ESM Boxing Day races – Pitshanger Park – Thu 26 Dec 2019

After the glorious mild sunshine of Christmas Day, Boxing Day brought a more typical mix of chilly, damp weather, and the volunteer team turned up wondering if any runners would join them. Luckily, there were quite a few with guilty consciences, keen – as this year’s Clerk of the Course Gary Stringer put it – to “blow away the calorie cobwebs” of the day before.

U11s, U15s & seniors set off together, to complete the 1M, 1.6M & 4.2M routes respectively

The field was a mix of ESM members and Pitshanger Park Runners (PPR), (including one or two ambidextrous) and a handful from other local clubs. These long-standing races were traditionally just open to club members but guest runners really add to the occasion.

As the race is free to enter, we don’t buy anything: the volunteers rustle up whatever leftover race numbers, and safety pins we can find at home. It turned out a little more rustling up was required in the safety pin department, so some numbers were flapping around a bit at the finish, while others were retrieved from pockets and waved with a flourish… Which is a long-winded way of saying: it was a bit tricky reading some of the race numbers, so if you think your result is wrong, please click here and let us know!

Everyone set off together, and you’d normally only see such a wide age range at a parkrun: our youngest runner was just 6 and our most senior was 71. After a half lap, the Under 11s turned back towards the finish, led by 10 year old Tom Gornall in just outside seven minutes. Final finisher was our youngest participant, 6-year-old Oscar Poole. (Some good running genes there, possibly, with Jonathan Poole fastest in the main race!)

Tom receives his prize

First home for the Under 15s was 11-year-old Finlay Vadon, looking here as though he’s thoroughly enjoying his race!

We had a few members of the ESM Speedy Squad in the main race, but they weren’t allowed an easy time of it. Mo Hashi and Ben Waterman had locally-based Serpentine member Jonathan Poole for company at the front of the field, with Oliver Way just off the leading pack.

Jonathan, Mo & Ben

Jonathan won by 17 seconds, though Mo had the consolation of winning the ESM Boxing Day trophy. His name will be added to an illustrious list which dates back to 1936.

For the women, Pat Thomas made her usual positive start, but it was Ealing Eagle Gosia Kucharska who crossed the line first, with a six second margin, while Pat held off the fast-finishing Abdi Azimi of PPR.

Gosia wins the race but Pat gets the ESM cup!

John Falvey set handicaps for club members, and the winners on that basis were Colin Foster and James de Vivenot. Many thanks to Mark Delahunty who donated the wine and chocolates given as prizes, and to John McKim who donated the packs of mince pies.

Thanks are due to the volunteers: Clerk of the Course Gary Stringer for checking out the course in advance, and setting up & down on the day, John Falvey & Fiona Kennedy on registration & results, and Sean Hanrahan, Jonathan Horan & Mark Kencroft on marshal duties. If you come along next year, don’t be afraid to volunteer, it’s very straightforward and always appreciated.

All these great photos were taken by Arun Manget. The full album can be found here. For full results, click here.