The joy of parkrunning

Basingstoke parkrun event #579, 16th March 2019; Run Report by Mike Pini

Let’s face it, at some time in the past we’ve all doubted our own abilities. It might have been a fleeting feeling of not being fast enough, or worrying about not having the stamina to finish a muddy route. Or maybe the emotion ran longer and deeper, and so we stopped running altogether for a while. Perhaps we delayed even starting running, aborted plans to begin that ‘couch to 5k’ programme because we’d got into a pickle about not able to do it.

So, isn’t it brilliant to see hundreds of people out running, jogging and walking our new Basingstoke course? How many of the 602 friendly participants achieved something they wouldn’t have dreamt possible only a few months ago? It’s always a pleasure to listen to people who just completed their first-ever parkrun, or read their comments on social media. The joy is contagious.


A big bunch of smiling Hook Runners, fresh from finishing their Absolute Beginners Course (ABC), were among those who were over the moon today. And, no doubt, others who returned from a frustrating injury lay-off, were too. As well as the 57 people who battled against the gusts to set new Personal Bests (PBs) – in that wind!


Yep, it was pretty blowy but it’s Britain. And what’s a blustery hour among friends on a Saturday morning, eh? And don’t you feel better for getting out there?

A week doesn’t go by without a tremendous milestone or two to celebrate. Drum roll… a huge round of applause for Andrew Little for running parkrun number 500! Kudos to Dave Hope for his 250th. Hats off to local legend Tony Nicholls who completed his 150th. A very well done to Russ Jarvis for clocking up a century of parkruns. Congratulations also to Joanne Feast, who notched up her 50th. And bravo to eleven folks who are now into double figures: Tom Anthony, Sam Buley, Tim Conway, Russ Elliott. Chris Hammock, Eve Hancock, Thomas Malins, Derek Marshall, Anna Rohr, Stefan Rohr, and Martin Vickerman.

Let's not forget the 44 volunteers who made sure the morning ran smoothly. They included Geoff Herron who has now been a hi-vis hero 25 times.


We love welcoming first timers to Basingstoke so it’s nice to see 45 on the results page today. Please come back to War Memorial Park for more parkrunning fun soon.

Oh, and did anyone else see a giant two-legged dog running today?


The volunteer’s-eye view

Basingstoke parkrun event #578, 9th March 2019; Run Report by Paul Johnston

This week, 572 participants braved the blustery winds of March and marched to the start of the 578th Basingstoke parkrun. For 15 of them, it was their first ever attempt at parkrunning, so well done for making it over the first hurdle and hopefully we’ll see you all again at Basingstoke - no doubt the weather will be more settled and as we move towards summer, the ground conditions will be firmer and you will continue to improve. And no doubt you will get new PBs, just like the 68 who did just that this week - well done to you all too! A big welcome also to our 16 first time visitors to Basingstoke parkrun - we hope to see you again very soon.

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Well done to an amazing number of milestone runners, with Laurence Wilson, Simon Fowler, Gavin MacDonald and Zoe Harvey doing their 50th runs, and Michal Prosecco Bursak, Aram Hare, Anthony Walwyn, Richard White and Tanya Hare reaching the 100 milestone. Unofficial milestone runs were achieved by Matthew Newberry, Sarah Rennie and Fiona Robertson (150), Mike Stanford (200) and Karen Hodkin (300). Michal Prosecco Bursak coupled his milestone run with also volunteering at his 100th event.

