Saturday, 18 February 2012

New Contributor: Louise Ayling

Name: Louise Ayling
Home parkrun: Wimbledon
Date of first parkrun: 8 Jan 2011
Total Number of parkruns: 60
Number of other parkrun locations run: 54
Number of times volunteered: 0 (hangs head in shame and promises to do better)
My parkrun history: is here

In January 2011, I found out about parkrun. Now I’m hooked. A lot of my weekday running is from home to work and work to home, so I have decided to tour as many parkruns as I can to add variety and spice and to satisfy my inner collector.

So far, these are the ones that I've been to:


East Midlands

East of England
Kings Lynn*
St Albans*

Greater London
Ally Pally*
Bedfont Lakes
Bushy Park
Crystal Palace
Finsbury Park
Hackney Marshes
Hampstead Heath*
Highbury Fields
Mile End*
Oak Hill*
Old Deer Park
Richmond Park
Roundshaw Downs
Wanstead Flats*
Wimbledon Common
Wormwood Scrubs

North West
Heaton Park

South East
Banstead Woods
Black Park
Brighton & Hove
Frimley Lodge
Milton Keynes

South West
Ashton Court
Southwick Country Park*

West Midlands
Cannon Hill

Yorkshire and the Humber





*inaugural event
**my inaugural inaugural event

My morning devoted to parkrun

It was a morning completely devoted to parkrun - perfect!

I was volunteering today so no run for me, but if we all do our bit then that means I can enjoy my weekly parkrun fix for weeks and months to come until its comes round to my turn again.

Our fantastic parkrun event and race director, Jason Douglas, was taking a very well deserved week off this week. As soon as I had heard about this a few weeks ago I was happy to put myself forward to volunteer this week, not as Race Director, but to help this week's Race Director out on Numbers and the Website results upload.

This morning started early compared to my normal parkrun weekend start time, I suppose it does each week for every parkrun Race Director. I was in the park just before 8am ready to help with the course set-up process. Direction and kilometer markers were put out (one of which it turns out I didn't hammer in enough!) and the course was checked to ensure there were no obstacles. Thankfully the course was in tip-top condition, with none of the snow and ice of recent weeks.

There were several tables and some other signs to be put up. But mostly milling around looking for other small jobs and saying hello to people as the runners started to appear ready for their run.

I was lucky enough to meet up with Richard Hill, a Brueton parkrunner and regular contributor to this blog, on a parkrun tourist trip to Coventry. I hope to do the return trip to Bruteon parkrun in the spring or summer if possible. It was really nice to meet you Richard.

The parkrun went off after a 5 minute delay due to toilets not being open, and then I just had to cheer people through for the next 18 minutes waiting to start my next role, handing out the numbered barcodes at the end of the finishing funnel. I am so glad that it was warmer today than recently. The hand that I was giving out the barcodes with was numb with cold by the end. What must this have been like when it was 20 degrees colder last weekend?

Then onto my third role of the day, the website results upload. Three of us have been doing this each week for the last month or so, each time under the watchful eye of the usual Race Director, but this time we were on our own. Thankfully, between myself, the timer and the number checker there hadn't been a single mistake, so the results upload was pretty straightforward. There was the oddity of three people finishing in 4th position, but once we realised that 2 of them were the person scanned in testing prior to the start, this was soon resolved and the results upload was completed. It was still a relief when my brother confirmed that he had received his text and all the information was correct. Fingers crossed that was the same for everyone.

So you would think that this was the end of my parkrun day, but no. After heading home and a very quick change, I couldn't resist popping back out for a parkrun freedom run. And one parkrun freedom run became two, as tends to happen for me and my brother. We ran at a pretty comfortable pace for 2 back-to-back parkrun freedom runs at a little over 24 minutes each, finishing at exactly midday to complete a very satisfying and enjoyable morning devoted to parkrun.

Would you like to write about your parkrun experiences?

