A bit of history and fingers crossed for a restart

Conkers parkrun non-run run report  -  September 12, 2020    


Here we are on the 12th September 2020, unfortunately, I have nothing to report this week as the cruel Covid-19 virus has stopped parkruns for the past 26 weeks. It is hoped, however, that subject to the great British Public behaving themselves and obeying social distancing and other lockdown rules we may have the virus sufficiently under control to resume running our beloved Conkers Saturday event towards the end of October.


Of course, it will not be quite the same, as the Team have had to rejig the route to create more room at the start, this has necessitated a fairly big change whereby we now turn right at Canal Turn and return to the bottom of Cheeky hill via a path previously unused by us.


As I had nothing else to report at this moment, I thought I would look back at the happenings on some of the runs around this date over the previous 9 years.

Back in 2011, Conkers held its 22nd run. Sixty-three runners, joggers and walkers graced the finishers list, and they were shepherded round by a stalwart group of seven volunteers; yes, I did say seven!


First man home on this occasion was Cory Ian Parker in a time of 17:26 and First Lady was Louise Insley in 20:05.


Roll forward a year to event 74 and we find that the field has pretty well doubled to 122 with twelve volunteers in attendance. First home was Jamie Fletcher in 16:49 and first lady was Laura Johnson in 20:52.


2013 brought event 128 and yet another large increase in numbers to 193 and 20 volunteers with John Tilley taking the honours in 18:05 and Rebecca Hobbs being first Lady in 20:57.


Jump forward 6 years to 2019 and event 450. Numbers had soared to an impressive 641 with 35 volunteers, Callum Abberley being first through the funnel in 15:56 and Paige Stevenson first lady in 20:43.


Finally, our “last” proper parkrun before Covid stepped in was event 478 with a slightly lower participation of 556 but with a massive 55 volunteers in attendance to witness Jamie Fletcher break the beam in 17:13 with Christina Hawtin being the leading Lady in 21:19.


As you will see from the above figures, the attendance has grown immensely over the 9 years and the fact that we have such successful event with an amazing atmosphere is down to the sterling efforts of the Core Teams over the years and the amazing selfless attitude of our volunteers who ensure our safety every week whatever the weather.


To get the event back up and running is going to mean a lot of organisation with new challenges to overcome in order to ensure continued safety, meet the requirements of the recently published parkrun framework and minimising the risk of further spread of Covid. The logistical challenges they face are immense with trying to segregate participants successfully at the start and safe guarding the volunteers,


In the mean time Keep Running, keep obeying the social distancing rules and keep your fingers crossed that all goes well for the coming weeks.




Music and park(run)life

Non-run run report     September 9, 2020

Hans Christian Andersen is attributed to the quote “Where words fail, music speaks”. It’s fair to say I’ve lived my whole life so far with this at the very heart of who I am and what I do. The very first run report I ever completed back in 2017 combined my greatest love of all - music and parkrun - interweaving song titles into my report for people to find. Something I was reminded about by Laurence’s run brief today. (I thought it was a blockbuster run brief Laurence.) That day was not only my first run report, but it was also the first time I volunteered. I had opted for a ‘double’ of tailwalker and run report writer. I remember Tony Stone was partnered up with me in the tail walker role - you’ll never walk alone as a tailwalker and we chatted away.

If memory serves me correctly, it was at the end of the canal stretch I first met Elliot. He joined into our conversation, along with other marshals returning and we chatted all the way back to the cafe where Elliot and I discussed the song titles for my report over tea for two and a slice of cake.

It’s been a fair few months since I’ve been able to teach the world to sing in my normal way, but with schools now reopening, this greatest love has now returned. I read the weekly updates from parkrun and can see the work going on behind the scenes to bring parkrun back when we can and as safe as we can, so that mine and many others can have another great love return into their lives.

