Parkrunners in the mist

Basingstoke parkrun #530, 14th April 2018, Run Report by Mike Pini

There was still some mist hanging over War Memorial Park as 499 fit and healthy runners, joggers and walkers of all ages amassed at the start line for a very punctual start to run number 530. A lap or two later (depending on how fast each was moving) the sun had burnt the fog away to create perhaps the most glorious Saturday of the year so far.

At the end of a week in which a certain social media billionaire was questioned about protecting people’s data, it’s worth reflecting on the wonderful data we all have access to after taking part in a parkrun. Every set of results contains some wonderful gems of information. For instance, did you know that over 40 of today’s runners have volunteered at least 25 times? Twenty-seven of today’s athletes have completed at least 250 parkruns, and two of them have finished over 500!

Furthermore, 27 folks were first timers today and the cool, dry conditions helped 55 people set new PBs. Darcey GILES made his tenth appearance. Lisa FIXTER, Clive LEWIS, Sebastian LOVICK, Steve LOVICK and William SMART clocked up half centuries, while Ilona DUNCAN ran her 150th parkrun.

Many participants, who represented 34 different clubs, worked their sweat-wicking socks off too; some crossed the line looking like they wanted to expel their breakfast, according to one volunteer. And at least one wasted no time at all in consuming a past-run protein snack – in the form of a fly.

Now the warmer days are here, many of us are looking forward to clocking up more parkruns, or supporting more often, so here are a few reminders to make our favourite Saturday morning activity go more smoothly for everyone:
• Supporters and runners, please keep clear of the path just before the finishing funnel (unless you’re running across it, of course) because when this area is obstructed it’s harder for the time keepers to see who’s approaching and give them an accurate time
• Runners, please keep to the right-hand side of the course to allow faster runners to get past you
• Don’t forget your barcode! No less than 38 runners were recorded as ‘Unknown’ today
• Don’t be late! Today’s run started at precisely 9 am
• And please check the article below about upcoming events that will be held at our alternative venue, Crabtree Plantation.


Crabtree Plantation parkruns 2018 – dates for your diary

Please note that, due to other events taking place at Basingstoke War Memorial Park, Basingstoke parkrun plans to switch to its alternative venue Crabtree Plantation on the following dates in 2018 (with the other events shown):

Date Reason
2nd June Kennel Club dog show
9th June Magic of Thailand Festival
16th June Pelican Cancer Foundation Foamy Fun Run
23rd June Cheese and Chilli Festival
30th June No reason - a bonus extra run because we just love Crabtree
7th July Basingstoke Live
6th October Basingstoke Half Marathon site build


Reminders will be posted nearer the dates concerned and a map showing the location of the Crabtree course and its associated car parking facilities will also be shown on the website in the week prior to the run. Meanwhile, you may wish to make diary notes accordingly.


Running in the Rain!

Basingstoke parkrun #529, 7th April 2018, Run Report by Penny Metcalf

I'm running in the rain, just running in the rain
What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds so dark up above
The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place
Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane with a happy refrain
Just running, running in the rain

(adapted from Singing in the Rain)

Despite the heavens opening on the Memorial Park this week, 461 people bravely ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 13 were first timers running their first ever parkrun. Congratulations go firstly to Richard Barker who got married that afternoon and also to each of the 57 who recorded new Personal Bests. Runners from 28 different clubs took part and there were 40 cold and soggy volunteers. Frankie Wellings, run director, had requested volunteers who names begin with A and B and is hoping to carry on through the alphabet each time she is director.

Rhys Price and Olivia Berringer were our youngest milestone runners, doing their tenth runs as juniors, Daniel Keates did his 50th run, Barry Shepherd got to the 100 run milestone, while John Followell and Joe Wilson did their (unofficial) 150th runs.

Tips for running in the rain that I have learnt from fellow parkrunners include -
● Wearing a cap with a brim (thank you to Daryl Catlin for the baseball cap one very soggy parkrun). At least it keeps the rain off your face.
● Wearing more layers isn’t always required! (Sometimes you still get wet and are boling). Think about removing one layer if you are adding a jacket.
● Wear some different shoes to go home in - or bring wellies for small people to change into, to avoid mud being spread far and wide across buggy, car etc.
● Bring dry socks/clothes to prevent tears from small people (and some bigger ones).
● You are supposed to dry your trainers out with balls of newspaper rather than leaving them on the radiator. Don’t put them anywhere near the washing machine or tumble dryer.
● Stop caring about the rain. The hardest part of running in the rain is often just getting started. Once you begin running and warm up, you may find that you actually enjoy it. Sometimes it is fun to splash in the puddles and feel the rain on your face and appreciate the warm shower at the end of it.

