Lydiard parkrun is cancelled on 30 May 2020: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Non Lydiard parkrun, non event 10, run report

Lydiard parkrun non-run report #10

Can we really be in double figures?  We’ve missed ten parkruns now, it’s difficult to comprehend how the time has flown.

And we’ve rapidly come to adopt social distancing measures so that it has now become a form of muscle memory. 

I have found myself automatically flinching away from careless shoppers, as I peruse the shelves of Aldi on my ongoing avocado quest, as if they are wearing high voltage cardigans or sporting beards made of bees like someone from the Guiness Book of Records..

What’s wrong with you? I mutter bravely when they are well out of earshot - before realising that it’s me that’s going slowly bonkers with this new form of physical tourettes. They are being normal - it’s just that the general situation we find ourselves lumbered with is quite mad and the ‘new normal’ that we are all being asked to embrace is a form of highly necessary and yet clearly weird mass behaviour. Unless you are called Dominic, apparently...

Ten weeks have passed and memories of kicking our heels at the start line of Lydiard Park are beginning to take on a sepia tone.

Remember waaay back in January and February 2020 BC (before Covid) when we used to recklessly mingle shoulder to shoulder, innocently exchanging microscopic water droplets like there was no tomorrow - Ahh what simple carefree times they were!

When (for it will happen!) the all-clear is sounded and we are eventually given the all clear to climb out of our metaphorical bunkers, blinking in wonder and fear at how much larger the outdoors is than our front rooms - we shall find ourselves once more at parkrun.

But it’s going to take a lot of getting used to - and perhaps it will never be the same again. For starters, there will be a lot of inadvertent flinching at the start line and we will be hyper-aware of speaking too ‘moistly’ as the Canadian Prime Minister cautioned us against in the early days of the outbreak.

However, judging by the numbers of fellow runners I’ve seen out and about, virtual parkrunners, couch to 5kers, young racing snakes and veteran trail pounders - we could all be smashing out personal bests like the superstars we are. After all, if we can give Covid-19 the heave-ho by simply by sitting at home and taking part in endless tedious socially distanced quizzes and making ad-hoc face masks from our pants then we are capable of anything! 

And you never know, we might all be better people after all this - a bit kinder, wiser and happier - we might be clearer on the difference between the value of something and the cost of something and that money has nothing to do with either. 

Hope so! Hang in there! Looking forward to seeing you in the after times!

Ben Fitzgerald


Lydiard Parkrun non-run report #9

Lydiard Parkrun non-run report #9

16th May 2020

Another Saturday…another perfect day for a (non) Parkrun! It seems that whilst we are all on lockdown, spring has sprung and nature is reclaiming control.

It now seems normal to run with birdsong rather than the cacophony of cars, and, instead of circumventing other noble Parkrunners, we are having to navigate the obstacles of low-hanging branches and rogue offshoots.

Though many of us may be lamenting the “lost” runs that add up to milestones, we can be safe in the knowledge that we will soon be hitting a socially distant milestone of 10 non-Parkruns. Running together, but apart, many continue to submit entries to the virtual Parkrun board which has now evolved to include PBs as well as witness how many non-runs we achieve. It is this “belonging” that creates community and I for one am finding that community spirit is another attribute that is thriving in these strange times.

VE day aside, the number of people who now will greet others whilst walking, running and cycling seems to be flourishing as well as the early spring blooms. Many are disengaging with devices and instead simply enjoying their local surroundings and smiles from strangers.

This is something that gives me great hope for post-lockdown society, as does the amount of new runners out there who have “stuck at it” and made a change for good. I’m predicting that whenever we do get back to “normal” Parkruns, we will need to be finish token ready for a new influx!

For now, we continue to run collectively yet independently, and face different challenges depending on where we live. I know that my hill work has improved since lockdown and am (almost) looking forward to testing this theory at Lydiard, specifically on lap 2!

So, take pride in small victories, tweak your training, smile at strangers and continue to blossom!

Great running Swindon!



No Lydiard parkrun, no event 8, run report

No-Lydiard parkrun Run Report Number 8


It’s not fair.


Here we are, on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend, when the weather is perfect for a new PB but still socially-distancing when we’d rather be socially distance-running.



But hey, we are at least still allowed to run, spaced out or alone. In fact, we are encouraged to exercise, and rightly, running is reckoned to be one of the best ways to exercise these on stay-at-home days.


Is it because it’s really good for us, helps make and keep us healthy and strong, which helps our bodies deal with nasty viruses, or is it because many of our ‘leaders’ like to run?


Whatever the reason, thank goodness many of us are still doing it.


Swindon’s weekly Virtual parkrun got great coverage in the Swindon Advertiser. See


And many runners have stories of individual running adventures too. For example, one of our Lydiard regulars celebrated her biggish but not quite so big birthday by running her first ever half marathon, solo, and in a highly respectable to boot, in just over two hours.


A couple of other vets I know can still be seen out round West Swindon looking tanned and healthy and sporting parkrun colours. Go runners!


Now this report is extra-short and comes to you early today in order to serve as a reminder  of a little laid-back virtual ‘running’ event to be broadcast soon, at 10.30am today.


It sees radio presenter, sports reporter, and author of Don’t Stop Me Now and Running Up that Hill, Vassos Alexander, in conversation with two members of Swindon’s running and parkrun community.