I say return, but actually it’s never really left in some ways. Okay, we don’t all congregate in our hundreds every Saturday morning but I think of all the ways in which parkrun and specifically Conkers have made these unusual times that little bit brighter. At the start of every week, an email pops into my inbox from Jen. It makes me smile. On a Friday, Dennis reminds us to complete our non parkrun for him to collate. It helps us to keep on running. It’s clear that many other people really appreciate the things you both do from your nominations for the North West Leicestershire Activity Heroes - Congratulations! There are the videos from the run directors. The posts. Seeing everyone on Facebook, Strava, Twitter. Messaging people. It goes on, but I’m sure it makes people feel happy. It’s these actions and acts that the parkrun community do that really matter to everyone. It’s like we are family. I watched with interest the other week at our new suggested course. I’ve been missing you and hope that I see you shiny happy people soon to try it out!

I started with Hans Christian Andersen, but using his quote as inspiration and updating it slightly for these unusual times. I leave you with:

Where words fail, parkrun speaks. (Andrea Allen 2020)

(Hopefully it won’t be too long until we’ll meet again) X

The CHASE IS ON!!...



Just a Non- run parkrun, none report! Or, something like that…

Non-parkrun run report no.24 - August 29, 2020

Hello again. Over the past three years, since I started my park running career I have written 6 “official” parkrun reports covering actual events, and this is my second attempt at a ”non-parkrun” run report.

Of course, writing reports for the actual events is fairly easy, cobble together a few facts and figures, throw in an odd humorous anecdote or two and the jobs a good ‘un. Then some people are naturals and manage to write things that are both interesting and amusing with moderate ease.

Not me! Still here I am again with a load of waffle about this years happenings.

Back on February 2nd I wrote for Conkers parkrun #472:

“We woke up this morning to a brave new world. Having had the liberating experience of leaving the EU at 11:00 pm on Friday evening, life will never be the same again – or will it? After all it is Saturday and Saturday is parkrun day.

Has that changed? Thankfully NO”

How wrong could I be? A short 6 weeks later, on 14th March 2020 we ran parkrun #478. This was to be our last parkrun for the last 24 weeks and, possibly for the foreseeable future. On that day in history Jamie Fletcher was the first man home in a time of 17;13, an enviable PB and our first lady was Christina Hawtin in a respectable 20:35. Tracey and David Parchment were our honourable tail walkers, there were 556 participants including many faithful regulars and we had 57 Hi Viz Heroes helping make the whole thing possible.

So suddenly our Saturday stability had gone, the friendship and camaraderie of our regular meet had been taken away. We were “Locked Down”, banned from meeting our friends and fellow runners, barred from the cheers, congratulations and high fives from marshals and other runners / walkers as we achieved what ever we were aiming for on our Saturday morning. Gone was the half hour to an hour post run, sitting in the café rejoicing about a new PB, complaining that the puddles on the Ennstone Way were too big today, planning the team event for the following weekend or a mates meet up to do a mid-week trot round the tracks. and no much awaited “ping” on the phone as the weeks results arrived with details of all the combined efforts of the day.

So what could replace that hole that had appeared in our routines? Well the first answer to come out of that is that nothing will ever replace parkrun for lots of us. We are all hoping and praying that things will improve sufficiently soon and we will be able to restart our joy. We know that behind the scenes the folk at Head Office are working hard on safety protocols to enable us to commence as soon as possible. Our own Core team are working hard looking at rejigging the course to make it more viable when we can restart – I think most of you will, by now, have see the suggestions that are being tested and I know a number have run the “New” course already.

Image may contain: plant, tree, grass, outdoor and nature

If you have tried the new course, you will have passed this point on the way from the canal to the bottom of Cheeky Hill.

In the meantime it was down to a number of individuals to try and generate some motivating activities which we could do in our daily hour of personal exercise to try and get us out there, keep our minds occupied and our bodies a bit fitter, I know that Kev Clark organised some brilliant individual challenges for Swad Joggers, he then put the results of these together to create an air of fun and competition until the lockdown eased enough for small group activities to recommence. Andy Hawtin and the SDRR crew did similar things with virtual relays etc and Overseal also did sterling work in keeping members motivated.

