THE latest in our series of running routes supplied by Swindon Striders has a seasonal theme.

Striders secretary Mark Jones said: “It’s our Xmas lights run as the route takes us past lots of homes which have lights in their gardens or on their houses.”

The route begins and ands at Croft Sports Centre and covers 4.9 miles.

From Croft head out on the main road and turn left in to Marlborough Lane

Turn left in to Evelyn Street and then right up Winifred Street

Turn left in to St Margarets Road and then right on to Croft Road

Turn left in to Springfield Road and head along turning right in to Goddard Avenue

Turn right on to Bath Road and continue on to Wood Street

Turn right at the end of Wood Street and continue along the High Street turning left in to Old Mill Lane

At the bottom turn right on to the footpath, follow this to the top and turn left on to Lakeside and continue along the path

Cut through some houses and continue along Dorchester Road until you reach Windsor Road

Turn left on to Windsor Road and then right on to Sandringham Road.

Follow the road up the hill until you reach Marlborough Road, turn right and follow the road back to the large roundabout near the Marriott Hotel

Continue past the roundabout and along Marlborough Road, turning left in to Evelyn Street and immediate left in to Marlborough Lane and back to Croft.

INTEREST in Swindon Striders has boomed in 2019.

Secretary Mark Jones said: “It’s been a good year for Striders - we’ve increased our membership to over a hundred and the club is still growing.

“That’s down to lots of factors but mainly due to the friendliness of our members.

“We welcome people of all abilities and if anyone wants to try us out, please join us either on Mondays from Croft Sport Centre or from The Link Centre on Fridays - both club nights start at 7pm with us meeting from 6.45pm.

“We also have hill repeats and speed session training on Wednesdays - 6.30pm from Croft.

“Happy Christmas from Striders and may you have a fantastic running year in 2020.”

The club prides itself on being an organisation for all runners - and ready to meet every whim of the British climate.

Runs take place rain or shine, and are open to people of all abilities.

There are three sub-groups of runners in the Striders.

The first is for those who can run a mile in 11 or 12 minutes, or in other words for people who are probably just getting started in running and want to build their experience and stamina.

The second group is for people capable of running a nine-minute mile.

They are the middle set of runners and range from people training in a fairly solitary way to those needing practice as they work towards goals such as a half-marathon.

The third group is composed of runners described by Mark as the ones who are pretty quick.

This group includes local elite athletes - competition runners.

Members fall not only into various categories of athletic ability but into a broad range of ages and backgrounds.

One of the more senior members, who is in his seventies, won a trophy at the Swindon 10k run held at Wroughton airfield.

All are encouraged to set the goals they need to improve while continuing to enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of the sport.

When the club was set up 24 years ago, it had a dozen members, but the figure is now somewhere between 100 and 120 - and rising.

Aside from advice on running, people who join can expect a thriving social scene, including barbecues, curry nights and a popular Christmas party.