Saturday, 7 April 2012

Eastbourne parkrun 07 April 2012: The satsuma that got squeezed!

Another wonderful parkrun. Cloudy but muggy and regretted my long top choice. Our good friend Lynda was down from London for the weekend, so she gave me a lift today. Much like last time, we laughed our socks off the whole journey there - so much so that we kept setting off the bleep on the keyfinder, which, if lost, you locate by shouting or clapping for it. Lynda, struggling to keep the car on the road for fear of shaking it into the side from laughing too much, managed to get us there just in time. I had just about burst every blood vessel in my head from the pain of excess chortling.

We rocked up with 5 minutes to spare, did a few pretend stretches amongst the professionalesque runners, who were limbering up properly, and the fabulous Easter mums whose warm-up, in fairness to them, consisted of simply removing their jumpers. The call was made and we all lined up as one – parkrunners!

Last week I had half marathon walrus legs and slapped my way round like an old steam boiler. This week, I went off way too quick - 6:40 min/mile for the first 200 yards. Ouch. Reined back a bit, let the quicker guys and gals fly off, but kept myself hidden, as mid-pack Martin, amongst the enthusiastic amateurs and pre-pubescent kids.

I felt quite strong most of the way round, evidenced by the fact my HR was 7 beats (roughly) lower than last week, yet I was averaging 10 seconds a mile quicker. Running science is weird.

At 4km, I hooked on to the back of a young boy. He must have been about 11 or 12. If you are reading this young boy, I am truly sorry for crushing your spirit. (still did great!!) You see, dear reader, he appeared to have hit a tough patch and I was coasting a bit, so I waited for an opportune moment before letting out a bit of turbo and eased past. (My only competitive streak of the whole run and I hated myself for it!).

I passed the back of the finish line just as some of the first few finishers were funnelling through it. Just a lap of the field and the customary sprint (and I use that term loosely!) home and I can have my reward of some lukewarm water in the rucksack.

Position: 29th

Garmin time: 23:31 (course PB by 21 seconds) - I put that strongly down to the fact the ground was firm today.

My friend Lynda popped round the final bend about 5 minutes later, looking like a giant satsuma about to explode in her bright orange Berlin Half Marathon top. She sprinted past one doughty lady runner on the run-in and hit a new PB herself. Not sure of her official time yet, but we think it was sub 29 and Eastbourne is always going to be quicker than her home parkrun of Richmond.

After shopping for prosecco and nibbles for later (vine leaves, olives, spiced corn, feta and other assorted antipasti), we laughed the whole way home again, with Lynda recounting how she was overtaken with ease by an 11 yr old girl with a honky-cough.  A giant satsuma squeezed by a teenager with flu. I think that calls for a #embarrassingmoment

Next time, I am going to play bull-spotting. You know, the guys who sniff in so much air so as not to leave any for the rest of us? They strut around wide-eyed, sweat physical-fitness testosterone and their only thoughts are to cane every runner around them. Try bull-spotting next time you are out and I dare you not to chuckle…

The satsuma and I....

Other blogs:

A parkrun lesson

How parkruns and bumblebees can lead to half marathon success

Eastbourne parkrun 24 March

Eastbourne parkrun 31 March 2012: How Kathy Bates sabotaged my parkrun


Inaugural runs: Eastbourne parkrun (28 January 2012)

Eastbourne parkrun started today, with a turnout of 120 people. Several experienced parkrunners had made the journey to Eastbourne to greet the dawning of a new event, though probably none quite as mad as @n0rm, fellow parkrun tourist and ironman-in-training, who got up at 3.57am to cycle down from London.

The route is a route of three parts:

  1. a short anti-clockwise lap on grass

  2. a long clockwise lap on tarmac

  3. a short clockwise lap on grass (the reverse of part 1).

My top tip: "Remember part three".

Because at the end of part two, you can see the finishing funnel with lots of people standing around cheering. More than one person sprinted past me to the line...only to find out that there was still one bit left to run. If you know that, and don't sprint, then the cheering crowds of the already-finished will give you a wonderful lift to take you round the final part. But I imagine that if you don't know that, the last little bit seems to go on and on and on.

