Parkrun finally came to Tooting this morning with a few hundred runners gathering for a collective trot around a bit of Tooting Common.

I can’t remember how long ago it was that I first spoke to Andy Bullock, the man behind today’s event, nor how many obstacles he has had to overcome in getting to today. In some ways though, it doesn’t matter. There is finally a parkrun in Wandsworth.

In 2014 I wrote why I felt Wandsworth would benefit from a parkrun:

parkrun is attractive to non-runners and helps increase overall levels of activity, a study in the Journal of Public Health found the majority of registrants were not regular runners, a third were overweight or obese and that it attracts more people from older age groups who, generally, are less active. The study also found participants reported positive outcomes to their physical and mental health, weight loss and sense of community.

And anyone there today would have seen that.

I tucked myself in at the back of the crowd—a habit I’ve adopted to stop me starting off too quickly—and overheard an older woman approach one of the parkrun volunteers. “Are you the tail-runner?” she asked before explaining, almost apologetically, “you’ll be seeing a lot of me, I’ve just started running and I’m not very fit.”

But she was welcomed. When she passed the stewarding points the applause and encouragement that greeted her were every bit as enthusiastic as they were for every runner that passed before. What was important was not her speed or her stamina, but that she was there, that she was part of Tooting parkrun.

One of the objections the council made to me when I was lobbying for a parkrun was that, because it made money from sponsorship to cover the central administration, it was a business and should have to pay (ironically the council has now created a business, Enable LC, to run its parks). Anyone there today would see that it isn’t a business, it’s a community. And a community that will only benefit the borough.

Featured image from @wandsworthbecca’s coverage of the event.

The Olympic rings on Tower Bridge
Not related to the torch or Tooting Common, but since this is my photo I can use it without incurring the wrath of the Olympic police

The council has published details of how to get tickets for the Olympic Torch relay event that Wandsworth is hosting on 23 July on Tooting Common.

The event will be (free) ticket only and the tickets will be issued on a first-come first-served basis at Battersea, Balham, Putney, Tooting or Wandsworth libraries between 7.30 and 8.30pm on Wednesday 11 July Monday 16 July. You will need some proof that you are a Wandsworth resident to get a ticket (such as a council tax bill).

Full details are available on the council’s website.

Undoubtedly many will be unhappy about the way tickets are issued. Unfortunately it is out of the council’s control. It seems ticketing was a late requirement by the Metropolitan Police, and the council have had to quickly find a way to ensure its allocation is distributed to Wandsworth residents in sufficient time.

If recent experience with things like the change in refuse collection days is anything to go by, we know that it’s impossible for the council to get the message to everyone (that was featured in Brightside, on the website and in council tax bills and still many said they knew nothing about the change), so if you know anyone who is thinking of, or might be interested in, attending the evening celebration please let them know about the ticketing scheme.

Updated 6 July: The arrangements for ticket distribution have been changed. The council’s website is clearly the definitive source for this information, and I will update this once I see that page has been refreshed and the new information put into the public domain.

Final update: The council have updated their page, and I’ve updated this accordingly.