It was Panda-monium in Kew Gardens!
Richmond RUNFEST drew 2,130 runners to Kew Gardens for a unique double-header weekend of 10K races
After several false dawns and rearrangements, the ever-agile Richmond RUNFEST team hosted the largest socially distanced 10K races held in the UK this year, entirely within the privacy of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, over the weekend (15-16 May).
One of the highlights for Race Director, Tom Bedford was the sight of two competitors dressed as Pandas running for the WWF charity who battled it out over the final yards. As Tom told runABC South: “This might sound crazy but for me, two people dressed as pandas having a good time and running for charity is the normality of this sport that I look forward to returning”.
The 1,392 finishers in Saturday's Air:10K experienced ‘Audio Inspired Running’ and were able to hear an audio tour of Kew Gardens and an inspiring soundtrack as they ran. The Covid-secure measures included pre-allocated arrival times, holding zones, and groups starting four at a time in a successful first running of an event of this size to be held in 2021.
First to navigate the flat, fast course inside the world-famous Botanical Gardens – first opened to the public in 1840 – was Oliver Bridge (Kingston & Poly, 33:13 PB) and the first woman was British 100-mile record holder Samantha Amend (W40 Belgrave Harriers, 37:24) with the best female performance across the weekend. There were 1,392 finishers in 1:44:44.
On Sunday a further 732 runners finished the more conventional Kew Gardens 10K in 1:47:17 with Paulos Surafel (Thames Valley Harriers, 29:57) the clear winner with the fastest men's time of both races. Jo Vickers (W40 South London Harriers, 38:05) led the women home.
A delighted Tom Bedford added: “It’s been a long winter for many but this weekend felt like the return of some normality. Running outside is one of the safest sports you can do and we are going to need many more races and parkruns for us to tackle the next problem of the pandemic that is obesity and mental health issues. Our team has worked hard on making this event Covid-safe and I would like to thank all of our runners who listened to the many safety requests our volunteer team made to them”.
The next major event is the traditional Richmond RUNFEST scheduled for 11/12 September 2021, with races from a Mile to a full Marathon. For details of all Richmond RUNFEST events click here
Results from the weekend Kew Gardens 10k double can be found at runABC results
Image: Richmond RUNFEST Air:10K runners