parkrunner spotlight: Reed Swanson

Welcome to our ongoing series of interviews with Lillie parkrun participants to help strengthen our connections during this COVID-19 pause in operations. Many thanks to Reed S for stepping up to be interviewed and to Marie Hamlin for conducting the interview. If you'd like to join the fun, contact us via our social media and we'll add you to the queue!

reed 01

Hi Reed, would you mind sharing some background information with us?

I was born and raised in Clarkston, Michigan. With the exception of 12 years in North Carolina I've spent most of my 60 years bouncing around Michigan: first in camping ministry, then in parish ministry as a Methodist pastor.

You are a pastor?

Yes! I began ministry in 1992 and have served downtown at Detroit Metropolitan, on the east side of Detroit at Richmond, up north in Tawas, and now at Arise Church in Pinckney.

You also mentioned that you started off as a camping minister, could you explain what that is?

I was hired by the United Methodist Church, but instead of being assigned to a church I was assigned to a camp, starting with Camp Rockfish in Parkton, North Carolina. I taught outdoor education, life guarding, tracking, rustic camping, and sailing; I led canoe trips including a little white water; and did lots of other things. But the best part was working at Camp Jewell, in Colebrook CT. Not only was it beautiful "in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountain, making memories to last a lifetime" but it was there that I met my wife Juliana. 

It is funny how the universe works. How long have you been together?

Yep we were born and raised less than two hours apart (she in Toledo, me in Clarkston) but we had to go to New England to meet. We started dating in 1989 and were married April 15, 1992. 

Swanson Family

Do you and Juliana have any children?

Yes. We have three children - my son Will is in the Army stationed in Germany, my daughter Grace is a senior at Calvin College and is in the job search phase, and my youngest daughter is Joy.

Reed and Will

Please thank Will for his service. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Joy these past few months, she is one of our junior parkrunners.  She is a lovely young lady. What got you into running?

I have been a sports junkie all my life.  I began running after watching Jim Ryan in the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Four years later Frank Shorter became the first American to win the Olympic Marathon in 1972 and I was hooked. I have now run over 90,000 miles, and over 2000 races, including three trips to Boston within a total of 24 marathons.  

Reed runs Boston

Oh my! That’s a lot of miles! And to be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon three times is an astounding achievement! It is something you should be proud of. What do you like about Lillie parkrun?

I’m not as fast or as competitive as I used to be but I still love to run. I love parkrun because it used to take a lot of time and money to fuel my need to run with others. I particularly like Lillie parkrun because I get to meet many of the same people each week.


Yes it is nice to catch up with friends every Saturday. Do you have a favorite volunteer role?

I enjoy barcode scanning because it helps you to learn everybody’s name. But I also enjoy doing the run briefing. Public speaking comes easy to me, and I feel drawn to hospitality positions.


You have the right background for public speaking. Do you have any advice for someone new to Lillie parkrun?

Just try it, and take it at your own pace. I've run for years and years which my first coach finds amusing. You see, my first run took so long they had to get in the truck and come find me! But I truly learned to love it.

Wow from search and rescue to running marathons, I bet your coach would be amused. Besides running do you have any other activities you enjoy?

Our family enjoys road tripping, nothing fancy just seeing new people and things. I also like to sing and like nearly every kind of music, no really.

You’re a singer?  I would not have guessed that about you. You might have to start one of our future runs with a song. It might be nice, when we can return to our parkruns, if you started us off with the National Anthem. Thank you for taking the time for this interview.  I am looking forward to the day that we can once again enjoy a cup of tea together.

See Reed's parkrun stats here.