Thanks to two runners, Eastleigh regular Robert Spencer and parkrun first timer Victoria Heaysman, both of whom (unwittingly) paced me round and spurred me on to a sort-of-sprint finish.

And thank you, as ever, to all the volunteers who put on such a slick first event. It a great, flat course with a touch of variety to keep it interesting. Definitely one to try, if you're passing by.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Inaugural runs: St Albans parkrun (14 January 2012)

Wow! St Albans parkrun kicked off today, and [pauses to thank and congratulate the volunteer team] it's a cracker.

The course is flat. Not quite as-a-pancake flat, but you'd have to be pretty hill-averse to call it undulating.

And for two of its three miles, you're running around a rather picturesque lake, so definite pretty points for the route.

I also really liked the design of the route. You run around the lake three times, so have a great chance to see the shapely figures of the front runners on laps two and three. But by avoiding the start point on laps two and three, you avoid that feeling of 'O God, not again!' that multi-lap courses can provoke.

It was also bursting with familiar faces, including Danny Norman of parkrun show fame who clocked up the fastest time of the morning, the nomadic Burnham Joggers, Dave and Bob, and also Reggie who I first met at Ally Pally parkrun.

And I even had virtual running buddies for company in the shape of Jovial Gnome and Fortnight Flo. What more could a tourist want?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Name: Sarah Fry
Home parkrun: Coventry
Date of first parkrun: 21/08/2010
Total Number of parkruns: 20
My parkrun history:
4 in Swindon
16 in Coventry

Why did I start running?
Because I wanted to get fitter and keep weight off and running seemed the most efficient way to do it! I used to just do 10 minutes at a time on the treadmill and it was HELL but obviously as I got fitter and I got more used to running it got easier. Although I now know that I need to stop the treadmill before bending down to tie my shoelace.

Why parkrun?
I wanted to get quicker and a Facebook friend mentioned it in response to one of my open questions. I had previously never heard of parkrun. Tried it once and was hooked! Soon the partner and baby were doing it too. The baby in a pushchair of course. We tried it once without but she couldn’t keep up.

Most memorable parkrun? Coventry tends to give the parkrun before Christmas a festive theme. I was running on behind one of the many Santas and next thing I knew his belt had broken and I was getting mooned by Santa. I was a bit concerned about what was going to happen on Christmas day.

Why swap between Coventry and Swindon
Coventry is officially my ‘home’ parkrun but when I visit my partner’s parents they conveniently have Swindon parkrun fairly close. It’s a really lovely route so I try to get in a parkrun if possible when I visit.

Parkrun goals
To one day get a sub 20 5k. I’m improving slowly but I’ve got a way to go yet. However, it’s on The List.

Note - obviously the picture isn't from Coventry Parkrun. We can get a bit competitive at Coventry but we don't usually push each other in the mud :)

Inaugural runs: Ally Pally parkrun (3 December 2011)

There are three things that I love about parkrun: the courses, the people and the stats. Ally Pally parkrun started on Saturday, and its inaugural run ticked all three boxes.

The course... at the challenging end of the parkrun scale. Underfoot is a mixture of tarmac, grass and mud and the course is far from flat.

You start in the centre of a bell-shaped loop, and begin by running out to the edge and round. This bit is fairly benign: a bit of up, a gentle down, lots of opportunity to chat, if you're that way inclined.

Then comes the hill, which runs from point 1 (sharp left turn which we nearly missed for chatting) up through some trees, across a road to point 2 (hello lovely marshals) and then diagonally up a steep grassy slope to point 3 (aaargh!) after which it's a gentle rise to point 4.

As you turn the corner at point 4, the road descends quite sharply leading to a welcome stretch of flat and the beginning of loop two.

The people...

...were strangely familiar, not because they were typical parkrunners, but because I knew so many of them. Tim and Rick (Grovelands and Oakhill), Danny and Rebecca (Gunnersbury), Roy (Nonsuch), Dave (Wormwood Scrubs), everywhere I turned there seemed to be a familiar face. Not to mention Paul and Joanne Sinton-Hewitt, who I recognised from Iceland but had never actually spoken to.

