This blog is a less one consistent point and more a series of short discussions about a few of the contenders in Sports Personality of the Year 2016. I will briefly let you know my opinions on the top three, the two people I voted for (yes, I voted for two, with such a list I simply could not decide) and Mo Farah.

Andy Murray: Let’s be honest, we all knew Murray was going to win, and he thoroughly deserved to win the accolade a third time. For Murray to reach world number one when the likes of Djokovic and Del Potro are playing at or near the top of their games is an amazing achievement. Basically the only reason I did not vote for Murray was that tennis is not one of my favourite sports and, as such, I have not watched all that much of Murray’s incredible year and thus have been more gripped by some of the other stories represented by the SPOTY short-list.

Alistair Brownlee: Again, another very worthy contender, although I have to say I was surprised when his name was called out in second place. Obviously his Olympic victory was a great success, but I think it was the way he helped his brother at the end of the World Series that won him the public vote, and given the word personality in the title that is hard to quibble with. However I tend to focus more on sporting achievement when deciding who to vote for in SPOTY and, for me, I think Brownlee’s problem was that it was a bit predictable, at least to the casual viewer of triathlon. He is just too good and thus his incredible achievement did not grab my attention in the same way as some of the other SPOTY contenders.

Nick Skelton: I very nearly voted for Skelton, and would have done if I had allowed myself three votes. To win your first individual Olympic gold at the age of 58 is incredible. (I am running out of adjectives here…) Skelton’s story is even more heart-rending when you consider the fact that he is lucky to be alive after a neck injury over ten years ago left him in a position where he might well never have ridden again. Maybe I am just soppy but Skelton’s success really made an impact on me. I suppose the only reason I did not vote for him is that I do not follow horse riding, except when something like this happens at the Olympics.

Max Whitlock: My first vote went to Max Whitlock. Due to the timing of events in Rio I ended up watching a lot of gymnastics and his achievements really took my breath away. Not only did he win Great Britain’s first ever individual gymnastics gold, but he won two in two hours, plus a bronze in the all around competition.  The gold on the floor was really special as no one expected him to win that one! There is no doubt that Whitlock is the best gymnast this country has ever produced. I think part of the joy in watching gymnastics is that they perform feats that you would think impossible, until you see someone do them.

Kate Richardson-Walsh: My second vote had to go to Richardson-Walsh. She is the first hockey player to make it onto the SPOTY short-list – what took them so long! Hockey is still an under recognised sport and the success of the GB women has started to change that. I was a hockey player until about four years ago and my brother still plays the sport. It is a sport I have grown up with and therefore it was incredible to watch the success of GB’s women. I watched every minute of that nail-biting final and literally jumped out of my seat when they won the gold. It has to be my favourite moment of the games and I still get a bit emotionally about the success and how much it clearly meant to all the ladies. Clearly hockey is a team game, but I viewed a vote for Richardson-Walsh as a vote for the GB women in general and, in any case, their success owed no small amount to the captaincy of Richardson-Walsh, a position she has held for 12 years. What a great success to retire on!

Mo Farah: By this point I expect my running friends are staring at their screens in disbelief asking why I, a runner, have not voted for Farah. After all, Farah has just completed an astonishing double double and I have voted for him every other time he has been nominated. I think there are a few reasons I did not vote for him. Like Brownlee, he suffers from the problem that his victory was too predictable, the shock would have been if he has lost. Also, the timings in Rio did not help. While I watched a lot of hockey and gymnastics, I did not watch that much athletics as it all happened in the middle of the night. I did watch the 5k but when you are struggling to stay awake the drama of the moment is somewhat lost. However, I think the main reason I did not vote for Farah is that I have not been running for over a year now. This means that I feel a bit out of the running community, and this has given me a chance to broaden out and appreciate what goes on in other sports. Farah was clearly extraordinary in Rio but, ultimately, it was the unexpected successes that grabbed me the most.

The other 10 contenders for SPOTY would also have been very worthy winners but I simply did not have time to discuss all of them. It has been a really good year for sport, that is without doubt!