However, for many nothing has replaced that Saturday staple of parkrun, the achievement of completing that 5K to the cheers of other runners congregating round the funnel, the joy of reaching the 50, 100 or 250 run tally and proudly wearing your new commemorative t-shirt a week or two later. Similarly for those who marshal, those who give their time for a variety of reasons, from duty, injury, love of the atmosphere or whatever and receive their purple t-shirt for marshalling 25 events, there is no proper replacement and we all wait with bated breath for news of us being able to restart in whatever format we can. We may have to accept some fairly big changes depending on what initial limits are placed on mass participation events, things like timing and scanning may well have to be done via the app on volunteers own smart phones, again something which will take a fair amount of sorting out before we restart. I am sure, however, that most people will celebrate that day as much as I will and will do everything they can to help make it possible by complying with what ever restrictions we have placed upon us.

In the meantime let’s hope that my assessment of us not restarting in the foreseeable future is as inaccurate as my statement on the 2nd February and that we will be back on the trails soon! To all parkrunners, joggers and walkers I would say please keep up the effort and get out there at least on a Saturday morning , to enjoy the fresh air and exercise that we all value. Many of the regulars are now getting together in small groups with other parkrunning friends and acquaintances to do careful, socially distanced runs, jogs or walks and often ending up having a sociable coffee and chat afterwards and I totally commend those who are doing this, it is helping keep the spirit of parkrun alive and kicking and helping maintain good physical and mental health.

So roll on the “New Normal” allowing our “Old Normal” to return as soon as possible and I will see you all on the start line then!!

Dennis x


The Feat of our Feet!

Conkers Non-Run Report - August 22, 2020

I’ve returned to my roots this weekend with a trip to my late grandfather’s childhood home, Malborough. I would never ordinarily run when I’m away- I’m a proud Conkers parkrun purist- but because the legend that is Dennis Dickinson looks for non-parkrun results on Strava, I’ve been doing more holiday running than ever!

Anyway, while running through Malborough this morning, I had a thought. Relieved to stop at 5km, I did a cool down walk back to the Premier Inn. My thought was this: I think about (and sometimes do) warming up, stretching and cooling down - all for my legs- but I never really think about my feet.

So, I’ve trawled the Internet and found some interesting (well, I think they are) facts about feet. They are in no particular order (and some might not even be that accurate) but they tickled me and I hope you enjoy them too.

1. The human body is made up of 206 bones and 52 of these are found in your feet- that’s 26 in echo foot. That’s a quarter of your bones - housed in your feet!

2. Each on of your feet has 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons in.

3. Why are your feet so ticklish? This is because we have 8,000 nerves in our feet.

4. Why are your feet so smelly? Your two feet have 250,000 sweat glands that are capable of producing half a pint of sweat in a single day!

5. Morton’s toe is the name given to the condition where the second toe is longer than the big toe. It affects 20-30% of the world’s population. Does that include you?

6. The average person walks 110,000 miles in their lifetime.

7. The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body.

8. It takes 12-18 months for a toenail to completely regrow

9. Over the course of a day, your feet take a cumulative force of a couple hundred tons.

10. Shoe sizes were originally measured in barleycorns. This unit of measurement originated in the UK during the 14th century and is still being used today. Based on the length of a grain of barley, each shoe size adds a third of inch, corresponding to the fact that there are three barleycorns in an inch.

11. Each foot takes 1.5 times your body weight while you walk.

12. When running, your feet take up to five times your weight.

13. The first shoe dates back to 3,500 BC. Made of a single piece of leather (sorry vegans), it was recently found in present-day Armenia.

14. Did you know your feet can keep growing? Even though your feet will settle at around age 20, their shape and size will continue to change over the rest of your life. In fact once you hit 40, your feet grow by as much as half a shoe size every 10 years! This is because feet flatten and elongate with age. Your feet may also grow slightly if you become pregnant!

15. Your foot’s sole has more sensory nerve endings and sweat glands per square centimetre than any other part of your body.