Have you been reading what others have been writing about their parkrun experiences (and their parkrun course descriptions) recently on the parkrunfans blog?

Would you like to have a go? You don't need to be a great runner or a great writter, just enthusiastic and willing to share your parkrun experiences or course description on the blog for other parkrunners to read.

The main aims are to allow everyone to share their parkrun stories and to help spread the word about parkrun in a positive light. Everyone is welcome, so please feel free to tell your friends about this blog.

If you would like to contribute then please contact me in one of the following ways:
Twitter: @parkrunfan
Facebook: parkrunfans blog page
Alternatively add a comment against this post leaving your email address.

If you are unsure about contributin,g please feel free to contact me by any of the means above and I will explain more. I can assure you that you will not be committing yourself and you can contribute as much or as little as you like.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Brueton Course Description

Firstly, I ought to say that there are people who would be better qualified than me to do a Brueton course description. Not least our selfless core volunteer team, without whom Bruton parkrun wouldn’t happen.

We are extremely well blessed to have the likes of Nick and Larry (top right pic) organising us, passionate runners themselves, but who still give up most of their Saturday mornings for our enjoyment.

We are a modest size parkrun, usually attracting between 100 and 150 runners. So Parkrun tourists are welcome at Brueton parkrun.

Hopefully this write up will help those coming from out of town, to find us in the first place, and perhaps to make the most of their visit to Solihull. You’ll find that much of this information is in any case present (and more professionally presented) on our web site at

By car we are very easy to find, being less than a mile from Junction 5 of the M42.

From the motorway junction, head towards Solihull, bare left towards the town centre. Brueton park is signposted at the first island, and you’ll find the entrance to the free car park on the right hand side a few hundred meters further on. The postcode for your Satnav is B91 3HW.

Be aware that the small car park can fill up quickly on a parkrun morning. Parking along Warwick Rd is permissible though, so this is not too much of a problem.

By train, Solihull station is about a mile away. From there, you would walk through the town centre, along the pedestrian high street, and along New Rd, before entering the park at the northern end. 

You may be confused by the fact that the northern end of the park is called Malvern Park. Don’t worry. You’re in the right place. Just think of it as one park.

Does parkrun tourism extend to flying? Well B’ham airport is (co-incidentally) just 5 kilometres away!

At Brueton parkrun we have summer and winter season variations to our course. Either way, we assemble in front of the Parkridge Nature centre, in the middle of the park, about 400m from the car park. We have a bag drop here, subject to the usual disclaimers.

I always cycle to the park, and leave my bike locked to one of the trees at the assembly point, as do half a dozen others, but there is also bike parking next to the car park, and at the northern end of the park.

The course is entirely on tarmac paths, apart from the final 150m of the summer course only, which is across the grass, ideal for that sprint finish! The course is more or less flat, with I suppose a very slight ascent towards the Malvern Park end.

            A map of the park (very similar to the official one in fact )

We use the main spine path running through the park in both directions, so we always stay to the left hand side of the path to avoid running in to each other. There is a solid white line conveniently painted down the middle of this section of the path. You are allowed to overtake though!

At the southern end of the park we circle around a small wooded area and run alongside Brueton lake. There is one tight turn here just to throw you off your stride!

At the northern end, we make a wider circle of the tennis courts. Only the start and finish positions vary by season. Otherwise it is essentially the same 2 lap course. We have marker posts at each kilometre, and handily placed friendly smiling marshals, subject to availability. The Parkridge Centre is usually open for refreshments at the finish.

Should you be intending to make a day of it in Solihull, then Tudor Grange Leisure Centre is somewhere that you would be able to shower and change. The shops, bars and restaurants in Touchwood and Solihull town centre are as good as any in the region.

Touchwood, the town centre, Brueton Park itself, Tudor Grange Leisure Centre and Solihull Station, are all within a comfortable walking distance of each other.

If you want to know more, you can find us on the Parkrun web site of course, as well as on Facebook and Twitter…

Here’s 3 random things you probably didn’t know about Solihull...