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The biggest thanks of the week go to these Hi-Vis heroes ... Darren ROLFE • Jenny FROUD • John Lawrence PAYNE • Caroline PARTNER • Andrew LITTLE • Carol WADESON • Avi GOVIND • Andy V CULLEN • Grant HODGSON • Tommy MILLAR • Robert FROUD • Debbie THOMPSON • Matt PILLINGER • Phil HALE • Paul JOHNSTON • Frankie WELLINGS • Hannah ERSKINE • Ryan PARTNER • Mike STANFORD • Helena VESES FERRER • Jack HEDDERLY • Ruth STONER • Lisa HEDDERLY • Denise HOPE • George HEDDERLY • Brett RUTH • Paul MOULTON • Daniel HASTINGS • Kerry GASCOYNE • Sam GASCOYNE • Craig GILBERT • Lily WEINECK • Michelle HORSEMAN • Stella HERRON • Geoff HERRON • Ethan SCHULTZ • Michal BURSAK • Peter RAILTON • Duncan ROUNDING • Mike ATHROLL • Tamzin BLAGBROUGH • Alexander THOMPSON • Barbara WEST • Jane LOWE • Jonathon WHITE. They donned extra layers to keep out the biting wind, to volunteer and make sure parkrun could go ahead. I was one of the merry band and so could enjoy parkrun from a different perspective. What an enjoyable experience it was too, giving me inspiration for my own running.

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One of the best things about volunteering was seeing people’s faces which often reveal the most tales. Usually, whilst taking part in parkrun, you just see the backs of people and so it was great to see the variety of expressions throughout the run. At the start, there were looks of determination, apprehension and a few who looked as if they hadn’t quite woken up yet (a look that I have perfected on occasion).

During the run, most expressions changed to one of concentration which then gave way to either relief, pain, joy and in some cases all three ... although not at the same time. The most inspiring look though were the enormous smiles of those when they’d crossed the finish line - every one of those smiles showed the great joy and sense of achievement of the owners. One of the things that makes parkrun most enjoyable.

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Another benefit of volunteering was being able observe the different running styles and picking up tips that might help me, keeping the chin up to make breathing easier, lifting the knees to increase stride. There was lots to think about by watching everyone from the first finishers to the tailwalkers.

The appreciation showed by runners is always a nice touch, the ‘Thank you marshall!’ and ‘Thanks for volunteering!’ are always welcome, particularly as they are often said when people have very little energy left, but still remember to say it. Perhaps the best show of appreciation are the smiles that light up faces, after I’ve given them a few words of encouragement as they run, jog or walk past.

Being able to appreciate the great outdoors is another great aspect of volunteering. As you are not having to watch out for other runners, changes in direction or surface, there is a lot more time to look at and soak up the wonders of the War Memorial Park such as the historical features, the trees and the carpets of crocii, the sight of Red Kites circling on the thermals, the silver ball in the Peace Garden and the changes in the seasons. Given that we are in the early part of spring, these changes will be all the more noticeable over the next few weeks. The parkrun snake is also an enjoyable sight on the new course … don’t worry, it doesn’t bite as it is the sight of the field at the start, a glorious technicolour mass of bodies snaking its way around the football pitches just after 9am.

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Finally, for me, volunteering is the perfect chance to give back to other parkrunners who have done the same for me. I know it is appreciated by everyone involved, and gives me a sense of fulfillment after donating my time and effort for a good cause. Why not give it a go? Just email and make your choice.


The power of parkrun

Basingstoke parkrun event #577, 2nd March 2019; Run Report by Natasha Minto

Since joining parkrun, I’ve read countless emails of inspirational stories about how parkrun has brought people together, inspired those that had once lost faith, created communities where there once were none and overall improved the health of millions.

It seemed only fitting that after the last few years of very hard work and in celebration of getting older and wiser, I add my two cents.

Before joining parkrun I had done very little to no running. You see, I once weighed approximately (depending on the day) 10 stone (65 kilos) more than I do now, so a few years ago there was little to no chance of me walking up a flight of stairs, let alone running any length of distance (and 5km at that).

Back then I used to think that to be a runner, as well as being fit and healthy, you had to be a certain way. While it definitely helps to weigh less and you do need to be reasonably fit (it’s all relative) it turns out you just need to try. Turn up and try, to walk, jog or run, that not only qualifies you, but earns you a ton of respect in the meantime. This ethos of everyone is welcome, that is so visible and bright, stuck with me and followed me on my weight loss/ health journey and into my everyday life. I may not be the fastest or smartest but I try. Every parkrun is a chance to try again.

