Running BACK to celebrate the outdoors

Runners are going to celebrate the return to organised training with a new event based at Fell Foot park at Windermere: We’re Back!

The backwards-running challenge will take place on Easter Thursday, April 1, and is organised by the local run coaching and events team, Jogging Pals.

This will be a Covid-secure event, with participants asked to tackle the route – around the meadow at Fell Foot – in groups of no more than two at a time.

From March 29 outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, will also return.

Organiser Wayne Singleton said that he was thrilled to be offering a chance for runners to challenge themselves again, before the return later this year of his Run/Steam/Run events on the Ullswater Steamer and the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.

Last year Wayne’s team had to cancel at the last minute a planned challenge on Wansfell , Ambleside, when the first lockdown came into place. The Wansfell Two-Step was due to see pairs of runners tackle the fell (uphill only) with legs tied together.

Wayne Singleton and Jo Kilkenny training for the cancelled Wansfell Two-Step race. Photo taken before
lockdown restrictions

“We still can’t consider that event because of the need for social distancing,” said Wayne. “But we think a lot of people will enjoy a backwards run around the meadow at Fell Foot.”

The procedure is simple: from 10 am when the car par at Fell Foot opens, runners are asked to make their challenge at any time that morning. There will be no prizes for the fastest finishers, but runners are asked to make sure that someone photographs their efforts, and uploads those pictures onto the Jogging Pals facebook page. A winner will be chosen at random – a name from a hat – to win the prize, a signed copy of the new book about parkrun, How parkrun changed our lives, in which Fell Foot is featured.

Only people living in the locality, who are permitted to drive to Fell Foot for exercise, are allowed to take part, due to Government restrictions.

Nigel Holmes, above, a well-known medal winning retro runner from Manchester said: “Running backwards is great fun. If I lived nearby I would definitely love to have a go at this.”

Lucy Tickle, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer for the National Trust which owns Fell Foot said: “This is such a fun challenge. We have missed seeing our parkrunners here, and it will be lovely to see people going the other way around the meadow.”

How the media covered last year’s cancelled event:

Book here:

And check Fell Foot’s website to book a car parking space. Click the green button to check availability.

Relay from Lakes to London to launch parkrun book

A team of runners will cover 330 miles in a relay from Windermere to London to celebrate parkrun.

The relay will start at Fell Foot park at 9am on Friday (March 19) and will end seven days later in the original home of parkrun, Bushy Park.

The baton – a copy of a new book about parkrun – will be presented there to the founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt.

The event is being staged according to current safety guidelines, with each leg being tackled by runners in their own home area, and only one or two on each leg.

Some of the runners who will be taking part in the relay..
further photos below

It has been organised by the book’s author, Eileen Jones, with a team of parkrunning  heroes in each region through which the journey passes.

“It was a sudden – maybe crazy – idea to launch the book as we couldn’t do anything the traditional way,” said Eileen. “But the moment I put out a call on social media, I knew it was going to happen. The response has been overwhelming.  So many parkrunners are missing their weekly fix, and wanted to be involved. We had to turn down many because they didn’t live near enough to the route. And all of them say that they are excited to be part of something bigger again.”

Eileen’s team comprises Simon Harrop, Eve Taylor, Phil Sutcliffe, Sue Martin, Jenny McBain and Chris Kitchener, each taking charge of a region as the book heads south, following a line created by map-lover Liz Wakelin. Between them they have recruited 90 runners of all ages and abilities.

The regional sections are:

Day 1 (March 19): Fell Foot to Lancaster

Day 2 (March 20): Lancaster to Worsley Woods

Day 3 (March 21): Worsley Woods to Hanley Park, Stoke

Day 4 (March 22): Hanley Park to Lichfield cathedral

Day 5 (March 23): Lichfield cathedral to Warwick

Day 6 (March 24): Warwick to Aylesbury

Day 7 (March 25): Aylesbury to Bushy Park

“This would have been a logistical challenge even in normal times, but they have all worked so hard to make it happen,” Eileen said. “It says so much about the mutually-supportive ethos of parkrun, and a tremendous can-do attitude. It is our gesture of thanks to Paul Sinton-Hewitt whose little idea for a Saturday morning run with friends turned into a global phenomenon that’s had such an impact on so many lives.”

How parkrun changed our lives (  details the health and social benefits of the weekly 5k events for runners, joggers and walkers. 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. It’s hoped events will start again in England on June 5.

The book also has interviews with many people who say that their lives have been changed for the better, and who 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.

The relay is supported by Open Tracking who will be providing a live map on which to follow the progress of the book.

What makes a great book cover?

