Swindon parkrun, event 400, Run report

Swindon parkrun

Event number 400

12th May 2018

Swindon parkrun hit the mighty 400 mark this week! From its first faltering steps on the 6th March 2010, when a few pioneering souls ventured out on the 5k route around lovely Lydiard Park, the event has grown beyond all recognition.

No doubt the brave few who were there at the start would be amazed to see how, eight years hence, the start line would be thonged with 468 parkrunners of all abilities and ages drawn from points of the compass as diverse as Stavanger in Norway to  Bryanston in South Africa; not to mention Haverfordwest in Wales, Huntingdon, Middlesbrough, Exeter and Bournemouth.

The growth is a glowing tribute to the dedication and enthusiasm of organisers, volunteers and participants who have put in so much effort over the years.

Since the first Swindon parkrun, a mind boggling 14,031 participants have completed 125,216 parkruns covering a total distance of 626,080 km, including 22,128 new Personal Bests.

For those of you with a yearning to drill even more deeply down into the data, Swindon parkrun has enlisted its very own statistical svengali Graham McDermott to weave meaning from what he could dig up - firstly turning to the urgent question that must be playing on everyone’s minds... have we collectively run the distance to the Moon and back... or not?

Over to Graham:  “While we would not be able to get to the Moon and back (The moon is 384,400km away from Earth) we are about halfway home and should expect to arrive back some time in the second half of next year.”

So be sure to listen out for the doorbell and put the kettle on!

And as if that’s not amazing enough, Graham added: “We have run over 625,000 km and the Earth is 40,000 km around the equator, so we've collectively run the equivalent of just over 15 times around the planet.”

For further clarification: “The US is about 4,000 km wide, so if we all went a bit Forrest Gump it would be about 160 laps coast to coast...  The UK coastline is about 17,000 km so that would be 37-ish laps around the edge of the mainland UK.”

More in-depth statistical fun can be had by following this link - https://wiki.parkrun.com//index.php/Swindon_parkrun

Such is the growing popularity of Swindon parkrun that we will soon see the introduction of three additional regular pacers for 22mins, 32mins and 45mins who will be on hand to assist participants to hit their personal goals. Thanks pacers - it’s no easy task and we appreciate your encouragement as we attempt to tuck in behind you!

Run director Emma Sperring reports that the ‘keep to the right’ rule seems to be working well, with faster runners now being able to push on through on the left without too much difficulty - many thanks to John Matthews for kindly providing signs dotted around the route to remind runners.

Congratulations are in order for Karen Skuse, Jenna Brooks, Tess Brooker who hit their 50 run milestones today and Lorraine Ferris who has completed 100 runs - we salute you!

Diary time - next week (Saturday May 19 and Sunday May 20) Swindon parkrun and junior parkrun is cancelled to make way for the Race for Life event to raise money for Cancer Research UK. And on June 9th, parkrun will be helping to celebrate the 70th anniversary of our amazing National Health Service - with a call out to nurses, doctors, porters and any other amazing NHS staff to come along and take part.

On a personal note, I witnessed first hand the incredible skill and professionalism of NHS staff this week, for which I shall be eternally in their debt - I’m sure many of us have our own reasons to celebrate this unique organisation, so come along and show them you care.


Ben Fitzgerald




Swindon parkrun, event 399, Run report

RUN REPORT for Swindon parkrun Number 399


On a morning like this, so perfect for running, or just about anything else, you could run out of superlatives.


It was glorious, fabulous, fantastic!


The sun shone, the birds sang, and Lydiard Park was full of spring: new leaves on the trees, dainty daisies and dandelions in sunny glades, the occasional haze of bluebells, and all the holes on the parkrun course filled in and smoothed over. Brilliant!


Made you feel thankful and good to be alive, even when stuck in a long queue for the loo.


And the queues were for the many not the few, because today, we had a Bank Holiday Weekend surge in numbers.


Run Director Emma welcomed a sunshine-chirpy 528 of us, including tourists from Bristol, Cirencester, Colchester, Eastbourne, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Tunbridge Wells, and Chile!


There were 56 First Timers, whom we welcome, 41 volunteers, whom we thank, and 99 runners, almost one in five, who got themselves new PBs and our congratulations.


And, because it was the first run of the month, we ran anticlockwise, the ‘old way’, and, for the most part, paid good attention to the keep-to-the-left instruction, so over-takers had a clear run to the right.


There were however one or two runners, who, so focused on overtaking to the right and their sprint to the finish, ran wide of the funnel entrance and simply ducked into it further down. Not a good idea. Messes up the numbering and timekeeping. Please remember to enter the funnel at its start and stay in it, in finishing order, all the way to its end, where the hi-vis clad lights at the end of the funnel will give you your finish token. Easy really.


