Reading parkrun Event #518 Run Report

As the volunteers gathered under grey, cloudy skies to help set out the course & start finish area for Event Number 518, the first task of the day was to cajole a flock of geese & ducks back into the Thames from their chosen breakfast spot about 200 yards into the course.

This has happened a few weeks in a row now, so much so that we are thinking of adding the role of Goose Wrangler to the Volunteer Roster. This week 3 generations of the Barr family, led by the youngest - and possibly bravest, Alise BARR, used their shooing skills to great effect to ensure that runner-goose relations were kept cordial for another week at least.

The famous parkrun weather fairies seemed to be sprinkling just a little bit of magic at Reading for event number 518. All the weather forecasts were quoting 100% chance of rain for the start time of 9am, but they held off with just the odd spot falling here and there until after the Tail Walkers had crossed the finish line.

With the course clear, 324 runners were set on their down the Thames path and off into the nature reserve for 2 laps before returning to whence they began. James QUINN came across the line first position in 18.27, and Frankie HOGGE was the first female home with a new PB to boot of 20.26!

This week we saw 10 first timers and 47 PB among the field. Well done to all! Unable to give our usual round of applause to those with notably milestones, due to our COVID protocols, we can give our congratulations here to those in question:

  • 50th parkrun
    • Jenny GODDEN - who travelled especially to Reading for the first time to celebrate here milestone run. But in her own words "It's a lovely course and I'll be back!"
    • Mark ROBINSON - who has run at a number of local parkrruns, 12 of his 50 coming at Reading.
  • 100th parkrun
    • Ronald SHEARMAN - a Reading Roadrunner, who has a single run at  Prospect parkrun and the other 99 here at Thames Valley Park.
  • 250th parkrun
    • Robert ELSEY - who has run 215 times at Reading and another 35 times at neighbouring Woodley

Also many congratulations to Reading parkrun regular Angela BURLEY on running whilst celebrating a significant birthday. Only she knows how much the helium filled object tied to here waist contributed to her 'lightness of foot' around the 5km course. Happy Birthday Angela!


See you all next Saturday for more walking, jogging & running shenanigans!



Reading parkrun run report – Event# 517

By Jennifer Conway

It was my first time at Reading parkrun, after we decided to use it as a nice way to break up the drive from St Albans to Wales. Thank you to the Reading parkrun family for having us and to the volunteers that gave their time to make this week's event possible.

We gathered at the start for a brief introduction from Run Director Ian before being set off across the open grassland. The starting pace felt quick as we hit the first kilometre before turning right onto the woodland loop for the first of two laps. Aside from a surprisingly tiring little bump near the start of the lap, it was an enjoyably flat course which only required careful navigation of some tight corners, and sections of lumpy grass. As we completed the second lap, I was pleased to see a marshal directing us back across the open grass towards the finish. I was less pleased with how far away the finish line appeared to be, so I was glad to make the final right turn into the home straight. As usual, I enjoyed it even more once I had finished!

At the top end of the field, there were personal bests for the first two male finishers - congratulations to Martin Turton in 16.41 and Dame Dibaba in 16.46. In total, there 43 runners with new personal bests today. The third place finisher was Mathew Rainbow in 17.01.

I managed to finish as first female with 21.03. Unfortunately, I lost my inter-household competition in the sprint finish - which meant coffee was on me! Second female and the top age grade result was Jan North in 22.10 with a staggering 88.80%! She has also completed an impressive 447 parkruns. Although Jan was not the runner with the highest number of parkruns to their name as Phil Nash (497 parkruns) and Christopher T Kelly (478 parkruns) were also in the field. The third place female was Naomi Gardner in 23.00.

Congratulations to Jackie Steveni on reaching her 100 parkrun milestone, with 62 of these at Reading parkrun. She was closely followed over the line by Angelique Haswell who completed her 100th parkrun in a new PB. Dawn Weir also completed her 50th run today. Well done all!


Run Report for Reading parkrun – event #516 on 07-08-2021

I’m a keen parkrun tourist from Bedford and I’ve REALLY missed visiting different events on a Saturday morning, so when my friend Louise said she needed to do a work event near Basingstoke and was looking for a parkrun not too far from there, I jumped at the chance to join her. I’ve visited Reading a few times for work and pleasure and was quick to suggest we parkrun there for my 178th parkrun and 48th unique venue.

