Wednesday, 15 February 2012

parkrun course description: Leeds Hyde Park

I was giving some thought to the course description of Leeds Hyde Park parkrun and have been putting it off subconsciously for some time. The reason- I actually do not like running on it!! Don’t get me wrong you can’t keep me away because the people there are typical parkrun people, I just do not enjoy running there. 3 laps, long straights and a couple of kinks to knock you off your stride….. I guess I have done it too many times and been disappointed looking at my watch!! But don’t let me put you off- it is a fast course and like all parkruns just a fantastic way to spend your Saturday morning!

Leeds Hyde Park parkrun is basically a rectangular course, with the first lap cut short by running diagonally through the park cutting out the more complicated parts giving a good first 2km to thin out the field. This is the official course map:

And this is what my GPS enabled phone came up with one week:

I think I’d actually prefer this route however it might be unmanageable with over 300 runners sometimes taking part!!

The run starts with a long straight through the heart of the park- without having Simon’s attention to detail I would guess the first 300m are ever so slightly uphill but it’s too early to notice, on a tarmac path with grass to either side giving extra space to overtake If needed. At the centre of the park is a slight bottleneck, if you count 5 or 6 abreast as such, followed by a 400m downhill section.

This thins out the crowd a good deal however you are brought down to earth with a bump on hitting the first corner- a 120 degree left hander which is slippy at the best of times and is often cut by those seeking to gain an advantage! Personally this usually brings me to a grinding halt having then to get back up to speed as I skate round and hit the long straight!

This straight forms part of all 3 laps from here and starts with a nice gentle downhill, crossing what on lap 2 is the halfway point and the path back up to the finish. There then follows a short and not very steep but annoying (on laps 2 and 3!) incline to the 1k marker. The next 400m sees a 90 degree left hand turn and a long slow (but not steep at all) drag up the south side of the park, with an annoying little kink (down and up with an adverse camber) just before what on lap 2 is the 3k point.

Just when you think you are at the top you turn 90 degrees left again and realise there is the little rise to get over before you can stretch your legs towards the finish. It’s a slightly twisting snaking run in but very wide giving plenty of room to the speed merchants lapping people into the finish!

Running past the finish funnel on the 1st and 2nd laps giving the thumbs up to Sam and Jocelyn and the team shouting encouragement you suddenly hit a left hander at the statue which is another 120 degree slippery turn- I never trust my footing around here, though maybe I am looking for an excuse to slow down…

There is then a nice 100m run in towards the centre of the park which usually has a headwind then a right hander down to the 2k marker (on lap 2). A sharp left hand turn through the bollards takes you to the fast downhill section by the main road before another left hander, again with bollards (mis-judge these turns and you will know about it!!) taking you onto a short off-road section, with my least favourite bit – a sudden short sharp drop on grass/mud! I never have the confidence to go for it down this bit, especially on lap 3 when I can’t feel my legs!!

From here on in we are back to where we were on lap 1- nice long downhill, annoying uphill bit then the drag back to the top, annoying kink on the way in with the last gradient as you turn off the last bend- then into the finish!

As you come down the straight, happy to be running on the left not the right (in case you are getting lapped!) the last 10m is on grass- sometimes mud, sometimes very slippy but that doesn’t matter because you have finished! Worry about cleaning the trainers or the car later because now you can enjoy the beauty of Leeds parkrun- the people!

Every parkrun I have been to has just the nicest people you could ever hope to meet but Leeds Hyde Park is home. I may not enjoy the course but don’t let that put you off- it is a relatively fast course, on tarmac mostly and I do love being there- I just cannot run welll on that course!!!


PS. The picture below is of the statue of Wellington and gives its name to one of the events organised by the team throughout the year – the Red Wellie Relay! 2 teams (25 boys v 25 girls) each running 200m round the course with incredible organisation and handicaps calculated for each runner, and all done carrying a red wellie... You have no idea how silly you feel sprinting 200m clutching a boot but it is great fun. Also, the boys won this year….. Problem I have is the organisers know I am more of a sprinter so when we did the 3 legged relay (5k, 3 legs- not tied together!) I am sure I was knobbled…..


  1. I just can't get over how funny that Garmin route map is! Thanks Jason.

  2. Somewhere around lap 2 you lap me, and then you cheer me at the end, it's awesome :)

  3. the handicapper has got your number ;-)


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