October 16, 2005
Mo Farah 48:59
Mara Yamauchi 55:49
No. of finishers
As 35,000 runners flocked to the three London parks where the Nike RunLondon events were staged, 1,200 more of them headed for Twickenham, a place as important to rugby as Rugby itself, but a less obvious drawing card for running. They were there to run the Cabbage Patch 10.
Its draw is not that it can rival the size and marketing power of the Nike races, but simply that it's a well-run classic race. Runners are given what runners want - a clear run on a flat, scenic course with foolproof marshalling.
"It's a good club race," said Don Anderson, from the Stragglers Running Club who organise it, and the other clubs agree. My own, Ranelagh Harriers, had 44 members in the race and ran their own 10-mile championship within it. Another 40 runners came from Heathside in North London.
The race is named after the public house whose landlord founded
it, back in 1982. Pub philanthropy was a driving force back then,
and Frank Dupree's special interest was the Clarendon School for children with special needs in Hampton. Then and now, all proceeds go directly to this one charity. It is a clear vision similar to that behind the Flora London Marathon.
Despite the prosaic name there are sights of interest and grandeur. Passing Teddington Lock, where the Thames turns tidal, the course goes over the Bridge to Kingston, where Saxon Kings were crowned. It skirts around Ham House and in the eighth mile runs alongside that famous bend in the river that appears from Richmond Hill, a view unchanged in 300 years.
It was the late, great Chris Brasher's final campaign in life to preserve these riverside meadows, long after he had so successfully campaigned to bring the London Marathon to the streets. Runners pass his house three quarters of the way through the Cabbage Patch race.
The course rises only where it crosses the river, and the return crossing on Richmond Bridge includes a short staircase. There are a few tight turns, but the evidence of the last 24 races is that this is a fast course.
Richard Nerurkar once ran close to 46 minutes, and this year Mohammed Farah - a local - squeezed under 49 minutes and won himself a £600 cash prize. The first seven men all ran under 52 minutes, while Mara Yamauchi was 16th overall as first woman in 55:49.
Behind good performances at the front, people flooded in. Entries are limited to 1,600 because of the nature of the course, and they close well in advance. Despite the alternative attractions of the mass events held on the same day, the Cabbage Patch easily kept its normal turnout. It has an enduring, essential appeal.
The race is well supported locally - over the last two years even the RFU from nearby Twickenham has joined in. They may have international appeal, but they see support of this race as a means to generate local goodwill.
In the Cabbage Patch 10, Twickenham has an iconic event that has helped road running to maintain its identity in the locality and beyond, and doesn't buckle under competition.