Bedford is about 90 miles from Reading (give or take) and we set off at 06:30 (a lie-in compared to some trips we’ve done for a 5k!). We’d planned to park in the nearby Tesco Extra, as suggested by somebody on the parkrun tourist Facebook group (3 hours free parking, toilets and refreshments/supplies!). After making use of the facilities we asked our trusty friend Google Maps to show us the way to Thames Valley Park, and he politely obliged. We arrived approximately 12 minutes later, after a pleasant walk along the edge of the river.

It had been raining but was dry and cloudy on arrival, with a gentle breeze blowing – almost perfect running conditions! We were very impressed with the lovely river views on arrival.

parkrun 7821

As seasoned tourists our first mission on arrival at a new venue is to locate a selfie frame and / or pop up sign in order to take bragging photos for social media. A local parkrunner offered to take a photo for us and took the job very seriously indeed!

parkrun 7821a

I had a quick chat with RD Fergal to confirm that I had arrived and would write the run report, and then we were pointed in the direction of the lovely volunteer who was to deliver the first timers’ briefing, which she duly did with expertise and efficiency.

parkrun 7821b

We were then sent to the (wide) start line where the main briefing was delivered, and we were soon off on the grass stretch along the side of the (very pretty) river.

parkrun 7821c

Anybody who knows me will confirm that I’m a road runner. I like concrete and I avoid trail, gravel, grass, mud etc, so I don’t mind admitting that the course description left me a little concerned. However, this course was pretty, and flat, with plenty of room to prevent argy-bargy, and the runners and volunteers were very friendly, so I really didn’t mind that there was (wet) grass AND (slippery) mud AND gravel.

I loved that the marshal at the halfway point shouted out the elapsed time. This encouraged me to get a bit of a wriggle on after that point, and before long we were heading back over the little bridge and the finish was in sight. And then it was all over!

We spent some time admiring the river view and chatting to a fellow parkrunner in a 250 t-shirt who was trying to coax his dog out of the water. Said pooch had found a tree stump in the water and was determined to take it home, despite the fact that it was almost as big as him and far too heavy. I think Mr 250 would have been there quite some time after we left!

parkrun 7821d

We then set off for the recommended Tutu’s Ethiopian Table Café where the very friendly staff administered perfect tea with cake and scrambled eggs on toast. Just what we needed.

parkrun 7821e

We had a lovely time in Reading today. Your parkrun was scenic, friendly and well organised and calm, despite a reasonably large turnout. I don’t love running on grass any more than I did before, but I reckon I’ll still be back! Thank you for having us. Please visit us in Bedford sometime!


Lisa Wright


Getting To Know The Run Directors – Teresa Caswell

For our sixth episode in our lockdown series, we take a rare chance to better "Get To Know" the lady that usually shys away from attention, Reading parkrun's widely appreciated Event Director, Teresa Caswell.

Teresa takes the run brief with a megaphone


What do get out of running? 
I run because I can and because, every now and then, it feels like the most natural thing to do.

What do you like most about parkrun? 
Catching up with friends and seeing new places when being a parkrun tourist.

What do you like most about Reading parkrun? 
The people – from the enthusiastic first timers to the regular volunteers and runners.

What do you get out of volunteering at parkrun? 
Laughter. Connecting with people and hearing their stories.

What made you first volunteer at parkrun? 
At first I felt like I wanted to give something back to parkrun for the runs I’d enjoyed, but volunteering soon became more fun than running.

What is your fantasy parkrun to do (real or otherwise)? 
Any one lap downhill course :-D

What is your best running memory? 
I have so many. But my favourite memories have to be when the whole family used to run. Nowadays the boys are still asleep at 9am on Saturday mornings, so it's just my husband, two dogs and me.

Left to Right: Paul (Teresa's Husband), Teresa and their 2 sons run with hands linked toward the camera at the Silchester Trail Family Fun Run in 2016

Teresa & family at the Silchester Trail Family Fun Run in 2016

Are you a member of any running clubs / do you run elsewhere other than parkrun?
No, I’m not. I see parkrun as my running club! If I go somewhere new I like to run to explore. This has got me into trouble on a couple of occasions when away with work I’ve got for a run, lost my bearings and turned up late to the morning meeting...

What’s the longest distance you have run?
I have run a few marathons and as a solo runner at Endure24. Long distances don’t suit me though. I get bored and the evil monkey on my shoulder starts to question my sanity.

Do you have any running ambitions/dreams/goals?
I would like to get to 500 parkruns. I am looking for a new challenge – maybe something as straightforward as a parkrun in another country.

Are you training for any upcoming events?
No, but I will be soon if the Reading Half Marathon happens in November. Every year I say I’ll train/take it seriously. This year I really will, unless I find an irresistible fancy dress costume.

