University of Portsmouth chancellor Sandi Toksvig laces up running shoes for Southsea parkrun

Picture: Isle of Wight Radio/PA Wire

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SHE’s responsible for thousands of students in higher education.

But University of Portsmouth chancellor Sandi Toksvig took pride in achieving one of her own goals when she swapped her robes for running gear and joined in the Southsea parkrun.

Sandi, appointed to the role in 2012, joined around 450 fitness enthusiasts as they ran, jogged and walked in the midst of glorious sunshine along the seafront.

Participants set off near Rocksbys Restaurant and went two-and-a-half kilometres across the promenade before heading back.

And the comedian and writer, who says she’s lost four stone in an effort to get in shape, loved the experience.

Speaking afterwards, she said: ‘I’m tired, but it was exhilarating.

University of Portsmouth Chancellor, Sandi Toksvig, centre, taking part in the Southsea Parkrun

University of Portsmouth Chancellor, Sandi Toksvig, centre, taking part in the Southsea Parkrun

‘It was lovely and everyone enjoyed it.

‘I wanted to get members of the university, staff and students, running because we need to engage our bodies as well as our minds.

‘The turnout was fantastic. You run 2.5k one way and then 2.5k back, and the faster runners came by and cheered us on which was lovely.’

Sandi said it was important more people sign up to get fit.

I wanted to get members of the university, staff and students, running because we need to engage our bodies as well as our minds.

University of Portsmouth chancellor Sandi Toksvig

She said: ‘There’s an obesity crisis in this country and people are getting diabetes and heart trouble, high blood pressure and we need to ensure we deal with all of that.

‘A lot of it can be dealt with through exercise and dieting.

‘I recently lost four stone and got myself fit. If I can do it, anyone can.

‘It’s just a fantastic thing to do – it’s 9am on a Saturday, by 10am it’s finished and you can get on with your weekend.’

A total of 400 parkruns are held around the country and the Southsea version is weekly – as well as free.

The parkrun initiative celebrates its 11th anniversary next week.

Parkrun spokesman Glen Turner said Sandi helped to draw in more runners.

He said: ‘It’s fantastic people like Sandi enter parkrun because they have got immense drawing power.

‘For me, I grew up on the coast of Australia, so any chance I can get to do a parkrun along the beach is great because I feel right at home.

‘The great thing about parkrun is we have got people of all ages, of all shapes and abilities, and anyone can take part.’

Runners get a barcode which they can use to take part in other parkruns.