‘Hope breaks out in all sorts of unexpected places’ – Portsmouth church column

By the Rev Neil Smart, associate vicar of St Jude’s Church, Southsea

By Elise Brewerton
Thursday, 21st March 2019, 11:35 am
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 11:36 am
Southsea Parkrun.
Southsea Parkrun.

Hope can be hard to find these days. Yet I literally stumbled across some a while back that’s brought me a new lease of life.

As I tell this story, you need to know that I used to hate running. However, the rest of my family had started to Parkrun and it was time I joined in.

So, one morning in July 2017, with my two daughters and my wife, I turned up to complete my first run.

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With all sorts of people of all ages I wheezed along at walking pace while young children lapped me, but I was hooked.

Parkrun is a collection of 5km community running events that take place every Saturday morning in 20 countries across five continents.

It started as a simple timed run in a London park in 2004. There are now over two million runners around the world who have joined in.

The hope is in the fact that each and every event is supported entirely by volunteers. Every run is free of charge. They are safe and easy to join in with. 

The infrastructure is made possible by sponsors allowing each runner to have a unique identification barcode sending individual online data by email to each person for the events they’ve run.

I just love the way that a good idea, supported by technology can bring people together to stay fit and healthy.

There are even free t-shirts to show how many runs you’ve completed. At the Southsea run you’ll see many dedicated runners in the 100 club and even the odd 250 shirt.

Each week at the Southsea Parkrun, up to 500 people join in. It’s about being part of a community; running with others who help you to get to the finish line.

It’s so good to find an event that works because people choose to serve one another. When we work together hope breaks out in all sorts of unexpected places.

On that first run I came nearly last and my legs ached for three days. Now I’m pleased to say that after 55 runs my times are improving and I’d recommend this event to anyone.

St Jude’s Church, Kent Road, Southsea.

Go to sjs.church