Entries for the seventh realbuzz.com Richmond RUNFEST on 14-15 September 2019 were up by more than 25% as nearly 10,000 runners finished the six-race programme in historic Kew Gardens and Old Deer Park.
Former Olympians rubbed shoulders with club runners, charity fundraisers and weekend warriors chasing dreams of personal bests and simply having fun in the fully sold out feast of distance running that offers an event for everyone.
The star attraction in the flagship Richmond Marathon was London 2012 Olympian Chris Thompson, of Aldershot, Farnham & District. The 2003 European under-23 5000m champion (0.26 sec ahead of Mo Farah) has a marathon best of 2:11:19 from London 2014 but a course record 2:30:09 sufficed for victory here ahead of 974 finishers. South African athlete, Lindy-Lee Folscher (Epsom Oddballs, 2:58:19) was among the 23 runners to beat three hours on the superb River Thames towpath based course that is claimed to be the flattest in the capital. Both winners are pictured above enjoying the trappings of success which included a luxury holiday to the Cayman Islands for their efforts.
Richmond Half Marathon winners were Uganda's Owor Paskar (Belgrave Harriers, 1:11:35) and GB international Tracy Barlow (Thames Valley Harriers,1:16:49) as 3,145 finished.
Another former Olympian, Scott Overall (Blackheath & Bromley, 30:02) stepped down in distance from his London 2012 marathon representative honours to take the Kew Gardens 10K title on Saturday morning. W40 Lesley Locks (Hart Runners, 36:31) was the women's champion, with a record 3,695 finishing. The newly introduced graze Sundown 5K on Saturday evening was headed by James Hall (16:23) and Rachel Badham (19:46) from a field of 629 runners.
There were pleasant shocks for two randomly chosen competitors in the 10K and half marathon races. Hannahclara Vilsek and Ali Stock were awarded spot prizes of Cayman Islands luxury holidays. “I’m so glad I did a sprint finish,” said Vilsek, “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have won a trip to the Cayman Islands. Can you imagine the adrenaline of finishing a race and then winning a trip?” Stock, a schoolteacher, said: “I feel a bit shocked. I’m a teacher so I’m going to have to convince work for the time off!”
The Kids’ Mile and Family Mile saw more than 1,300 runners of all ages race around the course in Old Deer Park. Race director Tom Bedford said: “When I see the look on the kids’ faces as they finish, it reminds me why we do this. It’s a great way to inspire the next generation with all abilities to take up the sport.” Kids’ races included a Skylarks race, where children with additional needs could use whatever physical or emotional support they need to enable them to take part and achieve their goals in their own way.