1) Solihull derived its name from the position of St Alphege parish church – on a “Soily” hill.
2) The George Hotel in Solihull town centre has the oldest bowls green in the country, it has been in use since the 14th century.
3) Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was born and grew up here.

Well if you’re still reading this I’m shocked. But all that remains to say then is that we look forward to seeing you at a Brueton parkrun soon. Don’t forget your barcode!

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…..

Nonsuch Parkrun Course Description

Official Parkrun Link:
Wikipedia Info on Nonsuch Park:
Nonsuch Google Map
Nonsuch Facebook Page:

  • Intro
Have you ever wanted to race over Henry VIII's old stomping ground, a place where the former King embarked upon possibly his most ambitious building project? Have you ever wanted to stretch your legs over a course that was named Nonsuch simply because there was to be no greater place of magnificence in the land? Well if so, you have found the right Parkrun course in Nonsuch Park!

Living in Epsom as I do, Nonsuch Parkrun is my local race and I absolutely love it, it's just over 3 miles from home, which means I get to run there for a good warm up (ideal at the moment!), race then run (well crawl) back home for a solid 9 miles on a Saturday morning. It's a little belter of a 5K race, which reminds me of the old school cross-country courses. It's not as easy as Wimbledon or Bushy Park, but it's easier than Banstead, so just be happy with a course PB during this race. It's a timed and measured 2 lap course of pure regal goodness.

So, what's the point of this post? My aim is to provide a blow by blow account of the course to help those planning to run it know the turns, touch points inclines, declines and where to go hard or not..hopefully it helps at least one person :)

  • Parking

When I do need to drive I park in the London Rd entrance car park (see the Parkrun link above on the course page for more details). I then run through the gap just ahead (between the two silver cars below), turn left and head straight up towards Nonsuch Mansion, you won't be able to miss the runners.

London Road Car park

  • Toilets

When you get up to Nonsuch Mansion as shown below, there’s a few bike racks (from memory I’ll have a stab at 6) where you can lock your bike up but also importantly there’s toilets right next door (to the left) where you can rid yourself of any pre-race nerves that you may have..

Nonsuch Mansion

Toilets, next to Nonsuch Mansion

  • The Meeting Area

Once you have been to the toilet, head back to the path following the signs to the start and head towards the main meeting point. If you have a bag that you don’t want to run with, there is a non secure baggage drop right next to the tree, this is at your own risk, so don’t leave anything of value in there if you’d be rather upset should it go missing!

Runner's meeting point (Nonsuch Mansion just ahead)

Most runners hang around here till 8:55ish catching up with each other justbefore being advised by the race director to head to down to the start of therace. If you do happen to see someone new, do that person a favour and say “Hi”,runners are an incredibly friend bunch and this is a great way to meet new local runningfriends.

  • The Start Line

The start line! (Half way along the path)

Once the Race Director (RD) has called everyone to the start line fora 9am start, you will need to wait for a few minutes whilst the RD goes overany announcements and you get a chance to thank the volunteers who without themunselfishly giving up their Saturday morning this race wouldn’t be possible, (soplease volunteer when you can, it’s a very rewarding experience and it’s theonly way to keep these races alive!)

  • First KM

The path is quite narrow at the start as you can see below, so with 100-200 runnersall belting off at the start a lot of runners use the grass on either side, butplease be careful as there are some potholes in the grass near the start line though.This first section before the first right hand turn is about 250m long.

View from the start line

First right hand bend
The first turn is gentle right hander and leaves you facinga longish straight ahead. This section is about 500m in length and has a gentleincline in it, you start the race at an elevation 45m and at the end of this straight(at 780m) you are at 53m so an 8m incline or 1.6% gradient, which doesn’t seem alot on the first lap, but it’s there for sure next time around!

Normally the adrenaline is stillpumping by this point so you don’t normally lose any time, but it does require concentrationon the 2nd lap for sure as you can easily lose 10-15 seconds on the3rd K if you slack off.