A graduate’s reflections on Varsity

I graduated from university five months ago, but you would not know this from my Facebook newsfeed, especially in the last few weeks. Recently I have been seeing many of my friends updating their photos and posting messages about the upcoming cross country races against Oxford. Today was the IIs-IVs match and next week it is the blues match, which I am very much looking forward to watching. It has been strange looking in on the fever created by Varsity cross country from the outside. For three years I was integrated in every part of the Cambridge University Hare and Hounds and now I am not. I feel that this has given me a new perspective on the distinctive phenomenon that is the Oxbridge Varsity match.

First, I have been wondering how wise it is for a university to prioritise one race above all others. Clearly this occurs at an elite level, but at university level I think it can be unhealthy. The last time I went for a proper run was during the blues Varsity match last year, nearly a year ago now. While I am recovering, I probably would have recovered earlier had I not ploughed on through my injury. I did so because I was determined to compete in Varsity. I do not regret my decision as being captain of a winning ladies team was brilliant but I highly doubt I would have kept running through an injury if the focus of the cross country year was spread more evenly across Varsity, BUCS and Nationals.CUHH logo

This brings me on to my second point – the rivalry between Cambridge and Oxford. I think it is this rivalry that makes the Varsity matches the big events they are but I have never truly bought into it, even while in Cambridge. I personally find the whole hatred of Oxford to be distasteful. Of course I want the team I am in to win, anyone who knows me while tell you I am competitive, but I certainly don’t hate another team! Also, although I was certainly guilty of using these phrases a few times, I really dislike the term GDBO (God Dam Bloody Oxford), and the practice of writing O*ford instead of Oxford. They are another team of great runners and I think this sort of attitude is unhelpful. I have some really good friends at Oxford University, including in the Oxford Cross Country club, and I could not care less that they are at Oxford. I fully realise that most people in Cambridge do not hate Oxford, and visa versa, but you would not know that from scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. My attitude is to try and love my neighbour, not this does not include posting messages saying GDBO or treating ‘Oxford’ like a swear word.

Having said all of the above, I have no desire to take away from the great atmosphere that exists around Varsity cross country, and I think it is fantastic that it is the only sport at which all members of the club get to compete in Varsity. Next week I will certainly be cheering for the Cambridge runners and hoping for a Cambridge win, but I genuinely wish the Oxford runners the best of luck as well.


The subject of this blog may come as a surprise to many of you – after all, I have just spent three years in one of the cities where rowing is most popular (Cambridge) without ever showing any interest in taking part in the sport. The reason I was not interested in rowing while in Cambridge is that I was totally committed to my running. However, I have not run for more than c.10 minutes since early December 2015. I am gradually managing to increase the amount I am running but not enough to satisfy my need for exercise. I have been going to the gym and swimming but frankly I was really missing doing sport with other people. This led to me seeking sports that did not require any running. I have tried out a swimming club and a kayaking club, but so far rowing is my favourite!

Admittedly the erg machines are really boring, but actually being out on the river is great fun. I have been out twice, both times in a stable single (i.e. a scull but with floats attached to prevent me capsizing). My immediate reaction is that rowing is a lot harder than it looks! I have never been the most coordinated of people (hence why running suited me) and trying to get both blades to do the same thing at the same time is remarkably difficult. I am particularly bad at going in a straight line and always seem to be heading towards the middle of the river – at least I am not heading towards crashing into the bank! I also instinctively pull with my arms while pushing with my legs (for the uninitiated, this is wrong – you push with your legs and then pull with your arms!) However, after two hours of sculling I think I am beginning to get better. I am by no means consistent but I think it is fair to say that I am less inconsistent than before!rowing

Yesterday morning was a beautiful sunny day and sculling along the river for an hour was wonderful, although I should have worn sunglasses against the reflection off the water. The hour passed very quickly and certainly good exercise. I was initially biking down to the rowing club but quickly discovered that a 45 bike ride, an hour of rowing, and then a 45 minute bike ride straight up hill left me with no energy for the afternoon! I was very glad of the car yesterday and had enough energy to go to the allotment in the afternoon.

