They love their statistics at parkrun but when 15 runners all aged over 80 simultaneously turned up at the ancestral home of the global phenomenon, Bushy Park, on the first Saturday in July, the results computer went into meltdown mode!
Co-conspirators George Frogley and Richard Pitcairn-Knowles were the octogenarians responsible for coordinating this inspiring demonstration of fitness and longevity on a fine, warm morning at the 687th Bushy run attended by 1,096 parkrunners.
Wily George (82) and wiry Richard (84) know a good thing when they see it – both are 250 parkrunners and Richard (Sevenoaks AC) became the oldest runner to join the 250 club last year and holds age category best times at over 20 different venues.
As for the headline stats – the combined age of the 15 athletes was 1,246 years and between them they have amassed 3,430 parkrun appearances! Fastest on the day was 82-years-young Tom Everitt (28:29), 27 seconds outside the age-group record. Tom, of Eton Manor AC, is a regular at Hackney Marshes.
Top age-graded performer within the group was Melbourne 1956 and Rome 1960 Olympic steeplechaser Eric Shirley Snr, 88, who holds UK M85 records for 400m and 800m and is the oldest ever participant at Bushy. Eric blasted round in 33:14 for 82%! Equally amazing was John Butcher's new M85 best time (32:17) – worth 75.27% for the 85-year-old Ware Jogger.
The remaining finishers in time order were: Joe Cleverly (84) 30:47; Ron Denney (81) 30:53; Alan Anderson (82) 31:00; Richard Pitcairn-Knowles (84) 31:24, Maurice Francis (80) 33:18; Albert Yee (85) 36:13; Wally Garrod (81) 38:12; David Jordan (82) 43:20; Francis Lee (84) 43:51; Madge Bradsell (85) 46:13; George Frogley (82) 49:36 and John Hanscomb (81) 51:17, the oldest person to join the 500 club with 538 runs to his name and who completed every London Marathon from 1981 to 2008.
Madge Bradsell is a Bushy parkrun legend and was running her 395th parkrun. It is said that Madge had no shortage of volunteer male escorts at the post-parkrun coffee and cake tradition at The Pheasantry Cafe!