The 500m straight section
At the end of the 500m straight, you turn right and are given a chance to pick up speed againduring this section as you head towards the 1K mark it drops back down to 47m elevation so feelfree to give it some welly here. The start of this straight is approximately 810m into the race.

As you head down a further 190m or so down along this straight path, you will hear the resonating sound of everyone's GPS watch informing you that you have now past the 1K mark, probably midway point in the photo below.

Approaching 1K mark up head.

  • Second KM

For the 2nd K, you continue on the straight pathfor a further 90m or so before you will be greeted by several orange flags anda cheery volunteer directing you into a right hand turn. The turn is on a downslope which can be muddy if there’s been rain, so mind your footing.

Right hand turn
As you straighten out, you have a flat section of around 200m ahead of your before turning 90 degrees left up ahead. This section can be muddy at the moment, thanks to the rain, proper cross-country running, so lift your knees and give it some.

Start of the 200m straight, left turn up ahead!

At the end of the 200m section there is a 90 degree left hand turn at 1.3KM into the run, there will be another happy volunteer here also, say thanks if you can!

Hard left hand turn and straight ahead
As you head up the small incline (2m) over the next 400m you will approach a hard right hand turn, a full on right hand turn that cuts out the pinch point you can see in the photo below, which is no longer used in the course.

This section whilst tremendous fun, if only because you had no idea if you would still be running the other side of it, was to be fair, quite perilous when the conditions were poor and nobody wants a snapped ankle in these litigious times. So it's a hard right here and run straight on for 50m, a volunteer will be stationed here to show you the way.

Hard right hand turn
After you have turned like a seasoned pro, head straight up for about 50m before throwing another hard left, don't worry though as a volunteer will be here to show you the way, they are everywhere! (which is why we need plenty of them!)

Hard left hand turn just up ahead (just where the people are)

Turned left and straight ahead
After you have turned left you are faced with a 100m dash to the bridge and run straight ahead and then veer right.

Cross the bridge and throw a right
At the bridge crossing you at 1.7KM in and at an elevation of 43m, enjoy this as it's rises gently from here :)

Up the small incline towards the 2nd K marker
Run up the small incline over the next 300m to take you to the 2K mark, which has an elevation of 48m, so you will need to work hard over the later part of the 2nd K to keep the lap times consistent.

  • To the half way point

Once you have passed 2K mark, there's about 170m of running to go (and 3m climb) before a right hand turn at Henry VIII's Logs of Glory (I just made that up).

Turn right for home at the logs
Turn right at Henry VIII's Logs of Glory and peg it towards the path straight ahead, you get a metre or so elevation relief here, bonus!

Run towards the path
Once you're on the path, if this is your first lap you have a chance to pick up speed now you have once again some proper purchase on the road again, run straight ahead.

On the path and head straight up!
You will see here (cruelly some might say) the finish line on your left here, but that's just put there to taunt you as you have another lap of goodness to go yet. So carry on along the path and follow the signs and flags pointing you in the direction of the 2nd lap.

Should this be the end of your 2nd lap, congratulations, you're almost finished, but don't turn around and give your rivals a sniff of weariness, just pick up your knees strain once more and break the (figuratively speaking) tape.

Relax, catch your breath and feel free to engage smug thoughts for just completing something the majority of the country hasn't.

Approaching the finish line on your left (for the 2nd lap), carry on straight past it during the 1st lap.

Finish line is here for those that have completed two laps
Back to reality for the 1st lappers. Run straight past the finish line and head towards the 2.5K marker. There is normally a happy volunteer here shouting out your half way times, carry straight on and head back towards the path where you originally started only those few minutes ago.

Heading towards the 1/2 way point, veer slightly, ever so right here

2.5K maker - Half way point, straight ahead!

Run back to the starting path straight ahead and do it all again!

At this point you are heading back onto your 2nd lap, you are 2.5K in to a 5K race and at 49m elevation, so enjoy the small down hill here before the hard work of the 2nd lap begins, have fun and go hard!