Not always easy though, what with other Saturday commitments and occasional off-putting weather, but definitely worth doing, is running parkrun regularly, as often as you can, which is the way to reach key milestones, feel good, be rewarded with a T-shirt, and get a mention in run reports.


Today it’s the turn of three runners who all made it to 50 runs today and get red T-shirts, in due course. Well done to Howard Thomas, Jane Caudwell, and Steve Robbins, who has done all of his half ton in Swindon.


Another runner, who had done tons of runs, half a dozen at Swindon parkrun, but most of them all over the world, some of them championship record-breaking runs, and one, a run across the USA, barefoot, was Bruce Tulloh, who died last week, aged 82. He holds the fastest time at Swindon parkrun in the 75-79 Age Category. He was a very nice man who encouraged everyone to run and wrote books on how to get into running whatever your age. He is remembered with respect, fondness, and gratitude.


Another fine person who knows that age, parenthood, or whatever else life chooses to throw at us or bless us with, is no barrier to running, and that telling others about it is no bad thing, is down to earth running mum and European gold medal winner Jo Pavey.


Jo will be coming to Lydiard Park at 2pmthis Bank Holiday Monday, to join us and be the inspirational star attraction for an event organised by Swindon parkrun and the Swindon Festival of Literature.


There will be some surprise entertainment just before 2pm at the start line, on the Crossroads, and then, we’ll all do a gentle or vigorous, as you like, 5k Freedom parkrun together. At the finish, there will be refreshments, in the shape of runner and walker-shaped biscuits, cups of tea, and cold drinks.


Then, at 3pm, we head to the Luxborough Room in the Lydiard Conference Centre to hear Jo Pavey talk about her book, This Mum Runs. You will be able to meet Jo and buy the book, if you want.


And if you want to run another Swindon parkrun, the next opportunity is Saturday 12th May.


Till then, keep well, keep running, and maybe buy sun cream!


Matt Holland



Swindon parkrun, event 398, Run report

Swindon parkrun

Event number 398

28th April 2018

The spirit of love and togetherness seemed to be the order of the day at a drizzle sodden parkrun 398 - with no fewer than three couples making their way to the start line holding hands. Could it be that the recent outbreak of hand holding and symbolic tree planting on the world stage is setting the tone over here? Either that or the squelchy mud made reaching out for extra support a vital necessity. Whatever the truth, more hand holding and general groovy togetherness has to be a good thing.

With that in mind we were asked to try out something different today, with parkrun director Emma Sperring urging runners to keep to the right. The bold new approach aims to minimise the risk of collisions as runners overtake. On the first parkrun of the month, when we go anti-clockwise, we should stick to the left. Essentially, try to keep to the inside of the loop you are doing. Simple, I think.

A potential bottleneck seems to be the bit under the trees where the speedier runners end up lapping the slower runners and walkers. So please keep your eyes and ears open.

The move has been prompted by concerns last week from runners who found themselves on the sharp end of impatient urgings from fellow participants - which is a shame and at odds with the parkrun ethos.

We also had a request to avoid using headphones or at least keep an ear free to help heighten awareness of fellow runners. Another option is to invest in a pair of bone-conducting headphones which leave your ears unblocked whilst still allowing you to seek inspiration from Survivor’s ‘The Eye of the Tiger’ or M-People’s ‘Search for the Hero’.

Congratulations are in order for six-year-old Josh Howe, who completed his 10th parkrun today. Young Josh has also clocked up 12 volunteering slots. Also hitting the 10 mark was D.J. McCaw, Great effort!

Crossing the 50 barrier were Richard Albery and Michael Jefferies; picking up 100 was Sarah Heppenstall and on 250 is Adam Fuller.

Also hitting important milestones this week were Andrew Williams who completed his 50th parkrun alongside his father in law Paul Haydon who chalked up 100 runs today. Congratulations everyone, those milestones represent a huge commitment.

This week 469 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 38 were first timers and 88 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 31 different clubs took part from as far afield as Newbury, Chippenham, York and Southampton.

The event was made possible by 34 somewhat damp but always cheerful volunteers.

One final thing, Swindon parkrun is supporting the Running for Dementia 2018 initiative. Anyone wanting to support this worthy cause can join the fundraising leaderboard for Swindon parkrun by logging on to www.runningdowndementia.org or joining the Swindon parkrun leaderboard here

Keep on running!

Ben Fitzgerald



Swindon parkrun, event 397, Run report

Swindon parkrun

Event number 397

21st April 2018

There was palpable crackle of anticipation in the air as parkrunners gathered outside the cafe of dreams. The impossibly fine weather, which had no good reason to be loitering around in the middle of April, seemed to speak of a fresh start, somehow turning Friday night’s reluctant runners into Saturday morning’s superstars.

