‘We’ve finally crossed the finish line’: First Wandsworth Parkrun helps Tooting runners go the extra mile

More than 150 runners took to Tooting Common on Saturday for the borough’s first ever Parkrun.

Tooting Common played host to the first free, timed 5K event in Wandsworth after years of campaigning from residents.

The runners took off at 9am on January 30 from the corner of Hillbury Road and Dr Johnson Avenue.

Alan Martin from Mitcham, who has now participated in 34 Parkruns, said: “It did seem a strange oversight that there wasn’t any in Wandsworth, and having more on my rotation is definitely a good thing.”

Mr Martin, 31, got a joint personal best on Saturday with a time of 25:05.

He said: “If you’re running by yourself, it’s that bit harder to motivate yourself to (literally) go that extra mile.

“On top of that, I’ve found other Park Runners to be incredibly friendly, making it just a nice experience and a good way of starting the weekend.”

Marathon runner and Tooting MP Sadiq Khan helped campaign to get Parkrun in Wandsworth.

“It’s been a long campaign, which many local residents have led and been involved in, so I am delighted that the first Parkrun event on Tooting Common finally took place on Saturday and, of course, the people of Tooting turned out in force,” he said.

“Parkrun provides the opportunity to run in a friendly and sociable environment, with the support of others. It also helps to attract new people to running, helps bring communities together and has clear public health benefits, including tackling obesity and improving physical well-being.

“As a keen runner myself, I was honoured to start the run. I was also honoured to welcome Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of Parkrun, to Tooting to celebrate with us”.

Parkrun was set up by Paul Sinton-Hewitt in 2004 and Khan admits it was an arduous process getting the free-runs to Wandsworth.

He said: “I first wrote to the Council back in October 2014 urging it to give permission for Parkrun, a not-for-profit organisation that runs free, weekly, volunteer-run, 5km runs around the country, to come to our wonderful local Common. So I was delighted to be able to see the fruition of so many months hard work for myself.

“Tooting Common is a wonderful community park. By holding regular Parkrun runs in Tooting, more people from across London will be able to discover and enjoy our open spaces, alongside Tooting locals.

“Getting Parkrun to Tooting has been a long campaign, but I’m delighted we’ve finally crossed the finishing line.”

Images courtesy of Sadiq Khan’s office, with thanks

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