Balloons, cakes and milestone T-shirts were very much in evidence as Banstead Woods celebrated their 500th parkrun on Saturday (17 December). There were 264 runners at Britain’s third oldest parkrun, held in a medieval deer park and the former hunting grounds of Banstead Manor, now used as a nature trail and public open space.
The mist that cloaked the ancient woodland, thought once to have been owned by Anne Boleyn, was brightened as 500 balloons festooned the start and there was satisfaction ensured as 265 cakes had been baked – one more than the number of finishers.
Banstead qualified for its collective 500 parkruns T-shirt in style to add to the stunning statistics of parkrun with more than three million parkrunners registered worldwide. For example, at Banstead on Saturday there were 85 who had completed over 100 parkruns; 36 runners were in the 250 parkrun club; two had over 400 parkruns experience and one (Neil Sunderland) was on his 523rd parkrun. Neil is second in the all-time list of the highest number of parkruns completed in the world.
First finishers at Banstead were Neil Reissland (M50 South London Harriers, 17:46) and Lisa Rooney (W35 Collingwood AC, 19:05) and Neil took the top age-grading with 84.33%. The best times after 500 outings at this venue are held by Kevin Quinn (15:25) in 2008 and Natalie Harvey (17:01) in 2011.
There were many messages of thanks and support posted on social media, with this runABC reporter’s favourite an homage to Monty Python: “All right, apart from five hundred events, the course, the volunteers, the bluebells, the free t-shirts, the coffee in the Mint, the cakes, the countless humorous moments, the news reports, the personal bests, the points competitions, the photographs, the friendships, the anniversary picnic, the website, the community spirit and the health benefits, what has Banstead Woods parkrun ever done for us?”
For more information visit the Banstead Woods parkrun website.