Swindon parkrun, event 428, Run report

RUN REPORT for Swindon parkrun Number 428


OK, for a change, let’s talk about the weather.


We certainly did in Lydiard Park today.


You see, just in case you missed it, this morning was decidedly gloomy, rather wet, pretty cold, and definitely windy. The sky was dishcloth dull, the wind cold, and the raindrops stung rather than kissed our cheeks.


One runner, hunched and shivering on the start line said, ‘I’m only here because this is what I do, sort of routinely, at 9 on a Saturday morning. But I’m not sure about today!’


He’s right.


So, anyone who stayed home is excused, forgiven, and was probably sensible.


That’s not to say that the 291 of us (again, joint-lowest number of runners since New Year’s Day . . . ) who braved conditions didn’t have a good time. We did, we did. Honestly, we did. In fact, despite shivering at the start, once running, we had the wind in our backs down the first long straight.


We positively flew till Colin’s corner, from where we faced a nasty north wind all the way down the back and up the hill. But at the finish, of course, felt as good as ever.


As runners, we had a good time. But the people we thought about most were not parkrun friends who stayed home but the 38 volunteers who came and set up and took down for us, cheerfully marshalled round the course, welcomed us at the finish, and dutifully did the cold-fingers scanning.


Among them today was a trio of smiling stalwarts: Steve Heavens on his 300th stint as volunteer, Alethia Reid on her 350th, and Simon Sperring on his 400th!  We thank them, and all other volunteers.


Benefitting from the volunteers’ good work today were 19 first timers and tourists, who included runners from as close as West Swindon, as far away as Melbourne, and as famous a parkrun as Bushy Park.  There were tourists too from Bournmouth, Chipping Sodbury, Dublin, Gosport, Newbury , Winchester, and Yeovil. We hope you all enjoyed your runs and had a good time with us today!


Certainly having a good time today were the 37 runners who got themselves new PBs and our congratulations.


Also getting our congratulations and T-shirts to boot are 10 runners who today reached parkrun milestones.


We say well done first of all to two Juniors, Jasmine Hartley and Isaac Williams, who not only reached their black T-shirt rewarded 100 runs today but are also regular and reliable volunteers at Junior parkrun. Brilliant, both of you!


Pretty good too are six runners Tim Knott, Rebecca Brett, Karen de la Cadena, Neil Cutler, Alan Maxwell, and Barry Gaff, the latter with a new PB, who all reached 50 runs today and will be rewarded with Santa-red T-shirts.


Two other runners, Swindon regulars Simon Jell and Janet Jefferies, also hit the big 100 runs today, for which they get high marks, or maybe just high fives, and certainly new black T-shirts.


Well done milestoners one and all!


The next time we can all increase our number of runs, and at the same time use up some calories to justify a second helping of Christmas pud, is Saturday 22nd December.


And, because that’s our last run before Christmas, we are all invited to wear seasonally-appropriate fancy dress, the incentive for which is not only a bit of fun but also the chance to be snapped by our friendly photographer James B. And as we all know, he likes to capture rare and funny sights!


Till then, keep well, keep running, and keep shopping, or maybe not. -J


Matt Holland



Swindon parkrun, event 427, Run report

Swindon parkrun

Event number 427

8th December 2018


It’s beginning to feel increasingly somewhat like Christmas - as the song goes. And as the twin perils of festive food and exercise limiting weather form a threatening pincer movement, it’s clear that the discipline of our weekly parkrun more important than ever.

A mighty band of 414 turned up this week, including 34 first timers, straining in the slips and ready to slay the dragon of indolence.

Among our number were visitors from Rushmoor, Bovey Tracey, Bristol, Reigate, Buckfastleigh, The Wimpole Estate, Huntingdon, Cheltenham; not to mention Sardinia Bay in South Africa and equally as glamorous, Medina on the Isle of Wight.

And celebrating birthdays this week were regular parkrun volunteers Alethia Reid and Basil Miles - many congratulations to you both!

