Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Walsall Arboretum

and they're off...

Just a few weeks ago, doing a 10th parkrun location would have got me promoted in to the prestigious parkrun tourist league at http://www.parkrun.com/results/mostevents

Not so now. Those nice people at parkrun HQ have raised the bar. A demanding 20 locations and/or 5 inaugural events is the new entry level qualification. Well that’s ok. I have several weekends away planned, and other local events still to do, so I should join this elite club at some point this year.

I’m not keen on the word ‘inaugural’, so I’m glad to have now gotten my inaugural inaugural out of the way.

The 25k bike ride from Solihull to Walsall Arboretum took me a disappointing 70 minutes. It’s up hill all the way from Brum to Walsall though, honest, and I have to save something for the run don’t I?
Anyway, I still arrived in plenty of time, and it wasn’t long before I saw the reassuringly familiar faces of Peter and Paula from Conkers. Proper tourists they are. I was at the right place. 

Strangely, on the way, I had passed a group of about 20 runners heading towards the Arboretum themselves. They arrived in the park, did some exercises, and then ran off again. Shame. Maybe they’ll find out about parkrun soon.

Event Director Kate, ably assisted by Tom Williams, and a full team of volunteers from Wolverhampton Uni finished setting up the course, and we were called to arms.

About 60 runners lined up, next to the soon to be infamous brown wheelie bin. No expense spared eh.  This was one of those parkruns, where most contenders wanted to stand towards the back. So there was quite a gap behind the first half dozen who fancied their chances. Then in a moment, we were off.

lap 1, passing 'dusty bin', with other runners in my slipstream ...

First, a short descent of about 150m, then a sharp right hander. This could be problematic, this close to the start, when the event is attracting hundreds. An incline followed, then another right hander and then a long flat path. Beware the pot holes. A grass section, then back along another path heading back towards the start. It’s a 3 lap course.  There is currently construction work underway at the arboretum, after which the course will be changed, and become two laps.

I finished 17th in 22:38, which I was pleased with. Several of the faster finishers proved to be “unknowns”, so perhaps they’ll be properly bar coded up for the next one.

That was my 6th midlands parkrun location by bike this year then, which means I  have 4 left to do. Although this could become 5, with Tom confirming that a new one in Wolverhampton is in the pipeline.

Thanks to Kate, Tom and the students for all their hard work. A very enjoyable parkrun.  Thoroughly recommended.  Why not give it a try.

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