Christmas and New Year Plans

Christmas 2021


There has been an increasingly common question that Reading parkrunners have been asking of the volunteers in the last few weeks - and no it's not "do I need to wear trail shoes this week?" Although the more rain we have the more that is advisable.


The question is "what's happening with Christmas Day & New Year's Day parkruns as both of those days are Saturdays this time around?" Firstly, it means that there will be no 'extra parkruns' this year, and those that do take place will all happen at the normal start time of 0900. So, secondly, that means there will be no 'doubles' where in the past staggered start times have allowed people to run two events on the same day.


All parkruns decide individually whether to hold an event on those days. After a chat over a lovely coffee at our post-parkrun cafe, Tutu's Ethiopian Table in Palmer Park, we reached the conclusion that we will NOT hold an event on Christmas Day but we WILL hold one as normal on New Year's Day.


As the longer standing members of the Reading parkrun community will know, our course is also prone to flooding and/or becoming very muddy at this time of year as the weather gets wetter and colder. So each week we will keep an eye on the course condition and the weather, and if we have to cancel - on any Saturday including New Year's Day, we will try to make decisions as quickly as possible an let you all know though this website and our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

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Every Runner Has A Story

"Pick a number between 1 and 148".


"OK, we're off to Reading next Saturday".

The parkrun wish list

The parkrun wish list

That was the conversation I had with my Mum last Saturday after completing The Leas parkrun on the Isle of Sheppey. The life of a parkrun tourist can be an interesting one. Some parkruns my wife and I have planned in our diaries weeks in advance with a detailed itinerary for the rest of our day exploring a new place. Others, we pick the Friday night before on a whim. This week, we decided to let someone else choose for us.

And so it was we found ourselves driving down the M4 at 7:15 on a Saturday morning. The M4 has long running roadworks at the moment meaning there is a 50mph average speed limit in place. It seems to go on for ages, but as you pass Junction 10 it increases to 60mph, then, as you switch to the A329(M) you can finally hit 70 mph. This becomes the A3290, ending precisely where you need to finish for the start of the parkrun, the Thames Valley Park.

Thames Valley Park Entrance
Thames Valley Park Entrance

As we neared the start at 08:20, it occurred to me that this was going to be my strategy for today's run (parkrun is never a race!) - take it easy for the majority of the first part, speed up slightly at 4km and then sprint it home in the final 300m! It always plays out like that in my head was my 120th parkrun and my 120th different parkrun. I'll get it right one day. But enough of my story.

As is often the case, arriving this early means the locals are still wandering to their park having had an extra 40 winks, so the only people around are other tourists and our dedicated volunteers. As much as we all love our own running achievements and challenges, parkrun really is all about the people we meet and the lives it changes. This is why we all missed it so terribly during lockdown.

Today, for the 527th Reading parkrun there were a dedicated 14 volunteers eagerly setting up, checking kit or heading off to their Marshall points on the course, ably managed by today's Run Director Fergal DONNELLY who has incredibly volunteered 243 times (and managed 173 runs too!). Special mention to all today's volunteers without whom we'd have no parkrun at all. Thank you all for your dedication week after week: Andy ATKINSONLiz ATKINSONKatie BARROWSRobin BERTRANDRobert CLARKFergal DONNELLYSophie HARRIS-WATKINSDavid HODGKINSONAlexa HOLTKevin JARRETTGeorge REICHJames ROBERTSONChris SMITHSarah WALTERS

Run Briefing

Run Briefing

As for the tourists, there were quite a few in town today as tomorrow sees the Reading Half Marathon which is in it's 39th year. A lot of hands went up at the run briefing of those also running tomorrow, but perhaps not surprisingly no hands went up to say they had run all of them (not even our RD, Fergal!). Good luck and Godspeed to everyone running tomorrow.

Today, there were 205 runners at Reading, surprisingly only slightly more than last week given tomorrow's big run. Each had a story to tell, it's a shame I can't tell them all, but here are a few: Sasha WOODS, Shani CONNOT, Jamie MANN, Yvonne COWARD and Jo HARDMAN all ran their first ever parkrun today. Welcome to you all, we hope this is the start of a wonderful adventure for you. What will your parkrun stories be?