In her pre-run address, parkrun director Emma Sperring highlighted the work of a group of volunteers who have been helping out with parkrun over the past few weeks as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. This week two D of E volunteers were put to the test with when they took on responsibility for time keeping - which they carried out without a hitch. We were also visited by members of the Saturday Squad guides from Wroughton, who were making use of Swindon parkrun to achieve a group fitness target - amazing effort girls, well done!

There was also a shout out for a dirty dozen volunteers to be on call to form an elite special projects gritting team should the temperature plummet - able to react at a moment’s notice. If you think you’ve got what it takes to join the parkrun SGS (special gritting squad) please report to HQ at swindonoffice@parkrun.com for further instructions.

This week was one of hard won celebration for Debbie Bradley who has crossed the 50 run barrier and also for Kevin Whelan and Andy Townsend who have now both completed 250 runs - that’s a lot of hard work over a number of years - congratulations on a fine achievement!

A reminder that the parkrun on 22nd December will be fancy dress (if you fancy it...) There are no hard and fast rules, but it would be great to see a few Christmas pudding hats, and perhaps this could be your opportunity to dress as a pantomime dame in public without anyone asking awkward questions.  Start thinking about your outfit now…

The event was made possible by 44 volunteers who are becoming more enthusiastic and dedicated with each passing week - we salute you.

I’ll leave you with some wise words from Aristotle:  “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Here’s another: “Run in the morning … before your brain figures out what your body is doing!” - Anonymous


Ben Fitzgerald



Swindon parkrun, Event 426, Run report

RUN REPORT for Swindon parkrun Number 426


Spare a thought for the people who chose to stay home this morning, keeping dry and warm, having nice lie-ins maybe, or enjoying the day’s papers over a leisurely breakfast, or just another cup of tea.


What did they miss?


If they’d been with us in Lydiard Park they’d have had their cheeks gently kissed by raindrops and their skin not-quite-so-gently stroked by a bit of breeze. They’d have felt extra-good for being out in the fresh air on the 1stDecember and running our friendly course anti-clockwise. They might also have been puzzled to see one runner dressed as a perfect gingerbread man; and surprised and delighted by the sight of a fabulous force of uniformed fire cadets.


The latter crew, young, keen, and undaunted by the weather, cheerfully completed our two-circuit 5k and in the process raised £900 for medical research. Brilliant!


Also brilliant were today’s 37 volunteers, including Julian Farmer doing his 25th, and Swindon Striders pacers, all of whom never gave a second thought as to whether or not to brave the weather. They simply got up, turned up, smiled, and did their duty; and 291 of us thank them for that.


Yes, 291, that’s all. This constitutes Swindon parkrun’s lowest turnout since our New Year’s Day run this year.  And the reason then was serious late night frolics rather than a bit of inclement weather.


But the sight of a spot of rain did not stop tourists from Northala Fields and Bangor in Northern Ireland from joining us, being among today’s 21 First Timers, whom we welcome; or stop 23 people from getting themselves new PBs and our congratulations.


Also getting congratulations from us, for reaching key parkrun milestones, are the following four Swindon regulars. Well done to Junior Emily Billett for making it to 10 runs; to Taylor Reynolds and Craig Gould for hitting 50; and to Julie Wells for reaching the big 100!


We are into December, which culminates in certain traditional celebrations. To mark these, please note that you are invited to don appropriate seasonal fancy dress at Swindon parkrun on Saturday 22nd  December. You can even come as a gingerbread man!


The next time we can all run dressed in plain running gear is Saturday 8thDecember.


Till then, keep well and keep running, whatever the weather!


Matt Holland



Swindon parkrun, Event 425, Run report

Event number 425

24th November 2018

It’s great to be popular isn’t it? Swindon parkrun seems to draw in visitors by the coachload. It’s not unusual to see the numbers nudging the 500 mark these days (this week’s tally was 485), with no signs of any drop out as the cold hand of winter tightens its grip.

