parkrun has probably had the biggest impact on the UK running community since the introduction of the London Marathon in 1981 and much like the London Marathon Ranelagh Harriers had a part to play in its beginnings.
Paul Sinton-Hewitt the parkrun founder is another Ranelagh Harrier member who ran his first club event at the Coad Cup in July 2003. Paul had been brought up in South Africa and part of the running scene there were weekly 5km time trials.
In the autumn of 2004 Paul was injured and decided to organise a weekly 5km time trial primarily as a way of still meeting up regularly with his running friends. A 5km course was designed in Bushy Park and on Saturday 2nd October 2004 thirteen runners and five volunteers turned up for the inaugural Bushy Park Time Trial.
The start of the very first Bushy Park Time Trial (the precursor to parkrun)
Ten of those original thirteen runners have links with Ranelagh Harriers; Chris Owens, Matthew Morgan, Steve Rowland, Peter Wright, Rachel Rowan, Karen Weir, Julie Drummond and Simon Lawrence were members; Tanya Wolken was partner of Simon Lawrence and James Russell would later become a member.
Ranelagh also provided four of the volunteers, Joanne Sinton-Hewitt, Simon Hedger, Robin Drummond and Paul Sinton-Hewitt himself. The stopwatch was also provided by Ranelagh with Simon Hedger on timing duties.
And it would be Chris Owens and Matthew Morgan, who would carve a little niche in history by being tied for first and second in a time of 18:47.
Within two years the popularity of Bushy Park Time Trial would ensure a clamour for a second event and a later name change to UK Time Trial. With more and more events being started over the years, the mushrooming of events would prompt another name change to parkrun as it developed into the global phenomenon that we know today. The huge success story of parkrun also earned a CBE for its founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt. And the rest as they say is history.
Ranelagh member John Hanscomb and other over 80 year olds at Bushy Park
Paul Sinton-Hewitt congratulating John Hanscomb on 500 parkruns