The one with the 500 club! Today was a very special day for one parkrunner, John Hanscomb, racking up 500 runs and joining the 500 club, almost all of them at Bushy, amazing.
Bushy Park is where it began all those years ago, with just 13 runners under the hallowed oak tree. I very much doubt that any of those original participants could have imagined what they had started, what it would become. parkrun is an international phenomenon from very humble beginnings. I didn’t really know what to expect when I rocked up early this morning, what I hadn’t expected was that one of my first conversations would be with the Sinton-Hewitt’s. They spotted my Havant Apricot(Orange) top and struck up a conversation with me about it and the hills. Such nice people and such a lovely welcoming atmosphere.
One thing that strikes you pretty early on is the well regimented organisation, I doff my cap unreservedly in their direction, it was silky smooth, a well oiled machine, a small army of volunteers making it happen and making it seem so easy and effortless in the process. There’s a lot that could be learnt from this set up, it’s well worth a visit to see how it all works, especially the double funnel at the end. Seeing as they have had 637 goes at it it really is no surprise that it’s so well honed.
By now you know the drill, it’s approaching 9am and everyone is making their way down to the start. It’s not their biggest turnout but 963 runners is still not to be sniffed at, it’s the biggest parkrun I’ve attended to date. It’s an amazing sight, so many 10/50/100/250 shirts out on show, countless Apricot(Orange) and Aubergine(purple) shirts on display. Truly a testament to this amazing event that has changed so many people’s lives. The new runners brief is short but informative, what to expect at the start, best place to position yourself depending on your pace, enjoy your run and don’t worry about the double funnel just listen to the marshals and follow their instruction. Easy.
The main brief is poignant with the sad news that one of the original 13 had lost their battle with a brain tumour, it was nice to see that the almost thousand strong throng were silent and respectful during this announcement. In fact that was one of the things that struck me throughout the main brief, I had no issues hearing it, everyone seemed very respectful of it, unlike at other parkruns. The milestones were announced with the amazing 500 receiving warm praise and respect, a couple of 250’s and 100’s and 50’s. Then the obligatory bits about barcodes, respecting the park users, thanking the marshals and all the good stuff you expect from parkrun. Then at roughly 9am, on your marks, set, go!
The course is a pretty flat affair (3ft elevation gain) in almost a figure 8 around the park. The start and finish a couple hundred metres away from each other. The mass start at the beginning is something to behold, the pack is spread so widely so you’re not hugely cramped up. There’s probably about 500 metres of this expanse in front of you before the course thins right down, even so it’s still pretty wide, you drop from probably being able to run 250 abreast down to 10-15 abreast. It’s a busy old run but I don’t think I ever felt really cramped up or constrained by bottlenecks. It really is quite something. There are marshals out in force along the course ensuring that everyone is ok and heading in the right direction. With this volume of people it’s impossible to go wrong and get lost. It seems like in next to no time I’m approaching the lake by the finish funnels. Last push and into the funnels.
There are two finish funnels and you are directed into one or the other. They use a system adopted from loading the Eurostar at the channel tunnel. It’s amazingly efficient, they push x number down one, then the other. You get your token at the end when they again release x amount from one side then the other. It’s something else, very well executed and very clever. There are at least four or five scanners out effortlessly processing the sweaty hordes!
The support across the line, and around the course for that matter, from the marshals and volunteers is fantastic. Such a good buzz, if you are a parkrunner and you’ve not been to Bushy parkrun then you really need to add it to your bucket list. Make the pilgrimige!
Once finished and scanned and chatted with a few fellow tourists and thanked the organisers I popped along to the Pheasantry cafe for a post parkrun coffee and Cornetto, as you do. Once sat down I was presented with an orange tray containing 100 sweaty tokens to sort into piles and check none were missing. I was happy to volunteer my services and get sorting, sadly my 100 tokens were incomplete, #744 where are you!!! I got a missing barcode place holder and popped it into place before handing them back, hopefully it will turn up.
Bushy parkrun results for event #637. Your time was 00:24:47.
Congratulations on completing your 40th parkrun and your 1st at Bushy parkrun today. You finished in 334th place and were the 292nd male out of a field of 963 parkrunners and you came 40th in your age category VM40-44. Well done on your first run. We have set this as your PB.
The whole experience from start to finish was worth the early start and 100 mile round trip to get there and back. Bushy is a stunning location, parking is free, the surface is great to run on at this time of year, road shoes fine as its hard pack trail and tarmac mostly, it does however get a bit muddy in winter. The organisation is second to none and the cafe afterwards is a nice place to congregate post run for coffee, cake and Cornettos!
Next up Rushmoor!