A RUNNING group have found a neat way to continue a competitive spirit despite the lockdown restrictions.

The Wednesday lunchtime handicap run around the University Parks is

off-limits, as it would mean a gathering of more than two people.

It is a tradition which has been going since the 1980s, with the idea that the runners start at staggered times beginning with the slowest.

In theory, everyone should finish the course – which alternates between one and two laps on a weekly basis – at the same time.

But rather than let it fall by the wayside, Oxford City member Paul Grimsdale has come up with a solution.

With most people having some form of tracking software on their mobile phone, the idea is to map out their own 1.14 mile course, or 2.28 miles for two laps, closer to home.

Everyone then sends in the finishing times to be collated with their handicap.

Grimsdale said: “We may not be able to get out and run like we did normally, but you can give yourself a target.

“The chances are it could be months before we run together again, so we have to try to be in contact with people.

“I think this is a good way of doing that.

“I had to go out again the other day – although I keep measuring my course it must be short given the times I’m getting.”

The initial attempt was staged last month, with a variety of entries from courses across Oxfordshire.

The virtual method also allowed for runners from further afield to join in, including Richard Grant from Virginia in the United States.

For Grimsdale, a former Post Office worker, there is a silver lining to the enforced downtime.

He said: “I think everyone is making exercise far more regular.

“I normally work

part-time in a charity shop but because I’m not doing that now I’m running more than I have been because I can still go out.

“While I’m allowed to be out every day, that’s what I’m going to do.”