The Wednesday morning rowing I have been attending is for adult beginners. It is my hope that in a few months time I can progress into the novice squad but we will have to wait and see. Running friends – don’t worry! I fully intend to return to running as soon as I can – but rowing is providing a very entertaining alternative and a chance to exercise with people, thus giving me the community side of sport that I have been missing.

Sports Camps

Sorry for such a long break since my last blog, being unemployed seems to take up a lot of time… I am sure you have all been waiting with baited breath for my blog about my time on Sports Camps in Macedonia and Jersey!

After completing two weeks training in Bobbio Pellice, Italy (see my previous blog about Ready Set Go for a discussion of this) the young leaders finally headed off to volunteer on Christian sports camps. Some of the team headed off to Portugal to work with a project called ‘Kids Games’ designed to bring the community together in a way that highlights Christian values, and then leads onto church groups. The rest of us headed to Macedonia, finally arriving at 2am.

I was excited to be heading to Macedonia as it would give me the chance to help at the first Christian sports camp ever to be held in the country, as well as experience a whole new culture. The camp had a morning meeting and an evening meeting, which involved a talk on an aspect of sport (diet, strength…) and how faith relates to it. The main difficulty in the camp was the language barrier. However the leaders and some of the children, especially the children of American missionaries, spoke English, and everything worked out in the end. It was really rewarding to see the young people come out of their shells through the week and begin to engage more with the leaders. Many of them came from orphanages and it was a privilege to see how sport gave them a chance to have fun and enjoy themselves when their situation made life very tough for them.

After a week in Macedonia, all of the RSG leaders reunited in Jersey for a week of volunteering on a Sports Plus sports-pluscamp. Sports Plus is the name given to the camps run in the UK by Christians in Sport – the idea is that they involve sport plus some teaching about the Christian Gospel. This involved a talk a day and a chance for the leaders to share how we came to Christ. The day ended with team challenge, a competition that ran through the week between different groups of the young people. The camp was really well run and the open environment allowed the young people to ask any question they had about faith and Christianity. My personal highlight of the whole month with RSG was when I was told my testimony about coming to Christ through an examination of the evidence had caused a young person to reconsider their rejection of faith! It was clear that the young people all really enjoyed the week and I always appreciate seeing how much fun sport brings to those who engage with it.

If you ever get the chance to volunteer on a sports camp, Christian or not, I would highly recommend it. It is a great experience and so much fun!

Liz 🙂

Rio 2016

Hello everyone!

I realise I told you my next blog was going to be about my time on sports camps in Macedonia and Jersey but, given Rio 2016 has recently finished, that is going to have to wait until next time. In this blog I am going to give you my view on the highs, lows and controversies of the Olympics. Clearly that is a massive topic and therefore I am simply going to summarise my opinions and some of them will be expanded into individual blogs in the future. I should point out that the sports covered will be the ones I am most interested in and that this is in no way a complete summary of what went on – I can only apologise to all the followers of basketball, fencing, handball etc!

First, the successes of Rio 2016:

