When those 13 pioneers turned up at Bushy Park in south-west London in October, 2004 they can hardly have imagined that they were in at the start of something that would turn into a national (make that an international) phenomenon. And following 8 years of incredible growth for the free weekly 5k run, the pathfinders at Bushy Park provided the first big parkrun story of the year.
2013 was only a few days' old when a remarkable 1,051 people gathered at Bushy Park for the first Saturday event of the year (there was an extra fixture on New Year's Day). The normally strong winter turnout was supplemented by a healthy contingent of resolution runners and first timers, to produce a new record attendance for a parkrun event.
Richard Kowenicki (Thames Hare & Hounds) claimed a PB and brought the big field home in a time of 15:48, ahead of Staggler Justin West (16:33) and Sittingbourne Strider Anthony Jackson (16:48). 14 year old Max Frost finished 11th in 18:33 while Sarah Winter (Stragglers) was fastest lady (19:37) ahead of Elmbridge RRC's Nikki Nicholson.
The midpoint runner was Catherine James in a respectable 26:29 with 80something Madge Bradsell completing on 38:30 to highlight the inclusive nature of parkrun. Volunteer back marker Sally Willis (59:30) was the last runner to collect her token.
As well as the new record for an individual event, Saturday (5 January) also saw a global record attendance for parkrun with over 27,000 runners taking part. This total passed the previous record by 3,000. In the north of England, Newcastle, Preston, Concord (Sheffield) parkrun and Congleton parkrun all saw record turnouts on Saturday. Looks like another big year for parkrun.