Another 32 runners were first timer's (tourists) to Reading today but have parkrun elsewhere. A quick scan of the results of these shows they came from far and wide today, including Wales, Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol, Lincoln, Bournemouth and many others. If only the roads could talk, each one has their own story.

Before the run we spoke to John BLEACKLEY and Rebecca BLEACKLEY, a lovely couple from Ulvertson, Cumbria for the obligatory "Start sign photos" us tourists proudly collect. They were in Reading for a visit with their Mum, returning after several years away from the area. We also met a runner from Poole taking his own photo.

Welcome to Reading. Start (and finish) here.

Welcome to Reading. Start (and finish) here.

Afterwards, we spoke to the delightful Verrasamy family, including Timi visiting Reading today from their home parkrun of Valentines. Timi celebrates her 70th Birthday this week, ran in a time of 31:00 and tomorrow runs the Reading Half! Today's run was her 294th in total and she has also volunteered 457 times! As my wife quite rightly noted, she didn't look a day over 50 so I'm praying parkrun keeps us all young and healthy!

Good luck to her daughter Kresh who next week completes her 300th parkrun - though she has a way to go to catch Mum on the volunteering count with an equally impressive 439 volunteer roles! I couldn't resist looking back at my own parkrun record as Valentines was my very first ever parkrun and amazingly Timi and her family were there the same day I ran it (their event 92). Tourist parkrunners always meet eventually!

We also had the pleasure of chatting with Adam STANBRIDGE, visiting today from Hogmoor Inclosure and his friend Andy FINK visiting from nearby Prospect. Keep on running guys!

There were a couple of milestone runners today too:

  • Sophie MILLER reached her 10th parkrun, a milestone event for Juniors. Sophie ran in 30:42 today. Well done you!
  • Matthew LEWINGTON ran the new milestone of 25 parkruns as did Christabel VELLACOTT who celebrated with a PB of 22:56.
  • Dan BUTCHER and Chris MANTON ran their 150th, not an official milestone, but it still feels like a good target to reach. There were no other milestones today.

Best wishes also go to Stewart JOHNSTON for his next parkrun outing which will be his milestone 50th. 44 of his runs have been at Reading so will he make his home run the venue of choice or will he join us barmy tourists on the road next week. These guys are waiting on the start line with baited breath...



Reading is a lovely parkrun in a beautiful Nature Reserve setting. You run an almost out and back (on grass) along the Thames (past the oddly named "Oracle Beach" in homage to the nearby tech giant) with two laps of the reserve on gravel paths. I quite enjoyed trying to pace myself with the numerous rowing boats on the Thames, but failed miserably on that front. As you'd expect from one of the more established parkruns, Reading runs like a well oiled machine which a very capable and experienced volunteer team at the helm with the course well marshalled and clearly signposted throughout. I loved the volunteer at the turn who generously shouted out the current time on the clock too. Always helpful at the halfway point and for that final push. Please do consider volunteering at least once in every 10 runs is a nice ratio to aim for and some volunteer roles (such as writing this report, Pre Event Setup, Post Event Close Down, Tail Walking or Token Sorting) even still allow you to run.

Pacers in boats. Kind of.

Pacers in boats. Kind of.

Sadly, today we had to dash back to London so were unable to take in the post run cafe (all part of the parkrun experience) for some more individual stories or even to sample some of the highlights of Reading such as a walk down the beautiful Thames Path, taking in the history of Reading Abbey or viewing the Bayeaux Tapestry at Reading Museum. Never mind, we still have Prospect and Woodley parkruns to do. Reading, we'll be back. One day...

Robert CLARK


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


Getting To Know The Run Directors – Sev Konieczny


This week's Run Director in the spotlight is Sev Konieczny. We meet the lady from across the Channel that produces some of the most amusing one liners during her run briefings on a Saturday morning.