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My PB is 38 odd minutes which to some of the quicker runners may seem laughable, but to me, who could once barely walk to the bus without needing a sit down, this is monumental. What is even more so is that despite being slow and still overweight, I am welcome. ME! By all accounts a ‘non-runner’. Yet, at every corner I find someone cheering me on to keep going or am greeted by applause after what seems like the longest length of time.

From the back of the pack I am greeted by smiling faces, cheers and constant encouragement. The power of parkrun is that these people, the ones I used to call ‘nutters’ if I ever drove past them on a cold winter's morning, the ones who run in sun and sleet (and on Christmas Day of all things!), the people I used to think would be insulted or would judge my poor attempt at running, are in fact, the most welcoming people on the planet. They understand how hard it is to do, for anyone, despite size, weight, shape and age, to push your body to that limit, they understand. They welcome, they support and encourage. (They also don’t mind sharing cake at the end, which helps!)


I am now a member of local running club Hook Runners (who came out to support me at my birthday parkrun this weekend) and find myself talking about PB’s and fartleks, owning a head torch and a pair of trail shoes, and often going out to encourage others to do the same with our ABC’rs (Absolute Beginners Course). Whose life is this?

Hook Runners group with Natasha

I hope that by writing this and occasionally running, someone possibly less brave (and mouthy) than I, will feel empowered to come along. If I achieve anything through parkrun (other than hopefully one day a sub 35 PB) I hope to encourage every single person who thinks that running is not for them. I hope that every person who thinks they can’t lose weight or change jobs or make a tiny change in their lives can see that I am living and breathing proof that your life can be whatever you want it to be. Joining parkrun will most certainly help.


Enough jibber-jabber, on Saturday I not only celebrated my 30th birthday, I ran with 659 other wonderful people (Basingstoke parkrun's 4th highest attendance ever). I crossed the finish line, sweaty and smiley and was greeted by my team and the fantastic volunteers as usual.

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89 people managed to get PBs, on the still fairly new course (we've completed it four times now). 22 people were completing their very first parkruns - congratulations and I hope this won’t be your last time and look forward to seeing you again. We also had 33 first time visitors to Basingstoke parkrun - I hope you enjoyed running with our community on Saturday and that you will come and visit us again.

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Well done to all those achieving milestone achievements today.
Kacey Camps, Oliver Hunt, Heidi Brazier and Olivia Brazier were the juniors who reached their 10th runs today and will soon be wearing their white milestone shirt.
Adults have to wait to their 50th parkrun to be entitled to their first (red) shirt, as was achieved today by Dave Warman, Karolina Narloch and Fhai Hennessy.
Another of our younger runners Jacob Hare completed his 100th parkrun (black shirt).
Finally Lily Weineck and Aidan Robertson both volunteered at their 25th parkrun events, earning their purple volunteer milestone shirt.

Unofficial (non shirt earning, but still worth celebrating!) milestones were reached by Sharon Davidson (150 parkruns); Andrew Modle and Richard Ruskin Mellish (200 parkruns) and Sophia Lucas (300 parkruns).

In summary, joining parkrun has made me countless new friends, opened my eyes to my local community and helped me gain confidence in trying something new. parkrun will mean something different to whoever you ask but for me the power of parkrun is that no matter how slow you go you will always be welcome.


New experiences

Basingstoke parkrun event #576, 23 February 2019; Run Report by Sarah Govind

It was a bright but misty morning that saw War Memorial Park host Basingstoke's 576th parkrun. 563 people converged on War Memorial Park, making their way towards the football pitches for a 9 o’clock start. As I waited in the growing crowd of people for the runners briefing to start, I was surprised at how many new runners to our course were clustered around Sally Blanc, the volunteer responsible for talking them through the rules and regulations and twists and turns of the course. This group included some of the 21 new runners and 32 tourists who had arrived at our course for their first ever Basingstoke parkrun.

