And so it came to pass that on the 11th July 2014, at the Wheatsheaf Pub in Tooting, a wager was made. Three slightly drunk men, egged on by their sober friend, decided to monetise their running challenge.
The men’s names: Adrian Dracup (asbestos killer extraordinaire), Mark Isham (serial cricketer) and Tommy Ferguson (hot nerd). All three had been running for some time. All three had been doing Saturday morning 5ks. And all three had general thoughts that at some stage it would be nice to run one in less than 20 minutes.
It was the occasion of Mark’s girlfriend’s birthday. People had flocked from all points across South London to pass on their good wishes, give middle-class gifts and eat burgers out of brioche buns. But it soon became clear that something was troubling Adrian:
“There must be a way we can gamble against our running” he exclaimed.
An anxious crowd was questioning: “But how?”
Over the next hour debate sparked among the group. What potential was there? Would the spirit of competition destroy the friendship they had forged? Does that even matter if there’s the potential to win cold, hard cash?
Finally a consensus came. Each competitor would put a pound a week into an account held by Adrian. This would continue until one of the athletes finally completes a 5k run in under 20 minutes. The rules governing this are few, but important:
- The time must be completed at an official Parkrun event. This ensures that the times are independently awarded.
- The location of the event is unimportant. Part of the skill is knowing which event is the fastest.
- The athlete does not need to declare beforehand that they are attempting it on a given day.
- The first person to run the distance in less than 20 minutes wins the whole pot, as well as adulation from their competitors.
- If multiple athletes run under 20 minutes on the same day, the quickest wins the pot, regardless of respective difficulty of the run
So, £3 per week, into a central pot, winner takes it all. The #RoadToSub20 begins.