4 February 2016

The first Tooting Common parkrun: a runner's report

Go Earlsfield was laid up with a cold last Saturday (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it), but loads of brave locals took themselves out into the somewhat inclement weather to celebrate the first, ever so slightly under the radar, official Tooting Common parkrun.

Readers might know that it's been a long journey to get to this point with many people putting in a lot of time and effort to negotiate with the council. Congratulations to everyone involved, and to the runners and volunteers who turned out. Long may it continue!

So what's it like at Tooting Common parkrun? Intrepid reader Kevin has reported in and tells the story of the day in his own words:

"It was up and out of bed early on Saturday and was still dark outside... I had got all my gear prepared the night before, running shoes, shorts, t-shirt, sweatband and fleece to wear for the walk from the Balham station as the forecast was looking a bit chilly... Energy bar, drink and the all important barcode completed the requirements as I set off towards Tooting Common inaugural "parkrun" yes that is spelt correctly, one word all lower case which is the running phenomenon that is sweeping the country with some 382 venues (growing on an almost weekly basis) with around 80000 runners making the pilgrimage every Saturday morning for the 0900hrs start…

Arriving at the common around 0845 I managed to find the start in good time where assembled there were some 200 runners, several volunteers in their hi-viz tabards, the local MP Sadiq Khan to send us on our way and the founder of parkrun Paul Sinton-Hewitt, CBE!!


Before the start we had several announcements from the organisers and the actual “run” director…. we were given the general housekeeping rules, “keep dogs on leads”, “under elevens must be accompanied by an adult”, please try and keep to the left on the paths as we don’t have exclusive use of the common” And also the course description and directions and number of laps … Suited and booted so clearly not running our local MP gave us a few words, explaining that this had taken a couple of years to get approval and is presently on a six month trial basis….. He then mentioned that the “race” would be starting shortly before being corrected by almost 200 people in good humour “it’s a run not a race”


The course itself had a small start / finish straight, before turning right for a 3 lap “triangle” (see link http://www.parkrun.org.uk/tootingcommon/course/ )

So…. the time had finally come to tackle the 5k and I placed my fleece on the already crowded bench near the start / finish funnel…

Sadiq counted us down, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 go !! and off the 200 runners set for our parkrun adventure…..

The first lap seemed incredibly long and several people passed me, then just as I was setting out on lap two some runners fairly sprinted past me and I soon realised that these were the real athletes and I had been lapped!

There were several Marshalls out on the course to make sure we didn’t get lost and they encouraged, clapped and helped to keep us going each time we passed them…

What a fantastic buzz and atmosphere, every runner was given amazing support and it didn’t matter one bit if you were fast, slow, young old, fat or thin….Everyone was given the same respect and encouragement….

Thankfully each circuit seemed to get shorter and I tried to kick for home on the last straight managing to pass a couple of people before going through the finishing funnel….


Gasping for breath and hardly able to acknowledge the “well dones” from everyone I was given a finishing token, which together with my barcode I took over to be “scanned” to the result would appear on the relevant Tooting Common parkrun page online…

How did I do??? Well remember it’s a run not a race so 185 out of 200 is just fine :)

The whole event seemed to go really well with superb organisation and marshalling with the whole community pulling together to make it work…. I am sure that the trial period will go well so that Tooting Common goes beyond the six month trial and has a regular place on the parkrun events page…..

It was nice to get back home now for a well earned cup of tea, biscuit and a rest….. will I be back again?? Oh yes you can count on that for sure! :) "

All photos from the Tooting Common parkrun Flickr group.

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