Epistle to the Conkersparkrunnians

Conkers parkrun non-run run report - Saturday 18 July 2020

Sisters and brothers I want to offer you words of encouragement and reflection.

Since lockdown began life has become very different, with many things changing rapidly and often taking on a different pace. On 25 July it will be 19 weeks since our last parkrun on 14 March before the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown. That’s equal to 36.34% of 2020, over a third of the year without parkrun, and counting! I remember my last parkrun because it was run at Conkers with my grandson Reuben.

That’s the beauty of parkrun, because it’s a real family affair. The friendships made can reach well outside the boundaries of our ‘out and back’ course and the café.

Since lockdown I’ve run Conkers parkrun route twice. It was a true delight, like coming home. I love the beauty of our cathedralesque start and finish under the canopy of trees. I call parkrun my Saturday church. On a recent pilgrimage a branch hung on the treetops creating a cross high above the start/finish line. I must confess there was a tear in my eye! I’m so looking forward to our next communion when we can run and share the parkrun sacrament together.

The Conkers parkrun route can be broken down into shorter segments so I’m using them for the remainder of this report. Ready? 3 2 1 Go!

Fast & Furious First Mile

Running and parkrun in particular has been a constant in my life since October 2016. A question recently asked on social media: What’s improved about your running in the last 12 weeks? What would be your answer I wonder? My answer: ‘On 18 April post COVID-19 illness I ran my first outdoor non parkrun.’ I’ve run 5km every Saturday morning since, plus other times, which parkrun have now officially called (not)parkrun.

Some of the Conkers parkrun family have been participating in a Non-parkrun run too, with results kindly compiled by Dennis Dickinson. It’s a fun way for some of us to remain connected until we run parkrun again. Whatever you’ve been doing to compensate for the lack of parkrun I hope because of all the restrictions we’ve been under we will appreciate more what we’ve missed when it’s safe for us to gather together once again. When something you love goes missing, it’s as if there’s a hole in your heart the very same shape.

Tough Second Mile

For many people this has been a really tough time for a variety of reasons. The pandemic has brought about so many changes to so many people’s lives across the world. In the UK alone there have been close to 45,000 coronavirus related deaths.

Changes to lockdown measures continue to be mostly relaxed and we remain hopeful that freedom to participate in both sport and social gatherings will happen soon. We just don’t know what the real impact of the last few months will have on our lives, our communities, our jobs, our health, our children’s education, our future economy, or on our world. On the other hand we’ve seen and experienced a real sense of people coming together and of community spirit, as well as appreciation of our NHS and frontline workers in these difficult and unprecedented times.

Flying Home Third Mile

Sadly, unrelated to COVID-19, we lost one of our own. Simeon Ashton died aged 15 at the end of March. In April hundreds of people lined the route of his funeral cortège to show their support to the family and to pay their respects. Simeon’s parents Ken & Mindy & sister Shiarna are regular runners at parkrun. Simeon’s friends and family have embarked ‘on a journey to raise money for a fitting memorial for a beautiful soul taken too soon.’

If you wish to support the fundraising you will find details on all social media platforms under the #smileforsimeon hashtag. Several fundraising strategies and events are planned including a ‘Rock For Simeon’ concert to be held at Conkers on June 11 2021. We do all this in remembrance of Simeon, a lovely young man, who for those who knew him will remain in our hearts and minds forever.

0.1 mile All Down Hill from here to a Sprint Finish

ASICS is an acronim made from the Latin phrase Anima Sana In Corpore Sano which translates as ‘a healthy soul in a healthy body.’ It expresses the theory that physical exercise is an important part of our mental and psychological well-being. I would wholeheartedly agree with that belief.

The Finish


Well done for getting to the end. A Personal Best? If not, hopefully next time. Here’s your token! Hope to see you again soon. #DFYB Don’t forget your barcode.

In the meantime,

Keep Conkering your fears

Keep chasing your dreams

Keep running or active

Keep your barcode safe!

Kevin Lindsay-Smith