New Contributor: Catherine Avadis

Name: Catherine Avadis
Home parkrun: Bushy park, Teddington
Date of first parkrun: 18/06/2011
Total Number of parkruns: 7
Number of other parkrun locations run: none, yet...
Number of times volunteered: 2 - 1 marshalling and 1 as a barcode zapper!
My Blog:
I consider myself very lucky indeed to have the majestic Bushy Park pretty much on my doorstep. I ran my first parkrun there quite unintentionally.
In April 2011 I decided I needed to change my lifestyle as I was 3 (maybe 4) stone overweight, very unfit and lazy, not to mention the wrong side of 40 too!. Firstly, I decided to take up running and started the 9 week Get running Couch to 5k  programme. By week 7 I started to look around for a 5k run as my finale and came across parkrun. My husband is a runner so I signed us both up for it and went along a couple of Saturdays later. The plan was that my husband would run the parkrun with all the proper runners, while I did my week 8 run 3, which was 28 minutes non-stop running with 5 minutes walk either end, some where else in the park on my own, so I didn’t get in the way.
Somehow, it didn't work out like that. Once I saw there were children, people with dogs and parents with kids in pushchairs, I thought it looked more inviting, less formal, less elite, less scary. So I decided to join the crowd that was gathering and do my run as part of the 5k and see how I got on, highly expecting to walk half of it or even duck out once my 28 minutes was up. The run started, so I got my iPhone out and on went the runkeeper to track my pace and calories burned and on went the getrunning week 8 run 3. I looked up and well, as I started my warm up walk, I quickly found myself almost alone in the park with just a few stragglers with push chairs, a dog deciding it was an appropriate time for the toilet and a child doing up their laces at the back while the main body of people disappeared like a herd of Buffalo into the distance! I felt a surge of panic that by the time I finish they would have all packed up and gone home for lunch! So about 30 seconds later I started to run.

I ran and ran and ran. I overtook children, I overtook a grey haired lady, she overtook me and I over took her again, kids with dads overtook me and I overtook them. I kept my steady pace all the way through. I ran 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 28 minutes done "should now be stopping and stretching" (getrunning commentary) but I still had further to go. The end was in sight, my legs where good, my breathing was fine, marshalls along the route where shouting encouragement, other runners who were finished lined along the last stretch to the funnel where clapping me,my husband was there cheering me along to the finish. I only bloomin' well ran the whole 5k!!
My first ever 5k! 
Looking back I am so glad it was a parkrun 5k. Everyone is so encouraging and so friendly. Running with a crowd of people, and Bushy parkrun is a big crowd regularly attracting 800 or more, is thrilling because of the buzz yet comforting because of the people and something I very much look forward to.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

parkrun course description: Oldham

Welcome to Oldham parkrun.

As you leave the carpark, head straight through the double gates and past the lodge (which is currently up for sale) and up the steps directly in front of you. If you are not a fan of steps, you can take a left just before them and head up the steep ramp - you're going to grow to hate this little hill before you leave! About half way along the straight main path, on the left, you will see a large structure regally guarded by stone lions which has inspired the local name of The Lion's Den. This is the meeting point for Oldham parkrun and where the run starts.

The start is marked by a couple of iron grid covers on either side of the pathway and there's usually plenty of room, even in the heady days of summer when we sometimes top 150+ runners. You probably don't want to start too quickly as you might end up having to slow down quite early on. I've been out today and jogged around the course 'lapping' the main points of the course on my Garmin...and as anyone with a Garmin knows, the smaller the distance between two points, the more divergence there may be with Garmin measurements! The first of these points comes at the end of the main straight which is at around 151 metres. Here, we avoid the steps and veer left up the first little ramp - a steep 20 metres veering to the right hand fork. There will be a sign sending you left and either another sign pointing right or a marshal on the fork pointing the way (or possibly both!). This is a potential bottleneck, so getting here in a hurry might be counter-productive! As you head up the right fork towards the highest point of the course (150 metres), there will be a sign sending you right around a 90 degree turn. And finally, you can relax a little as the course begins its gradual descent.

