Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been very excited recently about the release of Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human by Vybarr Cregan-Reid. It is a book about how running reconnects us to our bodies and the places in which we live. How it breaks down our increasingly structured and demanding lives. How running allows us to feel the world beneath our feet, lifts our spirits, allows our minds out to play and helps us to slip away from the demands of the modern world.

Footnotes Out

dIt is, beyond doubt, a triumph of a book. Simply, one of the best books ever written about running. My review of will be published here shortly, but don’t just take my work for it: 12 reviews so far on Amazon. All ☆☆☆☆☆ reviews. All glowing.

I am now thrilled to have been given two copies of the book to give away to my lovely readers (plus one to keep myself).

There are two ways to win a copy of this must-read book.

  1. Follow this blog, follow @SimonIanCook on Twitter, and leave a comment on this post explaining where your favourite place to run is and why.
  2. Complete The Big Run Commuting Survey.

If you want to increase your chances of winning, feel free to do both. Winners will be selected at random on the 15th August 2016.

Keep an eye out for my review soon and I look forward to hearing people’s opinions about the book.

Best of luck!

Footnotes published today

It is with great joy that I can say that Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human by my good friend Vybarr Cregan-Reid has been published today.

Footnotes Out

This book shows how running is not just a sport. It reconnects us to our bodies and the places in which we live, breaking down our increasingly structured and demanding lives. It allows us to feel the world beneath our feet, lifts the spirit, allows our minds out to play and helps us to slip away from the demands of the modern world.

I’ve been privileged to read this prior to publication and it is, simply, brilliant. Unlike any other running book out there and I urge you all to seek out a copy and read it over and over again.

I’ll be posting a review of it shortly so be sure to watch out for that if you aren’t convinced already.

The behavioural economics of parkrun

A little late in sharing this, but to add to the recent discussion about parkrun and Stoke Gifford Council, here is a great piece about the behavioural economics of parkrun from Prof Theodore Turocy (School of Economics at University of East Anglia).

There are many interesting angles on the matter in the article and comments, which provide much food for thought in thinking through how run-commuting may act as a similar ‘nudge’ as parkrun to increase physical activity levels and the barriers that face its continued growth.


By Prof Theodore Turocy 

Last week, Stoke Gifford Parish Council voted to institute a £1 per runner charge on the parkrun ( event held at Little Stoke Park in Bristol, citing, among other factors, the maintenance costs imposed on the park by the 200 or more participants who run, jog, or walk 5km as part of the event each week. This item has been newsworthy, among other reasons, as national policy has an objective of encouraging health and fitness.  Some of these national initiatives are based on standard economic principles of subsidising to encourage certain types of activity, and taxing to discourage others.  For example, hosting the 2012 London Olympics was justified in part in the hope it would create a legacy of increased participation in sport, while the recent tax on drinks with a high sugar content is intended to help reduce excessive consumption of sugar, which…

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How Millennials Ended the Running Boom – Wall Street Journal

A really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today about the ending of a decade-long ride in running race finishers in the US. The article goes on to discuss the changing fitness habits and preferences of Millenials for this decline and what the future may hold for running events.


Millenials favour non-competitive events such as Colour Run. Image by Protoflux.


A very interesting article which is demonstrates the way fitness practices are changing. Young adults, according to the article, are very interested in health but prefer non-competitive fitness classes/events and new experiences rather than being identified with one particular activity.

Along with the rise of run-commuting, evidence like this offers intriguing insight into how the world of running may be changing … a great time to be studying it!


The Big Run Commuting Survey

TBRCS Twitter 2

I’m delighted to announce the launch of The Big Run Commuting Survey.

I’ve teamed up with transport planner and friend Simon Le Good to develop this survey which will explore run commuting like never before. The Big Run Commuting Survey is one of the data collection stages for my PhD research and the blurb looks like this:

The Big Run Commuting Survey is the largest study ever conducted into run commuting – the act of running all/some of your journey to/from work. With an unprecedented scope, the survey aims to comprehensively understand the state of run commuting and its future. But we need your help to do it! We need current, former and future run commuters to share your thoughts with us. So a massive thank you for your participation and please do share the survey with any other run commuters you know!

