Double Excitement

Basingstoke parkrun event #631, 29th!!!!! February 2020. Run Report by Matt Pillinger

Those of you who care about these things will have had 29th February 2020 circled & highlighted in your calendars as an inviolable parkrun appointment for quite some time. For this is the first time ever parkrun has taken place on 29th February and means for 'date chasers' our 'dates run challenge' is now measured out of 366, rather than 365. For those who missed today, the next opportunity is 29 February 2048 (10,227 days time), by which time I'll be, well, err, … old :-(

Since it's 29th February, a quick lesson on why leap years occur, courtesy of

Why Do We Have Leap Years?

Leap days keep our modern-day Gregorian calendar in alignment with Earth's revolutions around the Sun. It takes Earth approximately 365.242189 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds, to circle once around the Sun. This is called a tropical year, and it starts on the March equinox.

However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year. If we didn't add a leap day on February 29 almost every four years, each calendar year would begin about 6 hours before the Earth completes its revolution around the Sun.

As a consequence, our time reckoning would slowly drift apart from the tropical year and get increasingly out of sync with the seasons. With a deviation of approximately 6 hours per year, the seasons would shift by about 24 calendar days within 100 years. Allow this to happen for a while, and Northern Hemisphere dwellers will be celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer in a matter of a few centuries.

Leap days fix that error by giving Earth the additional time it needs to complete a full circle around the Sun.



So you might be thinking every 4 years is a leap year? Well it is in our lifetime, but probably not in the lifetime of children born today.

Why We Don't Add a Leap Day Every 4 Years?

If the tropical year was precisely 6 hours longer than a calendar year with 365 days, we could use the Julian calendar, which adds a leap day every 4 years without exception. The deviation would grow to exactly 24 hours over 4 years, and Earth would need exactly one day to catch up to the position in its orbit where it was 4 years prior.
However, the deviation between the common year and the tropical year is a little less than 6 hours. The Gregorian calendar addresses this by employing a slightly more complicated set of rules to determine which years are leap years. It's still not perfect, but the resulting deviation is very small.

These rules are;
The year must be divisible by 4,
but, if it can also be divided by 100 it is not a leap year … unless it is also divisible by 400. So the years 2100, 2200 and 2300 will not be leap years, but 2000 was and 2400 will be.

Huge shout out to Hannah Beaven who ran 29:02 today.

If that wasn't enough excitement, due to flooding on the football field today we ran the CLASSIC COURSE!!!!!!! For newer Basingstoke parkrunners, this was the only course (Crabtree and snow excepted) until April 2015 when we moved to a summer & winter course due to overcrowding at the start of classic course before moving in February 2019 to the current standard course. When I heard this news I well, erm …


Just to be clear, my excitement was not the reason for the puddle/pond/lake just past the childrens play area!

Huge thank you to Run Director Lisa Hedderly, Caroline, Mark and Grant who sorted out the course change in double quick time.

There was of course still a fair bit of mud on the football field and it was rather obvious who was wearing trail shoes today - they powered over the mud as those around them struggled for grip.

Despite some local(ish) cancellations (Hogmoor, Reading, Winchester & Eastleigh), the attendance wasn't massive by recent measures, with 498 athletes completing the 5k course, including 11 people completing their first parkrun and 24 first time visitors to Basingstoke.

As usual, we were led around the course by Tom Harding (17:28) while Luke Willis (18:38) and Tony Watkins (18:39) had a race for 2nd place.  Also, as usual, Alison James was 1st female finisher (20:35), ahead of Hannah Potter (22:12) & Lucy Pearson (22:43 PB).  Tony (83.11%) & Alison (82.43%) also took top 2 spots in the age graded competition, joined by Mark Slaney (77.86%) on the podium.

Congratulations also to our milestone runners: Junior 10 - Jack Pietersen, 50 - Adrian Davey, Katie Stroud & Julian Poore, 100 - Michael Day & Davina Luthra, finally Andrew Modle joined the 250 club today.

Andrew is the joint 9,437th person globally to join the 250 club.  If you are wondering how I know this - parkrun wiki  There are nearly 6.8m barcodes in issue, of which 2.7m have never been scanned (some of which will have been registered by non running volunteers like Denise Hope).  Around 254,000 people have completed at least 50 parkruns ; around 100,000 have completed at least 100 parkruns. Capture

And our unofficial milestoners:

150 - Stella Herron & 200 - Lucy Pearson

Finally on milestones, Mark Norris volunteered at his 300th event today - WOW!


As always, there are loads more pictures on the Basingstoke parkrun flickr page Thank you to Geoff Herron for taking these today.

While I've got you in stats mode, here's some updates on my perennial favourites, the attendance at each Basingstoke parkrun, the age groups runners fall into and the age grade %ages we've achieved, again for each run completed.

How Many of Us


How Old

Age Grades

Next Sunday 8th March is International Women's Day, we want to get as many women as possible to parkrun next Saturday 7th March, so bring your grans, mums, sisters & daughters, either to run, volunteer or watch - some people struggle with the idea of parkrun, imagining it's all thin, speedy, young people - bring them along to watch and they might be inspired to run,jog or walk with us soon.



One last thank you - all the volunteers who helped put today's event on. Without you there is no parkrun and 498 runners would have missed out today. If you've not helped out for a while, maybe its time to email and volunteer for a future week
Finally, as I ran today, I'm putting my name down for volunteering on 29 February 2048 (& 29 February 2076 if I'm still upright) to allow those who volunteered today to collect this most precious of dates.