Running in the rain can be fun but standing around in it is generally harder work so an extra special thank you this week to all the volunteers. We couldn't run parkrun without our volunteers and if you haven't given it a go yet, please do have a look at the future roster at see what looks right for you and email letting them know the role you'd like to do and your barcode number.The weather looks set to improve during the week and hopefully next Saturday’s parkrun will be a drier event. I hear on the grapevine that we will stick to this course for a few weeks to allow the grass to dry out.


The Easter Bunny Came to parkrun

Basingstoke parkrun #528, 31st March 2018, Run Report by Frankie Wellings

Legend has it that Easter eggs are delivered by a cuckoo in Switzerland and by a fox in parts of Germany. That was not the case in the WMP this morning. Oh no, we had our own Easter Bunny who was very busy this year – there were spot prizes for 9 lucky finishers who found stickers on their finish tokens, almost 50 chocolatey treats were hidden around the course so well done if you found one (or in some cases, several!), and there was a special thank you for the volunteers by way of a box of goodies they could delve into. Easter Bunny would like to thank Lynn for her help this morning too!


As always, parkrun was able to go ahead thanks to the wonderful team of volunteers. We can’t promise sweet treats every week but if you would like to volunteer in future weeks, you will still get that warm fuzzy feeling knowing you have done a great thing and helped parkrun go ahead to enable runners to get their weekly 5k fix. It’s great fun, none of the tasks are difficult and you will be given a full briefing. All you need to do is email to have your name added to the roster. Leading the team today was Run Director Tony Moore, aka Big Tony. Unlike some of us (myself included), Tony doesn’t need a box to stand on when he does the briefing!

The clocks went forward one hour last week end which signified the start of British Summer Time. Summer? What’s that?! It has been a little soggy this week and today was no exception. There were lots of puddles to negotiate this morning as well as the small lake at Ross Corner. The weather didn't deter 502 hardy runners though. Included in this number were 23 first timers and 22 visitors. As Tony said in the briefing, the visitors came from all over the world - Scotland, Wales and.......Brisbane! We hope you enjoyed your first time with us and will come back soon to do it all over again. Despite the incredibly muddy conditions around the "lake" and through the woodland part of the course, 42 people got themselves shiny new PBs. Well done if you were one of them - quite an achievement in the conditions.


One of the notes in the briefing is to keep dogs on a short leash. I'm not sure if this dog was just tired, didn't want to get wet paws, or the owner really wanted to show he had listened to the the brief, but this photo really tickled me.


Onto today's results. For the ladies, first place was taken by Alison James in 21:09, 2nd place went to Rachel Mills of HWR in 22:30, and third place was taken by Liz Halley of Hook Runners in 23:12.


For the men, Jhon Cosgrove of Vegan Runners was first over the line in 18:27 missing a PB by just 2 seconds (if only it hadn't rained all week). Hari Bakhem came second in 18:45 and junior Ted Hodgson came 3rd in 18:51 and got himself a new PB.

Tony Watkins had the highest age grade this week with 79.55%. There were 34 unknown runners so remember #DFYB There were a number of milestone runs today. Earning their junior 10 t-shirts were Eva Skarzynski and Isabel Buchanan. Joining the 50 club and earning red t-shirts were Matt Bowyer, Mark Prestwood, Ella Boghurst and Sarah Copsey. Tim Pearce joined the 100 club and has earned himself a black t-shirt. Sadly no t-shirt for this one but Andrew Little did his 450th parkrun today. Well done to all of you. That's a lot of kilometers!

One of the things I love most about parkrun is the camaraderie and cheers of encouragement you hear around the course and especially at the finish line. I have had about 4 months off running and am (very slowly) coming back after injury and today was my first parkrun (excluding guiding, being guided and tail walking) since October. Lots of people gave me encouragement today, too many to mention personally but I would like to thank you all.


It won't come as a surprise to know we'll be back in the park to do it all again next Saturday so see you then!



Basingstoke parkrun #527, 24th March 2018, Run Report by Avi Govind

Apart from the first couple, my run reports have been about specific topics. We’ve had my experiences of being a tail-walker, parkrun’s 13th birthday and various others. But there’s no overarching subject in this report - rather this is a lot of miscellaneous information in one place.

That said, there are a number of words in the report that can be used to make new phrases and sayings when put before or after the word "mile" - see how many you can find!

parkrun 2


First off, the run itself

Saturday's run saw a total of 479 runners, joggers and walkers taking to a drizzly and cold War Memorial Park course.

