Lancaster vicar joins in 330-mile relay run to publicise parkruns

A Lancaster vicar joined a relay run from the Lake District to London which aims to publicise a book about parkruns.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 6:41 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd March 2021, 6:42 pm
Rev Matt Guilder, vicar at St Thomas' in Lancaster.

Rev Matt Guilder, vicar at St Thomas' Church in Lancaster, is one of the relay runners currently taking part in the event, which set off on Friday from Fell Foot at Windermere.

The next morning, Matt set off to run 11 miles in both dog collar and a parkrun t-shirt. As a keen and serious runner he has been first finisher at several parkruns.

The aim is to carry a copy of the book, How Parkrun Changed Our Lives, all the way to Bushy Park in London where it began, and hand it to the founder, Paul Sinton Hewitt.

A member of Clayton-le-Moors Harriers ran the first leg of the 330-mile relay. Over seven days, some 90 runners will carry the baton – a copy of the book – to Bushy Park.

The relay set off from Fell Foot at Windermere, the location of author Eileen Jones’ home parkrun, on Friday. Eileen, who has been a member of Clayton since 1985, ran the first leg that day, handing on to parkrunners from across the UK, including world mountain-running champion Sarah McCormack and ultra runner Paul Tierney, holder of the 214 Wainwright fells record.

Day two saw Matt's run, which continued via Garstang and Chorley to the outskirts of Manchester, through Cheshire and Staffordshire to Lichfield, and then via Warwick and Aylesbury to west London.

The Covid-secure event sees only two runners on each leg, all running within their own home areas.

How Parkrun Changed Our Lives (published this week) details the health and social benefits of the weekly 5k events for runners, joggers and walkers, which has become a global phenomenon.

Some seven million people around the world have signed up to take part, and were still registering during the past year when the pandemic forced the events to cancel. They are due to re-start on June 5.

The book has interviews with many people who say that their lives have been changed for the better, and talk of the joy that parkrun has brought them.

There’s a number of parkrunning clerics discussing whether parkrun is a new religion, a blind man who has run from England to Wales and back, a couple who got married during a parkrun, and the British doctor who holds the USA female parkrun record.

Eileen, former women’s fell captain for Clayton who now lives in Ambleside, has done 260 parkruns in 104 locations and made friends along the way, many of whom will be taking part in the relay.

“It’s given people something to focus on, to get excited about, while they are missing parkrun,” she said. “Several of the volunteers have said how important it will be to feel part of something bigger again. It’s our gesture of thanks to Paul Sinton-Hewitt whose little idea about a time trial in a London park has had such a big impact on all our lives.”

You can track the run online here.