The most important part of any book is the cover. No matter how terrifying the thriller, how marvellous the mystery, the reader has to be invited in first of all.

A new book about the world’s favourite Saturday morning pastime, parkrun, has just been published and the cover photo is the talk of the running world.

It’s a striking picture, loosely based on the famous evolution of mankind image, featuring four runners on a beach below sand-dunes.

But look again. There’s actually just two runners, twice, husband and wife team Laura and Dave McGuigan close to the route of one of their favourite parkruns at Woolacombe Dunes in Devon.

And the photographer is…Laura.

She’s developed a style that she calls bespoke movement imagery, which combines multi-exposure and chronophotography techniques, and has applied it so far to a series of joyfully presented books about not just running but moving, happily, freely and playfully.

Laura McGuigan

Laura and Dave have developed a philosophy of living based on everyday adventure, and have been encouraging us all to revert to more child-like ways of enjoying the outdoors.

They call it an adventure into the world of natural human movement, encouraging readers to “marvel at the sense of joy and contentment you can attain simply by moving your body in the ways it was made to move, in settings it was made to move in”.

There’s a new website, through which Laura and Dave aim to encourage anyone who loves to spend time moving around outdoors in nature to rethink and redesign their lives, so they can get out more and make the absolute most of it.

Movement artwork

Laura is currently putting the finishing touches to a series of video tutorials to show others how to make pictures like hers and she’ll be inviting people to send in their own photos from which she will create bespoke works of movement art just for them.

Meanwhile, the four books she and Dave produced in the Adventures For Adults series have been combined into Move Forever to provide an entire year of guided movement adventures. There’s more than 250 images to inspire readers to get out and get moving more adventurously; all you’ll need to do, they say, is keep the momentum going once you’re out there.

Evolution of a book cover

The cover for How parkrun changed our lives was a collaborative effort, beginning with an idea from David Burnip, the son of the book’s author Eileen Jones. His picture was used as the basis for Laura’s photo, which in turn was created into the stunning book cover by designer Ellen Longhorn.

Move Forever is available on Amazon

How parkrun changed our lives is published by Gritstone, £9.99

parkrun author apologies for missing boy’s record

A record-breaking schoolboy has received an apology from the author of a new book about parkrun.

James Hickman, 11, who goes to St John the Baptist primary school in Colwick near Nottingham, was just nine and a half when he reached the astonishing milestone of completing 250 parkruns, back in 2019.

He had tackled the first of the globally-popular 5k weekly events when he was just four and a half, running with dad Iain.

Runner James and his family

But a new book about parkrun * has overlooked James’ achievement. Writer Eileen Jones said: “While researching the book I came across Dexter Pattison and his family. He was only ten when he got to 250 parkuns three years ago. Since the book went to press I’ve learned that his record has since been broken by James. It’s astonishing what youngsters can achieve when they are determined. But even more important, it proves what a fantastic event parkrun is for families to do something together, that they can all celebrate.”

Children under 11 have to run within arms length of a “responsible adult” and proud dad Iain said: “Saturday morning is my favourite time of the week because of the family aspect of parkrun.”

James joined the 250 club on May 24, 2019 at Valentines parkrun in north-east London. “We chose Valentines to gift the occasion,” said Iain. “I was working in London that weekend too, and it meant we could collect the letter V.”

James has now run 294 parkruns, and while the Colwick course is his home event, he has visited 81 different venues. “And he’s volunteered 62 times as well; that’s the lifeblood of parkrun,” said Iain.

Eileen said: “It’s another wonderful story about the impact that parkrun has on people’s lives. I met so many who walk, jog, run or volunteer and they talk about the joy it brought them, and how desperate they are to have parkrun back in their lives.”

How parkrun changed our lives is published by Gritstone Publishing (£9.99)

The Enthusiasts bringing light to a gloomy world

A Cumbrian business trio is finding an audience across the world for their efforts to brighten the gloom of lockdown.

Neil Bowness, Lisa Joyce and Wayne Singleton are now podcasting on a regular basis under the label The Enthusiasts.

The three, who met a few years ago on a Lancaster University business development course, enthuse about anything…from beards to tinsel to cardboard. And what began as a light-hearted chat session is becoming a global favourite.

“We have listeners as far away as Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, while in the UK the biggest centre for downloads appears to be Blackheath in London,” said Wayne, who runs the Jogging Pals running and coaching scheme.

Lisa Joyce

A presenter with Lake District radio on a weekly basis, Wayne chats on the podcasts with Neil, who runs Plain Creative in Kendal, the print and digital, brand and marketing, strategy and communications specialists, and Lisa, the co- founder and designer at Kidunk children’s outdoor clothing whose creative office is Kendal based.