  • For me, the highlight of the games was when the GB women secured their first ever gold medal in hockey. Maddie Hinch, quite probably the best goal keeper in the world, is a new heroine for British sport and this victory has made me even more excited to hear Alex Danson (GB’s top goal scorer) speak at an event next month. Hockey is an often ignored sport, and when the England women won the European championships last year it didn’t even make it into the newspapers. This made it all the more exciting to see pictures of hockey players on the front page! Perhaps the national profile of the great sport will finally receive the boost it deserves!
  • Bolt gaining the triple triple has to make this list. That he has managed to dominate sprinting for eight years is a hugely impressive achievement and it is highly possible that is a feat no one will ever repeat.
  • Farah’s double double has also reached the history books. I have to admit I was concerned after the 10k as Farah hadn’t made it look as easy as he sometimes does and, to me, he looked tired. The 5k was closer than in the past but Farah’s kick once again secured him victory!
  • Adam Peaty breaking the 100m breaststroke world record
  • Nick Skelton finally getting a gold medal in show jumping during his seventh Olympics – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again!
  • I ended up watching quite a lot of gymnastics during the games and was incredibly impressed with Max Whitlock. He ended GB’s 108 year wait for a gold medal by winning two within the space of two hours – one on the floor and one on the pommel horse. The raw strength and flexibility needed for gymnastics is incredible! I also really enjoyed watching the American gymnast Simone Biles perform. At the age of 19 she won four gold medal and one bronze! Indeed, gymnastics seems to favour the younger competitors, Amy Tinkler of GB winning a bronze on the floor at the age of 16, having missed the European Championships last month in order to sit her GCSE’s.
  • The success of Team GB’s cycling squad
  • The Brownlee brothers achieving a 1-2 in the triathlon
  • While clearly some athletes did not perform as well as might have been hoped, the overall success of Team GB was outstanding, becoming the first nation to increase their medal haul following a home games, even if the number of golRio 2016d medals did slightly decrease.


The problems and controversies at Rio 2016:

  • My main issue with Rio was the number of empty seats. I have memories of every stadium being packed out for London 2012 and the lack of crowds at many venues was disappointing. Perhaps a criterion for being awarded the games should be the host nation’s ability to attract spectators?
  • The behaviour of the spectators who did turn up was then questionable at certain points – the difficulty in getting the tennis crowd to be quiet and the booing of Renaud Lavillenie being two obvious examples.
  • The infamous green pool
  • The anti-Christian bias of the media was noticeable. I realise many of you will disagree with what I have just said, but how many of you knew Bolt was a professing Christian? For a fuller discussion of this, see this article –
  • When discussing controversies at Rio 2016 it is necessary to mention Caster Semenya. My opinion on her has been flip-flopping around a lot, largely because my understanding of biology etc simply is not good enough to create a properly informed opinion. I am currently of the belief that she is not taking any drugs so should be allowed to compete. Farah, Bolt etc also have ‘unfair’ biological advantages, and my over-riding emotion in the whole debate is pity for Semenya. At the end of the day she is just an athlete trying to compete in something she loves and is very good at.
  • The doping scandal also deserves a mention. The IOC made a mess of deciding which Russian athletes should have been allowed to compete, and I feel that they got it wrong because a blanket ban would have sent a stronger message about intolerance towards doping. However, when watching sport I operate on the basis of innocent until proven guilty. The governing bodies of various sports must have felt the athletes were clean and therefore I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I know this is naive, but without this attitude it becomes impossible to enjoy the great performances that occurred, as seen in the debate around the incredible performance of Almaz Ayana in the 10,000m (
  • There was definitely some dodgy umpiring in the boxing and hockey, as well as some errors at the cycling and athletics.

Sorry for the long blog! Watch out for several of these topics being expanded into their own blogs in the future. See you next time, Liz 🙂

Ready Set Go!

Hello everyone and apologies for the incredibly long time since I last posted a blog. I was away for the whole of July and it has taken me some time to get used to having spare time in which I can write a blog! This article is about what I was doing in July – volunteering and training with Christians in Sport.

For the first two weeks young leaders from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, France, Germany, Finland, Serbia and Albania went to Bobbio Pellice in northern Italy to receive training in ‘Ready Set Go’. During this time my eyes were really opened to the potential of sport. It is fun and good for fitness and friendships, but it can also be used for so much more – pointing people towards Jesus, salvation and eternal life.

The ‘Ready’ part of this movement is its vision – making disciples for Christ in the world of sport and play.  Sport is a unique environment for spreading the Gospel because of the close friendships that form there, and because of the vast number of people who participate in sport in one way or another. Nothing else – not drama, music… – comes anywhere close to the number of people who play or watch sport. Furthermore, sport brings people together and creates community, and thus is a great way to spread the Gospel because, at its heart, Christianity is a community of those who believe in Jesus.