Sev RD Briefing Crop


As well as Run Director, I have enjoyed lots of different volunteering roles from timekeeping, processing results, pacer and tail walking. But due to recent illness, I have taken a break and haven’t run, or volunteered for that matter, for ages. So for me, 2019 was all about ‘parkchats’ and ‘parkwalks’, mainly at Woodley; although it’s quite close to my home, I’m actually counted as a tourist there!

A long line of people in yellow vests pretend to run from right to left before the set off as pacers. Sev wears number 34 on her vest for 34 minutes.

Sev pacing 34 minutes at Reading parkrun #399 in summer 2017

parkrun has given me many memorable Saturdays of celebrations with lots of the members of the parkrun community. Some of my best memories at parkrun are related to either PBs, milestone runs, birthdays, a friend’s hen-do, and even people just completing 5k without stopping. These are to name but a few...

Sev smiles and walks toward the camera after just crossing the  finish line of her 20tth parkrun, flanked by clapping friends

Sev completing her 200th parkrun

I can say that I am always fascinated by the simple concept of parkrun being so much more than running a 5k.

So I’m looking forward to going back to TVP soon to make more memories, and until then I am cherishing the good times had there. I will be forever grateful for the tales, the smiles, the support, and the help of parkrunners brightening up my morning. Thank you.

See you soon at TVP!

Quick Fire Questions

First parkrun & date? I started my parkrun journey on12 May 2012, some 9 months after printing my barcode!

PB? 28:40

No of RDs? 44

No of volunteer occasions? 172

Have you ever done a double? Yes, on New Year’s Day in 2015 at Reading & Woodley; and then again in New Year’s Day in 2019 at Prospect & Dinton Pastures.

Have you done a parkrun in any other countries? I have run 18 other parkruns apart from Reading, however I haven’t run in other countries, yet. But I'm planning to, there's one in the pipeline...

Do you elsewhere other than parkrun? I've have been involved with Reading Roadrunners and the Sweatshop Running Community, but from doing the Westminster Mile to Endure 24 solo and in teams, there is always a very strong connection with parkrunners when at other running events.

A group of a hundred or so parkrunners gather together in front of Buckingham Palace for a team photo

The parkrun wave at the Westminster Mile. (Sev is toward the very right hand side)

Sev and five friends sit in the letters of giant letters spelling our KIDS, at the Westminster Mile 2015

Sev and friends at the Westminster Mile

What’s the longest distance you have run? 48 miles at Endure 24 solo.

What is your favourite (non-Reading) parkrun?  I am not a very well travelled parkrunner so it’s difficult to choose a favourite. I enjoy the Black Park course, and Gunnersbury for always bringing back joyful memories when I used to live nearby (before parkrun existed). Northala Fields is great for their warm, but chilled atmosphere.

Each parkrun has a story to tell, my one of last parkrun tourism was at Richmond where I forgot to pack my leggings. So I walked around wearing my outfit from a friend's wedding the day before!

A group of people stand around a man and a woman who wears a wedding veil. Sev on the very right of the group wears a peach coloured knee length skirt from her wedding outfit instead of leggings

The day after the wedding at Richmond parkrun...

Do you do any other sports/have any other hobbies? I cycle quite a bit and have even done Ride London in 2018. Open water swimming is something I like to do also.

Sev and Teresa Caswell stand in front of their bikes in a park, and hold up their medals from Ride London 2018

Sev and Teresa Caswell, with their medals, post RideLondon 2018.

Photo credits: Peter Cook, Peter Reilly, John Bailey, Sev Konieczny


Getting To Know The Run Directors – David Hodgkinson


This week it's turn to find out more about David Hodgkinson. Unusually for Reading, a Run Director who, so far, has actually volunteered more than he has run at parkrun.