2019 Reading Half Lobster

Did you hear the one about the lobster who ran the Reading Half Marathon? It pulled a mussel...

Quick Fire Questions

First parkrun?
Reading parkrun 22/01/11

Under my own steam - 23:44, and with Super Trudy the Border Collie - 23:27

Teresa runs through an Autumn forest with border collie Trudy running ahead on her running harness and lead

Dog Assisted: "Super Trudy" often helps Teresa off to a flying start

No of RDs?

No of volunteer occasions?

Have you ever done a double?
Yes, New Years Day doubles were great fun.

Have you done a parkrun in any other countries?
Sadly not, although I would like to do so soon.

What’s your favourite post parkrun refuel drink/food?
Hot coffee and one of Tutu’s cakes.

Teresa smiles after taking a mouthful of cake after a run

Cake. An integral part of parkrun.

Do you do any other sports/have any other hobbies?
I also like cycling and swimming.

What injuries have you had?
Luckily nothing serious. I have the usual niggles such as Achilles problems, sprained ankles. Most of it I could prevent by doing some decent stretches and looking where I’m going.

What are you doing in lockdown?
Running every day.

What is your favourite parkrun memory?
Christmas Day parkruns are very special. We’ve also been lucky enough to have Olympians join us at parkrun and a few other celebrities such as Sophie Raworth.

What is your favourite (non-Reading) parkrun?
I truly believe that every parkrun has its own charm. But I’m a sucker for a one lap course and Black Park parkrun is a beautiful one lap parkrun that I have fond memories of running.

What is your advice NOT to do at a parkrun?
Take yourself too seriously!

Worst parkrun weather you have run in?
Have run in snow at Reading and Woodley. It has also been pretty wet and windy down by the Thames. I think it’s known as character building weather.

Teresa walks away from the camera through a corridor of people who are applauding her

Well deserved: A round of applause for Reading parkrun's Event Director

Photo Credits: Peter Cook, David Hodgkinson, Reading Chronicle


Getting to Know The Run Directors – Ian May

What do scouts, schools, the University of Reading, paracording, musicals, and running have in common? Answer: Ian May - the next to feature in our weekly uncovering of the people behind the RD vest.

From Ian - parkrun1 editted

What do get out of running? 
It’s a great way to de-stress, escape the pressures of work, keep fit and stay healthy, and it’s probably the only time I get to listen to music, which is mainly musicals for me. I started running when I was about 19 thinking it was a good idea to enter the very first Reading Half Marathon. It seemed like a good idea at the time and I have run for my own fitness ever since, but it was a lot easier almost 40 years ago than it is now!

What do you like most about parkrun? 
The parkrun ethos fits well with my own, and keeping fit and healthy, both physically and mentally, is important to us all. It’s great that parkrun is for everyone, and I always enjoy the community spirit, wherever I run parkrun.

What do you like most about Reading parkrun? 
The people, the relaxed attitude, and the friends that I have made while being part of the Reading parkrun family. I felt welcome from my first time and this has continued ever since.

What do you get out of volunteering at parkrun? 
You could call me a forever volunteer, it’s who I am - and I always like to give back to the community when I can.
Volunteering at parkrun has always been fun, full of smiles and it’s great to be part of a fantastic team. I really enjoy the RD role as it great be part of a team that supports and helps each other in making parkrun safe and successful.

What made you first volunteer at parkrun? 
For me, it just felt like the right thing to do, but it’s good to give back and support others and I enjoy working with other people to make great things happen for others.

What is your fantasy parkrun to do (real or otherwise)? 
At this current time it would be great to get back to TVP! But anywhere near water, as I find running by a lake, river, or the sea, very relaxing.

What is your best running memory? 
Crossing the line with my brother in the first Reading Half Marathon back in 1983, being part of that first event, starting and finishing at the University of Reading (where I have worked for the past 30 years) - that was the start of my running journey.

A young Ian and his brother stand in the running t-shirts and with their finishers medals, shaking hands with their father after the first Reading Half Marathon

L-R: Ian, his father and his brother after the first Reading Half Marathon

Are you a member of any running clubs / do you run elsewhere other than parkrun?
Unfortunately I’ve never had the time to join a running club, maybe it’s something for when I retire to help me keep going in my old age perhaps! I enjoy going out on my own, running around my local area and entering local running events.

What’s the longest distance you have run?
Half marathons are my limit, and this is getting harder and apparently longer as time goes on! So 13.1 miles.

