Congratulations to Croydon runner Gareth Davies, who today, together with a couple of regular training partners, managed to organise and stage the first Richmond Park Marathon.
The 26-mile 385-yard race was a bit of a contrast from the 40,000-runner London Marathon last month. The Richmond Park event was staged with a field of just 300, paying just £20 or less for their entries, and running three and a half laps of one of the most beautiful parks on the planet, using roads and pathways.
Davies, 47, is a veteran of more than 100 marathons, and has a good club runner’s PB of 2hr 54min for the classic distance. He says he got the idea for staging a marathon in the park while on a training run with a couple of mates, Ray Povinelli and Will Dawson.
“Having spent many hours running across the beautiful trail running routes within Richmond Park, I felt it was time to combine my passion for completing the full marathon distance and stay remaining within one of London’s jewel locations,” Davies said.
“We wanted to create a unique trail running experience that is both relaxed, enjoyable and challenging to all who take part.”
Davies and his mates’s greatest achievement was possibly managing to persuade the Royal Parks department to allow them to stage their event.
Richmond Park is hugely popular with runners of all standards as a training site (some south London clubs do their long Sunday runs through Wimbledon Common and round the park), and has long been a venue for small-scale cross-country races, such as the Surrey League. But the parks management has long resisted any efforts to stage bigger events on the park’s roads.
When the weight of road traffic forced the Southern Road relays off their traditional course around Wimbledon Common more than a quarter-century ago, the Royal Parks resisted all requests to take that much-loved event or other races on to closed roads within the bounds of Henry VIII’s old hunting grounds.
With police forces around the country rarely agreeing to road closures for sports events, organisers of road races, cycle time trials and triathlons are being forced into imaginative solutions to pursue their sport. In that respect, Davies looks to have succeeded.
- Ex-Blackpool keeper Lloyd Scott finishes the London Marathon after 26 days (offthepost.info)
- Olympic marathon chief steps down (guardian.co.uk)