As if ruing a gloomy week for climate watchers, January today put on its most glorious show so far.
Hilly Fields was resplendent. It was as crisp and beautiful a winter’s morning as you could ask for; earth crunched under foot, and the chimney tops, churches, and glass and steel of the skyline basked in the gentle winter sunshine.
The fine conditions and still intact good intentions of the new year galvanised a record number of finishers at the park run, Mrs Lewisham Lately among them.
Participants are now racing towards the 300 mark. Today 286 people completed the winter course, gritting their way to a hat-trick of runs up the park’s longest slope and pipping the previous record set a fortnight ago by one runner.
It is just the latest milestone for our lovely local edition of the greatest grassroots running movement ever.
I crunched the January statistics to see how far it has grown – not including the New Year’s Day runs where there is, for some strange reason, a much lower turnout.
(I am almost certain that someone among Hilly Fields runners has superior patience and maths skills to give a broader picture across all months and years. Please do share if so!).
In its first January in 2013, there were an average of 60 runners each Saturday.
In 2014, that figure rose to 109, an increase of 82 per cent on the previous year.
In 2015, it was 156, up 43 per cent.
In 2016, the number stood at 199, up 28 per cent
In January 2017, it stands at an average 283 so far, an increase of 42 per cent – with the caveat that one more week remains.
So unless hardly anyone turns up next week, there’s still no sign of a plateau. Which may remind some runners of that winter course hill…