parkrun – good for both physical and mental health

Basingstoke parkrun 588, 18th May 2019, Run Report by Avi Govind

Now, as many of you will know, this isn’t my first run report. Other than (possibly) that first one, though, I think it’s going to be the most difficult to write.

That’s because I’m going to tackle a couple of topics - later on it’s the FA Cup Final, which as a Watford fan I am very excited about - first it’s something that it’s been difficult to avoid this week as it’s been all over the media: mental health.

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that this is mental health awareness week - with a variety of public figures, media portals and people in general making an effort to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and the need to end the stigma of talking about it. The main theme of this week has been ‘body image’.

(Before I carry on, I must point out that I don’t profess to be an expert on mental health, but it’s obvious to me that the ‘body image’ theme can dovetail with parkrun hence this being part of the run report.)

The wonder of parkrun, as I point out to people all the time, is that it is open, welcoming and inclusive to all. If you want to come and run, jog or walk 5k in a friendly, supportive environment, you could do a lot worse than coming to Basingstoke parkrun. But I could bang on about this for ages to someone (and sometimes I do!) - and they may still be convinced that parkrun is the exclusive home of a bunch of finely-tuned athletes all striving to break world records. Thankfully it’s not - and is all the better for it - but even I was somewhat wary before I did my first parkrun in 2009.

We had a discussion at work this week about our own body images, which was fascinating. I think I’m quite lucky - while I wouldn’t mind being an inch or two taller, and haven’t got the most hair in the world, I’m pretty comfortable in and with my body. Or maybe I just don’t worry about it in the way that some people do. These are the people that parkrun can do wonders for if they can be reached - so I think it’s up to all of us to make an effort to encourage and support anyone brave enough to be at parkrun.

On the wider topic of mental health, another thing that takes a lot of bravery is someone opening up and talking honestly about tough times that they are experiencing. In this day and age it is all too easy to put on a front and pretend that everything is fine when actually it is not. Again, parkrun can help here as being in a community can give someone the confidence to be open and give someone else the privilege of an opportunity to help them.

I’ll leave this topic with something I wrote a couple of years ago that still resonates now, especially the need to be kind to people:

“So as we all carry on through life, try and remember that it’s not straightforward for everyone. The person who you think is lazy, disorganised, quiet, loud, unreliable, or whatever else you perceive as a negative trait may be facing battles you can’t even begin to comprehend. If you are having those battles yourself, try and find the courage to speak to someone, as hard as it might feel to do - a problem shared may not quite be a problem halved, but if you can find a listening ear it will undoubtedly help. I've benefitted from that in the recent past as well with people being patient enough to listen to my random ramblings about my thoughts and feelings.”

Onto today’s parkrun itself - and as Run Director I first have to say a massive thank you to the team of volunteers, and this week’s volunteer co-ordinator Grant Hodgson, who spent a lot of time sending appeals and dealing with late changes to the roster. There were also some more as we were in the park due to some volunteers needing to pull out due to illness, so I appreciated the flexibility of everyone who changed role. It’s my turn to be volunteer co-ordinator next week so hopefully it will be a bit smoother.

It’s been five months since I was Run Director and so it was good to not be running for a change and to speak to some volunteers and spectators while everyone was out on the course. I had an interesting discussion with a Notts County supporter lamenting their relegation out of the football league, as well as chatting to Shane Hedges - a tourist from Southampton who is trying to visit all the parkruns in Hampshire and who was very complimentary about our event.

Today’s fastest finisher was Tom Harding - with the main surprise being that this was the first time he’d been first for three weeks - with a time of 17:36, with the fastest female (recorded) finisher being Alison James in 21:05.

Unsurprisingly, the highest age grading went to Tony Watkins with 82.54%, and the highest female age grading was achieved by Alison again with 80.47% - for those of you who don’t know what the age grading is, it compare your time to the world record for your age and gender allowing comparisons between the times of any two people.

There were only a couple of milestone runners today - with the unofficial milestone of 300 runs being reached by 15 year-old Nicholas Mitchell. His Dad, Jeff, had rightly predicted that Nicholas would be reluctant to receive public acclaim, hence his decision to stand across the field while the pre-run brief took place. We also had an official milestone for Tony Kingham, who supplied us with some delicious cakes and biscuits on his 250th run. We had a milestone for our regular Tail Walker, Tommy Millar, doing his 150th volunteer stint today.

The observant among you may have noticed the Watford FC shirt that I was wearing under the Run Director hi-vis vest - as you are reading this it is quite possible that I will be on my way to Wembley to watch us take on Manchester City in the FA Cup Final. If not, I may be there or on my way home. Being realistic, there’s very little hope of us winning the cup, but stranger things have happened so I am hopeful.

