Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review of Graves parkrun

Today I ran Graves parkrun (Sheffield) for the first time. It was my 12th different Yorkshire parkrun; I ran 11 of them last year and plan to complete the rest this year. When I run a parkrun for the first time I like to do a write-up of my experience and impressions of it but I must stress it is my experience and my impressions and is based on just the one run.

I found the park very easily though I was using a satnav and postcode I got using the AA Route Planner not the one on the parkrun internet. There’s is plenty of parking though the car park I used was pay and display (80p) but it was right next to the start so I didn’t have to go walkabout to find out where the start was. I haven’t mentioned toilets before in one of these reports but … they were a short walk from the start and their location was clearly obvious due to the people going to use them. Some parkruns don’t have toilets or at least ones that are easily accessible, and as I have a runners nervous bladder and always feel like I need to pee just before a race even if I don’t, so a parkrun with toilets always gets a tick from me; well, since this is the first time I’ve mention toilets, Graves parkrun gets a tick.

The course was well marshalled/marked and deceptively tough. It doesn’t have what appear to be any daunting uphill climbs but don’t be fooled, there may be no uphill part of the course that is ‘steep’ but there is a gradual climb which really takes it out of you, at least if you’re as old and unfit as I am. There’s also a second uphill stretch through an animal farm which gives the course a bit of interesting scenery and also some interesting nasal stimulation, which, being quite close to the finish, helps spur you on towards the line if for no other reason than to get away from it (I exaggerate, it’s not that bad but you won’t miss it). With the exception of a very short grass stretch, next to the car park, the course is mainly tarmac with some well-kept, fairly even gravel paths which didn’t appear to cause a problem for runners pushing pushchairs (if you’re a runner what else would you be doing with a pushchair?) – I was passed by a guy with a pushchair that had two kids in; I did say I was unfit, he obviously isn’t. All the paths were quite narrow though in most places there was grass faster runners could use for overtaking. The path the start was on was probably the widest path on the course but I’d still recommend faster runners to make sure they start at the front – if anyone wants to be sarcastic and say ‘you mean they don’t normally start at the back?’, beat you to it. Despite the fact that it was very cold there was no evidence of ice and other than the grass stretch, no noticeable mud.

I don’t know why but the official time I’ve been given is 11secs faster than I timed myself at – I timed myself at 32:26 which was the time given to the woman who finished just behind me. I found a woman who was scanning bar codes quite easily but must apologise to:
a) the women standing next to her who asked my time and place number; I wear glasses but don’t run in them and the numbers on the place bar code is far too small for me to read and as my position bar code had already been put in the collection bag…
b) the people who started to queue up behind me while I spoke to these two women; I was telling them that based on my run time and experience of the Roundhay parkrun, which claims to be the toughest parkrun in Yorkshire, I was making Graves parkrun the official Melvyn Burton toughest parkrun in Yorkshire. Even at my official time of 32:15 I was still slower than any of my 11 runs at Roundhay and my slowest at Roundhay was on New Year’s day after I’d already run the Leeds parkrun, so sorry Roundhay but…

A big thumbs up to the little girl (Polly Hallam I guess – say, weren’t you running the wrong Sheffield parkrun?) who passed me just as we left the farm for the second time. Her and (I assume) her dad (I think he must the unknown finisher in position 95) left me for dead. I did have a bit of a sprint left for the final 50 meters but was never going to catch them. It’s great to see kids running at such an early age and doing so well.

In summary, I really enjoyed it despite how tough a course it is. I certainly recommend it to people though if you’re new to running and live in the Sheffield area, you may want to try Sheffield Hallam parkrun first (I haven’t tried Concord yet).

1 comment:

  1. I did Graves recently too - I love the animal farm bit. Just for the record, if I recall correctly, the car park is free before 9.30am, so if you're quick and don't want a coffee afterwards, there's no need to pay.


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