It seemed that everyone was determined to Carpe the heck out of this Diem.

We were joined for this adventure by parkrunners from Pontefract, Andover, Dublin, Barnstable, Salisbury and, mother of all parkruns, Bushy Park.

Notably it was also the 100th volunteering milestone for our own Colin Gunney - you know... from Colin’s corner? I caught up with him at his usual spot at a right-angle in the route by the farm gate and the water trough - assisted by his three impeccably mannered Italian Spinone dogs Nula, Zia and Blu. Tied to the gate post were a trio of helium balloons proudly proclaiming his hundred-fold achievement. After deciding to hang up his trainers following injury, with 64 runs under his belt, Colin decided to devote his considerable energy and enthusiasm to making ‘Colin’s Corner’ one of the highlights of Lydiard parkrun.

As the runners flew past he explained: “Well, if I can  - (well done, keep going!) - help to encourage - (not far to go now!) - runners to - (final lap now, no slacking!) - get round the - (come on now, no dawdling!) - route and help to - (amazing effort everyone!) - brighten their - (hurry up, I’ve got a rugby match to get to..) - day, then, for me it’s worth it.”

And continuing on the canine theme - today’s first and second placed runners were each attached by a sturdy harness to a human… running hard to keep up.

According to parkrun director Emma Sperring, their times (the humans that is) count as an assisted run and although stunningly quick, will not overturn any of the route records. That said, mighty impressive running from all four of you!

It’s worth remembering that while a bit of healthy competitive spirit is a great thing, it should not cloud our consideration for other runners, walkers or hobblers. It’s very easy to get caught up in the desire to get the best time, but sometimes forcing your face into a smile (it won’t crack) and politely asking to squeeze past might be the best policy.

I’ve also been asked by the boss to remind everyone to bring water as the weather begins to heat up - and ensure that you are sufficiently hydrated before you hit the trail - it’s easy to get caught out.

Hitting the big 100 mark this week were Timothy Pitts, Sue Stephens and Fred Wellsbury and racking up 50 was Miklos Varga - wear your t-shirt with pride!

It was a busy one this week with 454 runners taking part with 40 first timers sampling the delights of Lydiard Park (hope to see you again soon!). There were 70 who recorded new personal bests - good job! This week’s parkrun was made possible by 40 top-notch volunteers.


Ben Fitzgerald



Swindon parkrun, event 396, Run report

RUN REPORT for Swindon parkrun Number 396


Spring has definitely arrived in Swindon.  Today, the weather was just about perfect for parkrun, or any other run.


And don’t we love it. We meet, we greet, and we chat by the cafe. We warm up and then shuffle into approximate pace positions. We set our watches. We crouch and get ready. We are itching to be off. We are definitely up for this weekly challenge.


But really, Swindon parkrun is a doddle.


We don’t have any fences to jump. We don’t have any argy-bargy on the start line. We don’t have someone sitting on our back, wielding a whip. And we don’t have anyone’s hard earned pennies or pounds riding on our performance.


Aren’t we the lucky ones.


But however you fared at Swindon parkrun today, hope you were on a tigerish roll in the National.


There were certainly more happy human runners at Lydiard Park than there were equine ones at Aintree.


Run Director Emma welcomed 471 of us, who included 42 First Timers, and tourists from Guernsey, Burgess Hill, West Sussex, Witney, Yeovil, Sunbury on Thames, Forest of Dean, and all the way from Burnie parkrun in Tasmania.


Hope they all had a good time and liked our 46 brilliant volunteers, whom we thank.


Runners who will have felt especially good today are these seven, who all reached parkrun milestones.


Congratulations to Juniors Euan Belmer and Calum Grant, who have reached 10 runs, all done in Lydiard Park.  Well done too to another Junior, Iona Sucksmith, who has made it to 50 runs, and to vet Sue Giles, who has reached the same number but next Sunday heads for her biggest run yet, the London Marathon.


Three runners who have made it to their own marathon target of 100 runs and that coveted black T-shirt are Claire Parnell, Paul Brame, and Susan Horrobin, who has done all her runs at Swindon parkrun. Well done everyone!


And well done too to ever-friendly and sharply observant photographer James Booth,  who on the last two Saturdays, took a series of pics that illustrate all the agony and the ecstasy that goes into parkrun for each of us.  We really appreciate what you do James and the quality of pictures you take, even though your lens does not always flatter us.


The next time we can all be true to ourselves, whatever the camera says, is Saturday 21st April.


Till then, keep running, keep well, and keep spreading the parkrun word.


Matt Holland


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