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These runners, joggers and walkers were not the only new things to be seen in the park. On a nearby bank a not quite so new loudspeaker was visible, which had been placed there to help run director Frankie Wellings get her message across loudly and clearly to the crowd in front of her. I hope you’ll agree that it did the trick! I was by no means at the front of the group, but appreciated that I could hear everything that she said. Listening to her message alongside me were milestone runners Jason Minns and Wendy Blackall, about to complete their 50th run and juniors Lenny Brooks Kibble and Grace Eldridge, ready to tick off their 10th run.

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Preparing to get her message across...

I was eager to join the first timers and no doubt lots of other Basingstoke regulars in trying out the new course for the first time. My first impressions were good. For a runner on the slower side, there were very few places where runners bunched up or where it seemed hard to get past if you were overtaking. It appeared that the core team of volunteers had put a lot of thought into creating a course that accommodated 500 plus participants and the needs of runners of different speeds. Plus it had retained all our favourite elements, such as the stretch through the woods and that run up tennis court hill! As I ran up that particular slope on my first lap, I noticed a couple of runners in St Michael’s Hospice vests making their way to the top.

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Volunteers in the early morning sun

After I had completed the two and a bit laps, I went to find over some more about the event and about the ladies themselves.

These two runners turned out to be Laura Williams, Volunteer Coordinator for St Michael’s Hospice and Nicola Lawrence, Corporate and Community Coordinator for the charity. They had been invited along to parkrun to spread the word about their upcoming Basingstoke Run, an annual 5k and 10k taking part in the grounds of Down Grange Sports Complex. Did you spot them on the football pitches after you had come through the finish funnel? They were joined by Michelle Pettitt who was handing out leaflets with details of the event, which takes place on the evening of Wednesday 15th May at 7pm. They hope to attract as many runners as possible of all abilities to join in and help raise funds so that the hospice can continue its work of providing care to those in North Hampshire affected by life limiting illnesses. There will be many people there on the day, such as Nicola, taking part with their children, giving the event a real family friendly feel. Why not come along and join them! I definitely will be.

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For more details, contact...

As we chatted further, I discovered none of these ladies were new to running and definitely not new to parkrun. All three, as well as participating in and volunteering at parkrun, are members of Hatch Warren Runners. Laura started taking part in parkrun just over a year ago. She worked her way up to the 5k distance after her son started school and she found herself with more time. In the past year has completed an impressive 31 parkruns. Nicola, when she is not getting businesses and the local community involved with fundraising for the hospice, is a regular parkrunner. She doesn’t take part as often as she might like, but alternates with her partner so they can both join in. Initially, she didn’t enjoy the timed aspect of the event and just wanted to run without having the feeling of being against the clock, but got into the swing of it after forcing herself to turn up every other week. She finished her 34th parkrun today in just over 34 minutes. Today Laura and Nicola were running up tennis court hill with some of the junior members of the club, known as ‘hatchettes’ or ‘hatchlings’.

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Waiting for the start

They echoed my thoughts about the new parkrun course, saying that it was definitely less congested with noticeably less overtaking, something amazing given the number of new runners now coming to take part each week. They also had a possible explanation for this swell in numbers, having noticed a similar trend at their running club, with a couple of new runners joining each week. They had made a connection to Hatch Warren’s popular couch to 5k programme, which not only attracts new runners to the club, but draws more people to parkrun.

On the 9 week couch to 5k training programme, they explained, new runners are supported by clubmates who they inevitably become close to. Their training culminates in a graduation ceremony held at parkrun, with these clubmates coming along in support, often volunteering so that they can cheer them on. These new runners, who previously might have struggled to run to the end of the road, see their clubmates, people like them, running the complete distance and feel assured that they can do it too. Coming along to future parkruns is a great way to keep it up and also maintain those social connections. Michele can attest to this as she has really benefited from the social side of being a runner. Since moving to Basingstoke around a year ago and doing a couch to 5k programme, she has got to know many different people from her club who also turn up to parkrun. The next couch to 5k graduation ceremony will be taking place at parkrun on 29 June, where the latest participants will be presented with their medals and a well deserved slice of cake.