16. Compared to fingernails, toenails grow much slower-about 1mm/month.

17. Foot Cheese is an actual thing. If anyone’s ever told you that your feet smell like stinky cheese, rattle off this piece of trivia: It’s totally possible to make actual cheese with bacteria from foot sweat. In fact, Ireland held a Foot Cheese Exhibition in 2013 that featured several varieties of foot cheese, as well as varieties that evolved from belly buttons and armpits. Yum! (Don’t worry, the exhibition didn’t feature a tasting room).

18. Who needs feet? In the absence of arms or hands, many individuals have learned to do some pretty amazing things with their feet. In 2008, Jessica Cox became the first pilot to fly a plane using her feet.

19. The grasping toe helped our predecessors climb trees. Thanks to modern science, if you lose your thumb, you can now replace it with a toe: toe-to-thumb transplants.

20. If you’ve got this far, you can’t be suffering from podophobia- that’s the name for having a fear of feet.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this feeture and it wasn’t too cheesy! I think I’ve nailed it... (see what I did there!) Would love to hear who can follow in my footsteps with more feet-related puns in the comments.

Can’t wait to see you, and your amazing feet, all back at Conkers soon.



parkruns, holidays and tourism  

Conkers Non-run run report No.21 - August 15th 2020

As a family, we usually plan our holidays around parkruns; never travel on a Saturday unless there is one en-route.

Twenty-twenty has not only seen us not being able to do our home parkruns but also our holiday parkruns, or so we thought. For those of you who do not know, Dennis Dickinson has set up a non-parkrun results service.  Thus, our first Saturday on our recent holiday saw us doing our first non-parkrun tourism on the beautiful South West Coastal path near Crantock.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and water

The long drop on our Saturday non-parkrun certainly concentrated my mind on where I was putting my feet.

Over our post run coffee, this then had us chatting about the first holiday parkruns we had completed.

Where was yours? I am sure mine was Killerton near Exeter. I was so shocked when I realised I had to take running gear on holiday with me, and truly felt my holiday did not start until I had done the run; it feels the norm now!!!

Where was your favourite holiday tourist parkrun?  For me, it’s a bit of a love-hate with Lanhydrock parkrun, I loved the scenery, the lovely welcome, but oh, those hills!!! I also loved the Eden Project one – again more hills, but that has the great benefit of getting free entry into the domes. Trellisick was also good fun, we had to get a ferry to get to that one, and yes more hills. Seems like a trade-off between beautiful scenery and interesting runs for annoying hills!

As a slow runner I always check how many people usually attend, and the slowest time; it would be a big shock for the volunteers if they are used to around 50 runners and all do it in less than 30 minutes, then I tip up.  So, do you faster runners look at the fastest time and think "I could get a first place there? "

What do you research? – toilets, café, slowest time, fastest time, how lumpy it is, buggy friendly, dog friendly, how far away is it?  I try to put a 35 minute travel time limit, it takes me 15/20 minutes to get to Conkers, so happy to allow a bit extra.

Have you ever been able to take in an overseas parkrun when on holiday? Mentioning no names but one of our regular parkrunners took a very Wonki tour around Europe taking in a parkrun in different countries over a few weeks.

Have you ever arrived at a parkrun overseas and arrived late – again mentioning no names, but two Conkers regulars rocked up at a parkrun in Singapore for a 9am start only to find that they were on their own; Singapore parkruns start at 7am. They didn’t research that very well did they?

Looking forward to seeing you all at Conkers as soon as we possibly can and welcoming tourists back.

Take care and stay safe.

Jan Cobb x


When you’re asked to write a non-run run report but have no idea what to write about: get everyone else to do it for you!

“What running means to me.”

I sat down at the beginning of the week to write my 2nd non-run run report…. Did you know I was the Conkers original non-run run reporter, some such as Roger Cobb may describe me the non-run run reporter extraordinaire, feel free to do so… anyway, time to get down from my pedestal and actually think of something to write about.