And there were also new people to meet. Vanessa, a regular volunteer and runner at Wormwood Scrubs, was indulging in a little parkrun tourism. Prashan was making his debut at parkrun, accompanied by Grovelands regular, Reggie. Stephen (the chap I was chatting to when we nearly missed the turn up the hill) is based at Oak Hill, but is now halfway to a place on the table of doom*. Helen, who kindly ran back to Finsbury park with me afterwards, showed me a couple of great running routes that were far, far more enjoyable than the road route I had planned.

The stats...

19 of the 49 runners were 50- or 100-club members, and between the 49 of us we have run 2,345 parkruns.

17 of the 49 runners are on the table of doom, including the unmissably fluorescent Burnham Joggers, Dave and Bob.

And 18 of the 48 runners have run at least one other parkrun on the same day as me. This, I will grant you, is really only of interest to me, but does show quite what a small world parkrun is.

*Old rules.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Starting a Park Run Tour

I have now started to do a few more Park Runs now apart from Hyde Park I have done Harrogate, and Roundhay. When I did Harrogate it was on a windy day and I had normal trainers on and 75% of the course is running around the perimeter of the stray on a nice day it would be perfect for a personal best course.

Last month I went across to do the Wythenshaw Park Run with a couple of friends Geoff, Jason Newell and his son Jamie. This course is flat as a pancake but you would need to wear trail shoes as it’s over Grass tarmac small paths and trail. This is one tough course but again finished with a time of 28:53

I did Roundhay last week and I really thought I would get over thirty minutes as three before I went round with my friend and completed in 31:41 but at that time of the day it was at 13:30 and the temperature was 68 degrees. What I found at Roundhay that they had plenty of people pacing and that helped quite a bit. This is supposed to be the third toughest park run and I thought it was when you’re starting on a undulating slope and finishing just a bit further on from the start so it’s a tough start but also a tough finish. What I found when doing the Roundhay park run is that running past the mansion you can push yourself then at the end you take a sharp left turn down hill then at the bottom another sharp left turn around the cricket Pitch then at the end turn right down towards the café then left back up the hill.

I remember on the last lap that I was talking to a nice lady and she went past her daughter  who shouted out you must be on for a PB if you carry on at that pace so I said to the lady in front what’s your PB and from what I can remember she said 31:30 (Ish). So I said I will stop with you and push you up the hill on the last bit of the course. When we both turned for the last time I started to kick in and she said you go on in which I did and finished with a time of 29:03 and I think the lady finished with a 29:30 (Ish) maybe faster.

This week I am supposed to be doing the Pontefract Park Run but there are quite a few from my run club the Pudsey Pacers who are doing the Bradford Park Run so I may go over there instead.

Since doing the Park Runs has got me involved in running 10k road races, this year I have completed two so far the Dewsbury 10k finished in 58:00 and two weeks ago the Bradford 10k finished in 56:01. I am also in training for the Leeds Half Marathon hoping for a sub 2hour 30minute time


parkrun to 10k (very late post this week mainly because I had to wait to fit some running in in order to have something to write about)

parkrun to 10k Week 4

So to recap…in just two and a half weeks time, I will be attempting to complete a 10k course….please note how I have stopped saying ‘run a 10k’ mainly because that just isn’t going to happen!  There is no way I will be able to run (no walking) the whole 10k.


Just going back to the bottom wobbling problem….apparently there is an answer to the ‘bottom bra’.  I was taken to one side this weekend and told by a really lovely parkrunner all about Spanx!  And no boys this has nothing to do with spanking paddles!  Apparently this is the answer to all wobbling, a huge pair of Bridget Jones style pants!  I am sorry if this spoils the image you have of most female runners….but apparently a lot of them are turning to these pants for a smooth line and reduction of wobble.

