rather than its trail shoes and runners.
But the Burnham-on-Crouch parkrun is now well-established on the parkrun scene, and it was quite apt that on the final day of Burnham Week, a major event on the sailing calendar, I should roll up to take part in the 58th parkrun.
I don’t have a boat – though my Dad, Eric, does have a fleet of model boats – so I settled for my moth-eaten trainers and a chance to tackle the weekly 5K course on dry land, from the Riverside Country Park.
Burnham-on-Crouch, situated on the north back of the River Crouch on the Dengie Peninsula, began life as a ferry port before branching out into fishing (excellent oyster beds) and more recently as a leading yacht centre.
The local parkrun was born just over a year ago, when 179 runners, joggers and walkers congregated on July 22, 2017 for the inaugural event. That remains the record field.
The course is another fast one, two multi-terrain laps on concrete and gravel paths, with a section on grass and a few trail paths.
Starting from the playing field near Dengie 100 Sports Centre, the route zig zags up to the quay and along the river to the marina, before turning onto grass and eventually following cones and flags back to the quay.
Paul Turner marked his 28th parkrun with first place in 19mins 57secs, some way adrift of his personal best of 19:07 for the course.
Martyna Jackowska was the first female finisher in 21:48, again a lot slower than her PB of 20:45. It was her 26th parkrun, 21 of them completed at Burnham-on-Crouch.
Wendy Aldridge, an over-55 veteran from local club Dengie 100 Runners, was second in 23:33 in her 114th parkrun, 90 of these rattled up at nearby Maldon.
Looking further down the list of 91 finishers, Chris O’Donnell (23:24), running in the 70-74 year-old age group, has now completed 174 parkruns, while over-60 veteran Christine Lucas (28:42) registered parkrun No. 99.
Jordan Clay, from Leighton Buzzard, holds the course best. He clocked 16:12 at the 51st event, held seven weeks ago on July 14.
Billericay Striders’ Crispian Bloomfield, a familiar face on Essex roads, has the second best time of 16:28, while Framlingham Flyers’ Adam Howlett and Luke Shay, of Little Barrow Ridge RC, are joint third on the list with 17:32.
Familiar names abound, from the East Anglian circuit.
Allen Smalls, an ultra distance specialist from Colchester Harriers, is No. 11 in the standings (18:11), two ahead of Springfield Striders’ Paul Dobson (18:27).
Witham RC’s Leo Cole (18:44) is 16th fastest, with the Tiptree Road Runners’ duo of Andrew Conway (24th with 19:08) and Gavin Laws (25th with 19:18) also to the fore.
Nikki Brockbank, of Springfield, is the only female to beat 20 minutes so far at Burnham. She recorded a swift 19:01 just two months ago.
I was pipped at the post last Saturday – no surprise there.
It is not familiar territory for me to lead any event – those heady days, few and far between even at the time, are a distant memory.
parkruns are not races, so there are no winners, just runners who finish first.
I have never ‘finished first’ at any of my 70-odd parkruns, and I am unlikely ever to, although I did come mightily close at Burnham-on-Crouch.
The speed merchants stayed away. Perhaps they were competing on the water at Burnham Week? Or perhaps they were saving themselves for some stiffer Sunday competition at the Framlingham 10K, Wissey Half-Marathon, Colne Engaine 10/5 or the annual Essex Way Relay?
Whatever the reason, I grudgingly led a small field of 91 from midway through lap one, and although dropping back due to a twinge in a calf muscle, I again took up the mantle until I was overhauled during the last 50 metres by Paul Turner, a local runner taking part in his fifth Burnham-on-Crouch parkrun.
“I couldn’t let you win,” explained Paul, at the end of the finish funnel. Very nice of him.
Although ‘winning’ is not part of the parkrun vocabulary, I begged to disagree with him.
He could have let me finish first, for a first and last time!