We had quite a lot of people reaching milestones, namely:

- 10 runs (juniors under 11): Amia Sidhu and Chloe Townley
- 50 runs: Shiromal Fernando and Owen Brooker
- 100 runs: Graham Cook, Melanie Ellis, Andy Stent and Chris Clifton
- 300 runs (unofficial milestone): Ian Stokes and Michelle Maddocks

Well done to all of them in reaching their milestones, and also congratulations to the 62 people who got new personal bests yesterday! Of those, Sunthian Wyatt had done the most runs at Basingstoke, with her 84th yesterday.

parkrun 3

Joining in the quest for PBs from next week will be the 20 first-timers who took part this week - welcome to the parkrun family, and remember well over half our participants have done fewer than 50 runs.

Our first-finishers this week were Darrel May and Cath Wheeler - Cath also got the highest age-graded result alongside Tony Watkins. Our final finisher was volunteer and Duke of Edinburgh Award participant Izzy Ruth who, along with 39 other volunteers including Run Director Mark Norris, generously gave up time to allow the event to go ahead.


Next up, my own experience

My experience of the run was largely positive. I say largely because I saw a slightly heated exchange between two runners, one lapping the other, where each thought the other should have done more to allow space. It was difficult for me to tell whether any of them had a point as I didn’t see what had happened to cause the discussion.

As this took place on one of the wider parts of the course, it is worth reminding everyone that we should always be aware of what it happening around us while taking part in parkrun, and also that we should be courteous to all other parkrunners or park users.

parkrun 1

Part of the reason that I didn’t see what was happening was because I was on track to post my fastest time at Basingstoke since April last year. I didn’t think that was likely at the start as I was just behind two dogs for much of the first 500m - in fact someone described the start on social media as a ‘dog slalom run’!

But I needn’t have worried as that meant I didn’t start too quickly and I did just under a four-minute kilometre. I got through two kilometres in under eight minutes, and I managed to largely maintain the pace for the rest of the run thanks in no small part to trying to keep up with Andy Goddard, who ran just ahead of me, and also the beneficial effects of a speed training session during the week - I was very happy with my time!


Focus on volunteering: Event Director

As some of you will know, and as Mark Norris mentioned in last week’s run report, I am the Event Director for Basingstoke parkrun. That means I have ultimate responsibility for the event and everything around it, although on the day of an event this responsibility is delegated to the Run Director - so I am allowed to do other parkruns in this country or beyond!

Much of the extra work I do is behind the scenes, for example liaising with parkrun HQ on developments at events such as new sponsors, defibrillators and changes in volunteer roles, the change from Tail Runner to Tail Walker, say. I also keep in contact with Basingstoke council to ensure that we are using the park safely and responsibly, and that we are aware of other events taking place that mean we need to use the alternative course at Crabtree.

(On that note - look out soon for details of our Crabtree visits for 2018. We know that for some of you the Crabtree course isn’t a dream, so we will give as much advance notice as possible so you can plan alternatives should you wish!)

Additionally, I am the assessor for our Duke of Edinburgh award participants and have to deal with all the miscellaneous messages and questions we receive - there is no end to the different types of questions I have seen!

I am lucky to have the other six people in the core team to help me with some of these activities as well as others that I would otherwise have to do. They provide a good sounding board for ideas and we consult on decisions such as when to change to / from the winter course to avoid making a right royal mess of the grass. I am also happy that we occasionally get together and go for food (typically a curry!) at which we discuss and agree things we want to change or improve upon.

I am always keen to hear feedback or suggestions, so if you have any ideas about how we can make Basingstoke parkrun better, then please let me know.


Meet the parkrunner: Matt Pillinger

The final topic in this report is a role-reversal. Matt Pillinger is normally the person who includes "Meet the parkrunner" interviews in his run reports, but the tables have been turned on him so he goes from interviewer to subject this week!

Tell us a bit about your running history

Like so many people I used to run at school, gave up in my mid – teen years and took it up again a bit later in life. My first race for a long time was the Reading half marathon in 2008. I didn’t train enough or have any idea what a half marathon was like and I certainly found it hard work. Since then, I’ve gone a bit crazy and now do up to 20 races a year.

How did you find out about parkrun?

A friend at work told me about parkrun, he’d done his first parkrun (Eastleigh) the previous week, I signed up and made my debut the following Saturday.

When and how did you start parkrunning?

6 August 2011. Although I didn’t really know much about parkrun, I turned up at 8:20, expecting it to be fairly busy (typically for a ‘pay-race’ people arrive around 1 hour before it starts), but I was the only one there – until 8:50 when 200 people arrived.

Interviewee and interviewer

Apart from Basingstoke which is your favourite parkrun venue?

In a nod to Paul Sinton-Hewitt, parkrun is so much more than a run in the park. The biggest element for me is the social side, so I would say a venue where I am likely to see my (non Basingstoke) friends, which would probably mean Southampton or Bournemouth. Winchester is special to me as the place where I did my first sub 20:00 parkrun too.