David stands in the middle of a crowd looking to his left  with dark sunglasses on


What do get out of running? 
I get real satisfaction out of being able to push myself further, or faster than I thought when I set out. That post run glow doesn't always happen, but when it does it's a fantastic feeling. Although the happiness a good time, long distance or strong run gives me, it soon turns into “Well if I can do that, then maybe I can improve on it just a little bit more…”

What do you like most about parkrun? 
I love the ethos of the whole thing. The fact it’s free, the fact it is for everyone, is wonderful. When you see someone celebrating a PB whether that’s 30/40/50 minutes, when you see people hanging around and chatting at the end of the run, or the pride when someone reaches a milestone, you can see that although people treat it in so many different ways everyone can get something out of it.

What do you like most about Reading parkrun?
The people. Without question. Over the course of a three and a half years of coming to parkrun I’ve met some great people, some I probably would never have met otherwise, and some have turned into friends.

David looks and points at a stopwatch in his hand whilst Event Director Teresa Caswell looks on intently

David learning the intricacies of timekeeping from Event Director Teresa Caswell

What do you get out of volunteering at parkrun?
It’s great to still be part of the parkrun community every week even when I’m injured, which seems to have been rather a lot in the last few years! But as well as the social side, when you volunteer you feel like you are sharing in the achievements of those who actually run, and you go home with a warm sense of contentment. Plus it still gets me up and out early to start the weekend!

What made you first volunteer at parkrun?
At the time I was recovering from a tough period with my mental wellbeing, and I was looking around for a form of volunteering to help me reconnect with people and the world in general. One of my best friends from University suggested parkrun as her husband ran at Reading and knew they always had a need for volunteers, but she also knew how much I loved being involved with sport. The two together seemed like a good idea...

What is your fantasy parkrun to do (real or otherwise)?
I’ve only run Reading & California Country parkrun so far, but I’d love to do some of those that are on beaches, and/or doing a milestone run at the home of parkrun, Bushy Park, would be on my list.

What is your best running memory?
Running my one and only marathon (so far), The London Marathon in 2008. I’d not even run a 5k before training, but after sitting and watching the London Marathon for as long as I can remember on TV, and (blindly) thinking I’d love to do that one year, I applied to the ballot. Unbelievably, I got a place on my first try. Their are so many small memories of the actual day, standing on the start line next to a 70 year old who was about to run his first marathon since having a double hip replacement (!), the deafening noise coming over Tower Bridge, seeing friends along the route, and then being able to find a sprint finish - from I don’t know where - coming down The Mall. A very memorable day.

David runs toward the camera with the River Thames in the background and pursued by other runners behind him on the towpath

David has run just one marathon but several half marathons

Are you a member of any running clubs / do you run elsewhere other than parkrun?
I’m not a member of a club as yet, although people at parkrun try to cajole me every so often to join one of the local clubs. So apart from parkrun, it’s many a solo pursuit training for races. Having a race in the calendar help motivate me.

What’s the longest distance you have run?
26.2 miles

Do you have any running ambitions/dreams/goals?
First and foremost I’d just love to get back running consistently and then doing the odd half marathon here and there. I’d like to go back and do London again one day, and get under 4 hours.

Are you training for any upcoming events?
I was due to go to Run Fest Run in May, before lockdown altered pretty much everything. I also have a place in the Oxford Half in October, so I’m about to start gearing up for that on the off chance mass participation events will be back by then.

Quick Fire Questions:

First parkrun & date?    Volunteering at Reading #377 on 18 March 2017 as Number Checker, but then running Reading #410 on 11 November 2017.

PB?    27:11 for parkrun, and 22:07 all time (a few years ago now!)

David stands on a bench with a microphone in his hand as he speaks to a crowd of runners in front on him

David takes the run briefing before another Reading parkrun

No of RDs?    11

No of volunteer occasions?    103

Have you ever done a double?    Not yet. I’m always off visiting family at Christmas & New Year, so I haven’t found a way to do it yet.

Have you done a parkrun in any other countries?    I haven’t really done any tourism yet. But I’m hoping to do more in the future, some of the US and Canadian parkrun appeal, and I think I'd get a decent finishing position too!

