Lee-on-the-Solent runners return after 497 days

By Connor Steel; Photograph Credit, Sam Stephenson (Portsmouth News)

A POPULAR Saturday morning park-run returned to the streets of Lee-on-the-Solent this weekend after an enforced absence of nearly 500 days and a total of 70 Saturdays.

Altogether, 310 runners were taking part on July 24 in perfect conditions after the recent heatwave with many personal achievements made as participants blew away the cobwebs following a tough year for organisers.

The last Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun (number 252) was held on March 14, 2020 – just nine days before the first national lockdown was enforced by the PM.

Hopes of an October return were short-lived as Covid-19 cases rose in the autumn but there were no such issues this time around following a month of children’s parkruns held locally in preparation for adults to return.

With parkrun organisers across the UK being cautious after many false starts, the Lee-on-the-Solent route was adapted slightly to allow for greater social distancing measures. The new start point was the Over the Water café , with the 5k (three miles) race finishing at the end of the seafront beach huts.

Runners were asked to bring their own water and hand-washing equipment, as well as their official barcode number that allowed results to be recorded online. It was also required that participants not attend if they had symptoms of Covid-19 to keep others safe.

The crowd of 310 was fewer than the 486 seen at last year’s race. But with concerns about the number of participants attending after such a lengthy break, it was above average for the previous 252 races since the parkruns started.

Many local running groups taking part in last weekend’s race included Stubbington Green Runners, Gosport Road Runners and Fareham Running Club.

Martin Stockley, a member of Eastleigh RC, crossed the finish line first with a time of 17 minutes and 39 seconds, while Katherine Trott of Stubbington Green Runners was the quickest woman on the day.

Katherine had 22:14 minutes on the clock as she narrowly missed out on her personal best by 0.02 seconds.

A variety of age groups from all demographics were seen running  during the event, with each participant finishing within 55 minutes – a fine achievement although some will look to improve their times after shaking off any rustiness after the year away from regular events of this type.

But each runner should feel proud of their efforts, with many debutants recording great times in the circumstances and numerous personal records being set in this race, held in overcast conditions on a flat surface after soaring temperatures and thunderstorms in the hours before.

More importantly though, most were glad to be part of a community of runners again after 16 months of isolation and restrictions on these events, some joining in a post-parkrun social with friends or family in the On the Water café (formerly Leon’s Bistro).

Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun will be held every Saturday morning for the foreseeable future, with the next event on July 31. It is free to everybody regardless of experience, ability or membership of running groups, with no commitment needed or requirements like other sporting events or groups.

Anybody interested should register via before they attend their first race, with all events organised by volunteers. Should you wish to help in the organisation of such events, readers are asked to contact leeonthesolent@parkrun.com and say how they are able to assist.