Am cataloging my parkrun adventure as I try (slowly) to work my way up to 50, 100 and beyond parkruns. I am enjoying the tourism aspects mostly, so will be reviewing the runs as I do them and republishing as I do.
Hampstead Heath 26:55
My local Parkrun and a hilly one. Two routes, Route A starting in a car park, crossing the pond before climbing a little, down through wooded paths before a long descent to another pond, and then the first painful hill, Parliament Hill. Along the top, then down a short steep descent and then up and back into the woods for a second lap, before returning to the car park. It is hilly, but Route B is hillier. Route B is needed when the Affordable Art Fair, the Circus or an army of pikeys take over the car park. Route B actually makes the route a lot more challenging with a long downhill to start with, joining Route A in the woods, with the route being the same up to the end, where in Route B you have to climb the long hill back to the start. By far the most challenging Parkrun I have done, despite my time being better than others, but the time is likely better as I know the route and what to expect.
Brockwell Park 25:58
Jenni Morris’ local run. Long climbs and descents but nothing too steep. Start by the lido and head around the extremities of the park, around an anticlockwise loop and then down to the gates before hitting the lido and repeating a second lap. When I ran it I had only run Hampstead Heath for a year, and I had only run that ten times. Brockwell immediately became my Parkrun PB, by nearly 3 minutes. I have now closed the gap between Hampstead Heath and Brockwell, but the difference is still a minute. Personally I do not find this one to be welcoming, social or even any good at communication. No one speaks. There is no banter, cakes, costumes on the holidays, or social presence (Flickr etc). It is just a local 5K and no more which means it doesn’t really feel like part of the Parkrun family.
This was supposed to be a fast one but, in the end, became by PB by 3 seconds. Part of the Durham University sports facilities, it was painted in my mind as being a quick one, starting and finishing on the running track. Unfortunately when I turned up, it was the start of the academic year and the track was being dug up and replaced. My lightning quick massive PB was curtailed by a start and finish on grass, and the route itself being across muddy fields, soggy with recent rainfall. And that is how I remember it. I was wearing roads, and the run was mostly on muddy fields, that you loop twice, crossing a stream via a bridge near the start finish (the only elevation). I should go back at some point, as the track start and finish would make a lot of a difference.
Hove Promenade 24:43
My second PB in two runs on the south coast. The Hove Promenade parkrun couldn’t be more flat. It is on the seafront, on the promenade by the lawn bowling green. This was one of those slingshot shaped races where the race HQ is in the middle. You run west away from the start 600ish yards, then turn at a cone and run the 600ish yards back to the start, but then keep going. You run another 600ish yards east along the promenade to a covered set of benches, and then turn back to run the 600ish yards to the start, but keep going and repeat the there and back and there and back lap again. It is lightning quick and I wasn’t in particularly good shape but still I PBd by 72 seconds.
Gladstone Park 28:02
It was quite difficult this one. Much hillier than Brockwell but not as a steep as Hampstead Heath. It was very wet underfoot and the water pooled in several places that meant runners had to choose between going through it and getting soaked, or chancing the slippery mud either side of the path and going over. I did one and then the other on a two lap run that starts and finishes at its lowest point, by the café. A demographically different bunch for me as it was a small run, probably the smallest I have encountered to date, with a lot of kids, a lot of elderly runners, a blind runner and his guide, and a few dogs on leashes. Three laps again, or 2 and a bit laps, as you run up a hill away from the café, cross a bridge then climb again, turning at the top of the hill to run along its height before dropping down and then onto mud, before a long arcing downhill on the extremity of the park that bends around and then climbs again to the second hill. For those on the second lap you turn at the bridge and climb the second hill again. For those on the final lap you cross the bridge, having run through the pool of water or mud, and then run down and cross the mud to the finishing funnel at the café. Was only my third run of the month, and I found it very tough indeed.
Southwark Park 28.51
Sweltering hot day in July and I needed a flat Parkrun to come back from injury. Southwark Parkrun is technically closer to Canada Water so I took the Jubilee line all the way. The park was undergoing some work so this became a 3 1/2 lap race, with a dogleg over the grass to avoid the fenced off areas. It is dead flat, as flat as a pancake before a yard drop then yard climb by the tennis courts. I have run here before for the Go Dad Run a few years back that was the course in reverse (for the most part). I walked a fair chunk due to my fitness levels post injury and injury itself, but still came in in 30.00 exactly. I could take 5 minutes off that. Back for Halloween and people dressed up, cake and marshmallows, a photographer and Podcast interviewing people. Families all dressed up and running. This was the best inclusive Parkrun experience yet. I gave the Viking helmet another airing.
