So I’m in Stratford-upon-Avon on a Friday night, feeding my Shakespeare
obsession. And in turn this sets me up nicely to feed my other obsession
the following morning. But where should I take myself, in order to complete
my 224 th parkrun on my 123rd different course?
Having already tackled Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as nearby Evesham,
Kingsbury Water, Cheltenham, Bicester and Oxford, I decided to join you at
Spiceball Park for Event #251. I’d also volunteered to help set up, which
meant an early start in order to meet Run Director Martyn. Unfortunately
this didn’t quite go to plan (I was waiting in the wrong car park) but, when I
did locate the initial wave of volunteers, they’d already been working hard
to ensure that Saturday’s event rapidly took shape. More unfortunately still,
my attempt to get in on these hi-vis heroics almost certainly caused more
problems than it solved (sorry guys). But at least I took people’s minds off
of having soaking wet feet from the morning dew and insect bites from a
Then at around 8.50am that other miracle of parkrun occurred, as from all
over the park eager runners converged in numbers upon the starting area.
The first timer/ tourist briefing having been deftly delivered by Clare, the
pre-run announcements having been expertly made by Martyn and the
newcomers, milestoners and volunteers having been rigorously applauded
by everyone, without further ado all 278 of us were set on our way at
9.06am, to delight in the activity that arguably Saturday mornings were
I greatly enjoyed your summer course, with its additional bridge section (we
have some bi-directional bridge running at Chelmsford Central, my home
event). Indeed, Banbury was one of the flatter courses I’ve tackled in
recent weeks (Martyn has also done Hadleigh parkrun in Essex, and will
testify that the elevation gain on that course is a bit brutal). In fact, just so
long as there isn’t a beast of a hill involved I’d say multi-terrain parkruns are
my very favourites, and yours had a great mix of tarmac paths and off-road.
I also particularly liked the shaded section alongside the canal, where the
houseboat residents are reputed to tantalise parkrunners with the smell of
Kudos to the Core Team for arranging a dry day, making mud and puddles
a thing to worry about some other time. If anything they made it a little too
sunny, but I’m sure they had their reasons (most probably related to
building character). Kudos as well to the marshals, each so generous with
their encouragement all the way round, and doing such a fantastic job to
ensure that everybody stayed safe and had fun.
The first finisher was Angus Beggin, who came home in a blistering time of
19:22, whilst the first lady was Rachel Piper, who recorded an equally
impressive 21:25. Many congratulations to both. Further congratulations
go to this week’s milestone achievers, who were Joby Mullins (100 events)
and Shaun Mullins (50 events).
A couple of further special mentions are due. Firstly Wendy Scott (from
Guildford parkrun), who British Sign Language interpreted both the first
timer/ tourist and pre-run briefings for the benefit of hearing impaired
participants. And secondly, whilst I think many couples might have taken
the Champagne breakfast option, Mr and Mrs Haden (Stuart and Cheri)
chose the morning of their Silver Wedding Anniversary to be Tailwalkers!
Love and luck to them both for many years to come.
Aside from my good self, Event #251 also had tourists from as far afield as
Runcorn, Nottingham, Southampton and Tonbridge. May the power of
parkrun to bring total strangers together to share an experience never
To conclude, I’d like to thank Banbury parkrun for making me so welcome.
Your event seemed to me a wonderful fusion between a smashing course,
a friendly crowd and a committed Core Team. I feel very confident that a
further 224 parkruns will not pass before I visit you again.