Watching Watford and running are my two main hobbies - so, going back full circle to the start of this report, I’d say that getting the time and space to do both of those is the most important factor in maintaining my own mental health in what can be a busy life. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to do either without the support of my wife, so am appreciative of the help she gives me in this regard.

The reasons they help are that I enjoy both of these hobbies (being a football fan can be quite annoying at times though, as can running if you don’t get the results you expect!), they get me out into the fresh (sometimes very fresh!) air and I can identify with my own community at the same time while doing each of them.

That community is often 600 strong these days at Basingstoke, continues to grow, and I hope that parkrun is making some positive difference to the mental health of everyone in it.


Paced or taste?

Basingstoke parkrun 587, 11th May 2019, Run Report by Peter Chiverton

It was a typical British late spring day for parkrunning – although a weak sun was trying to come through the plentiful clouds, and the air was still, it seemed pretty chilly unless you were able to move around a bit (like run around a park for instance). Despite this, and the hint of rain (which never materialised thankfully) it didn’t seem to stop the hordes of parkrunners in their shirts of many colours, streaming from all parts of the park to the usual meeting place between the football pitches. Run Director Mark Norris and his team of hi-vis heroes were once again typically again bustling around, setting up the course, checking the barcode scanners and position tokens, sorting out the marshalling positions, and welcoming a large group of first time parkrunners (twenty-eight were new to parkrun today and thirteen others were parkrunning at Basingstoke for the first time), at the first timer brief. (As an aside we have noticed that not all of our first timers make it to the first timer briefing and so if you are bringing someone for the first time to parkrun, we’d strongly encourage you to point them to this briefing as it will help them understand how parkrun works. Better still attend it with them).


All of this was pretty standard for parkrun at Basingstoke. But there were two unusual aspects of todays events (the plural of event chosen deliberately).

Number one aspect was Basingstoke parkrun’s very first pacing event. (I find that amazing given that Basingstoke parkrun has been happening for almost eleven years). Thanks to Teresa Habberley (organiser) and her friends at Hook Runners, pacers were provided for the even minutes all the way from 20 minutes up to 38 minutes. I was particular impressed with the 38 minute pacer who also paced her child around in a running buggy! A huge thank you to all the pacers for performing this role today and on Basingstoke parkrun’s Facebook page there were quite a number of acknowledgements that the pacers had helped them achieve personal bests (PBs). And there were 100 PBs achieved today – well done if that included you, whether with the help of the official pacers, support from a running friend, or your own grit and determination (or all of these) that got you there!


Not only the pacers though – a huge thank you to all our volunteers who made the parkrun happen this weekend. Everyone can help out in some way with a variety of roles, some of which even allow you to still parkrun. This has the by-product of getting to know some of your fellow parkrunners better. Have a look at the available slots in the weeks ahead at and email with your choice(s). And email also if you fancy having a go at one of the roles but don’t quite know what it entails.


Well done to the following who reached milestone runs today and will shortly be sporting milestone T shirts:
10th (juniors only) – white shirt: Amelia Newman, Isabelle Rudman
50th – red shirt: Julian Pitt, Tessa Habberley (the pacer organiser) and John Payne (not content with being a storm trooper last week { the secret is out} he celebrated by dressing as Pac-Man and travelled around the course chasing and being chased by a “ghost” aka Emma Louise Ward.


100th - black shirt: Peter Railton, Dean Boghurst.

606 parkrunners completed the course today. That’s the 8th highest attendance ever at Basingstoke. There has been a visible increase in attendance this year at Basingstoke – for instance there have been ten occasions ever when attendance has exceeded 600 runners – and nine of them have been in 2019! This is why we are using the new (since February) course as it seems to manage the higher attendances better.


I’m not really statman like Matt Pillinger, but I do like keeping track of the increases in attendances of our parkrun. My first parkrun at Basingstoke (July 2010) had an attendance of 142, (less than a quarter of the number for this run) but obviously the weekly attendance fluctuates from week to week depending on holidays, weather, other competing events, whether we are on the Crabtree course etc. I had a look at the “rolling yearly average” which takes the mean average attendance of all the runs over the previous year for the date in question. This should give a better view of the change in attendance trends over time. This graph shows this over the life of Basingstoke parkrun alongside each week’s fluctuating attendance.

Rolling average 2008-2019

The dates at which the rolling averages first reached 100, 200 etc milestones are noted below, identifying sustained increases of attendance.
100 was first reached in May 2010.
200 – September 2012
300 – April 2014
400 – December 2016
500 – March 2019 (interestingly it reached 490 in February 2018 but then dropped down to 471 by June 2018 before rising again).
Any thoughts as to when the rolling average might reach 600? The average for the whole of 2019 to date is 580 (ignoring the one cancelled run in February).


