small park BIG RUN is NOT a race!

One of the small park BIG RUN organisers ran in a fabulous fell race on Tuesday evening. It was exceptionally well organised, technical, friendly and fast! What struck him, once he got his breath back, was that as well as some notable similarities to our own event there were some very marked differences, well worth a little muse on. Read on to discover some of those musings.

The Burbage Skyline fell race is ten rugged kms in a figure of eight of rough tracks, paths, rocks, bogs, hills and even a couple of small river crossings around the top of the hills ringing the beautiful Burbage Valley. The pace is fast and even if it wasn’t in the plan, this runner couldn’t help but try to keep up with the others!

Despite turning myself inside out with effort I didn’t feature in the top half of the results! No shame there, there are some seriously impressive runners and the winning time would have been very impressive had it been around a flat track.

But it was illuminating that the way I measured my success was against others; every time I overtook someone, there was a small twinge of satisfaction and likewise when I was overtaken, something I had to get quite used to on the first hill, I was a tiny bit peed off!

Now, everyone who ran the race will have different motivations and targets – and no criticism is intended when I say that in the main I felt this was a very competitive race. It felt notably different to our own run/walk/hop/skip and juggle of an event!

In contrast to being a race, I think the small park BIG RUN is better viewed as a challenge. And though you can measure yourself and your effort – it is more with yourself and not against others that you take that measurement. The targets are personal. For some one lap is the goal and the achievement is high. In 2022 my dearly departed Dad, contending with dementia managed a lap, only months before he passed away.

The race’s great and much missed friend Graham Birkin (pictured here) did his lap in very poor health but walking with the loving aid of friends and family – no small achievement.

Others like Nick, Maggie, Davor, Cécile and others have done gargantuan efforts of up to 24 hours. One runner completed 155 laps but was still slightly regretful they hadn’t made it to the magic 100 miles!!! And to this end, they are coming back this year to try again.

Some set themselves a marathon, half marathon or laps target. Others challenge themselves not with numerical targets but with group plans like teams of runners filling hourly slots to fill up the whole day, or individuals doing one lap every hour for 24 hours, others just running the hours of darkness. Some arrive at 4am to greet the sun and some to reclaim their park. Some have hidden challenges that make it difficult to even make it to the park. For a refugee the bus fare could be the challenge. And others do it to raise money for the charities we support.

Many simply walk around the circuit with their friends and family, satisfied in the knowledge they are celebrating freedom of movement, waving flags and showing friendship and solidarity with Palestinians.

And some simply eat cake and drink tea – which is in its own right a wonderful thing to do!

All challenges, all different, all personal but all on the same course with lots of different people in a spirit of friendship.

What everyone has in common is that they are there – in the park, in the same place. A joint and joyous effort that affirms community spirit, friendliness, companionship and solidarity. All power to you!

small park BIG RUN is – in case you haven’t heard – on the weekend of 22/23 June.

You can sign up here. https://www.sientries.co.uk/event.php?event_id=12867

Please donate here: https://spbr.org.uk/index.php/raising-money-from-your-run/

Buy a t-shirt, mug or buff here: https://spbr.org.uk/index.php/spbr-merchandise-for-2024/

Your efforts at #spBR2024 will help the children play!

The past months in Gaza have been terrible. A child’s experience will be to have seen rampant and incessant killing, constant noise of drones buzzing and bombs exploding, the screams of people in mourning or of the injured and a terrifying sense of jeopardy.

In spite of this, children will come out to play and laugh. We have had incredible short videos from the ruins in Gaza City where some of the team working with Sheffield PSC Emergency Relief Fund have organised some clowning about!

The first session took place in the middle of the devastation in Al Shijaiya east of Gaza city. This work before October 2023 was through “Qayis Centre for Psychological and Community Support” .

With your help at small park BIG RUN, work will be extended further north and in Rafah and Khan Younis .

#spBR2024 – Katelyn’s marathon for the BIG SING

So, we are not quite up and running for 2024 yet but we have a date: 22nd June and 23rd June. Please save it. And we have a theme: Land and Food, which we mention briefly, below.

Someone who is up and running right here right now is longtime supporter and co-organiser, Katelyn.

Katelyn was so keen to enter the 2024 Palestine Marathon she got number 7. But the Palestine Marathon has been postponed, so she is pounding our Sheffield concrete and will run a solidarity marathon on March 2nd, raising money to contribute to this year’s BIG SING for Palestine: please help her smash her target of £1500.

(see last year’s BIG SING below – hanky required)

Land and food

This year, as the land is being pounded, buildings destroyed, people crushed and dispersed and civil society crumbling, it seems looking hard at land justice and food sovereignty is essential.