This section of the course is downhill all the way - stay on the main pathway veering around a right hand bend. You will pass the playground on your left (if it's on your right, you weren't listening!) and the toilets are just in front of the playground. At 404 metres, there is a 90 degree left turn (there will be a sign or a marshal, or both) and you will see the statue of Rebecca 95 metres ahead. Rebecca will be guarding a sign sending you right (90 degrees) and over the small bridge. What goes down...

There is a slight respite as the course levels off for a few metres but then begins the long ascent back towards the top of the course. Once again, stay on the main pathway as it veers around the the right and in between the lakes. You might encounter a few geese around here if the locals have been out feeding them but just clap your hands a couple of times and they will run out of the way (the geese, not the locals!). This 425 metre stretch takes you up towards the aforementioned ramp to avoid the steps. This time, the steps are not an option! Up the ramp you go - there will be a marshal at Woodland Walk about 40 metres up the ramp but you won't be heading that way...yet! A final 20 metres and you are back on the straight. This is a deceptive part of the course as the straight is still slightly uphill! It is now 218 metres back to The Lion's Den and the start of the second lap.

Do it again!

On lap three, as you get to Woodland Walk, you veer off onto a narrow trail - by this time, it is unlikely that there will be any traffic problems but there is still enough room to overtake if you need it. Just 36 metres along the trail there are 4 small, long steps. The wooden risers can get slippy in wet weather, so caution is advised (I missed one of them and went headlong onto the next three steps with some seriously bruised pride to show for my efforts!). The steps are quite tricky as they throw you off your stride - the first couple are three strides and the you get the curve-ball four strider! Once past these, its a windy little pathway through low hanging trees and the occasional encroaching undergrowth. You will see the back of The Lion's Den on the right but no short cuts (we'll be watching!), continue for a total of 310 metres and follow the signs! As you reach the end of the trail, you turn right onto the main pathway where the first marshal will be directing you down the original 'bottleneck' to the right and onto the finishing straight. This is downhill all the way and if there's anything left in the legs after Woodland Walk, now's the chance to use it up! The finish line is past The Lion's Den - the whole straight measures 235 metres, so time your sprint right or you may burn out before you get there!

We are hoping to re-open the cafe in the coming months but this will depend on local investment and the building still has a To Let sign on it.

 I apologise for the lack of beautiful pictures of the course - there are plenty to be found online and there is even a video of a circuit with a voiceover by Event Director Mark Kelly as he mapped the route which can be found on the Course description page of the Oldham parkrun website.

Just one last thing...if anyone has added up the numbers and it doesn't come out at 5000 metres, please inform Garmin ;)

New contributor: Kassia Gardner

Name: Kassia Gardner
Home parkrun: Milton Keynes
Date of first parkrun: 26/06/2010
Total Number of parkruns: 42
Number of other parkrun locations run: Conkers parkrun is my 2nd home, but I’ve also done Sunderland, Newcastle and Braunstone.
Number of times volunteered: Erm, not sure. I’ll update this when I get the next email. But I think it’s about 12 times
My parkrun history

Twitter: @mumthatruns
My Blog: Daily Dash Running Blog

I first discovered parkrun when I was trying to come back from an injury whilst training for the Great North Run. It was a great way of getting me out and running on a Saturday, and feeling smug that by 10am I’d done my run for the weekend (in those days I did long runs during the week).  Six months later I was still doing parkruns and I’d brought my 5k time from 31:05 to 28:20. I got to 26:05 in 2011 before spending most of the autum with a knee injury. Currently I can get round in about 26:40 so my next goal is to get below 26 mins and eventually go sub-25 mins.

