With all the best planning in the world you can’t control the weather! However the rain did not deter over 2,500 people hitting the streets of Swindon on Sunday for the new look Swindon half marathon.

Graeme Hardie and the team behind organising the race have been ever presents at our Switch on to Swindon ambassador events this year. They had a vision for the event that can only be admired and were determined to re-establish it in the minds of local people and those outside of Swindon.

There have of course been fantastic half marathons in Swindon over the years but given the challenging route that took you out into the countryside there was always a sense that the race kind of happened over there. This year’s route brought things right into the heart of the town and as well as the runners mobilised thousands of supporters which really added to the atmosphere and raised thousands of pounds for local charities.

Yes there have been a few complaints about traffic but short of knocking on every door in Swindon to tell people it was happening I’m not sure the organisers could have done much more to notify people. All the local media have backed the event and given it loads of coverage in the run up and hopefully now it will grow for next year and beyond so that nobody will be able to say they don’t know about it.

Switch on to Swindon needs events like this to support our positive marketing of Swindon. We need to look at what other places do and compete with them to get the attention of people. We need to be confident and look to raise our aspiration levels. That is exactly what the organisers sought to do with the new half marathon and they should be applauded for it. There are always things to learn and improve upon which I am sure they are already looking at for next year. I hope this is just the start of bigger and better things for this great event.

I didn’t want to let this week’s column go by without giving a mention to Gary Lawrence who announced last week that he is moving on after 28 years with Newsquest/Westminster Press. Switch on to Swindon had benefited greatly from Gary’s and the Swindon Advertiser’s support since we launched in January. He generously committed space in the paper (this column) for us to get the message out and made a point of covering all the events as well as showcasing our growing number of ambassadors.

Swindon is fortunate enough to have a number of press, online, radio and television media outlets and they play a crucial part in galvanising the place. Local media should hold people, organisations, and decision maker’s accountable when necessary while also celebrating what is great about the place when they can. That is not always an easy balance to strike. Media have a responsibility to report the news even when that might not paint the place in the best possible light.

Through Switch on to Swindon we aim to generate more positive stories that make it easy for the media to cover and Gary certainly supported our efforts. I’d like to thank him for his support and wish him all the best in his next endeavours.