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Where did that megaphone come from?

The last word from this group of ladies goes to Poppy Williams, a hatchette, who had joined her mother Laura in taking part in Saturday’s parkrun and also in promoting the hospice run. She really appreciated the support she received on the course from the marshals cheering her on when all she wanted to do was walk. A big thank you to all the volunteers who gave their time to make sure the event went smoothly and provided great support to runners such as Poppy. The reminders to keep left, the warnings of mud and tree roots underfoot and the encouragement when the going gets tough are always appreciated, as is the work that goes on behind the scenes to make the event happen. If you are a regular parkrunner, are new to volunteering and would like to get involved, get in touch at


Jacob’s red coloured T-shirt

Basingstoke parkrun event #575, 16 February 2019; Run Report by Lynn Brastock

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As usual, I’ll start with a weather/ground report; warm and cloudy, a little sticky underfoot in places. This being our second venture around the latest of the Basingstoke courses (see last week’s report for details of all the courses we have used over the years) 536 people donned their Saturday finest and tried their hardest to get “Course #10 PBs”. I’m sorry, but the powers of parkrun computers cannot be reset for each new course and as the distance is the same and the terrain is just being executed in a different order (although in some cases a bit different e.g. Crabtree), we will either have to count our own “Course #10 PBs” or beat the times that we have achieved before!

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70 people managed to get PBs, so either this is a great course or you all ran your socks off, maybe both. Whilst all this was going on Jacob Baker and his father Aaron were running their 50th and 100th parkruns respectively. Kevin Grant also joined the 100 club today. Congratulations to you all.

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Unofficial milestones were completed by Andrew Mountford and Marcel Mavronicholas who both ran their 150th runs, and Stephen Single ran his 200th. Andrew Wyeth, amazingly, ran his 550th parkrun, all of them at the various Basingstoke courses. Well done to you four too! At the end of this report I will attach the leader board for runs by Basingstoke registered runners for most runs completed, Andrew Wyeth as you may have guessed is near the top, but not in the number one spot, take a look.

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First past the post for the boys were two first timers to Basingstoke, both accomplished parkrunners with 62 and 318 runs under their belts already; Matthieu Marshall 16:51 and Robert Eveson 17:01, followed by Connor Wrey, getting himself a shiny new PB of 17:40. The girls were led round by Grace Mann, running her first ever registered parkrun in 20:23, Alison James, who has the highest numbers of first finishes at Basingstoke with 50 to her name, was second in 21:16 and Tracey Hare third in 22:52.

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There were 42 volunteers this morning, some making sure of our safety or scanning our barcodes and finishing tokens or activating the timers. Others were making sure that the course was laid out correctly and then removed and put away until next week. The Run Director was making sure that the run went ahead in a safe environment and that the volunteers were happy with their jobs.

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Then after the runners had all gone home and the park was once more peaceful, coloured only by nature, not the brightness of our running attire, the core team were busy on the computer downloading the finishing times and personal barcode information to produce the results page, then loading volunteer names, for the next few weeks into the roster and carrying out many other jobs that happen behind the scenes that we don’t realise about. So a very big thank-you to today’s volunteers and the core team without whose input we wouldn’t have a Saturday morning parkrun to boost our weekends.

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If you would like to volunteer, it really is fun and you won’t be asked to do anything too arduous, please contact, let them know your barcode “A” number and your name, the date that you would like to help and any preference of job, they would love to hear from you.

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Basingstoke parkrun Home Runners Leaderboard.

(Top 25 as at 16th February 2019)
Here is the latest update on the Basingstoke parkrun leaderboard. These 25 parkrunners have a combined total of 10,126 runs completed at many different events across the UK and overseas.

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