Councillor Renard’s Swindon Advertiser Column 7th September 2017

 

Councillor David Renard, Leader of the Council

No pain, no gain. It is a saying I’m sure most runners taking part in last Sunday’s Swindon Half Marathon will be all too familiar with and I congratulate each and every one of the 2,700 or so runners who put their bodies through the mill, many of whom were raising thousands of pounds for good causes.  Fifteen local charities and community groups that benefited are:

Local charities and community groups that raised money at the Swindon Half Marathon

Brighter Future GWH

CALM (Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement)

Doing it for Dan

East Wichel Community Association

Haydonleigh Primary School PTA

Julia’s House Children’s Hospice

Prospect Hospice

Phoenix Enterprises

Rodbourne Cheney Primary School PTA

Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM)

Swindon Therapy Centre for MS/Neurological Conditions

Swindon Sands (Stillbirth & Neonatal death)

Swindon Volunteer Centre

Threshold Housing Link

Thamesdown Hydrotherapy Pool

Just over 1000 of those taking part, 37% of all the runners, came from outside Swindon.  I was delighted to learn that we hard participants from Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and the USA.

Working with the Organisers to make next year even better

But the ‘no pain, no gain’ mantra can equally be applied to the half marathon event as a whole and the organisers’ wider ambitions for its future. The feelings of many frustrated motorists who were caught up in congestion as the race got underway were covered in this newspaper and on social media over the weekend and I can fully understand their annoyance.

Although the race was well publicised in advance, Sunday’s event illustrated the challenge in trying to communicate to every resident in the borough. This was the first year of the new half marathon course and there was therefore a certain amount of inevitability we would encounter traffic issues on certain roads that were closed to the public.

But this was year one and I am confident we can give some feedback to the organisers to improve things for next year. We will be sitting down with them to talk over some of the problems experienced by their event management company so we can help them put measures in place and ensure we minimise potential disruption in the future.

The route was chosen as a means of showcasing the town and to provide an opportunity for people to run past some of the town’s best-known landmarks.

It is a move that paid dividends with organisers receiving a record-number of entrants compared with previous years and, of those that took part, a significant proportion came from outside the borough. The aim is to ensure the Swindon Half Marathon becomes an established fixture in the road runners’ calendar so that we have a race we can all be proud of and that attracts participants from far and wide.

Let’s also not forget that such an event can be a fantastic catalyst for motivating people to get fit and healthy and the more people in Swindon who can take up the challenge the better.

From hearing and reading about the reactions of those that took part and those that came out in less than perfect weather to support the runners, I think we’ve made a great start.