Now I am always game to try something new….so Monday morning, I get the children and dogs out of the house and attempt to try out this new style of running.  First things first….how the hell do you open the packaging on these things….no wonder they reduce wobble, it’s because they have spent the last few months shrink wrapped in industrial strength plastic…..I had to nearly resort to the dog chewing through the plastic to get in to them.

In fact getting into them seemed to be the theme of the morning.  These things are huge…..and I mean huge!  They stretch from shoulder straps (and not sexy ones) right down to the knee…..and they are the colour of sausage skin.   Okay, packaging open…..and which is the front and which is the back…..or doesn’t it matter?  I would look at the packaging for instructions, but is is destroyed in the attempt to get into them!  After looking it on the internet (what would we do without the internet…and top tip….don’t type in Spanx and then press Google images - I know that most of you are going to do that now, aren’t you?), I finally find out that there is a front and a back….so here goes!

Now just for those that don’t know what I look like….I am a size 12 (okay 12-14) and I have bought the correct size…..but these things are near impossible to get into.  It is 10 times worse than getting into a running bra and at one point I couldn’t decide if oiling up or talcing down was the way to go!  All I can say is that they are the colour of sausage skin for one reason….because you really do look like a sausage when you are in them!!  I will not be posting photos…so you can all heave a sigh of relief!   Put on top of them a pair of running tights (who am I kidding….a pair of leggings) and the bunny shirt and I am ready to go.   And guess what… wobble!  Couldn’t breath either…but there certainly was no wobble! 

Do you know….you boys have it really easy!!!

So to sum up…….

  • 43 minutes of running
  • 10 minutes of walking
  • listening to Sandi Thorn and Will Young (???)
  • carrying all the wobble in a sausage skin
  • how do I feel…..squashed!!


It’s very early in the morning and since the clocks have gone back a little bit dark too….but it is the only chance this week that I am going to get another run in….how on earth all you lot doing marathon training fit that kind of running in, I have no idea!

And….to make things worse…..I am going to have to take the dogs with me as it’s the only time I am going to get a long walk/run with them too today!  Now, if you have read my earlier blogs (which you should have!!!) then you will know about the very first parkrun with the ‘bottom biting dogs’….so you would have thought that I would have realised that this wasn’t going to be a good idea! 

We set off across the big black dog field but as it is silly hour in the morning there is just us and a couple of crows (black birds/sparrows??).  Humphrey is pulling me along nicely up the small hill and Lily is trotting alongside me…all going well!  We cross the road, and they both remember to sit and wait….good dogs.  A little bit further and they can be let of the lead….which is a good thing as Humphrey is now pulling so hard that he is restricting his windpipe and quacking like a duck, an entertaining noise but only from a duck, not a dog!  Finally we reach the woods where I can let them off the lead!  And off they go……straight through the woods, straight towards another dog walker, they promptly jump up at him and bite his bottom!! NOOOOO!   (If you are reading this lovely man….I am still really sorry and you were very lovely to not make any kind of fuss about this!)

So…back on the leads, more dog quacking noises, a lot of arm/lead pulling and we reach the canal.  Quick check to make sure there is no one about and I let them off again.  And I start running.  Because of the trauma of another dog biting incident and the fact that I only have a further thirty minutes to get home  before the husband has to leave for work, and because I am feeling slightly lazy, I run down the canal back to the village.  Just a three mile route that I know well and can run all the way.

All in all it was a good run, it felt fine, no twinges like last week.  I am actually enjoying the peace first thing in the morning, the weather is good….I feel great…nothing can spoil this!  You know what is coming now don’t you?   Yup something can spoil this!!!

I turn the corner along the canal, just in time to see both my dogs spotting three ducks on the other side of the canal.  I call them to heal…but the temptation of duck for breakfast is just too great for them!  And it would have been duck for breakfast if the green stuff on top of the water had been grass….not green canal scum…which doesn’t, so I have found out, hold the weight of two small ‘bottom biting’ dogs.   I turn the corner just in time to see them hurtle into the canal and the green scum!!  

The rest of the morning is spent cleaning two green smelly dogs and the bathroom!!  Nice!  Just love this running lark!