The second aspect of the day for a number of Basingstoke parkrunners was to gather at 10:15 by the children’s playground as part of a taster event for those who were interested in finding out more about guiding visually impaired (VI) parkrunners. Our long term regular VI parkrunners Tony and Sandra stayed on after parkrun, and sisters Elaine and Yvette joined after returing to their second Basingstoke parkrun (Yvette regularly guides Elaine). There were blindfolds and tethers available which gave people a chance to experience both guiding and being guided. They can then decide if they want to join the regular Basingstoke Guide Running group.

Guide Running Taster 11052019

Guide Running Taster 11052019

If you would like to know more about guide running but couldn’t attend at the weekend then please contact the Basingstoke parkrun office, or join the Basingstoke Guide Running Group on Facebook (


Stats Geek; the return of

Basingstoke parkrun 586 number, 4th May 2019, Run Report by Matt Pillinger

On May 4th the usual Saturday run was visited by Darth Vader, some Ewoks, Stormtroopers and a few other characters from George Lucas’s epic franchise. I’m not much of a fan of sci fi so that’s the end of 'May the Fourth be with you' references, aside from these pictures

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On a bright, if somewhat chilly/windy Saturday morning, 41 wonderful volunteers assembled to be given their instructions by Jedi Master - Obi Wan Kenobi, AKA Frankie Wellings.

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The safe, timed, fun, run would not take place without their contribution and we should all be grateful to them. There are lots of races coming up in the next few weeks, particularly Festival Place 5k & Hook Fun Run Series, so if you are saving your legs why not help out on the Saturday – just email

After the well observed run briefing, Peter Chiverton mentioned that next week there will be a guide running intro session – try guiding or being guided while blindfolded. It will be at 10:15 at the old finish (by the childrens playground) at the top of park.

Peter also invited any new run report writers to come forward – we have a rota of about 12 people currently, it would be great to add new writers – either as a one off or onto the roster. Obviously all the current writers are wonderful - everyone brings their own style and areas of interest - it is this variety that makes the reports so interesting. If it interests you either speak to Peter or email the Basingstoke helpers address above.

629 runners completed the course today, being lead home by Robert Wood in 16:57, recording a new PB. 2nd place was Dave Ragan in 17:25. Dave married another parkrun regular, Charlotte Earl on Saturday afternoon. Congratulations to them both and here's hoping for many happy years (& parkruns!) together

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Hope he had time to change before dashing off to the ceremony

Completing the podium was Darrel May in 17:28. For the women, first home was Charlotte Chalwin in 18:39, followed by Alison James (21:10) and Tracy Bremner (21:13). Age grade wise, Tony Watkins took top spot with 18:39 recording 82.39%, with Alison (80.16%) and Charlotte (79.36%) reversing the order of their time based finish positions.

As is traditional for the week after the Virgin London Marathon (VLM), first timer number were higher than normal (39) with 19 tourists visiting Basingstoke for the first time als; we hope to see you all back again soon and maybe even on The Mall next April. 80 runners have gone home with a new PB. There were also a good number of VLM finisher t-shirts being very proudly displayed

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A fair few milestones to celebrate this morning too;
Juniors James Keeley, Alexander Anthony, Andrew Hillman and Alexander Thompson all ran their 10th run, while Alex Thompson's Dad, Ian ran his 250th parkrun and kindly put on a decent spread afterwards.

Basingstoke parkrun 586 - 2019-05-04-798

Other (unofficial) milestones were recorded by Elizabeth Hopkins (200) and Lynn Brastock (500 at Basingstoke).

& now onto the stats :-)

First up, how many of us run at each event;
How Many of Us

Newer recruits will have only known numbers of 500 + as typical, but it took until 24 December 2016 for our first 500 + event. On my first run there were just 188 runners, I don't recall the course seeming empty, but I think if we had that number now it would feel like I was running on my own. I doubt we'll ever go that low again - even the snow course of March 2018 had 196 runners.

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Secondly, how fast are we? Well if you finish between 20-45 minutes you certainly won't be lonely

How Fast (all)

In any event, you'll never be last, as we had our regular tailwalker, Tommy Miller in attendance today. If ever Tommy can't make it we always have a tailwalker volunteer role so no athlete will ever be the final finisher - but final finisher is always better than 'stayed in bed'

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Next up, how old are we?