Nope, nothing…

Writers block…

So I had an idea… I’m a bright spark you see. I decided to pester fellow non-parkrunners to ask them to describe “what running means to me”, then if (hopefully) enough of them reply I’ll be able to produce something worth reading on Sunday afternoon… they all did so it’s a very long read. Sorrynotsorry.

Let’s start off with P.K, Ultra-marathoner who amazingly ran 110km in 24 hours to raise funds for charity, inspirational. “Running means everything to me. My mental health, the amazing friends I’ve made, the sense of belonging I feel, the confidence and self-belief I’m rediscovering… all down to running.”

“It’s often a much needed chance to switch off and get some headspace. It’s something I can feel proud of knowing how far I’ve come and being determined to improve. It’s a group of people I never thought I’d be a part of who are all so welcoming and friendly.” S.C

Confidence and a sense of belonging seem to be a common reason: “Running changed my life, it made me find the real me, the person you see today is the best version of me, I’ve never been happier, more confident, healthier and it has introduced me to the most wonderful of people, whom I now consider to be family.” K.D

For some of us, running may have started out as a way to lose the weight; to become a little healthier; a little fitter - but once we start it becomes who we are. A.C says, “I actually hate running when I’m standing outside at 5am freezing and wet but that feeling of achievement after a run - I can’t really describe it, it’s a mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration. Running has helped me to lose 6 stone, I’m healthier at 50 than at 30, running is personal but addictive, it’s the smiles from those who’ve just experienced the same challenges and success as you… in summary I hate the first mile and love the finish line.”

“To be a part of an inclusive family that does not judge is the best feeling, despite not being fast, despite walking parts, nobody minds, nobody frowns. I’m just congratulated on the achievement of making it round! Where else is this given so freely? Running also means I get to eat more cake and often with the people I ran with. Running has given me a life that makes me happier than I’ve ever been, it’s helped me to see places I didn’t know existed, meet people I wouldn’t have met and improved my fitness.” T.S has described parkrun amazingly here, you don’t need to run, you don’t need to be fast, everyone is friendly, everyone encourages you and you get to eat cake!

K.K also loves running for the amazing community feel, and discovering new places, she says. “Running makes me feel part of a kind and caring community. Every run is an adventure, meeting lovely people, seeing beautiful scenery and achieving goals. It’s not just fitness, its friendship and fun, with Conkers parkrun embodying the very best of the running community.”

Many of us can relate to K.G who says, “A sense of achievement. A feeling that I have done something that only a couple of years ago, I would have struggled with. A sense of freedom with your own thoughts, running with a group gives a feeling of help and support and the willingness to carry on and better myself. So, in a nutshell, running means so much to so many people, but to me, it means fun.”

For some of us running keeps us calm, and less irritable around stupid people! “At the moment running stops me from shouting at colleagues.” J.C

One of my favourite responses came from N.E, who I met volunteering (by the way have you ever volunteered at parkrun? If not why not?!)  When we’re back up and running (pun intended) why not give it a go (Like how I slipped that in there, Roger?) N.E said, “I hate running! I’m an accidental parkrunner. I came by mistake and was swept away by the atmosphere.”

Some of us like to run for the challenge, for the personal bests, for the runners high. “Running, for me, is the opportunity to challenge myself. That challenge to run a half a marathon, to knock a few seconds off a PB (very rare these days) even to challenge myself to just get off the sofa… running- I love it.” I.A

I would like to say thank you to those that shared their reasons - why we run can be very personal to ourselves, I was very emotional reading your responses and know that every single person who reads this will relate to one, if not all, of the responses. So, finally, here’s what running means to me. “Running, has taught me that I am capable of more than I could have ever imagined, running saved me and continues to save me from darker times. Running is my passion, my confidence, my self-esteem, my freedom, my therapy, my mental health and my physical health. Running has introduced me to the most wonderful supportive community. Thank you running for always having my back.”

Signed Sophie-Anne Pickett, the non-run run reporter extraordinaire.


The Longliness of the Lone Distance (park) runner.