So to sum up……

  • 28 minutes of running
  • 5 minutes of walking
  • 8 minutes of rescuing green smelly bottom biting dogs from the canal
  • listening to a quacking dog
  • carrying….my head in my hands….am I ever going to get a peaceful run
  • how do I feel….well how would you feel running back home with two bright green dogs!

Normally there would be another day of running, but it has been a bit mad crazy this week with plans for the Huddersfield parkrun 1st birthday party, darkrun, bit of working and school holidays….so I will have to try to fit in four runs next week to make up for it!

I really am going to have to go….mainly because I need to find a way to get out of these Spanx!  ;-)  
See you all next week…for details about the week before the week before the big day!


Ps….Matthew I hope that this is a bit funnier this week, there certainly is less talk about running…although I do feel it is a little short! 

Inaugural runs: Elliðaárdalur parkrun (29 October 2011)


I went to Iceland for the weekend. It's the first time I've been. I didn't see the northern lights, but I did lounge around in an outdoor thermal pool, marvel at a waterfall, cross from the north american tectonic plate to the eurasian tectonic plate, go 'ooooh' at a geyser and visit the blue lagoon. And I'm still in shock about the fact that Iceland is larger than Ireland and has a population of 320,000.

320,000. On an island that is larger than Ireland. That's essentially the same as the population of Cardiff. Or Wakefield.

Elliðaárdalur parkrun

Started this week. First in Iceland. It's a lollipop course. The out is downhill along a tarmac path alongside a river with a bundle of mini waterfalls. It's fast, it's pretty and the noise of the river is hypnotic.

The loop is on a gravel path and I think it's through trees. Though I'm doubting that memory, because one thing that Iceland has very little of is trees. I may have hallucinated the trees.

The back, strangely enough is on a tarmac path alongside a river with a bundle of waterfalls. I assume that it is as pretty as the out section and that the sound of the river is as hypnotic, but it's uphill, and I'm afraid that the only thing I was aware of was that.

Oh yes. And afterwards, you get to go next door and lounge around outside in a thermal pool. I very nearly didn't leave.

The parkrunners

I didn't go to Iceland alone. I went as part of a centrally co-ordinated parkrun posse. There were, give-or-take-approximately, thirty-eight of us.

I'd assumed, before we went, that most of the party would be obsessive nomads like me. After all, who else would be mad enough to travel to Iceland for a parkrun?

Turns out, the party was much more interesting than that. By a long, long way.

Kirsty, from Bushy, has only got 10 more runs to go until she joins the 250 club. Tracey, from Hampstead Heath, was clocking up parkrun number 3.

Neil, from Roundshaw Downs, races his parkruns, and was not only the fastest person round, but also clocked up the best performance by age grade.

Carol, one of the seven runners from Cannon Hill (the Cannon Hill mob?) was the first woman home and Mary (from Tiverton) topped the women's age grade table.

Another of the Cannon Hill mob, Lesley, made a perfect pacemaker on the parkrun, and put up with my random babbling for a significant proportion of the course.

Joshua, Helen and Peter were representing Cambridge parkrun. Joshua was the only Junior there, and now has an impressive 51 parkruns to his name.

Ingrid, David and Peter are Kingston parkrun regulars and all members of the Stragglers running club (the drinking club with the running problem). Early this year they all took part in a relay run from John O'Groats to Land's End, along with Paul, who I met at the inaugural Riddlesdown parkrun.

Jamie and Louise have recently set up Aberdeen parkrun, despite having run only 25 parkruns between them. Four weeks in, it has attracted 213 runners from 15 different running clubs, evidence, if any were needed, of the amazing appeal of parkrun.

Peter from Frimley, grilled me about other parkruns in his neck of the woods, and may or may not be checking out Basingstoke, Black Park and Bedfont Lakes in the not-to-distant future.

In return, I grilled Sheila and Melanie about Heaton Park, Karen and Andrew about Leamington, Kathleen and Mel about Ashton Court and Howard about Cardiff.

