Fletcher’s Cove parkrun #90 (really, 90!) took place on a brutally cold autumn morning, after weeks of higher than average temperatures. Who would show up in that weather? YOU did, and in bigger numbers than you’ve had in the past few weeks. Go figure. 60 runners and walkers in total, including someone who possibly is still in possession of finish token #36 (can we have it back next week, pretty please?), 16 first timers at Fletcher’s, of which 10 were overall parkrun first timers. A few of the “tourists” were locals from nearby Roosevelt Island, College Park and even Anacostia, but David Joyner came all the way from Crissy Fields parkrun in San Francisco, and from Manchester, we had Andrew Waldron-Kelly, whose local is Hanley parkrun, and has also completed Roosevelt Island and Deep Run parkruns in what must have been a very productive trip.
There were 10 new personal best times, certainly aided by the weather, including first overall finisher Andrew Evans (18:36) and first female finisher, Claire Wigglesworth (19:32). The highest age-graded performance of the day belongs to Dad, Henry Wigglesworth, with 81.19%.
Let’s stop here for a moment and look at Claire and Henry’s story. Henry is our esteemed Event Director at Fletcher’s Cove, and owner of what is still the overall age-graded course record, a whopping 88.83%. Henry is a serious amateur runner, a national champion, and doesn’t fool around. He doesn’t “go for a jog”. He trains. In fact, this was only Henry’s 11th parkrun at Fletcher’s, and only the fourth he’s actually run; on all other occasions, he was either tail walking or marshalling. This is partly due to an injury, and the long recovery after surgery, but also, as we said, because Henry just doesn’t fool around: he either runs (boy does he run) or he doesn’t. So, what finally motivated Henry to get out of the parkrun closet after nearly a year? The answer is Claire Wigglesworth. If you’ve been coming to Fletcher’s you will have certainly noticed Claire’s rapid ascent to parkrun elitedom, topping the list with 20 first finishes to her name among her 44 runs at Fletcher’s. With her Personal Best (PB) time approaching 20 minutes, Dad decided he could pace her to her first under 20 minute finish.
And off they went. But wait: who’s pacing whom here? “Stay behind me, Claire”; “Dad, you’re going too slow!”. And she took off, ignoring, as teens do, Dad’s wise advice. How did it go? Claire shaved a full 40 seconds off her PB and finished in 19:32, leaving Dad in the dust. Henry was distraught (did we say he’s competitive?) and confused. Henry was humbled. But Henry was glowing with pride. His coaching skills called into question, as was his parental authority, but at least Claire has Dad’s genes to thank him for.
If we ask nicely, Henry might be willing to pace runners at varying tempos, to help folks achieve new PBs. We need to give him a valid reason to just go out and enjoy a run in the park!
On a sad note, last Saturday I also heard about the recent passing of Peter Blank, at age 63, after a battle with cancer. Peter was, among many things, an avid runner and race walker, and a master at connecting people and putting together winning teams for his Potomac Valley Track Club. It was this skill as a connector that led him to hook up one Darrell Stanaford, now parkrun US manager, with the aforementioned Henry Wigglesworth, both of whom had approached him independently about an idea called parkrun. The rest, as they say, 90 runs and 11 new parkruns later, is history. I never met Peter in person but I have a lot to thank him, for his contribution to what has become a great part of my life, centered around a Saturday morning run.
Andres Falconer, A110656