Tue, 08 Oct 2019
One runner who feels the benefits of the parkrun at Greenham Common is 37-year-old Kristy Howe, who started running the course in October 2017.
“I started at 38 mins and now I’m running the parkrun between 28-30 mins,” said Kristy, who has taken part in more than 70 runs with her family. “I run with my husband and two daughters, so it’s a family affair. We even do it at Christmas and New Year.
“Since starting the parkrun, I’ve gone on to lose two stone and complete my first ever half-marathon, which was back in March. I was never really a runner, but now you can’t stop me as I run during the week and on Saturday.
“I look forward to my Saturday parkruns and chatting to the men and women who are taking part – it’s a lovely parkrun atmosphere,” she added.
Another runner who uses the running to her benefit is Amy Piper, who started taking part in parkrun in September 2017 with her father.
“Dad and I ran together for a long time, no matter what the weather and we slowly but surely watched our times get better and better. My little brother then joined, then my husband, then finally my mum – who came to support me while I ran through my pregnancy.”
Amy was running her own challenge with a newborn baby on the way and she was determined to complete this before having to stop. “I was determined to reach my 50th parkrun before I had my first baby and, at 32 weeks pregnant, I managed it,” she said. “We’ve made parkrun a real family affair, all out on a Saturday morning, then back home for breakfast by 10.
“While I was pregnant, I was ‘running’ well within the 40 minute mark – which meant I was mostly at the back, and at times not feeling my best for it.
“It did mean though that I experienced the true spirit of parkrun – fellow runners encouraging me to keep going, spurring me on to get through that last 1km and to keep a smile on my face for the finish line.”
Amy also admitted that it was a great way to meet all the different people who gather at Greenham Common every Saturday.
“I’ve met people who are there to lose weight, people who are there because they love to run, people there to socialise or to rehabilitate following illness or injury – and it truly works wonders, no matter what got you started.”
Clearly all this wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers, who dedicate their own time every week.
“I can only speak for myself and my family, but I know that we all greatly appreciate the work that goes into organising and running parkrun – by the run directors and volunteers around them.” says Matt Studart.
While some runners use the event for weight loss and a chance to meet new people, others use it for preparation before bigger tests.
Matt Studart took part in his first Newbury parkrun seven years ago, and has experienced challenges on the way. “I remember doing it seven years ago in the snow and I thought it was brilliant, because seven years later I am still there and I have made lots and lots of running buddies and also lots of friends.
“Within that time I have now done four marathons – many miles, parkrun has been brilliant for lots of us. Also I have been involved in lots of volunteering over the years.
"As a volunteer you can see the other side of the line and I definitely recommend it, it is fun,” he added.
But it’s not just Newbury and the UK that offer the parkrun every Saturday morning, there are now 23 countries across the world that also hold events.
Lloyd Heritage, from Newbury, has used the running for his marathon training and has taken part in two international runs. “I am currently halfway through a challenge to run four of the major marathons in 2019 and use parkruns regularly as part of my training routine.
“July 6 was my 50th parkrun and also the first time that I placed first at Newbury. I am locally based, but whenever I am travelling I always look to see if there is a parkrun nearby.”
In fact, Lloyd has taken part in an event in Warsaw, Poland. (And if you’re looking to ‘parkrun the alphabet’, you might be interested to know that Poland has the only venue beginning with the letter ‘z’ – Zamek w Malborku, and to date there are no venues beginning with the letter ‘x’.)
David & Alex Clyde
When David Clyde tempted his daughter to take part in the Newbury parkrun in January 2016, he couldn’t have known what it would lead to.
Daughter Alex enjoyed it so much that it has encouraged her to take part in more running events, including the Reading Half-Marathon and the London Marathon. Speaking about her story, David said: “She started off not being able to run around completely and stopped four times to walk, but built this up over time.
“She then started beating her personal best and has taken nearly 12 minutes off that first time. Parkrun has not just been a great way to share some dad and daughter time, but she has also gone on to run the Reading Half-Marathon this year, followed by the London Marathon (raising money for Mind, the mental health charity) and taking part in Endure 24 as part of a team, doing 25 miles.
“She has more events booked in moving forward and is now definitely a runner. Parkrun was the catalyst for this as it encourages all abilities, shapes, sizes and ages, whether running or walking, no matter how fast or slow.”
And David believes having the parkrun across the world is a great way for people to try new things. “It is a really good lifestyle choice to get outside and get some exercise and I’m really pleased that Alex is doing it. It is also very good socially and a fantastic community activity with many benefits for all concerned. The volunteers each week are invaluable in this.”
Emma Mulholland and family
Emma Mulholland has been been running at Newbury since March 2014. She said: “My husband, Mike, who previously had no intention of ever jogging/running, has now joined me, and is loving the benefit of the exercise (which includes losing a few kg).
“Our children Izzy and Theo also run when they feel like it, but they always say they are saving their energy for other sports.
“My father Peter joined the Newbury parkrun in his late 70s after I suggested he try it and is now an addict. He was 80 in January and last weekend joined a group of over-80s who met to run at the Bushy Park parkrun in London.
Over-80s Bushy Park, London
“Last Saturday he was part of a group of 45 over-80s and he came 21st in his age category. I know he feels down if he misses a parkrun or a training run, so it clearly has an impact on his wellbeing.”
And parkrun has become a truly family affair, as Emma says her mother Jane, who also never had any intention of running, decided she would get in on the action and has now completed 50 parkruns, having also never considered that she would ever be “a jogger”.
Together the family has completed 485 parkruns and they have all volunteered a few times. Emma added: “We have run at other parkrun locations – it is great to be able visit friends and take part in their local run, and these count towards the milestone T-shirts.
“Between us, we’ve run in Paris (where we came in the top 20 as there were only about 24 runners), Cardiff, Trelissick (Cornwall), Winchester, Exeter… and quite a few other places.