‘Set’ involves learning necessary skills for fulfilling this vision, such as Bible handling and sports coaching, and studying the nine heart values. These are:

  • What we do – proclaim the Gospel, make disciples, obey the Bible
  • Where we do it – in and through the church, in sport and play, in every country, city and community
  • How we do it – as servants, in teams, in partnership

The ‘Go’ element includes the different strategies designed to make the vision come to frRSGuition. There are nineteen Go strategies in total, such as sports camps, sports chaplaincy, kids games and festivals. While in Bobbio Pellice we got to have a go at running a festival down in the village and, despite the language barrier, we managed to have a fun afternoon playing games with the kids who turned up.

RSG was only launched this year, its aim being to unite the diverse strategies for making disciples in sport found across Europe into one coherent strategy. The programme was very well put together, a great strength being its inherent simplicity, and the fact that the resources are available to all. This makes it much easier for the technique to spread across the Christian Sports Movement.

I learnt so much during my two weeks in Italy, and I was really inspired when we visited a Bible school of the 12th century Waldensians and learnt how they were prepared to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Gospel ( However, perhaps nothing was more important than studying the way my faith and my sport go together. Romans 12, v.1 states, ‘therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship’. God created us and everything in this world, including sport, and this means that everything we do can be done as worship to God. This affects the way we think about sport, and for me this has been most significant with relation to my long term injury. I may be back jogging but I am still not back running properly, and this is eight and a half months after my last proper run. However, I know that God cares about my sport and that he will get me back to it when the time is right. I also know that, in the grand scheme of eternal life, an injury is not important. This perspective has really helped me avoid frustration as my leg continues to slowly heal.

Christians in Sport is a brilliant organisation, bringing together two things I really love. After two weeks in Italy I was very excited to head off to sports camps to put what we had learnt into practice. However, to avoid this becoming a long essay I will fill you in on my time volunteering on sports camps in Macedonia and Jersey in the next blog article. See you then!

Sport at University

Just over a week ago I graduated from university and, given this is a sports blog, that makes this an apt time to examine the role of sport in my three years at Cambridge Uni. Needless to say, sport played a massive part in my university experience, and for me this largely came in the form of the Cambridge University Hare and Hounds – the university running club.

When I went to university I already knew that sport was going to play a large part in my time there. I have always been sporty and enjoyed the outdoors, and my closest friendships from school remain those formed through the hockey team. Before Freshers Week I attended a training week in Somerset with CUH&H and many of the people I met there became some of my closest friends. Through cross country I met a wonderful group of people and running became a life line for me in amongst the stress of work.

However, what I did not anticipate was that I would become so focused on the single sport of cross country. CUHH logo Throughout school I had done a wide range of sports, and hockey was most prominent up until Christmas of year 13 (2012). I came to university with hockey kit, tennis, badminton and squash rackets and a desire to get involved in every sport going (except rowing – I would almost certainly end up as a cox which holds no appeal for me). It soon became clear that this desire to do everything on offer was totally impractical given the work load. I did play some badminton and squash for my college in my first year but cross country gradually became more and more dominant. It was when I attended a hockey training session, and spent the whole time trying to avoid the ball because I was afraid of getting an injury that would hamper my running, that I realised cross country had won. I am so glad it did!

With the intensity of work at Cambridge I found that if I tried to commit to any more than one sport I would end up not forming proper friendships anywhere. I know many others have done multiple sports successfully but that did not work for me. I focused on just cross country.

I would encourage everyone, whether at university or not, to get stuck into a sports club. I personally believe that the camaraderie and friendship created by playing sport are some of the strongest ties you can form. Sport has given me amazing opportunities from running from running for England to appearing on Countryfile alongside Matt Baker. Sport was important throughout all three years at Cambridge and I hope my love of running stays with me for years to come! Many thanks to everyone in CUH&H, and the club coach Phil O’Dell who has led my running to heights I never imagined!