Conkers parkrun non-run run report - August 4th, 2020

In this weekends excellent run briefing Jo Iorio posed the Question “Who is YOUR Roger Cobb”

In reply to that I would say it was not a Who but a What. I was enticed to parkrun by the promise of a bacon and Egg Cob(b), at the end of it, and before the purists from around the country start arguing the toss as to whether it was a Bacon and Egg sandwich, Bap, Roll or any other variant, for the purposes of this article it is a Cob(b) as anything else would ruin the pun.

So back in 2016 – on July 30th to be exact, so pretty much 4 years ago to the day, I ventured forth to attend my first parkrun, encouraged by my wife, Elspeth and her friend Lisa Shaw, who had just completed a C25K course with Washlands Ladies Runners and had done their first parkrun the week before. Elspeth had raved about the Bacon and Egg Cob(b)s in the café at the end of the run and the thought of that swung it for me.

As we got to Cadley roundabout on the A444 the heavens opened and in the midst of a downpour that the cars wipers could not clear, we decided to call it a day and not bother! Maybe not the heroic start you expected but whizz forward a week to event 284 on 6th August 2016, and a rather nervous 71 year old non -runner wearing extremely baggy shorts, a thick t-shirt and trainers that weighed in at about the same as a pair of divers lead boots, made it to the runners briefing. Several people said “Hello” and asked if I was a first timer or a Tourist (whatever they may be). I settled down to listen to the First Timers briefing that was closely followed by the Run Brief which gave a lot of background and lauded several people who had done 50 or 100 runs, very commendable, but I didn’t realise the significance at the time and, in reality thought I would be lucky if I ever did 5 runs!

As I struggled my way round, I was amazed at the number of people who, as they passed me encouraged me along, and a young lady (unfortunately I never got her name and didn’t see her again) who ran with me from around Hells Angels Bridge on the return journey, and kept telling this gasping Grandad that he was doing amazing and could do it.

I did and ended up with a time of 36.19 finishing 344th out of 406. I duly went into the Cafe afterwards, enjoyed said Bacon and Egg Cob(b), chatted to several very friendly people but the memory that sticks most was the welcome to the “Club” given by a certain Robert Dilworth, who I have rapidly found to be a true gentleman of parkrun, always willing to help and encourage.

From this point I moved forward improving my time to 29.17 by the 3rd of December. This was partly due to getting rid of the diving boots and buying some decent running shoes but in the main to the tremendous encouragement, friendly fun filled spirit sometimes tinged with a slightly competitive element, I mean what red blooded bloke won’t try harder when he is being beaten by a very sweet 8 year old girl?

From there on parkrun has become, as it is certainly for the majority who will read this, a weekly institution. For me with 140 runs and 100+ various volunteering roles it is something that I can’t wait to get back to for my weekly fix. It has undoubtedly helped half marathons this year, even though, due to the circumstances I have only so far been able to do one, I would have laughed my head off. It has given me the opportunity to meet loads of lovely people including all our amazing Core team and the legion of marshals, some of who unselfishly marshal week after week, the runners, joggers and walkers of all ages, genders, and ethnicity who make up our ever growing numbers, become part of a team running in a variety of events for our own fun and having a great time in the effort and generally having a very special and enjoyable experience

Would I recommend parkrun to anyone? YES, I have and do frequently and I will do everything in my power to encourage others to do as I did and take the plunge. If I can, anyone can”!!!!



Because we’ve been locked up, they won’t let us out

Conkers parkrun non-run run report - Saturday 25 July 2020

For those that don’t recognise my headline, it refers to Akon’s Locked Up because let’s face it we’ve been locked up for months and we’ve had to adapt to that.

The lockdown period has definitely been a strange one due to the lack of routine. Since I began running with the Conkers community, I haven’t committed to parkrun every Saturday because I have a number of health conditions. However, knowing I’m not allowed to go feels odd.

We all have the occasional restriction – whether that’s down to illnesses, family commitments or a good old holiday but we’ve never been told to ‘stay indoors’. It’s almost like being in a never-ending movie don’t you think.