But I think the most telling comment of all came from Helen. She was part of the group, but has no connection to parkrun at all. Some late drop outs left some places available, and she thought the itinery sounded appealing. As we stood in the baggage reclaim at Gatwick Airport, I asked how she'd found the weekend.

"Brilliant!", she replied. "Everyone was just so friendly."

And finally

Huge, huge thanks to the Elliðaárdalur parkrun team. As usual, the organisation was exquisite, and I'm sure this parkrun will go from strength to strength.

Thanks also to Peter Fordham for co-ordinating the initial set-up, and for Jorunn Jonsdottir and the team at All Iceland for making it happen.

Roll on the next parkrun tour!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Inaugural runs: Gunpowder parkrun (22 October 2011)

The Gunpowder parkrun started up this morning (near Waltham Abbey, between 12o'clock and 1o'clock on the M25) and it's an absolute cracker. Its two and a bit laps are gently undulating, simple to follow but meandering enough to be fun. Underfoot is well-kept, buggy-friendly path, and if the thin layer of fine gravel isn't to your taste, then you can run the majority of the route on the grass verges.

As usual, the organisation is superb, and the marshals and volunteers are welcoming and friendly.

Icing on the cake? Crossing paths with Ron Hill and Tim Williams again, meeting budding tourist Rick Oliver, chatting to father and daughter team Marc and Nicole Bibaud (who are well on their way to joining the 50 club and 10 club respectively) and chatting to parkrun newcomer Liz Lord and her friend Tony Browne, who had persuaded her to give parkrun a whirl.

And what a whirl! Best woman by age grade. Not a bad debut at all.

After which I went home to make two lots of ganache, one of the few recipes I can do from memory. (Heat cream. Add chocolate. Stir. Pour into bowls. Put in fridge. Lick spoon. Lick saucepan.) The first batch went well. For the second, I experimented by adding alcohol, and I'm not sure whether it's going to harden. Unlike my arteries, which are hardening already in anticipation.

It's the Killerparkrun

A few photos of the Killerton parkrun on the 31st March... from the position of tail runner.  From the gathering of the clans at the start to 1k... 1.5k... 2k... 2.5k (close that gate!)... 4k-ish and the finish.  One loop as you can see from the course map (thank you National Trust - our hosts).  Click on an photo for the full 'Killerton' effect.

Monday, 2 April 2012

New Contributor: Michael Ross

Name: Michael Ross
Home parkrun: Durham
Date of first parkrun: 8/10/2011
Total Number of parkruns: 21
Number of other parkrun locations run: 0
Number of times volunteered: 7
My parkrun history:

Parkrun for me started with the launch of Durham parkrun on 13/8/11 but due to a very frustrating 2011 injury wise for me I began by volunteering. My first role volunteering was marshalling at Kingfisher Bridge, one of 3 bridges on the course that you cross.

My injury kept me to volunteering and spectating until October, when I finally decided after weeks of pent up frustration watching everyone else to pull on my shoes and have a jog round. I made it round but my injury still niggled, but I then thought ok I've made it round once, I'm going to run once a week at parkrun and that's what I did right up until new year, when I was finally injury free.

Parkrun was a real life saver for me during my injury period as I desparately missed the camaraderie and banter I was missing out on with not being able to run as usual with my work colleagues on a lunchtime. Ever since the first run I've witnessed the camaraderie that exists in parkrun and the support that everyone gets no matter fast or slow you are, there is always someone cheering you over the line.

After the run there is the post race breakfast in the splendid canteen to look forward to and the chance to re-live your morning's run with friends.

Getting up early on a Saturday and heading to parkrun is now something I look forward to. Addictive, enjoyable and social are the 3 words I'd choose to describe parkrun as.

 As a runner I'd say I'm fairly average and perhaps best known for the sound of my feet, there's no chance of me stealthily passing you by as you can generally hear me from about half a mile away.

Enough ramblings for now, you can follow me on twitter @run_rossy_run if you wish :)

Killerton parkrun

Just to make you envious... this is the view from a high point at Killerton looking south-east.  We experience this, and other stunning Devon views every time we join together for our weekly parkrun fix.  (I live, incidentally on top of the hill in the distance).

