With event director and parkrun ambassador, Donna Carr, splendidly attired as Queen Cleopatra, her loyal parkrun subjects obeyed orders to set a new Kent parkrun attendance record at Maidstone’s third anniversary on Saturday. In the shadow of Allington Castle the 5k course was completed by 429 runners to eclipse the previous best of 423 set last month close to Tonbridge Castle.
Many participants donned fancy dress for the occasion, including the first to arrive back at Howard’s Hill, within the Museum of Kent Life. Loughborough Student, Niall Stewart (Medway & Maidstone), crossed the line in 17 minutes dressed as a fairy but used his magic wand to make his finish token disappear!
This allowed Tom Carpenter, resplendent in Monsters Inc costume, to become the official first finisher in 17min 19sec – his 65th first place effort at Maidstone. Medway and Maidstone’s under-17 prospects Max Read and Bashiri Ryan were separated by two seconds in their battle for runners-up honours.
Bernadette Harrop (21:57), of Medway-based Runfit, wore conventional gear and a determined expression to go clear in the women’s category as Paddock Wood’s W65 Sue James (84.94%) led the age-graded results. Gemma Large (55:17) was the tail runner and one of 24 essential volunteers who make each run safe and enjoyable for so many people.
Maidstone parkrun fairies once again kept the rain at bay until after the run and Dotty’s tea room was packed for the record announcement. As Donna Carr said afterwards, “parkrun is more than a run, it is a community and that's especially true at Maidstone. Inspiring parkrun stories are regularly shared with us and that makes it all worthwhile. Whether you run or volunteer, it is such a great start to the weekend". So it is now over to Tonbridge for the next round of the challenge between the local rivals.
More information at the Maidstone parkrun website.
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Image courtesy Tom Phillips