How old (all)

I like this graph as it mirrors my own running experiences - ran at school, stopped when I hit my mid-teens and didn't take it up again until my early 30's. The interesting bit is that as the 40's kick in we tend to see many more male than female runners. Indeed across all years of Basingstoke parkrun we have seen a pretty consistent 62/38 split of male to female finishers.

Athlete Numbers (all)

4 months of the way through year we've already had more finishers than we had in the whole of 2011!

As we approach our 170,000 finisher (probably on the 18 May), I thought I'd look back at who the previous 10k finishers were and how long it took us to hit each 10,000 mark

Notable Finishers

Lastly, which is our most popular month (average finishers);

Monthly averages

Pale green means a record average attendance at the time, darker green are the current top 3. Regulars will be familiar with the step increases in January (new year resolutions) and April/May (London marathon inspiration), fortunately a lot of runners who join at those times keep on coming back :-)

I think that's all from me this week, see you next week, 9:00am in the park


That Was A Windy One!

Basingstoke parkrun #585, 27th April 2019, Run Report by Frankie Wellings

Quite a few parkruns around the country declared their cancellations on Friday night due to Storm Hannah but we are tough cookies at Basingstoke and we soldiered on. 502 people got their weekly fix thanks to our wonderful volunteers who were expertly led by Run Director Peter Chiverton.

It can be quite stressful being the RD and when it comes to the run brief it is very difficult to be heard, especially when it is really windy like it was today. Sometimes there are very important announcements being made so please show respect to the RD and keep silent for the few minutes it takes to deliver the briefing. I am RD next week so woe betide anyone yacking whilst I am speaking!

Talking of next week, it is May the 4th (be with you) so we encourage you to dress up as Star Wars characters. To mention a few…. Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 (I’d particularly love to see someone running in this outfit!)

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Hair flying and thoroughly enjoying parkrun

Today is 27/04 so I thought I’d highlight people finishing with 27 or 4 in their finish times or positions. Bang on the money with a finish time of 27:04 was Jason Goom. Jason has run 28 times, all at Basingstoke, and has a PB of 22:14. Position 27 was claimed by Andrew Mountford in 21:00 and finally, position 4 was taken by Peter Watkeys in 18:31. Martin Paintin finished in position 274 with a time of 29:08. Martin has done 265 parkruns and has a PB of 25:26.

Ladies podium places today were taken by Angela Richardson (18:58), Alison James (21:52), and Lisa Gottwald (21:59). Gents podium places were Tom Harding (again!) with 17:43, Rory Horseman with 18:09 and Chris Furness with 18:13.

And now to today’s milestone runners – Charlotte Rennie completed 150 runs, only another 100 runs before she can claim her green t-shirt. Matt Smart, on the other hand, can now claim his black t-shirt for completing his 100th run today. Claiming their red t-shirts for completing 50 runs are Nat Toms and Luca Yorke – both juniors. Another junior earning her white t-shirt for 10 runs is Isabelle Reid. As well as leaves and twigs flying around, 68 people were flying around the course and bagged themselves shiny new PBs.

Everyone is amazing for getting out of bed on a Saturday morning and starting the week end with a 5k run, but particular congratulations must go to all these people.

I would also like to give a shout out to our regular photographer, Duncan Rounding. I don’t know about you but when I see Duncan in the distance it makes me run a little faster and smile, rather than grimace! Duncan’s pics of today’s run are already on the website. Thank you Duncan!

If you are going on a training run in the morning and find it a bit of a struggle, spare a thought for those taking part in that little 26.2 run known as the London Marathon! Very best of luck to core team member Mark Norris, Damon Hope, Andy Goddard, John Bigg and Graham Cook. These are the people I know of, apologies if I haven’t mentioned you by name but good luck to you all!

As always, huge thanks to our volunteers. It was pretty cold stood out there today. Please people, if you haven't volunteered for a while or never at all, consider giving up one or two runs and giving back to the event that gives you so much. It is really easy, just email

If you fancy having a go at writing the run report, it would be great to hear from you. Either contact the office directly on the email address above or speak to Peter Chiverton next time you see him. Peter will shortly be putting the roster together for the next few months. You can either write a one-off report or become a regular writer like several of our runners.

If you fancy getting involved in guiding visually impaired (VI) runners, there is going to be a taster session after parkrun on 11th May. Meet by the kiddies play area at 10:15am and you can find out what is involved. I have guided several times and I have also been led around the course blindfolded which gives an insight into what it is like for our VI runners. Becoming a guide is a great way to give something back to the community and allow VI runners to have their weekly fix just like the rest of us.

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A regular hi-vis hero keeping warm and having fun

Just 7 more sleeps until we’ll be back in the park doing it all again. Have a great week folks, see you on Saturday!

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