At the start of 2011 I became one of the MK parkrun Race Directors, which whilst sometimes a little nerve-racking is good fun as you also get to encourage the runners over the finish line. I’ve also done several other volunteer roles as well.

I run because I love running, and I love the fact that with parkrun you can choose to race yourself, just go for a steady run or go round with friends and family. It’s whatever you want it to be that particular week.

I often run with my 7 year old daughter, who usually takes between 30 and 38 minutes depending on whether she wants to go fast or have fun. The other runners might think we’re mad as we race down the hills pretending to be aeroplanes (yes, I do stick my arms out and make a nee-owing noise) but we don’t care.

It might sound cheesy but I can honestly say that since joining the parkrun family I’ve met, and become friends with, more people in 18 months than in several years of living in MK.

Happy running parkrunners!

Monday, 13 February 2012

New Contributor: David Hamilton

My name is David Hamilton
I have done 24 parkruns at Edinburgh.
I have volunteered 4 times
my parkrun barcode number is A159019.

What’s the attraction of parkrun? I can only answer personally. I think its the challenge of pitting yourself against the clock, striving to improve your performance. Although I’m 55 and relatively slow I’m a very competitive person.
I started doing the Edinburgh parkrun in June 2011 and since September I’ve been running most weeks. We have a beautiful flat course along the tarmacadamed foreshore at Cramond round a loop and back the way we came to finish opposite the start. The views across the water to Fife are beautiful – if you spare the time and energy to appreciate them when you’re flat out. The run back is into the prevailing wind and the lack of shelter poses a big problem on windy days.
I set my personal best on 1 October 2011 and since I’d been trying everything I knew to improve it – without success until last Saturday. I’m not a runner and used to think there was nothing to running but I’ve come to appreciate that are a huge number of factors which affect your performance - stride, pace action, breathing, weight, diet, preparation to mention just a few. Conditions vary too as we discovered in November – strong winds, ice, snow all wreaked havoc with my times.
So to last Saturday. Running conditions were perfect. My preparation had been good throughout the week and I started telling myself that I could improve my time. I got a watch for Christmas which has been a big help – telling me my time for each kilometre. During the week I worked out the time I needed to be at for each stage. My struggle is always between the 1 and 4km stage so I worked out the time I needed to be at the 4km marker. On the day I reached it 6 seconds ahead of target so knew that it was in the bag if I could keep going. My body was rebelling but I forced my legs on. The glorious sight of the trees that herald the start of the final stretch spurred me on. I pushed on to the finish line stretching my legs as much as I physically could. What a feeling when I glanced at the watch to see a new personal best – by 11 seconds. That’s what parkrun means to me!
Posted on behalf of David Hamilton.

Riddlesdown parkrun course description

My home parkrun is Riddlesdown, which is in South Croydon, London. It is easily accessible by road, being only a few minutes drive from the M25 / A22 junction.

Here is my attempt at giving any of you budding tourists that have not yet visited us a quick virtual tour of the course.

The photos are all from the official Riddlesdown photo account. They are mostly the work of race director, Nicki Clark, but some are from other people, notably Pete Gibson.

Riddlesdown parkrun starts at the southernmost point of the course (roughly indicated by the green marker in the photo below). Parking for the event is located in Warlingham School, where you'll also find the toilets. The distance from the car park to the start line is approximately 700 metres.

The official course map

It is one of the faster parkrun courses in the local area. The course is almost entirely flat. However, there are a few different types of terrain, a couple of tight turns, and one very short incline, which when combined may take a few seconds from your potential 5k finishing time.

The view from the start line
If you were to pass through Whtyeleafe using the A22 you would no doubt notice a very white cliff face high above the road. The green fence in the photo above divides the downs from this potentially dangerous area, which, I'm told, used to be a chalk pit.

The View
Once released from the starting gate you head north-west along a grassy path, after 200 metres the fence disappears to reveal a lovely view across the valley towards Kenley. Continuing on you may notice the slightest of inclines until you eventually pass through a gap in the hedge.