What’s your favourite post parkrun refuel drink/food?    A cappuccino (or two) and toast is my regular post parkrun refuel at Tutu's.

Do you do any other sports/have any other hobbies?    Sport is my passion, and I trained to be a PE teacher at University, although I didn’t end up going into the profession. So I’ve played lots of different sports in my time and have coaching badges in seven different ones, but I watch much more than I play these days. I play golf sporadically, and watch a fair bit of football, rugby, and both two and four wheel motorsport.

What injuries have you had?    Too many to mention! Over the last few years I’ve had knee trouble, calf strains, and achilles strains which have severely restricted my running.

What are you doing in lockdown?    I’ve explored a lot of the country lanes near where I live during the daily permitted exercise outings, and started doing HIIT with Joe Wicks to get some of the excess weight off. I watched some great box sets too, I’m in the middle of The Last Dance right now.

What is your favourite parkrun memory?    That’s difficult. But I’ll never forget turning up to volunteer at my very first parkrun. It was at Dinton Pastures, and in the cafe afterwards some of the regulars spotted me and pulled up a chair and asked me to sit with them, we chatted and laughed as we drank our coffees. I was hooked on parkrun from then on. (Thank you Kerry, Pete & Charlie!)

David and 15 other volunteers stand in a line behind the California Country parkrun sign all wearing high visibility  vests

David has both run and volunteered at California Country parkrun

What is your favourite (non-Reading) parkrun?    I’ve only done one other - so it has to be California Country parkrun. I was invited to do some of the trial runs during set up, and I did the inaugural there. With several ex-Reading parkrunners being part of the core team, there’s always familiar faces when I go there.

What is your advice NOT to do at a parkrun?    #DFYB - don’t forget your barcode! Every run you complete gets you toward your next milestone T-Shirt, so it's worth making sure all your effort is logged and recognised.

Worst parkrun weather you have run in?    The parkrun weather fairies (yes, they do exist) have always been relatively kind to me. The worst kind of weather at Reading is a wind that blows directly down the finish straight back toward the bridge. On the older version of the course with the completely straight finish run to the line it sometimes felt like the finish line would never come!

David runs toward the camera and the finish line, red faced, as he achieves a PB

Approaching the finish line during Reading parkrun #442 for a then parkrun PB

Photo credits: Peter Cook, Peter Reilly, David Hodgkinson



Getting To Know The Run Directors – Fergal Donnelly


In part two of our series where we learn a little more about the people who stand on a bench and give us the run briefing each week, we meet Fergal Donnelly.

Fergal Donnelly standing on bench and pointing  into the distance as he takes the run briefing before the start of a Reading parkrun

Fergal Donnelly is the next in our "Get To Know" series

What do get out of running?
I like to be fit and healthy, and it helps to improve fitness. Mostly, though, I’ve met some great people and made some of my best friends through running.

What do you like most about parkrun?
I must have run at parkrun for at least a year, if not more, before I first volunteered. Volunteering with parkrun helped engage me a lot more with running and, more importantly, with people. We know the positive impact parkrun has both physically and mentally on so many people but I’d say the volunteering aspect has had a greater impact on myself personally.

What do you like most about Reading parkrun?
The people. People are great, wherever you go, and Reading is no exception.

What do you get out of volunteering at parkrun?
Aside from meeting people, making friends and having fun I would say parkrun has enabled me develop my own skillset. Helping create an energy or buzz each Saturday morning is what excites me and, without parkrun, there is not always that opportunity to do so. Ultimately, it’s about working with a great team of people, supporting runners and having as much fun as possible along the way!

What made you first volunteer at parkrun?
My sister and her two children came over to visit, back in 2012/13 I think.  As usual I wanted to do parkrun so I managed to convince my niece (about 10 years old) to come with me.  For some reason she decided not to run in the end so I asked one of the volunteers if he’d mind looking after her while I ran.  He was brilliant with her and I think I felt guilty and started volunteering myself soon afterwards!

