Ian Mortimer


What's New?

16 February 2024
The end of parkrun?

People who have read my running book, Why Running Matters, will know I have been a big fan of parkrun since 2015. However the deletion of records of all sorts at the whim of the chief executive, Russ Jefferys, has put me off attending. The organisation was always run on a strict fall-into-line-or-else basis, which meant there was always a risk of an absolutist taking it in the wrong direction. And that has now happened. All the records relating to age grades have gone, so you and I can no longer try to break the record for a local parkrun for, say, men aged 55-59. But nor can we admire the records of those who are the fastest. I can no longer compare myself to the best. We are not allowed to know what excellence is - in the pursuit of Mr Jeffery's idea of 'inclusivity'. See here for details. But it is not just about records. All those people who challenged themselves to do, say the most different parkruns, or 100, or 250 different parkruns - parkrun tourism, a rewarding hobby for those who joined the various clubs (like the Freyne club) to achieve these goals - have seen their entire achievement deleted. In the name of inclusivity. Those who were 789th on the list of the 1,000 best performances at their local parkrun - and believed that their achievement would be there to be seen, freely available, forever - have now seen their lifetime-best performance deleted. In the name of inclusivity. It both saddens and sickens me. Because by taking away the records of achievement, Mr Jefferys has taken away the very ability to achieve. He has taken away the very meaning of running a parkrun in the first place. He says that parkrun 'only exists to bring people together', so why take away the focus that gives meaning to that coming together? In my world, this is like saying everyone can write history, regardless of how well they can handle primary sources or determine accuracy, and no version of the past is better than any other - in the name of inclusivity. The fact is that you don't make everyone equal by destroying the ability to achieve. You just denigrate human achievement and treat everyone as faceless, slightly stupid and meaningless as an individual.

Tomorrow I will do parkrun, in Gloucester. But only because I am staying locally and want to say to those organising it that I appreciate what efforts they are going to, despite Mr Jefferys taking them for granted while stripping away much of the value of their volunteering.

19 January 2024
Medieval Horizons discussion

Earlier this week I recorded a podcast episode for The Lede, part of New Lines magazine, with the brilliant Dr Lydia Wilson. What a pleasure to be interviewed by someone who really knows her medieval stuff, comes at the Middle Ages from a different temporal perspective and is prepared to challenge me on some key points. It makes the whole event a little more edgy, more dynamic and more enjoyable (for all concerned, I think). The editorial team have turned it around in double-quick time and now you can listen to it here.

What was new in other years