Champagne corks were popping in Hyde Park as Serpentine Running Club celebrated a landmark achievement of one of its longstanding members earlier this month.
Eamonn Richardson, 58, from Wandsworth, is a life member of the club and celebrated his 300th Serpentine Running Club handicap race, a feat that has taken 31 years to accomplish, on April 1.
After the race, Eamonn regaled his club mates with a special Serpentine poem and song he had written for the occasion.
He said: “I know a lot of people made an effort to come here today because they knew it was going to be a special day and I was very pleased with all the bits of paraphernalia and that I could make it a day for everybody else to enjoy.
“It may only be a fleeting half an hour and a bit of fun but it makes it a little bit different.”
LOTS OF GEAR: Shirts Eamonn Richardson has collected over the years
On the first Saturday of every month, members of the club meet to race two laps of the Serpentine lake in a race where slower runners have an equal opportunity of winning against their faster club mates.
The handicap race sees the slowest runner start first against the clock and the fastest runner setting off last trying to catch and pass the runners that started ahead and in theory everyone finishes at the same time, but in practice that never happens.
Eamonn ran his first handicap race in March 1986 after joining the club two months earlier following a move to London from Ireland.
It took him 12 years to complete the first 100, ten years to get to 200 and the last 100 took nine years, with him only missing five handicaps in those last nine years.
Eamonn added: “If I’m perfectly honest I don’t like the distance, it is too short for me.
“The important thing for me is it’s the one time every month I know I can get to see Serpies and more particularly the members of the club going back and people who might not run any longer but still turn up to cheer.
“It is seeing those old faces and keeping in contact and it might be only once a month but it is there.”
Life member and friend Ros Young said: “That is absolute consistency, isn’t it? The guy is a little metronome!
“I’m not sure how much training he does apart from the London Marathon every year and swimming, I’m not sure I felt he did much more vigorous training.”
Serpie Ian Hall joked: “I always suspect he is slipping the odd handicap in the middle of the month that we don’t hear about and we don’t run in.”
“But seriously, he is extremely dedicated to the handicap, he is always running.
“He seems to be lucky not to get injured like many of us do so he is able to run quite consistently. I just think it is a fantastic achievement and long may it continue.”
Adrian Kerr, 42, from Richmond, a new club member, said: “It’s amazing what Eamonn has achieved, the dedication to do it, to reach 300 is phenomenal. It’s impressive to keep coming back. It is an easy race to do in the summer but to do it in the winter when it is cold and wet is dedication.”
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