What is your fantasy parkrun (real or otherwise)?
My fantasy parkrun is simply heading down to a scenic parkrun, such as Black Park (in Slough) for example, with a couple of mates, giving it a go and having a nice chat & catch up in the café afterwards.

What is your best running memory?
Good question! There are quite a few and I wouldn’t say I have a single favourite. However, each year about a dozen or so of us (parkrunners /  club runners) travel abroad to do a half-marathon (typically). While the race may be the climax of the weekend, it’s also the anti-climax in many ways. Spending time with a group of friends, chatting, joking and seeing some lovely places is just a real tonic. I have some great memories of running performances but I would say none top the memories I have gained from those group trips abroad.

Fergal and thirteen friends sit on the ground in front of a red Bilbao sign high on a hill with he city in the background
Fergal and friends on a running trip to Bilbao in 2018

Are you a member of any running clubs or run elsewhere other than parkrun?
Yes – Reading Roadrunners. I train regularly during the week with the club, and with friends, and usually am racing every fortnight or so.

My schedule is typically: Spring 10k; Summer trail runs; Autumn half marathons & Winter cross-country.

What’s the longest distance you have run?
20 miles. A marathon training event (even though I don’t run marathons) organized by Datchet Dashers from Windsor to Virginia Water & back. It’s just such a beautiful run and the club organizes it brilliantly.

Do you have any running ambitions/dreams/goals?
I have targets for each of the distances I run:

5k – sub 17:30. PB 17:45 (track)
10k – sub 37:30. PB 37:43 (track)
Half-marathon – sub 1:23. PB 1:23:36
Cross country – Top 10 finish in Thames Valley League. PB Top 20

Are you training for any upcoming events?
I'm just training generally, not very fast, at the moment. I'm waiting to see how the lockdown unfolds and will then I will start prioritising which events I'll go for.

Fergal wearing his Reading Roadrunners kit runs  along a wooded path ahead of other runners.

Fergal is an active member of Reading Roadrunners

Quick Fire Questions

First parkrun & date?    18 February 2012

PB?    18:14

No of RDs?    60

No of volunteer occasions?    229

Have you ever done a double?    Just the one, Reading & Woodley - many years ago

Have you done a parkrun in any other countries?    Yes, in Athlone, Ireland, my home town! It’s a complicated course, and I’ve managed to get lost a few times!

I do a lot of other running so I get to see a lot of other places, just not always via parkrun.

A mixture of runners start running towards the camera at the start of Athlone parkrun

parkrunners get underway at Athlone parkrun

What’s your favourite post parkrun refuel?    Previously it used to be tea, a can of coke & bacon sandwich at the Jolly Angler, but now it's tea & toast at Tutu’s.

Do you do any other sports/have any other hobbies?    I enjoy most sport; golf & football would be next after running for me.

What injuries have you had?    Fortunately, I’ve managed to stay relatively injury free. The odd niggle here and there but nothing major, until now anyhow!

What are you doing in lockdown?    Keeping outdoors; walking, running, cycling and a bit of swimming where I can. Plus lots of phone calls to friends and family, mainly when out walking.

What is your favourite parkrun memory?    This one’s easy for me! Meeting the people I have met; and looking forward to meeting many more.

What is your favourite (non-Reading) parkrun?    Black Park, a country park setting, single lap (maybe few loops, I can never quite remember) and a nice café afterwards. Plenty of shade so just perfect on a hot summer’s morning and excellently organized, of course.

What is your advice NOT to do at a parkrun?    parkrun is about a bit of escapism after the working week is over, for me. Time to get some fresh air, exercise and meet friends. So just: try not spoil it for anyone.

What is the worst parkrun weather you have run in?    I enjoy running in all sorts of weather, however volunteering in inclement weather, that’s another story! The most recent case was at TVP last winter (I think) at the tail-end of some storm; freezing cold, wet and windy - I was numb even before the run started!

Fergal runs towards the finish of Reading parkrun

Fergal completes another Reading parkrun in better weather

Photo credits: Peter Cook, Fergal Donnelly, Athlone parkrun, Peter Reilly.

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