I can’t remember a more beautiful day for a parkrun. A great course: one lap of the lake; a lap of the racecourse and another lap of the lake to finish. The pond was full of adorable creatures: ducklings; cygnets etc. It was the perfect time of year for it and we spent ages after just watching the cygnets; they were TINY! I was the only runner in the 50 club which is always satisfying :) I came 36/42. My delusions of this being the most beautiful parkrun in the country were shattered the following week; after convincing friends to run it with me we were greeted with wind and the heaviest horizontal rain that I have ever run in. No cap and non-waterproof mascara totally ruined this parkrun experience (running fail!) I could barely see! The rain was so heavy you could only JUST see the ground in front of you! It was sunny when we left Leeds! I did give my friend Andrew a FULL ON sprint to the line, we battled back and forth but he beat me….just! ;) Post-race coffee is at Xscape means a day of shopping! :) and Sweatshop is about 300 meters away, perfect!
Newcastle. Event number 88, 18/09/11
The day before the GNR and this course HAD to be run! There were cow pats, gates and puddles to contend with, not a particularly picturesque run but a wide open park and it was just 1 lap (I LOVE 1 lap courses) to top it off it was flat as a pancake. Great run, inspirational marshals, I came 185/196.
Hull. Event number 78, 24/09/11
I’d heard some pretty impressive things about Hull: a fast, flat course; llamas, wallabies; and a great park. Most people said “in Hull? I don’t believe you” well….IT’S TRUE! IT’S ALL TRUE and there’s more! There is also a GREAT café which is amazing for vegetarians, an outdoor gym (in case the 5km wasn’t enough!) and musical statues to play with. A morning was spent discovering ones inner (or not so inner) child! A top parkrun, I came 163/235. This was also the day I met ‘professional parkrun tourist’ Steve Darby! ;)
Sheffield Endcliffe Park. Event number 62, 01/10/11
After being at Hull this parkrun probably didn’t get a fair shout. I found it a very busy course, with some tight corners and a bit of a narrow path, especially to start with. I made the mistake of starting at the back and there was nowhere to overtake for quite a while. Also this was the first parkrun I have run where you have to run over speed bumps-not a fan. However, the volunteers were great and the café was amazing. Another beautiful parkrun day and the café had tables and chairs out over the park so it was a lovely morning relaxing in the park. My advice is that to get the best out of the course then start near the front, I came 184/250.
Concord. Event number 30, 08/10/11
I got an early train to Meadowhall with my bike and had discussed with Ben what train to get; how long would I need to cycle the few miles to Concord? The train I chose meant I’d have to cycle fast and as Ben said “as long as it’s not all uphill it’ll be fine” well it was ALL uphill! I only just made it and I was huffing and puffing and my legs had turned to jelly! Talk about panic cycle and I thought I’d turned up in the wrong place. A totally different parkrun experience, if you’ve only ever run Bushy then you should go and run Concord. Only 18 runners that morning and three from my running club (Hyde Park Harriers) being parkrun tourists! It was a tough course; the start pushes you downhill making you run fast and feel good before it slams you into the hills! There was a log to jump over or you could squeeze through a gate thing (which was the option I took!). I hear there are often firemen at this parkrun but alas there were none that day. Nevertheless, great people, fab facilities, an undiscovered gem. I came 14/18.
Liverpool Princes Park Event number 30, 15/10/11
I’d got a message from Steve saying that he was heading over to Princes Park and did I want to come, by now I was loving parkrun tourism….did I want to go? YES!! Fellow Hyde Park Harrier Vicki Tayor also came along (despite the hangover!). It was a lovely course but there were hills, the best bit was the amazing finish straight; really LONG so you could chase people down. Vicki was struggling with the hangover so I ran with her and coached her round (I’m not sure she appreciated me whispering “go on, take her!” and “racing line Vicki, racing line!” while she was feeling bad!). We had a decent run and we took someone just before the line, a great morning, I came 72/94. We went to a vegetarian café afterwards which was amazing :)
Durham. Event number 14, 12/11/11
Another road trip with Steve, this time with Ben and Brenda too. It started with a pre-race briefing for new parkrunners (COMPLETE WITH PICTORAL REPRESENTATION OF THE COURSE! Ha ha ha, yes it was a complicated course but I know I’ll never be first so I never really worry about it!). The first 300m or so were on running track, then in a massive change of terrain to boggy wet field, over a slippery bridge, along track, by river, on tarmac-all sorts! I was running pretty hard and then almost started hyperventilating when the 30 minute pacer came flying past me! I thought I was running well :( just when I needed him a lovely man called Mike passed me, we started chatting and he told me the pacer was way off-phew! He paced me the rest of the way telling me who he thought we should take (just what I’d done to Vicki at Liverpool-I loved it!). A lovely finish straight and I gave it a hard sprint finish; a great run and super friendly team. Somehow Mike came before me in the results (think he took my token while I was doubled over recovering as there is photographic evidence that I was a few meters ahead, still I reckoned I owed my pace to him so didn’t mind). It was a fast run for me and I came 123/183. A ‘cool down’ with Steve, Brenda and Ben turned out to still be my race pace so when I almost vomited I decided they weren’t the best people to ‘cool down’ with! :)
Posted on behalf of Nicola Forwood.
Watch out for part 3 in the next few days!