We'd love to welcome YOU any Saturday morning at 9am!

Roger R.

Inaugural runs: King's Lynn parkrun (10 September 2011)

Yesterday evening, I braved Friday night rush hour traffic in London (ugh!) to drive up north to the wilds of Lincolnshire where I had begged a bed for the night from a marvellous friend of mine.*

The traffic was as revolting as I expected, but the extremely scrummy dinner* and good company went a long to making up for it, as did the cup of tea in the morning* and the lift to King's Lynn parkrun*.

King's Lynn parkrun #1. Three brand new parkruns in as many weeks. I could make it 4 in 4 if I go to Nonsuch Park next week, but tempting though that is, I think I shall save Nonsuch Park for the 24th, as it's nice and local and I have to be in Windsor on the 25th for a half marathon [aaaaargh!].

So. King's Lynn. It's a flat, three lap course on wide tarmac paths. I wasn't sure about the layout of the course when I looked at in on the map, as it includes an out-and-back stretch with a 180 degree turn at the end.

Turns out that this is actually one of the nicest stretches of the course, not because it's the most picturesque bit (that would be the river with the ducks, or possibly the Red Mount Chapel or the rather impressive Gannock Arch).

But the out-and-back section gives sociable people the chance to wave at / encourage / be encouraged by their friends / runners that they chatted to at the start. And it gives competitive people the chance to see whether they are gaining on / being caught up by their arch nemesis / nemeses.

The volunteers were efficient, encouraging and friendly, and two even laughed at my witty banal banter.

The runners I spoke to were an interesting mix. There was a nervous first-timer who looked as though she was about to bolt and who was convinced that she would come last. (Sub 27. Wow!). There was a sub 20 veteran who'd run at Norwich, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. There was an old hand from Brighton, resplendent in her 50 club t-shirt, who had promised her brother-in-law(?) that if he got a parkrun going in King's Lynn she would come up to its launch. There were two local councillors who had been involved in getting the parkrun up and running, and there was a budding tourist who has only a few more runs to go until he's on the table of doom**.

After which it was back to my friend's for lunch* and fresh-out-of-the-oven flapjacks.* And I even got a goodie bag full of flapjacks to see me safely home.*

Life is good.

*Thank you, marvellous friend.

**Old rules

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Inuagural runs: Southwick Country parkrun (3 September 2011)

100 miles is too far to travel for a 5km run.

But on Thursday, I got the fidgets and I booked a room at the Polebarn hotel in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, pretty much on impulse. I drove down on Friday evening, into a beautiful sunset and got to see Stonehenge silhouetted against the skyline. Oh, and I got lost. Several times. I really must get satnav.

The hotel guy was perkier than anyone has a right to be (especially compared to the perk-less-ness of me on a Friday night when I've been driving for over two hours). The room was lovely. The windows opened. The bed was comfy. The wifi was free. Perky guy agreed that I could grab breakfast early and check out late so that I could go for my run and then shower afterwards.

I went for a six-mile run round the Southwick Country Park and then chatted to the people who were there for the parkrun and then did the first ever Southwick Country parkrun. It's a great venue (2 3/4 laps, hard gravel course, gently undulating and extremely well organised). It has a statue of the spirit of the parkrunner (he has a name, but I can't remember it) that they unveiled this morning.

Afterwards, at the Squirrels Tearoom cafe , I got chatting to two experienced parkrunners, one of whom knows the wonderful Bedfont Lakes chap who gave me a lift around the longest parkrun and the other of whom used to share my surname. For all that it spans continents, parkrun really does feel like a very small community.

I then went back to the hotel to shower and nearly didn't leave, the shower was sooooooooo lovely. After which I pottered around Trowbridge doing the tourist thing for long enough to justify the journey and then came home. Incidentally, Stonehenge in the daytime with oodles of people around it is a far less impressive sight than Stonehenge deserted at dusk.

Is 100 miles too far to travel for a 5km run? Yes. Is 100 miles too far to travel to meet such wonderful people? No.