Happy birthday to us! Swindon’s incredible parkrun celebrated its 9th birthday at event 439.
On 6th March 2010 a pioneering cadre of 30 runners turned up to the first run - and since then, the puzzled-looking wide-eyed infant has grown into a boisterous nine year old with its own distinct personality, stubborn habits and a wide circle of true friends.
A drizzle-flecked grey morning did little to put off participants, there were 637 in total - just a shade short of the Lydiard record of 649 - my haven’t you grown!
Swelling our numbers were members of the Royal Wootton Bassett Hounds Running Club who were using parkrun as one of their club championship events - it was great to see so many of our yellow vested buddies.
We were also joined by visitors from Lancaster, Lancashire, Bristol and London. Hello!
Parkrun director Emma Sperring - one of the 30-strong originals - welcomed the assembled runners and announced that henceforth she will be sharing her responsibilities with the highly capable Graham McDermott ‘the Scottish man under the gazebo’ who is now the co-event director.
Emma explained that he will be generally responsible for the technical side of things. And because of his very specific skill set, he is also your go-to person for any complaints whatsoever, apparently...
Congratulations Graham… everything’s going fine!
Legendary Leah Baker was thanked for her 100th outing as a volunteer - Leah regularly runs a reconnaissance lap of the course to ensure all is in order ahead of the main event - thanks for scouting Leah, it’s much appreciated!
Oliver Busby and Harriet Wellsbury have now clocked up 10 parkruns!
And Rhoda Lewis is now a fifty-er. Not only that, but Eddie Bailey is a one hundred-er! Most excellent.
It was an anti-clockwise run this time around, ‘cos it’s the first run of the month. And although there was some disgruntled pantomime muttering from some quarters, it’s the original way that the Swindon parkrun event was run… if you don’t like it, run it backwards… or tell Graham.
Hey, if you like big numbers (and who doesn’t?) it’s worth noting that in the nine years since the launch of the Lydiard run, a total of 15,909 participants have completed 143,808 parkruns and between them covered a total distance of 719,040 km. Not only that, but 1,276 individuals have volunteered 11,680 times.
Here’s another number - 52 - that’s the number of volunteers this week - the equivalent to one volunteer for every twelve and a quarter person taking part!
See you next week…
“Excuse me, sorry, could you just check to see if my car keys are in your jacket pocket?”
I said to the baffled looking man in the cafe.
It was probably the most English thing I’ve said this month.
What I was trying to say is… “You’re holding my coat and I want it back.”
Minutes earlier I had been fighting back mounting panic as I stared at the spot on the blue tarpaulin sheet previously occupied by my down jacket - which more importantly also contained my car keys. I had tried briefly looking away, rubbing my eyes and then glaring harder at the same spot, but even this failed to work - my jacket was still very much not there.
I turned to the wisest person I know - fellow parkrun writer Matt Holland - who was sympathetic to my plight: “This is indeed an emergency. Ask a woman. That’s always the best thing to do in this sort of situation,” he advised.
I asked one, who suggested ‘actually looking for it’ - incredibly, it worked! Thanks Emma and Matt.
Personal drama aside - what a splendid parkrun it was - sunny as you like, a gentle breeze and the faint whiff of manure hanging in the air.
There were a robust 587 participants this time around, including visitors from Bicester, Colchester and South Africa.
Celebrating his 200th run was parkrun regular Volunteer Coordinator Martyn Joyce who was rightly singled out for praise for his hard work in the background helping to ensure that the engine driving Swindon parkrun ticks over smoothly.
This week also saw an excellent generational effort, with three members of the Manley family taking on the 5k route - ranging in age from 80s to 11 - neatly encapsulating the parkrun ethos in one fell swoop. You are amazing!
Crossing the 10th parkrun barrier this week were Jack Hurley, Katie Newport and Daniel Busby - well done you lot.
And qualifying for the 50 t-shirt was Ryan Ward, Robert Hawker, Ellie Styles. Congrats.
Let’s talk dogs.. another reminder that runners should only run with one dog (on a short lead), no packs of baying hounds please!