Do you have any running ambitions/dreams/goals?
I don’t remember when, but at one time I did think it would a good plan to run a marathon when I eventually retire, I believe this was connected to the thought that I am going to have lots of time to train and build up to the 26.2 miles. However, in reality, the ambition is to still be running in 20 years time with no worries about distance, times or injuries. If I can still parkrun as I get older that will enough for me.
A parkrun in another country would be something I like to do at some point, I just need to be in the right place at the right time.

Are you training for any upcoming events?
It’s not been a good year for plans! Since the end of last year I have struggled to run any real distance due to health issues and I was looking forward to getting back to TVP for a gentle Saturday morning parkrun, and fit in a spot of volunteering as well, before the world stopped.
For all of us the last three months or so has not been as any of planned and it will be great being back amongst the Reading parkrun community when the world returns to some sort of normality.
If I am able to the Great South, an event I enjoy each year, which beckons next in October and also with having just deferred my Reading Half place to next year, I have something to strive for (health permitting) for 2021 and beyond.

Ian is a regular runner of the course at TVP

Ian is a regular runner of the course at TVP

Quick Fire Questions

First parkrun?
Reading parkrun 20/08/11 in 27:00 mins

25:24 - a distant memory.

No of RDs?
11 and looking forward to more.

No of volunteer occasions?

Have you ever done a double?
Never had the opportunity to complete a double as this has always been a bit of challenge. It’s is a goal for the future.

Have you done a parkrun in any other countries?
An overseas parkrun is one of the goals for the future. Since joining parkrun most of my runs have been local; 203 at Reading, and 17 runs at eight other events.

What’s your favourite post parkrun refuel drink/food?
A nice cup of coffee at Tutu’s.

Do you do any other sports/have any other hobbies?
Apart from running I enjoy a game of badminton and cycling when I can as alternative forms of exercise. If I go to the gym, I always end up on the treadmill which is “running indoors while watching the TV”!
I have been in scouting since the age of 10 and I am currently the Assistant County Commissioner (International) as well as holding couple of other roles as Trustee with Berkshire Scouts and a local Scout district.
For the past 25 years I have also been involved in school governorship, and as a Trustee with Maiden Erlegh Trust. I feel that I am giving back to my local community.
When I’m not working, scouting, in a trustee meeting, or exercising, I am also a loyal Reading FC season ticket holder, football being one of the sports I like to watch and not play.
I can also find time for watching films, going to the theatre (musicals), and a bit of paracording. Most importantly, I do find time to spend with my family and two dogs, without who I would not be who I am.

What injuries have you had?
Mainly lower limb injuries (calf and ankles).

What are you doing in lockdown?
Mainly working; I seem to work harder at home than in the office! Also I’ve been doing scout and school meetings online, and talking to the family and friends on the laptop or iPad. By the time the working day has finished I ready for the sofa and a sleep in front of the TV.
I’ve not managed very much running due to my health over the past 6 months but found the energy for a go at a “home” parkrun, and I enjoyed 3 attempts at the “round and round the garden” home event, just the 111 times around the house!

Round and Round merged

Ian relaxes with the volunteers after his 111 laps.

What is your favourite parkrun memory?
I have many parkrun memories over the past 9 years. Every event is a fun adventure making forever memories for us all.

What is your favourite (non-Reading) parkrun?
My favourites so far are Tamar Lakes on the Cornish/Devon border not far from Bude. It’s a delightful one lap course around Tamer Lake as the name suggests, with an easy instruction from the RD’s pre run briefing; “One lap. Keep the lake on your left, and if your feet get wet you’ve gone too far left!”
The three lap Sheffield Castle parkrun is a great challenge taking place in a “pocket park” on the side of hill with three steep downhill and three steep uphill sections. I managed to run one of my fastest 1k sectors at this event - guess which section of the course that was on…

A Run Director in the foreground gives a briefinng to runners assembled in front of him in brightly coloured clothes with the expanse of Tamar Lake in the behind them all.

"Keep the lake on your left..." - the Tamar Lakes parkrun run briefing.

What is your advice NOT to do at a parkrun?
The only advice I can give when you can’t run a parkrun is try to volunteer at a parkrun.

Worst parkrun weather you have run in?
I think I have run in all weathers from the really cold, snowy, very wet, and extremely warm. I actually enjoy running in the rain you - can’t beat a good splashy puddle.

3 images of Ian. Left:  jumping high above a muddy puddle. Centre: landing with a big splash in the puddle. Right: a second big splash in the puddle.

Splish. Splash. Splosh.


Photo Credits: Peter Cook, Ian May, Tamar Lakes parkrun

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