Director Emma welcomed visitors from Thornbury, Ross-on-Wye, Cranleigh, Wimbledon, Newbury and Gorleston above the excited yapping of dogs eager for the off. And congratulations were in order for Emily McManamon for volunteering 25 times as well as Leanne Petite for embarking on her first parkrun. And there were half a dozen runners marking their 50th outing:  Matthew Ryder, Haydn Jones, Andrew Cassidy, Dani Wells, Dorothy Hines and Jeremy Janisch. Well done all!

So what is it that makes Lydiard so popular? Undoubtedly the stunning venue must play a role - after all, if you’re going to put yourself through all that gut-busting agony, isn’t it better to do it in pleasant surroundings? But there’s more to it than that - it’s the welcoming atmosphere that makes everyone, including ‘tourists’, feel immediately part of the proceedings; and it’s the often unnoticed work by volunteers that allows the whole thing to run (mostly) smoothly - we had a total of 39 volunteers this week.

Sure, you’ve got your glamour jobs, the marshalls and the pacers who are rightly enthusiastically thanked as we stagger past. But spare a thought for the people carrying out vital backstage jobs… working behind the curtain to bring you the magic of parkrun. There’s Leah Baker, for instance, who runs a loop of the course ahead of the event - her eagle eyes scanning for fallen trees or deep puddles that might pose a problem for runners. There are volunteers who set out and put away the funnel, who check that the jelly babies are not out of date and that the First Aid kit is stocked and in place, who ensure that the bibs are washed and who herd vehicles in the carpark, those who manage the social media output and deal with the wealth of data - we salute you and declare that henceforth this day shall be known as ‘unsung parkrun volunteers day’.

A show of hands revealed a significant number of parkrunners took part in the excellent Swindon 10k last Sunday. Speaking to Emma afterwards, she said that the event put into context just how great parkrun is - catering for a similar number of runners, putting on a top notch free event and all for the sheer mud-splattered joy of it!

Farewell, until we meet again in December.

Ben Fitzgerald



Swindon parkrun, event 424, Run report

Swindon parkrun

Event number 424

17th November 2018

There’s nothing quite like a good dose of sunlight to lift the mood and today’s 5k jaunt was brimming with solar powered cheer as we chugged around the track with varying levels of commitment. It’s amazing to think that we are in the middle of November.

Perhaps the timely reminder by parkrun director Tim at the outset was partly responsible for the collective reality check.

“Remember, it’s not a race, it’s a bit of fun on a Saturday morning,”

This was in response to reported rudeness last week levelled at some of our runners by others trying to get past. It’s easy to lose perspective sometimes, we’ve all been guilty of supermarket trolley rage. It’s good to be reminded to get over ourselves from time to time. And today I had the pleasure of witnessing my fellow runners enthusiastically thanking the marshals on every corner, chatting to each other along the way and muttering ‘well done guys’ to those they passed. We’re all somewhere on that bell curve of ability - some of us are pushing to the right and some gliding gracefully to the left on the inevitable travelator of time. It’s nice to wave at each other as we pass isn’t it?

I’m not going to reveal where I am on the bell curve, but I have recently discovered the joy of properly stretching before and after running. I realise that I’m probably not the first to make this Earth shattering discovery, but I’ve been brought up to view such self care as indulgent and for poseurs. However after continually suffering from nagging Achilles issues I’ve enthusiastically embraced the notion - it makes a huge difference and my family are delighted not to be given comprehensive run down of my aches and pains every Saturday afternoon. If you’re not a ‘stretcher’, give it a go. You never know, you might end up wearing knee length compression socks, it’s a slippery slope.

This week 464 of us were looked after by 36 exceptional parkrun volunteers and 64 of us recorded personal bests. Respect to you.

And respect also to Gen Taylor (also second woman home!) and Howard Palin on reaching their 50th parkrun and Vincent Knight for crossing the fabled 100 barrier. Spectacular effort!

Keep calm and keep stretching.


Ben Fitzgerald


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