Wayne Singleton

“We just choose a topic for each episode, and chatter away about it, whether it’s mugs, or stationery, and see where the conversation takes us. It’s a bit like Chinese whispers.”

Feedback so far has been as enthusiastic as the podcasters themselves. “Listeners seem to really appreciate the light-hearted banter,” said Wayne. “It’s a real antidote to the reality of the world at the moment. Subjects can be seemingly inane and dull yet our ramblings seek to find fun and joy in the drabbest of corners.”

Neil Bowness

To listen to any of the episodes, Google The Enthusiasts, or find them on Apple podcasts or Spotify. A new episode is broadcast each Wednesday at 8pm

A walk in the snow…why does it take so long?

I hate snow. No news there, everyone knows that I want to hibernate from October to March. But this year is so desperately awful all round that a few flakes of the horrid white stuff don’t make much difference one way or the other. And I have to go out every day or go mad, so it’s time to embrace it. Perhaps not literally.

So, today, it snowed, and I set off for a walk. Oh, that it were so simple! I put on so many layers that I could barely move towards the front door where I fitted the new Yaktrax to my boots, stepped outside, and decided that, perhaps, I didn’t actually need them, so stepped back inside, took them off, put in a dry bag, packed them away in rucksack, then re-fit the previously-unworn gaiters that I’d found in the cupboard.

Left house, decided to go back for walking poles, returned to house. Set off again and before reaching the front gate my nose was running, so I took off mittens to find a hanky, dropped mittens in the slush, returned to the house to find the elastic clip things with which to attach mittens to cuffs of coat.

Left house, realised it was impossible to hold walking poles in mittens, returned to house to exchange mittens for thick gloves, which involved unclipping said mittens and re-clipping said gloves. Left house, thinking longingly of summer when you go to the front door, put on trainers, tie a windproof round your middle, and set off. Just like that.

At the bottom of the road, I was feeling like a wally for walking with poles on the pavement, especially as it had stopped snowing by now. And realised that the gaiters were slipping round, as I’d removed their straps to accommodate the Yaktrax which I was no longer wearing. Stopped to adjust gaiters, which involved removing gloves, dropped poles in the slush, swore quietly.

Met friend as arranged and apologised for being late, and noted that she was wearing Yaktrax, but not gloves or a hat. Life would be dull if we were all the same. We walked to the head of the lake and decided to do some birdwatching, which involved removing rucksack to find binoculars. Now – and this is NOT a rhetorical question – what do you do with walking poles when you need both hands to get something out of a rucksack? Answers on a plain postcard please…

Mine had, meanwhile, dropped into the mud, from where I retrieved them with bare hands. Swore loudly. Same bare hands also seemed necessary to focus the binoculars (YOU try it, with thick gloves on.) We tried to walk across some frozen mud to the lake-shore, but it wasn’t QUITE frozen enough. So let’s just call it mud.

We saw a golden eye, perhaps, and a little grebe, maybe, and then walked up the hill to visit our owl who, sensibly, was hunkered down asleep in his tree hole. That’s why they call them wise owls.

It was, nevertheless, a very pleasant walk with very good company, and took slightly longer than the time spent getting ready to leave the house. Though maybe not, when added to the time spent unpeeling all the layers back at home, and wondering where to store the muddy poles, and Yaktrax and gaiters and overtrousers and gloves and unworn mittens and hat and puffer jacket, and it is precisely 51 days, 8 hours and 35 minutes till the first day of spring.

The joy of printing

The magical work of photographer Chris Routledge

In the age of digital photography and instant pictures, there’s something a little magical about watching an image slowly appear before your eyes.

And when the colour of that image can be altered by using kitchen ingredients such as tea, coffee – and red wine – there’s an element of fun as well as magic.

Chris Routledge, an award-winning conceptual and documentary landscape photographer, who lives at Ormskirk, has developed an expertise in the process known as cyanotype and is now finding an appreciative audience for his beautiful and unusual prints.

“Having a print on the wall, or looking at them in a book is entirely different from seeing them online. In print you get to know a piece of work, to think about it, and enjoy it more deeply,” he says.

Three stages of printing…

A writer and former lecturer in English, Chris has enjoyed taking pictures since he was given a Kodak Instamatic camera as a child.

But photography really began to “get a grip on me” in 2002, when he and his wife Siobhan went on an extended trip to California, where she was researching a book. “The day before we set off our old camera jammed, and I replaced it in a hurry with an early a digital camera. It was terrible by today’s standards, but very exciting at the time.”