The gap in the hedge

Here the course remains flat until just before the corner, where it dips down and then flips you around an approx 120 degree angle right turn. Just to add a little spice, this juicy little corner also then forces you to climb as you are turning. A really interesting corner to negotiate - especially in challenging conditions. You then continue your short incline to our only named section of the course - Condon corner.

Photo taken from Condon Corner, looking along the trail section.

Next up is the 700 metre trail section. As you'd expect from a trail section, there are parts where you'll find protruding rocks and tree roots to negotiate. It's certainly not the trickiest trail section you'll find, but you do need to remain focused in order to remain upright.

Sometimes it rains and we have some fun puddles to negotiate during the trail section
Once out of the trail section you are returned onto a grassy path, which can become quite boggy when the course is muddy. On the first lap you will turn right after 400 metres and cross the field. The course here has a different challenge, the ridges in the ground run across the path, so it is like running over a hundred sleeping policemen in quick succession.

In the photo you can't see the sleeping policemen, but when you run across you'll know they are there

Once across the field there is another right hand turn, which delivers you onto the gravel path. About 200 metres along this path you will hit the half-way point. Another 200 metres of gravel later and you will be swinging another 120 degree turn back onto the grass, this one is a left-hander, and as it remains flat is not quite as challenging as the earlier sharp corner.

The gravel path
You'll now head back towards the start line to retrace your steps through the hole in the hedge, around Condon corner, through the trail section and along that 400 metre grassy section, where you reach the point where on the first lap you cut across the field. On the second lap you follow the sign to the finish which is conveniently just a 100 metre dash from here.

You'll usually find the finish line around here
The registration desk is at the entrance to the downs. It's 150 metres or so from the finish line, so if you've had a tough run you'll have enough time to recover before reaching the desk to have your personal and position barcodes scanned.

Our post-run coffee venue - The Horseshoe - is just down the road in Warlingham. It is 1.8km away from the registration desk and, of course, everyone is welcome!


(from blog7t)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Volunteering - A different view of parkrun

Yesterday I volunteered at my local parkrun, Coventry. Having completed 8 runs and 6 PBs I decided the time was right to give something back to the organisation that has put a stop to lazy, unproductive Saturday mornings in bed.
I also managed to rope my son in as well. As a fairly typical 16 year old he rarely sees Saturday mornings, but he wanted to go shopping in Coventry and I wasn't prepared to make the same journey there twice. The promise of a sausage and bacon sandwich for his efforts sealed the deal!
I was actually more nervous about voluntering that running my first parkrun. I didn't want to mess up. Every runner relies on the volunteers. We arrived in good time, collected our high fashion ;), high visability jackets and took our place by the golf pavillion.

It was cold. Really cold. It was not possible to have too many layers.

To begin with we just stood there, waiting. I felt a bit left out of the now-familiar-briefing. We couldn't see the the start line. We had no indication of whether it had started. Time to soak up the beauty of the War Memorial Park on a frosty morning and watch the British military fitness groups being put through their paces. Then through the trees we saw a moving pair of orange socks, closely followed by other moving figures. And then they came. Our position at the bottom of a long stretch of downhill course gave us an amazing view of the front runners - people I never normally see at the back! For the next 30 minutes there was a steady stream of runners, joggers and walkers. The front runner lapped those at the back but the determination on the faces of all was the same - all working hard towards the same goal, reaching that finishing line.

So many runners, despite putting all thier effort and energy into the best time possible spared the breath to say thank you to us as we did our job. Some even added a raised hand of acknowledgement. This meant so much to us and made us feel more included in the parkrun experience.

Afterwards sausage sandwiches and hot chocloate finished off a most enjoyable and rewarding parkrun. I can't wait to volunteer again. I have even more respect and thanks for those who do, some every week without running themselves.

parkrun asks everyone to volunteer 3 times a year. It counts as a run so the only thing you lose is the chance for a PB that week. What you gain from doing it feels better than any PB. What are you waiting for?