Chichester parkrun #259: Now We are 5

In just 5 years, Chichester parkrun has taken place on 258 separate occasions, which have been made possible by 542 volunteers assisting in a total of 4,410 roles to allow 6,885 participate a total of 41,078 finishes. As of today, with our record breaking attendance of 360 finishers, we begin the next 5 years welcoming 67 first timers and 58 runners achieving new Personal Bests. In today's event, Peter expertly guided us through the run brief and introduced our special guest, the Right Worshipful Mayor of Chichester, Richard Plowman, who also started the runners off. Our wonderful band of volunteers this week were: Robert SPENCER • Kevin WILLIAMS • Mike HOUSTON • Jane TAYLOR • Lynette WOODWARD • Margaret ENSTONE • Paul STALLARD • Vanessa FRANKLIN • Lis PESKETT • Geoff SUMNER • Louise WEST • Peter ANDERSON • Peppy ANCKORN • Steve WHITMEE • Jane BUCKLEY • Sanchia STANLEIGH-TURNER • Liz STANLEIGH-TURNER • Flo DUDLEY • Phillip LOW • Marieann DICKER • Jane MOODIE • Sheenagh BROADHURST • Judith NORTH • Theo WEST. We remembered Peter Chittenden and Laura Bagnall who were with us on our first parkrun and are sadly no longer with us, but no doubt looking down today. 360 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 67 were first timers and 58 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 37 different clubs took part. Leo Stallard, Chris West and James Hampshire were the first men over the line in under 18 minutes. Juliet Stallard, Jessica Thomson and Lucie West were the first women. The parkrunner with the greatest total number of parkruns attended (all over the country) was Robert Spencer, who has done 467 events.

It's astonishing when you lay the facts out like that. And also when you look carefully to see what stories lie beneath the parkrun phenomenon. I know of people who met current partners at Chichester parkrun, who's children have grown up since it began, people who became ultra runners from starting their very first run just a few years ago and firm friendships that have been made. I was at the inaugural event 5 years ago. Back then, I had been running on and off for 9 years, starting off on the treadmill where no one could see me, feeling like an idiot for the first 10 minutes and timing my runs on the clock at the railway station as a vague approximation, using a map and string to measure the distance I might have run. I ran my first race for life in 2005 and my first 10k a few months later. I did times I was happy with and then never bothered to enter races again... until I found parkrun. I walked up to Mike after having huffed and puffed my way round the original Oakland's course and said I wanted to be a regular volunteer. He asked whether I wanted to run direct so I said 'go on then' and within 6 weeks I was directing by myself and in the core team at at time when getting people to commit regularly was more challenging that it is now. It's fair to say parkrun changed me from a fair weather runner who didn't feel worthy of joining any club, to someone who got the confidence to run their first 10 mile and then half marathon in 3 months of starting it. And that in turn helped me pluck up the courage to join a running club working my way through numerous 10ks, half marathons and a full marathon (London) I was honoured to run for my club, Chichester Runners, in 2016. I know I wouldn't have done it without parkrun though. Anyone who runs is a runner and anyone who wants to try can do it. There are as many battles with running as there are people out on that course each week, but we all get round. My life has changed tremendously since 2014 (not all down to parkrun), but the free weekly run has been a constant and a focus for me that has also provided a great group of friends and second family as well as a dose of teamwork that I was really missing. It's also brilliant for puppy socialisation should you be thinking about getting a dog :)

Over to Mike, founder of the event, the original event director and first run director in his own words:

It’s more than just a run.

I regret I was not able to experience this parkrun family celebration personally. I find myself away with my own immediate family but only to pleased to respond to a kind invitation I received to write a few words.

For this I need inspiration to do it justice. There’s certainly no shortage of that at Oakland’s Park. Post Second World War; Never has so much, been owed by so many, to so few. Superlatives run dry as I to attempt to fairly, honestly describe and praise how I feel about everyone that has made Chichester parkrun possible. Especially those that choose to regularly lead and aid the production of a safe, free and fun 5km timed event. Every seven days. 

It would be unfair for me to single out one for fear of missing and offending others. Everyone that has walked, jogged, run, supported, volunteered and encouraged anyone to come along over the past half decade has played a part.

The community is strong. Sometimes even just being there to share and care is enough. It’s more than just a run but those that have been part of it many already knew this. 

The journey has been long, at times hard work but, with many hands, light too. 

I only hope Chichester parkrun can experience another 5 successful years improving the lives and wellbeing of thousands in our community and beyond. By that time it is perceivable to have surpassed 500 events. Remarkable. 

Long may this and many other schemes like it in our local community be created and continue.

Thank you for being part of Chichester parkrun. There are so many stories out there and we want to hear them. Why not sign up for the Run Reporter one week and tells us about them?

This is for everyone. 

So we should enjoy it while we can and, to reflect further, I have done a verse based on one of the greatest acclaimed songs of all time for one of the best concepts in a lifetime.

Where will you be in 2024? We can only imagine.

Imagine there’s no parkrun,

it’s queasy if you try.

No timed walk, jog, run,

will make us only sigh.

Imagine all the people,

living on Saturday.


Imagine there’s no cafes,

something hard to do.

Nothing to meet or chat for,

and no community to.

Imagine all the people,

living with no PBs.

You hoo...

You may say I’m a dreamer,

but I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us,

with your barcode along at one..

Imagine no positions,

I wonder if you can.

No need for help with tokens,

or to take times or scan.

Imagine all the people,

sharing no parkrun world.

You hoo...

You may say I’m a dreamer,

but I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us,

and the world can share the fun.

Thank you Chichester parkrun. What a beautiful thing you are. 

Thanks to Mike and to Ian Robertson who has now stepped down from Chichester parkrun. Pete and I look forward to guiding you through the next phase in the life of parkrun and are grateful as ever for your support. Our first aesthetically pleasing runners of the new parkrun year are Persephone Hagan at 25:00 and Joseph McClusker at 27:00.

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Chichester parkrun Results Page.