Is there any parkrun course that you are not a fan of?

No – all parkruns are unique, which is what makes them such fun. If you want to know which courses are tougher & hence harder to get a numerically fast time on, Alice Holt (hilly), Cranleigh (swampy) and Homewood (rough ground) are probably the toughest I’ve run so far.

Which course do you want to visit to reach your 20th venue?

No idea, it will probably be fairly local and one some friends are at – several of my tourisms have been because it’s a friends milestone run and they are doing cake afterwards!

How often do you normally train and what sessions do you do outside of parkrun?

My club, OS Runners, do a lunchtime coached session each week which I attend, on top of that I will usually run 2-3 other lunchtimes (6-11k usually) and do a long run on a Sunday, the length of which depends what I am training for, but can be up to 20 miles.

OS Runners

You’ve been putting the miles in recently training for London marathon, what’s it like taking part in a race like that?

Any marathon is amazing - the feeling of crossing the finish line having trained so hard and put your body through so much is incredible (it’s a cross of pleasure, relief and pain). The London marathon is another level though – Its an iconic race which I think most runners would love to accomplish and the crowds are so loud and supportive across the whole course.

Which is more satisfying, a training run, parkrun or racing?

A bit of all 3 in balance is best for me, without training, you wouldn’t be able to race your full potential, without parkrun you wouldn’t have the social interaction of running each weekend, without racing, you wouldn’t have medals!

What is your running highlight so far?

This could go on a bit;

Thunderrun 2016 (a 24 hour team event) was amazing, my team came fourth in our category (mixed 5’s) out of 90 odd teams and we all ran the final 50 yards together on our last lap. I’ve run thunderrun in mixed 5’s 3 times now and am going back in a pair this year (with a friend from OS Runners).


London Marathon 2017 – Having failed to achieve a sub 3:30 marathon previously the relief at having done so was complete and all encompassing, particularly having been so clear about my 1 and only goal for that event. I sat with Claire Esslemont on the train on the way home - which was fortunate as having been sat down for 50 minutes I found it quite hard to stand up when we pulled into Basingstoke.

New Forest Marathon 2017 – I was running with 2 friends as an unofficial pacer/general helper. We finished in 3:48 and ran a negative split which I think smashed all of our expectations.

What are your future running goals?

I am doing an unofficial pacer/helper role in 2 marathons this year, Great Welsh in a few weeks and then New Forest in September, so hoping all goes well and my friends achieve their goals.

8 of us from Basingstoke parkrun are doing Endure24 in a team in June – no aspirations to win, but I’m hoping we all have a great time and meet our personal goals.

Time wise, don’t we all just want to be a bit faster? Although I’m not sure that is a route to happiness, I’d love to go sub 40:00 for 10k someday.

Where do you like to run and have you run anywhere particularly memorable?

Variety is the spice of life. There are lots of nice running routes around where I work (Southampton) and also around Basingstoke, so it would be hard to pick a favourite. Particularly memorable – apart from London marathon, I seem to get into the racing groove for the Great South Run and have run, what I consider to be, some of my best performances there.

Do you have any running experiences you’d care to forget?

Too many to list, in particular I tend to struggle in the heat. You shouldn’t forget your bad experiences though, learn from them instead.

Matt on route to a half-marathon PB at Basingstoke

What is your favourite sport to take part in, apart from running?

Cycling – one of the superb core team, Frankie, has been injured lately, we’ve been doing some cycling together and have entered a Sportive in the New Forest in July.

With all your running and cycling, do you have time for any other hobbies?

Err, not really. I dabble with swimming, but my main other activity is sleeping, although I do like to bake & eat cakes too.

Due to your analytical and graphical run reports that contain the odd parkrun metric you are often referred to as ‘Matt the Stat’ is this related to your work?

Yes, I am an accountant so spend a lot of time with spreadsheets. Accountancy is probably my natural calling and I certainly love a good bit of data analysis.

You have astounded people by running with no shirt on, even in sub zero temperatures, can you commit to keeping your shirt on next week?

Generally the lower the temperature the more likely I am to run topless, just for fun, but if I get a special request to run topless I will of course consider it. Special requests to keep my top on are less likely to be entertained!

In the middle of parkrun - top on!


Bonus content

For those of you who would like to listen to audio of my short interview with Matt after the run, during which he answers some "quick-fire" questions including ones on his running idol and person he most likes to beat, please visit:


And finally...

It looks like the week ahead will be quite wet, so it may be a parkrun that favours nautical types and we will still be on the winter course. Next Saturday is the day before Easter, though, so make sure you do come along as we have some Easter treats in store!

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