The town of Swindon in Wiltshire has been home to Swindon parkrun since March 2010, which has welcomed more than 16,500 different parkrunners.
Emma Sperring from Swindon parkrun tells us more about the event she calls home…
Because of my role within the Community Health and Wellbeing Team at Swindon Borough Council, I have been involved with Swindon parkrun since the very beginning.
From the very first event in March 2010 with 30 runners to our most recent event in June 2019 with 563 runners, I have seen, and been a part of, the incredible growth of Swindon parkrun.
I have been involved with Swindon parkrun for so long now it has become part of my life and my family’s life! I love everything about it especially the wonderful friendships I have made over the years.
Our Swindon parkrun course is a relatively flat two-lap course that runs along compacted gravel paths around the west side of the beautiful Lydiard Park.
Swindon parkrun is fortunate to operate in the grounds of the beautiful Lydiard House and Park. The Grade 1 listed manor house has medieval origins and stands proudly overlooking the finish line of Swindon parkrun.
The course starts by the Forest Café and ends along the main avenue opposite the majestic Lydiard House. We travel in a clockwise direction around the West Circuit unless it is the first Saturday of the month when we go anti-clockwise!
Going anti-clockwise on the first Saturday of every month rather than clockwise often makes interesting conversation amongst parkrunners, with tourists often asking ‘why’?!
So the answer to this is that this was the original direction of the course, when the start line used to be on the grassy area outside Lydiard House… when the start line moved, the course direction changed to clockwise, to the dismay of some of our regular parkrunners.
To keep everyone happy, it was decided that we would continue to go the original way (anti-clockwise) once a month. The tradition continues to this day!
Swindon parkrun is a must for any tourist! Close to the M4, Lydiard Park is easily accessible with ample parking (during the summer months!). We have toilets and a café very close to the start line and a safe place to leave your belongings during the run.
We have a first-timers briefing every week at 8:50am, followed by the main briefing at 8:55am; all we ask is that you remain quiet so that everyone can hear! It is a very busy parkrun with some very friendly folk, and if you’re not sure where to stand at the Start Line look out for our wonderful pacers who can also help you en route.
And during your run you will hear much encouragement from Jo’s Junction and Colin’s Corner…ending with a double funnel and the views of Lydiard House, Swindon parkrun is really one not to be missed!
The Forest Café is the place to be both before and after the run. The start line is just meters away from the café, so everyone tends to use the outside of the café as a meet-up point before the run.
Many parkrunners then return to the café after their run, to chat and share stories of their adventures that morning, with the option of sitting indoors or outdoors depending on the weather.
parkrunners also receive a discount on hot drinks when they show their parkrun barcode to a member of staff and during the heatwave of 2018, free chilled water has been available all morning at the café entrance. It is also the place to go for lost property.
How lucky are we having such a fabulous place to go to after our run?
We have a very interesting story about one of our regular volunteers who used to enjoy reading a novel in the quiet comfort of her car on Saturday mornings at Lydiard Park while her daughter ran around the parkrun course.
I knew this lady from work and when I found out she was in regular hiding in the car park, I took it upon myself to tap on the window and coerce her outside!
Reluctant at first, she agreed to some volunteering while waiting for her daughter. The rest is history. She has now volunteered over 250 times and now comes along to parkrun whether her daughter is running or not.
You will find Annie handing out the finish tokens every Saturday, always chatting and making everyone feel welcome while keeping everyone in order! Swindon parkrun simply wouldn’t be the same without wonderful volunteers like Annie.
Swindon parkrun is something that most people in Swindon have heard of. It has been around for a long time now, so many people have either read about it, heard about it or been to it!
I often hear many positive conversations about parkrun when I’m out and about; either at work, the school gates, the coffee shop or in the supermarket! People who said to me back in the day ‘I’m not travelling that far to run 5k around a park’ now go every week without fail!
I even know of parkrunners who have changed jobs and hobbies so that they can make it to parkrun on Saturdays!
Swindon parkrun has been in the local press, local radio shows and Swindon parkrunners have even participated in national research. Many people in Swindon have been touched by Swindon parkrun in some way; it would be difficult not to know about it?
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