Chris started photographing everything, “and it became even more of an obsession in 2004 when our daughter Caitlin was born.” He bought a more advanced camera “seven megapixels!”, and had some of his photographs published in Lancashire Life to accompany an article about Liverpool’s Cain’s brewery (which he was writing a book about at the time). “By then I was also starting to see the creative possibilities of photography beyond the camera.”

Chris started using film again in 2008 when he realised that excellent old cameras with interesting lenses were available for very little money: “People were giving them away in fact. And so I was able to experiment with equipment from the previous 100 years of photography. This was the point at which picture making as a form of expression separated itself from simply taking pictures.”

Winter ash…

He collaborated with the poet Rebecca Goss (their book Carousel won the Michael Marks Award for Illustration in 2019), and began exhibiting his work, notably at the Portico Library in Manchester. His commercial work includes book covers and photograhs for books and magazines, including National Geographic Books, and the Inward Eye Film Festival at Zeffirellis in Ambleside.

In December 2015 Chris was at Rydal in the Lake District when Storm Desmond hit, and immediately began photographing a short stretch of the River Rothay in the aftermath. This work eventually became a book Indeterminate Land, and an exhibition at the Heaton Cooper Gallery in Grasmere in 2019.

He’d been invited to run a series of cyanotype workshops at Rydal Mount, the home of William Wordsworth, when the pandemic forced lockdown. Instead, Chris used the time to develop his website, selling work made from negatives printed onto overhead projector transparencies. These large negatives, placed on top of sensitised paper, are exposed to ultraviolet light (the sun) to make a cyanotype “contact print”.

“I like experimenting with different papers, all of which produce different textures and effects. I fell in love with the process as a way of making unique, tactile art works from my photographs.”

The prints have a delicate ethereal quality, at times ghostly; some see a portal into fairyland. There’s Winter Ash, a photo taken on Loughrigg fell, with a sideways light that caught the grey branches of the tree. The picture is printed on hand-made cotton rag paper.

Then there’s the old stone boat-house on the shores of Grasmere, a picture taken on a cold February day when fog blotted out everything except the outline of a wintry tree.

Grasmere boathouse

Chris says: “For me photography is an opportunity to experiment with composition, light, ideas, and emotion. This is more important to me than pixel-perfect images. “

It led him first to pinhole cameras, and then to cyanotype printing, which is a method of making images discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1841. Anna Atkins soon began using it to make scientific illustrations of lichen and algae, and produced the first ever photobooks with it in 1843. Cyanotype prints are blue, and the best-known use of the process was in copying technical drawings and plans, which became known as “blueprints”.

Making a cyanotype print is very simple, says Chris. Paper is coated with a mixture of two chemicals, ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. “Despite their alarming names, these are relatively safe to use if you take basic precautions.”

Once dried, the paper is sensitive to UV light. It should be stored in the dark, but can be handled in subdued light indoors, though flourescent light should be avoided.

To make a cyanotype “photogram” place feathers, pressed flowers, or anything you like on the paper, put a piece of glass on top to keep it flat, and put it outside in the sun for a while. Once the paper has changed colour, rinse the paper in water, and an image should appear.

“Different levels of sunlight affect how long the exposure you will need (around 10-15 minutes on a sunny day in Lancashire), but experimenting is part of the pleasure.

“If you want to go a little further, you can experiment with bleaching the print, toning it to alter the blue colour, or change it altogether, using things from the kitchen such as tea, coffee, red wine, vinegar, and so on. After a while you learn to get the effects you want, or just relax and give in to chance.”

Prints and printing have become more important to him, says Chris, especially under lockdown conditions, when going out to take new photographs has not been easy.

He was also involved in another lockdown project, a marathon reading of the story The Picts and the Martyrs by Arthur Ransome. He’s previously staged events on the shores of Coniston water, and at the Coppermines youth hostel, where fans of Ransome – actors, writers, enthusiasts old and young – gathered to read aloud Swallows and Amazons, and Pigeon Post.

This time, the readers recorded their allocated chapters at home, then uploaded them for release on social media. There’s a dedicated website for the project,

Meanwhile Chris’s work can be viewed – and bought on his website

How to run the Lon-dun marathon after all

A virtual marathon is to be staged for runners disappointed that the flagship London event is for elite athletes only this year.

The Lon-dun Marathon is being organised by the Kendal-based Jogging Pals team, and invites runners to take part by completing 26.2 miles over seven days.

running by the lake

Running a virtual marathon

The actual race, which normally attracts 40,000 runners – many of them fundraising for charity – was due to be held in April, and was then postponed to October 4 due to the pandemic.

