Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Course Description:  Newcastle parkrun

To date, I have been around the Newcastle parkrun course 80 times (officially) and completed many "freedom runs".  I also use the course for tempo and marathon paced runs so, to cut a long story short, I know every inch of our parkrun.

However, we have run a number of variants of the course since Newcastle parkrun started in January 2010.  Recently, we went through a period of running the course in reverse but have returned to the original "clockwise route" due to some safety concerns.  We also have an alternative route for two weeks in June when part of the course in occupied by "The Hoppings" travelling fair.  The run takes place on The Town Moor.  The Town Moor is a large area of common land in Newcastle upon Tyne. It covers an area of around 400ha, and is larger than Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath combined, stretching from the city centre and Spital Tongues in the south out to Cowgate/Kenton Bar to the west, Gosforth to the north and Jesmond to the east.

Anyway, down to the description of the course itself (the distances given are cumulative course distances).  The start is on a tarmac path and this takes you 0.2 miles to the main path that runs from South to North across the whole town moor.  This path is fairly straight and undulating and takes runners to 0.92 miles to the first gate on the course.  Manned by Newcastle parkrun legend Malcolm Craighead (one of our most decorated volunteers) "Gate 1" has recently been renewed after the original gate mysteriously disappeared.  Runners then turn right onto Grandstand Road.  This fast section is downhill and usually has the prevailing westerly wind behind you.  Grandstand Road can be seen below (looking up the hill the opposite way to the runners).

At 1.25 miles runners then return back onto the moor by turning right through Gate 2 onto a rough gravel track that turns back into tarmac.  This takes runners from North to South and is usually quite fast depending on the wind direction.  At 1.96 miles, the route turns back onto a rough path that takes runners past The Military Museum that occupies the corner of this part of the moor.  The picture below shows the museum (the opposite side to the course side).

This is the hardest part of the course.  Uphill and on a rough surface the course heads North again to 2.37 miles before turning left (West) back onto the tarmac path that runs from West to East across the moor.  This undulating path takes runners through Gate 3 and is 90% of the time into the stiff Westerly wind that blows unhindered across the moor on so many Saturdays.  The welcome sight of the crossroads at 2.7 miles if the point where runners turn left (South) out of the wind and towards the finish and back over the course the crossed at the beginning.  The crossroads can be seen below.

At this point, it is a fairly fast downhill section to the finish where many races to the line begin.  The finish comes after a sharp left hand turn and a 0.1 mile sprint to the line.  The picture below shows the final stretch to this sharp corner and includes another common feature of the moor in the summer, the cows (and their "debris").

On the whole, the Newcastle parkrun is course is fast but PB attempts are usually limited to rare wind-free weekends.

Craig Smith


  1. A fantastic description and great photos, thank you Craig.

  2. It can be windy on the moor even when it's not windy ;)


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