And on the subject, parkrun is cancelled on the 16 & 17 March to make way for a Cani-X event…
It’s Swindon parkrun’s 9th birthday next week - and to celebrate, parkrunners are invited to wear what you like (apart from each other’s jackets.. that is) to mark the occasion. Got a vintage diving suit? Or perhaps there’s a pantomime horse champing at the bit in your attic? Anything goes!
That about wraps things up.
RUN REPORT for Swindon parkrun
Spring weather in mid-February or the love-effects from Valentine’s Day, either of these may have been key factors in the brilliant achievements of one in five parkrunners today, who got new PBs and our congratulations.
That’s right, on today’s windless, mild, almost muggy morning, 113 runners, joggers, or walkers got their best ever times at Swindon parkrun. Well done one and all!
Well done too to Paul Gibson, Lindsay L, and Catherine Kemble, who all reached the red T-shirt parkrun milestone of 50 runs.
And congratulations to Allyson Aujla on reaching her black T-shirt rewarded 100 runs.
A couple of significant round number no-T-shirt milestones were achieved by two other runners today. A Swindon regular, Paul Appleby, who started his parkrunning journey in 2010, made sure he was in Lydiard Park for his 300th run; and Felicity Crotty, usually Running Somewhere Else, joined us for her 200th run.
Also joining us today were 27 First Timers, including tourists from Norfolk, Witney, and Chippenham, who helped make up a total number of 543 runners, joggers, and walkers, welcomed by today’s Run Director Time Howe, who also thanked 49 volunteers, as do we.
It’s volunteers like today’s who have made Swindon parkrun possible for almost a decade.
Yes, early in March, we reach our 9thyear of parkruns in Lydiard Park.
How should we celebrate? With fancy dress, chocolate, cakes, or simply more friendship and another good run?
Doubtless, during the last nine years, many Swindon parkrun regulars will have seen their life, health, and sense of well-being changed, for the better, by running.
Well, at 2pm on Bank Holiday Monday 6th May (a date for your diary . . . ) two people, whose lives have been dramatically changed by running, will join us in Lydiard Park for the 5k Festival Freedom Run. And following it, one will talk about her book on how running saved her life, and the other, on how running has offered him a new life!
But before then, we have a good few more parkruns to do.
The next is on Saturday 23rdFebruary.
Till then, keep well, keep running, and keep counting.
Last week’s flurry of snow, which led to the cancellation of the first parkrun of Feb 2019, threatened a constitutional crisis of monumental proportions.
According to tradition, the first parkrun of every month at Lydiard Park has to be run in an anti-clockwise direction, but what happens when the first parkrun of the month didn’t take place…!? Clock or anti?
This was clearly a time when strong and stable leadership was required to steady the ship - because without a proper agreement, we would end up with people running in both directions and what a total shambles that would be!
Clockwise! declared parkrun director Emma Sperring, putting a lid firmly on any lingering uncertainty.
At parkrun 436, Swindon regulars were joined by visitors from Bristol, Guildford, Huddersfield and Leeds - taking the total number of participants to a steady 440.
Celebrating 50 runs this week was Chris Parker, Ann Richards and Heather Weston and hitting 100 runs this week was Jason Higgs.
This week was also notable for a trio of 300th runs. Long-time veteran of Lydiard Park, John Matthews moved to Cornwall with his wife Pat last year but completed his 300th at Heartlands parkrun near Redruth this morning - congrats John! A good friend of John’s - Paul Appleby - was supposed to run his 300th simultaneously at Swindon but was unable to make it to Swindon - because of family commitments (choosing to run ‘undercover’ at Raphael Park parkrun) so that he can clock up his 300th at Swindon next time. Also pushing through the 300 tape was Mark Malham - splendid job all round!
Quick reminder - please could runners limit themselves to one dog max (not a specific dog called Max, just to be clear…) if that’s your thing. Also, Lydiard parkrun is cancelled on March 16 and 17 because of CaniX.
Thanks as always to the volunteers (41 this week) and also to the unofficial junior volunteers for their excellent high-fives and shouts of ‘run faster!’
It’s good advice.