Organisers last week announced that the event would be for elite men, women and wheelchair athletes, on an enclosed looped course in St James’s Park in a contained safe environment, and their times would be eligible for Olympic qualification.

Jogging Pals director Wayne Singleton, a UK Athletics Coach whose athletes and customers were among those due to run at London, said that he shared the disappointment of the many thousands but entirely understood the decision.

“It was the only safe way to proceed in the circumstances. But we want runners anywhere in the country to be able to experience the excitement of the event, and to put their training to good use,” said Wayne.

The Lon-dun virtual event allows those who might not be able to complete the full 26.2 mile distance in one go to achieve their own personal targets by taking up to seven days to run their own marathon.

Said Wayne: “We’re also aware that a great many charities depend on the sponsorship raised by fun runners and club athletes at the London marathon. By organising a virtual event like this, those runners can still approach their friends and colleagues to raise money for the charity of their choice.”

The Lon-dun Virtual Marathon can take place over the seven-day period from Monday September 28, to Sunday October 4. Entrants can run on as many days as they wish to clock up their 26.2 miles, and they can run on any terrain – road, trail or fell.

To qualify for a certificate, commemorative token and a runners’ buff, they must record their distances and times on Strava or Garmin and submit to Jogging Pals by the end of the following week (Sunday Oct 11).

The entry fee is £20 and details are here.


Full steam ahead for Lakes runners

Runners have kept their passion for events in the Lake District in spite of lockdown, according to a new survey.

They have been training hard and planning for the time when races and fun runs can start again.

The survey was carried out by Kendal-based Jogging Pals who have been coaching and inspiring everyone from beginners to ultra runners for a number of years.

When lockdown forced the cancellation of trail races and other events planned for the spring and summer, Jogging Pals director Wayne Singleton took the opportunity to find out what runners really wanted in the future.

The survey, published via social media, attracted hundreds of responses from around the country. “It proved that there’s great enthusiasm for the Lakes as a centre for all kinds of running, not just the ultra-endurance efforts we’ve seen this summer,” said Wayne, a UK Athletics coach.

As a result, his team is working on plans for some unusual running events, which will include sailing some of the most iconic Lakes as well – and taking a ride on a steam train. RunSteamRun will launch next month and the date will be announced shortly.

lakeshore runners

Wayne also found a lot of affection for the Lake District among the parkrunning community; Cumbria has a dozen regular parkruns which attract runners of all abilities.

“Our runners want us to provide real Lakeland experiences for them, not just races,” said Wayne. “And they show a real spirit of adventure too – many of them would like us to organise trips to running events throughout Europe.”

One who took part in the survey was the lucky winner of a £100 voucher to spend at running specialists Pete Bland Sports. The winning name was pulled out of a hat – literally – by Wayne when the survey closed.

Wayne draws the winning ticket

“We are really pleased to see that runners have found the motivation to carry on training,” Wayne said. “Now we are listening to their requests and will organise some special events as soon as we are allowed.”


New Yorker completes race in north west…England

A medal is on its way to New York after an American runner took part in a virtual race near Kendal.

Paul d’Elisa, a New York real estate manager with 18 marathons under his belt, signed up for the Stainton Aqueduct 10k organised by Kendal-based Jogging Pals when lockdown forced the cancellation of the actual event.

Organisers wanted to keep runners active by running 10k along the Lancaster to Kendal canal…or anywhere. They offered a commemorative token to runners who emailed proof of the distance…and New Yorker Paul was one of more than 60 runners who took up the challenge.

Paul runs trail

“I was looking for a virtual event that was specifically for trail, as I live near the route of a trail race here that had to be cancelled,” said Paul, who’s been running since high school cross country races in 1979.

He has been doing more running since mid-March when the global pandemic meant he had to work from home rather than do a four-hour round trip commute to work in New York city every day.

Paul has completed more than 1000 events from 5k to marathon distance, including the New York marathon, the Country Music Marathon, and trail races at Paumanok (Long Island), Brookhaven and Sunken Meadow state park. And he took part in the Serpentine 5k race on a visit to the UK in 2006.

Jogging Pals director Wayne Singleton said that runners from around the UK, who would have been unlikely entries in the real event, had signed up for the virtual race.

Screen Shot 2020-07-07 at 15.51.52

Scenic route: Lancaster canal

“We are here to encourage runners at all levels of ability, and we were determined to help them keep motivated even while events have been cancelled,” he said. “It was a great surprise to get an entry from New York.” A percentage of the entry fee will be going to to the Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership.

Jogging Pals organise couch to 5k programmes, along with run coaching for longer distances and events, from the Community Mile to Lakeland running breaks and holidays. They hope to resume some of their events in the near future.