Liz 🙂


Hi everyone,

Sorry it has taken so long for my next blog article to be published – blame exams! The good news is that exams are now over and, six and a half months after my last run, I finally went for a run!! To be precise, my first week back running has involved 3 runs consisting of about 15 minutes slow jogging on grass. That is 15 minutes across all three runs, not 15 minutes per run. As you can see, I am determined to take my return to running very slowly and steadily, and continue to combine it with swimming for a while yet. I have been injured for too long to wreck my recovery by doing too much too soon.

Even these short attempts at running have made it clear that the fitness I have maintained through running and aqua jogging is very different to what is needed for running, and that it is going to be a long time before I am back to what I would consider a decent level of fitness. However, frankly, I don’t care. I am simplyRunning glad to be back running. Running is something I will always enjoy. I find that I simply can’t replace the freedom and fresh air found in running with the monotonous view of the bottom of a swimming pool. I love running and I look forward to gradually building up my runs over the coming months.

However, overall, I am grateful for this break from running. Yes, it helped to trigger a spiral downwards and lead to the worst months of my life, but the lessons I have learnt are invaluable ones I will keep forever. This long break has taught me to structure my life and my identity around Jesus rather my running ability. By basing my life and happiness on Jesus and not on success in running, the future seems a lot brighter. Indeed, my enjoyment of running itself increases with this outlook on life. I know I am ‘born to run’ ( and that when I run I am using the gifts God has given me. There is no greater honour and pleasure in life that that, as famously summed up by Eric Liddell in ‘Chariots of Fire’ – (

It is hard for me to express how happy I feel during a short 5 minute jog around the playing fields of Newnham College. The joy running gives me is immense and I am so glad to be back doing what I love, even if only in a limited sense for the time being.


Learning to Cope with Injury

Before I start my blog this week I need to warn you that it considers some effects of my ongoing injury. This involves a discussion of mental health issues. However, the blog has a positive ending. I am going to share some ideas about why I initially let my injury get so on top of me and what has helped me to begin recovering. I am sorry if the issues discussed here upset anyone but I hope you understand that writing and sharing down my thoughts helps me and marks an important step along the road to recovery.

I last ran on 6th December, and I wasn’t running as well as I would have liked in the preceding months. Before discussing the effects of this, I think it is important that I explain how important running had become to me. In the 2014-2015 cross country season I had exceeded my wildest dreams and gained an England vest. Running had become a massive part of my identity. I don’t know whether other people saw me like this but I definitely saw myself as a runner before all else, and judged myself depending on how well my running was going. This meant that when my running was going badly, and I eventually had to stop, it felt like I lost my identity. I was confused and had gone astray. I had lost what made me, me.

DepressionI had struggled with anorexia in the past but in late 2015 things spiralled out of control again, in correlation with my running going downhill. Once I had to stop running things only got worse. Running had become my coping mechanism for keeping things beneath the surface, and losing this allowed everything to bubble up again. The majority of my friends were runners and I initially felt I couldn’t open up to them about my struggles. I was their ladies captain after all and therefore I was supposed to be the one supporting them! Instead I turned back to abusing food for comfort. This time I began binge eating and over about a month from mid-December to mid-January I gained 15kg in weight. I cried every day, very nearly dropped out of university and really struggled with motivation, anxiety and depression. Things got so bad that I would wake up in the morning and my first thoughts would be on different methods of suicide.

I realise that some people may read this and think something along the lines of ‘don’t be so silly, it is just an injury’. Injury certainly wasn’t the only thing I was concerned about but, in my experience, a central factor in mental illness is its inexplicability. I can search for reasons and try to explain why things got so bad but, in the end, I cannot explain why I got so depressed, I can only tell you that I did.

However, as said above, this blog has a positive ending and, although I am not totally better, I am far better than I was. I still can’t run and have black days, but they are far fewer in number and sometimes I can laugh and smile. So what changed? I am currently on anti-depressants and, I think more importantly, I also changed my attitude towards my friends and family and began to open up to them. I cannot emphasise enough how supportive everyone has been and I am incredibly grateful to all the people who have prayed for me and checked up on me. They have been wonderful!