So if you are, were or want to be a run commuter then please do fill in the survey and pass it on to anyone else you know.

I am likely to be promoting this pretty heavily for the next couple of months so apologies in advance!

The Big Run Commuting Survey

The parochial economics of Stoke Gifford Parish Council

News of a Parish Council in Gloucestershire deciding to restrict parkrun’s free use of one of its parks has hit headlines around the world today. Rather than weighing in on this contested issue myself, I’ll share these passionate and informed words of Gavin Megaw.

In the post, Gavin draws on many of the positive externalities parkrun has upon communities, which he uses to suggest that various ways that it already pays for itself. It is a very interesting debate and ties into much work in Sport Geography which analyses the impact of sport – teams, events, facilities etc – upon local communities, and in particular their economic implications. These often focus upon larger scale phenomenon (see this great video from John Oliver doing some comedic sport geography is exploring the value of stadiums for example, so it is very interesting to see this debate playing out in a more local-scale and bottom-up sporting environment.

parkrun is often argued to be exemplary of the ‘big society’ practice so witnessing this decision, and the public reaction is fascinating for so many reasons. If I get round to it, I may flesh out some of the ways it is in a future post.

But for now, enjoy Gavin’s thoughts …

Parish Councillors are not used to publicity. They do their job in their local communities quietly, representing their electorate and providing access to facilities, such as parks.

This week, however, Stoke Gifford Parish Council in South Gloucestershire managed to gain coverage on every major media outlet as they told parkrun that they could not use Little Stoke park to run their weekly free timed 5k runs.

No big deal, you might say. Are they not merely representing the views of the locality? Well, this is a big deal, and it is questionable whether they really are representing the views of their electorate.

Two years ago this group of 9 individuals seemed delighted to have a local parkrun. The Parish Council supported the event and the benefit it provided for the local community. In a country facing terrible rising obesity levels and a breakdown in community relations, it is not hard…

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remembering Doreen

Geography has been in mourning the last couple of days as news broke that Doreen Massey, truly one of the greats of the discipline, passed away on Friday.

My chance to meet Doreen sadly never came, by like so many sharing tributes and memories over the last few days, I have been profoundly inspired by her ideas, work and activism. She is one of only a handful of people in the last few decades to have truly broken out of sub-disciplinary silos, and indeed the discipline itself, to inspire, challenge and rethink the ways we go about our work.

Her impact, academically and in the real world, is hard to under-estimate. At least two generations of geographers owe a huge debt of gratitude to Doreen and it is through this sense that many, myself included, are experiencing a deep sadness about her passing.

I am sharing a post by someone who knew Doreen well – Gillian Rose, a colleague at the OU – who gives a much better sense of the person Doreen was and the true scope of what we’ve lost.

The many emails, blog posts and tweets I’ve read in tribute to Doreen over the last couple of days re-affirms one thing. The importance of her work is immense. It continues to be drawn upon, read and taught by a huge range of geographers (and beyond). Whilst she may be gone, Doreen will continue to have a marked impact on Geography. Her work has changed Geography indefinitely and for that – thank you Doreen.


I’m writing this short post after reading an email from OU colleague Steve Pile confirming that Doreen Massey did indeed pass away on the afternoon of Friday 11 March 2016. I saw earlier tweets to the same effect and tweeted myself, and now it’s for sure.

Doreen has accompanied all of my academic life.  I read her book Spatial Divisions of Labour as an undergraduate (still an outstandingly important text, in my view).  She examined my PhD thesis (and told me I needed to write a methods section at the end of it….).  I met her on and off as I worked on feminist and cultural geographies in London and Edinburgh after my PhD.  I joined The Open University in 1999 and in the following years I worked with her on an OU geography module on globalisation and on a small research project on public art in Milton Keynes.  And…

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