How can Palestinians protect their food system from field to fork; and generate economic benefits through food exports? Today it seems further away than ever. In Gaza which is overrun by the IDF and in the West Bank which is under constant attack from settlers, the challenges are massive.

We hope to have representatives from Via Campesina and other experts in Palestinian food to guide us through the issues. And we will have a community meal in the park on Saturday evening. Details to come soon!

Solidarity and tree share deep roots

As we move to Autumn, we celebrate this year’s midsummer small park BIG RUN with a short film.

Inspired by the wonderful words of Mahmoud Soliman, the poetry and courage of Feryal and Arwa in Hebron and helped by the stunning photography of Ahmad Al Baz, Trees and Sumud is a short film paying homage to Palestinian trees and Palestinian resilience.

Arwa and Feryal sit by their tree resolute in its defence:

Trees behind the fence – a Palestinian voice

As in all past years, we surround the run with events that we hope raise awareness about Palestine and give voice to Palestinians. This year was no exception with talks in the Palestinian Voices tent.

Before these talks, on Saturday, we were joined by Mahmoud Zwahre, activist and academic who helped plant a solidarity tree in Meersbrook Park.

This was accompanied by Catherine reading a poem, Trees Behind The Fence, translated by our friend and comrade Arwa, who sadly died during covid but spent many days and hours, as Catherine explains in this video, defending her land from Israeli settler diggers trying to force her, as a Palestinian, off her land.

Trees behind the fence. Words are printed below

Our Trees Behind the Fence
On the day when our trees were cut
On the day when our land was fenced in
They gave me all sorts of excuses.
They said to me your trees are not legal
Your trees are not citizens
No religion forbids killing these trees.
I said, Oh God: Our Trees after today won’t bloom behind the
fence. Our sky after
today won’t rain behind the fence.
But there they are now; putting out new shoots,
coming to life again and I see the beautiful smile
tempting me
the almond trees calling me, saying “Get angry, be
upset but don’t stay crying for me.”

There they are now. Sending me a fragrant greeting
every morning. Oh our trees behind the fence
I thought that being fenced in would suffocate the perfume of your blossom.
I thought that being cut would be the end of you. There you are now blossoming again and sending out new shoots. Your roots in the
depths of the earth are not destroyed by being fenced in or cut.
Your roots in the depths of the earth are strong enough to defy
hurricanes .

Peace to you a thousand times our trees behind the fence God
bless you and protect you from all evil and wickedness.

Feryal Abu Haikal
(translated by Arwa Abu Haikal)
Tel Rumeida\ Hebron Palestine.

what a weekend #spbr23 was!

What a fantastic weekend that was!

Everything we hoped for, and so much more. Thank you all so much for coming!

Once we’ve sorted them, we’ll be posting a lot of photos over the coming week. Watch this space. Here are a few to whet your appetite.

And here is a lovely cut of the BIG SING from the Green Party; many thanks to Graham Wroe for producing this so quickly. And thank you all for taking part. We will have more over the next weeks.

Palestinian voices @ small park BIG RUN

small park BIG RUN is a community solidarity event in support of Palestinian people. For a day, in the heart of Sheffield, Palestine is visible – in spite of continuous efforts that would encourage us to forget Palestine and silence voices in support of Palestinian people.

So, we are really pleased to have a programme that has Palestinian voices loud and clear both on 3pm Saturday afternoon and 10 am Sunday morning. (Free coffee and cake on Sunday morning!)

On Saturday, we are privileged to be able to welcome Mahmoud Zwahre who has been tireless (and brave) in his activism to defend Palestinian farmers.

Mahmoud will be helping us plant a native tree in solidarity with these hard pressed famers close to Meersbrook Hall; this will be followed by a talk in the Palestinian Voices tent.

Mahmoud will show us how Palestinian farmers bear the brunt of the environmental destructions perpetrated by Israel whether – this is uprooting of trees or denial of access to land or water. he will talk to us too about his campaign to plant native trees in Palestine to replace the ones uprooted by settlers.

Just as Palestinian farmers have to confront, daily incursions, so Palestinian women have to confront climate and environmental change. Dima Alshami will follow Mahmoud and discuss what climate justice means for Palestinian women.

Dima is a Rotheram-based Palestinian student.

Finally, our own Jawad Qasrawi, ran at the Palestine Marathon event in March this year. He will talk to us about what this means to him, his attempts to see his father’s village and meeting up with his family. Bring a hanky!

Look out for the Palestinian voices tent! For times see the programme.