You may have noticed that I thanked people for prayers and I want to finish by telling you that the single person who has helped me the most is Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian I realise that may sound a bit odd but I promise you that everything that follows is completely true. I in no way want to minimise the help friends and family have given me but Jesus knows everything about me, he knows the deepest recesses of my heart, he knows things about me that even I don’t know, and therefore he knows exactly how to help me. I became a Christian a year and a bit ago but it was only in February, that I really began to understand what this meant for me personally. I Crossheard a wonderful talk on identity which made me realise that my identity is in Christ and his wonderful saving sacrifice rather than in anything else. This was so helpful to me, I realised my self-worth was not in how well I ran but in the love of Jesus, something that is so perfect and so secure that it will never fail me. I have been regularly praying to Jesus for help in my struggle and he has answered me, he has helped my mood to improve and, several times, has prevented me from binge eating.

A Bible passage I have found to be very helpful is 1 Corinthians 6, verses 19 and 20 – ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies’. This passage teaches that every single one of us belongs to Christ because it is he who has saved and redeemed us upon the cross. Due to this we need to honour God, and that includes not abusing the bodies he has given us.

I cannot emphasise enough how much Jesus has done for me. Since I heard that talk in February my suicidal thoughts have stopped. I still have bad days but Jesus always answers me out of the darkness. I will get back to running eventually but I know that Christ loves me, he died for me and that I am secure in his love.

John 3, verse 16 – ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’.


Keep parkrun free!

Athletics seems to be under attack at the moment, largely from the media, and much of it for good reason. However, I did not expect the simple sport of running to come under attack from local governments! I am, of course, referring to the decision by Stoke Gifford Parish Council to charge parkrun £1 for every runner who turns up at the weekly event, I decision I am strongly opposed to (

I am a big fan of parkrun. It began back in 2004 with only thirteen park runners at an event at Bushy Park, Teddington in the UK. Two years later the second parkrun began in Wimbledon and now this free 5km run around a local park at 9am on a Saturday morning has developed into an international event with 396 locations in the UK alone. Runners of all abilities take part and at the end you get given your time so you can see if you are improving.

As a concept park run is wonderfully simple and has done an amazing job of getting people up and active. With an average of 166 people at each event that makes for nearly 66,000 runners every Saturday morning. In total nearly 940,000 people have done a parkrun. This is amazing! I know of no other event that has got so many people to doing exercise!
This is why I am angry that Stoke Parish Council sees fit to charge the runners. The government keeps discussing the obesity crisis and statistics show the UK is the second most obese country in Europe. Currently 19.1% of children aged 10-11 are obese and a further 14.2% are overweight. It is predicted that by 2030, 74% of men and 64% of women will be overweight ( These are scary statistics! I am sure I don’t need to go into the health problems caused by obesity and the stress that is already on our NHS, and if these predictions turn out to be true then it is only going to get worse! I hope that I don’t need toParkrun persuade anyone of the benefits of running and exercise, and parkrun has done a really good job of encouraging the wider population to take part in this.

As far as I can tell, the main reason the council decided to charge was that the occurrence of parkrun leads to extra maintenance costs in the park. I am afraid I don’t accept this, runner based erosion is hardly a massive issue. What next, you have to pay to use the local skateboard park or pay to cycle there? My local parkrun has been going for many years now and the surface of the route has not deteriorated at all as far as I can see despite around 500 runners turning up on some weeks.

Furthermore, parkrun was founded on the principle that it was free and it is a not for profit event that is run by volunteers. I accept that £1 is not very much money but it mounts up. It looks like parkrun is going to stick to its fundamental idea of having no barriers to participation, including keeping the run free, and therefore the Parish Council is in effect charging a not for profit organisation several hundred pounds every week just so people can run in their local park! There is a danger that this may lead to some parkruns having to be cancelled due to a lack of funds and that would be a real shame!

Within the running community there has been general outcry at the decision to charge for parkrun. I am one of over 50,000 people who have already signed the petition to keep parkrun free and, if you have not already signed, then I strongly urge you to do so –

Parkrun is an amazing event and it should be kept as a free event for all runners to enjoy!