Mile End 27:52
Another hot one and on the road to recovery. This is a very friendly parkrun were I met up with @WelshinLondon and Jenni Morris at the station before the walk to the start at Mile End Athletics stadium. Primary School headmistress kinda character was RD for the day and got everyone ready. A coffee cart at the end, showers and toilets at the athletics stadium, and the bagdrop is under the benches so they didn’t bake. The run was 2 laps that felt like they undulated a lot more than the profile suggested. I think it was because there was virtually no flat, it was all a little incline or decline. You run the path the other side of a cycle path up and down, through the park, across a bridge and along the canal and some barges. There was someone injured at the slope leading down the canal on both laps. I am not sure what happened there. You are beside the canal for the briefest of times and then a hairpin bend later are back and running the parallel of the first part of the lap. I did find it quite tough, Jen being there pushed me on a bit, and I saw WelshinLondon hammering it way ahead. Walked about half a dozen times but happy with the time in the heat and on my way back to fitness. You do see things at different parkruns that you think are cool. Here, once scanned, you put your own barcode in a box (like a button box) with different compartments for ranges of numbers, to they are sorted out by the runners. I liked that.
Note: In the end the guy who fell actually dislocated his hip, and broke his hip socket in 2. His name is Matt @Mattchester_7 and when we is back up and running we must be there to support him.
Pennington Flash 33:13
In Leigh, Manchester, this is a friendly and small parkrun by my normal standards, the small bit, not the friendly bit – although I have noted that some are far more friendly than others. By the lake used for the Bolton Ironman open water swim the route is lasso shaped and involves a few slight inclines as you run 3 laps of a field within a nature reserve. I ran this with Rachel Shaw and Matt Bowman with my chest infection playing up and ruining my other races at the weekend. It was good, hilly, maybe a bit cramped at times, especially when the fast kids lap you, and is on loose stone paths, and grass. Less than 200 people I think, bag drop was one of those giant leaf bags. Cake was mentioned at the end, but we had a track half marathon to get to so had to hot foot it out of there.
A very fat 2 lap run around the outer edge of Clapham Common and man, did I feel old? It is a part of London where young professionals live and you could see that with the demographic. A lot of young people, a lot of fresh out of university types, and a lot of Australians. John Berkow too, if you are into that kind of thing. It is mostly on a muddy path, with a little but on asphalt. It would be horrendous in places in the Winter but a definite PB opportunity in the Summer. So I will probably come back next year. The end was a bit of a clusterfuck maybe because so many people took part and therefore people were still bunched up at the end as they hit the finish funnel. At one point there was a crowd trying to get into the funnel and had stopped to queue to get in. If the times came out right it would be a miracle. And this is maybe because this is a relatively new run, only it’s 27th running. It will get better with time. If going there get the train to Clapham South as the common is a good 15 min plus walk away. Bag drop on tarp. And a n opportunity for a decent time.
Woodhouse Moor, Leeds 29:18
Leeds in November. Toilets to change in and use. Although I did see rats running around there. Very young crowd probably as the park is within the campus grounds of Leeds university. But if I thought I’d be left behind the opposite happened because the 588th parkrun here was so crowded you are hardly in a position to overtake or be overtaken without taking the slippery muddy option of going onto the grass. It was a multi lap race with a weird diagonal at the start and a start that was a distance from the finish. It was busy. It was muddy and if you stuck to the path it was quite slow. Chatty RD and a bag drop at the finish as well an IKEA bag for sweater drop at the start. Leaves made it slippery. 2 sets of groin height bollards to avoid and one slippery downhill when reentering the park a couple of times. Tail walkers and a good parkrun. Tokens dropped into an orange bag at the end. The funnel ends with your chip handed to you but then you stay between the tape where 3 scanners are processing the barcodes. I liked this feature very much. It would be one of the things I’d introduce to mine, although I’d replace the bag with the Mile End button box idea.