Losing a routine really knocks you back for six. For me I heavily rely on exercise to maintain my stamina and also steady my asthma. It’s also a huge stress reliever and I always feel great after a well-deserved workout although I have to admit I haven’t been keeping to it. I had a severe chest infection back in March and I was on steroids for four and a half weeks so as you can imagine, I fell completely off the wagon.

One thing I’ve discovered during this unheard-of period is my trusty bike. Again, another thing I rushed into and never really used that often, but I’ve found the love for cycling once more. Yay!

It’s great to see so many taking up exercise and going on an adventure. I’ve been going for walks along the canal at Conkers/Sarah’s Wood and Moira Furnace. I had no idea it all existed and it’s such a relaxing place to walk around. The momentum to move again is coming back.

I think we have to treat this year as a write off but take what we’ve done throughout these locked-down months and carry on doing it. I can guarantee a lot of us have had video calls with family/friends, weekend quizzes, conversations in the back garden (with no TV) because we were frightened of what was going to happen next. Just because the restrictions are getting more relaxed doesn’t mean we have to go back to our chaotic lives. Take time for yourself and your loved ones and definitely check in on people more.

Our family had a loss back in May and it was extremely painful because we didn’t get chance to say goodbye or attend the funeral. I promise I do have a point after mentioning that and you’ll see why.

It’s funny really, people are more connected now than ever, but nothing has changed. We’ve always had the technology to spend hours on video calls and create group chats, but it’s never been done before because you could meet ‘Jerry’ in the pub whenever you liked. We have adapted well I’d say but I think we need to be extremely conscious of making time for people when things do start to return back to ‘as they were’.

Here’s to what the future may bring and make sure you do you when you start to go back to how things used to be.



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



How Tim lost four stone and found Conkers

Conkers Non run report - July 11, 2020

When I offered to draft the non-run run report, I started to write “A Sonnet to Conkers parkrun”.  Anyway, after some deliberation I decided to discard the unfinished and spectacularly bad (!) poetry and instead write about what parkrun means to me.  I hope my story will resonate with people and it would be really interesting to hear other’s stories – how has parkrun positively impacted your life?

My first parkrun was back in late 2016 and I am sure like many, I felt immediately welcomed into the fold.  As a “non-runner” I nervously toiled round the course at Braunstone in just under 40 minutes, and didn’t even finish last (thank god for the tail walker!)  After running a dozen or so times at Braunstone, I started to look around at other parkruns, and together with some friends, we started to tourist.  This was how I discovered Conkers, which from the almost 50 different parkrun courses I have run at to date, genuinely ranks as one of my favourites.  I love the course, the atmosphere is fantastic, it has a real family vibe and of course, there is nothing better than a coffee and some cake in the café afterwards!

Like many people I have spoken to, parkrun was my gateway into running.  From initially only running in the dark so people wouldn’t see me, parkrun gave me the confidence to run in public, a target to chase that elusive PB, to enter other races, and before long I had run 10k races, Half Marathons and then Marathons.  Along the way, through parkrun, I have met many amazing and inspirational people and made some lifelong friends.  It has changed my physical health by helping me to lose over four stone (and to keep the weight off) from that very first run.  Having suffered with depression and anxiety in the past, parkrun has been like a shield to me – it is difficult to put this into words in a short report, but suffice to say, my only medication nowadays are the endorphins I get from running. Thank you parkrun x

I am sure that the restrictions in place have been difficult for all of us in different ways. Last week Teresa wrote about using the time as a period of reflection, which I agree is a brilliant idea.  We watched on perhaps just a little bit enviously as parkruns in New Zealand restarted last weekend, hopefully it won’t be too long until we can all be reunited again.  In the meantime, the bonds of the parkrun family are strong – as they keep saying at parkrun HQ, “we will get through this together”.

But for now, I am spending my parkrunday mornings at 9am quizzing with Vassos, whilst for the rest of the week I am getting as many (non)parkruns in as possible to keep fit.  Most of all, I am dreaming of how magical that first parkrun back will be!



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