The Virtual Big Social Run – during Cardiff’s Lockdown!

Runners – did you take part in the lockdown Virtual Big Social Run! We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

Runners are a real sociable bunch. So lockdown has been hard for us (and for everyone else of course) – we’re used to multiple races a year with thousands of people, parkrun every weekend with generally at least a hundred (if not 700) and regular runs with friends either training for events or purely for the fun of it.

Those in Cardiff and a few other select parts of Wales are also used to getting together every couple of months for something called The Big Social Run. These runs have no chip timing, no finishing positions and no competitive aspect – they are all about getting out and enjoying running (whatever pace you run), talking to old and new friends, and sharing a coffee and cake over a chat afterwards.

Cardiff was all set for the next Big Social Run in late February when Covid changed everything and we had to call it off.

But the Big Social Run Organisers, supported as always by RunWales (Welsh Athletics Social Running arm), really wanted to somehow bring runners together again just like at those events – if not physically, then virtually!

What we planned for the weekend of 20/21st June was the first Virtual Big Social Run Wales!

The task? Simply to run (or walk) half an hour or more on that weekend (whilst following guidelines of course) and to share pictures of the run using the hashtag #virtualbigsocialrun. We asked people to choose a place that meant something to them – a favourite running spot maybe, or where they went to school, where they met their partner – anything with meaning for them.

Leading up to the event we shared some (frankly ridiculous) teaser videos encouraging people to sign up.  And sign up they did – by the weekend over 650 people had signed up to take part, including some runners who used to live in Wales and were (of course!) missing the place and the people.

Friday night anticipation was high as we posted a video wishing everyone luck for the weekend:

The event was kickstarted on the Saturday morning by a fun warm up session video to get runners ready to head out, put together by some of our organisers from the Cardiff, Swansea and Bridgend Big Social Run teams.


Over the whole weekend hundreds of runners got out for their run or walk (walkers are very welcome at all the events!) and shared their videos and photos in the Big Social Run in Cardiff, the Big Social Run in Bridgend and the Big Social Run in Swansea.

There were runners from Cardiff, Barry, Swansea, Maesteg, Newport, Devon!, Penarth, Ogmore, Swansea, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cowbridge, Llantrisant, Llantwit Major, Pencoed, Port Talbot, Merthyr, Pontardawe, Pontyrpidd, Mountain Ash, Llanelli, Cornwall!- the list just goes on and on!

Throughout the whole of Saturday and Sunday our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages were bursting with pictures of these happy runners, brought together virtually to have a good time and feel part of this lovely community.

Runners also had a chance to win a fab Big Social Run t-shirt. Our organiser Ben tells us all about it:

“Everyone who participated in the inaugural virtual big social run event and shared a photo of themselves on a run using the hashtag #VirtualBigSocialRun was entered into a competition to win a fantastic prize, a Big Social Run Tee. We couldn’t believe how many people got involved, all of the entries were fantastic and it was a pleasure to see people getting involved and enjoying themselves.”

We had some live videos into the group as well which is always great fun:

  • Helen, pretty new to going live on Facebook but now a total pro! 🙂 
  • Lucy, Big Social Run team organiser
  • Me and my mate Gerda at one of Moti Cardiff’s favourite hill session locations
  • Rachel, Big Social Run team organiser
  • Chelle, who could be described as one of our most “enthusiastic” runners 🙂
  • Sue Greening

As organisers of these events, we are super grateful for everyone who got involved. 

We started the Big Social Run two years ago as something to bring people together, in a non competitive environment. Since then we’ve had many many events and they always get really lovely feedback from the runners that come along. We realise it’s not the same when we can’t all run together – but we wanted to do something that at least reminded us of that and where we could all encourage and support each other.

Those who joined in on the weekend have told us that it was a success and we’re so happy they enjoyed it!

We finished the weekend with a little video to say thanks 🙂


I’ll finish with a quote from Lucy, our founder:

I’ve been overwhelmed by the engagement we’ve had across Wales for the virtual event. It’s really reminded me how important social running is and the amazing buzz I get from it. I hope we can build on this event and whether the next is virtual or face to face I look forward to it”

We all look forward to it too. Big Social Run is here to stay and we have more exciting plans coming your way, maybe sooner than you think, so check out our facebook groups and other social media – we’d love you to join us on the next one!

Dave, Big Social Run Cardiff Committee 


The Big Social Run Cardiff team is: Lucy Marland @eatrunlearn, David Sinclair @cardiff_dave, Rich Skyrme @overload74, Ben Annear @Ben_Annear, Dafydd Trystan @DafyddTrystan, Rachel Flint @rflintnews, and Ellen Perry @EllPezz, with the support of the great team at RunWales, @RunWales. To find out more about Big Social Run and the teams in other regions visit the I Run Wales website.

See also:


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