They address questions like these. Why do more and more people run? What keeps us running, that bit further? Where does the feel good factor come from when we challenge ourselves, running? And what about the new-found confidence and joy of living that goes with it?


You might like to check it out over a late breakfast.


It can be found here.


Meanwhile, we are all still in lockdown but thinking of one another and looking forward to the day we can run together again.


Till then, keep well, keep running, and keep safe.


Matt Holland


No Lydiard parkrun, no event 7, run report

Lydiard Parkrun non-run report #7:

2nd May 2020


Snoods… why isn’t everyone wearing them? If you want to create a statement look whilst out on your virtual parkrun then you need to snood up and be counted. I call it Covid Couture ™.


Although the Government has not got around to admitting that putting something in front of your mouth and nose can help reduce the chance of potentially infectious bugs going in or out - it’s something that our excellent NHS medics do routinely. And I tend to trust their judgement. 


Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean that you can forget social distancing - the old running sideways shuffle, jogging on the spot waiting for someone else to pass and strategic spurt of speed are all still highly necessary manoeuvers to have in your running bag of tricks. 

Embrace the snood! (disclaimer - I have no medical qualifications whatsoever - however I do know enough not to suggest injecting disinfectant!)


This morning saw me venture out for non-parkrun number 7 - lacking an actual deadline and no imminent threat of a steely-eyed parkrun director - it was a later start than usual. It’s surprising how quickly two hours can be frittered away by that extra cup of tea, and chatting to anyone within chatting range.


It was a steady shuffle down Marlborough Road to Coate Water on my tried and tested five mile route - zigzagging over twisted roots and ducking low hanging branches around the edges of the lake before grinding back up past the tightly cut hedges of Broome Manor and home.


It was a run - but not a parkrun - it felt like exceedingly hard work. It’s strange that a normal parkrun (remember those, with all the people and dogs and delightful chaos?) can rush past in a blur, something perhaps to do with the general air of positivity, the shared endeavour and the marshalls urging you on. And although it doesn’t really matter (it does) my running pace seems to always be a lot higher at parkrun.


Interestingly, at a time when we are assured that we should be following the ‘science’

(which of course means different things to different people) I decided to dig up some spurious science of my own to justify my dwindling running performance.


Turns out that, a study carried out by the boffins at Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that just 45 minutes of stress can impair subsequent running performance. Participants were split into two groups - one completing a mentally fatiguing computer test and the other watching a documentary. 

They were then asked to run a ‘time to exhaustion’ test on a treadmill. It was found that the group who had been asked to take a computer test performed worse than those who were asked to watch a documentary. And therefore - the scientists concluded - mental stress can reduce running performance.

But, if anything, this just proves how flimsy science can be - who says watching a documentary is relaxing? I’m currently 13 episodes into The Deadliest Catch - a documentary following the nerve jangling exploits of crab fishermen in the Bering Sea, it’s the most stressful thing in my life right now.


Perhaps if I wean myself off open ocean documentaries I might see a dramatic improvement in my running times… either that or I could get off my backside and do a bit more running? It’s difficult to work out, but you can be assured that I will be making the right decision at the right time in a transparent way - backed up with plenty of colourful graphs.


Stay safe out there! 


Ben Fitzgerald


Lydiard Parkrun non-run report #6

Lydiard Parkrun non-run report #6

Having enjoyed run in the rain last week, it was nice to have a break from the scorching sunshine for this morning’s run…although the morning haze quickly burnt off and the glorious weather continues.

As we reach a 6th week of the new “normal” it is as bittersweet one as there were bound to be several of our Parkrunners who would not have been at Lydiard, but instead London, preparing for the final challenge after months of winter training.  I know that some are not letting that grit, determination, and no doubt blisters, go to waste and are planning their own non-London marathons this weekend.  Good luck and well done to all of you as the amount of training you have done for the event is sensational in itself.

I am still waiting to hear about the situation of my swimming marathons in July and August (10k for those who are wondering if you really swim 26.2miles!)  I am very doubtful they will go ahead but am trying to use running as part of my training programme as getting in a pool or lake is impossible!

No doubt lots of us are undertaking new challenges or virtual runs to replace scheduled events and are telling ourselves that running in this unusually sunny April is more than worth it.  The virtual Parkrun hosted by Joanne and Ben continues to grow weekly and this week is the Good Gym takeover.  This is something we have regularly seen at Lydiard so it is great that as we all adjust to solo and virtual runs, there is still a degree of normality!  Thank you to all of you for all you do in both the running and wider community.

Several Parkrunners are now using Saturday mornings to do what I have nicknamed “Parkrun Plus” and are submitting the first 5k time from longer runs.  Working from home does allow people the opportunity to run more and I myself am now doing a Saturday morning “Parkrun Plus” of 10k to try to keep up the swim stamina.

Of course this means more and more sports kit in the wash as we use our “once a day” exercise outing to find new footpaths and trundle down new trails.  I know I am definitely in need of more run socks in the near future and let’s hope that once lockdown is lifted we can start supporting those small businesses who must no doubt be struggling by now.

Until your next Parkrun, stay safe, keep smiling and try to find one positive in every day.  This may be tough at times but will help us all to cope.  Remember, there is always someone there to listen, even if you are shouting out your frustrations whilst running down an empty footpath (I’ve done it!).

Love Laura x

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