parkrun #55: Barking

Barking was my final parkrun of the year, 3rd ‘victory lap’ run, and mission more-than-complete on the 52 parkruns challenge.

They explained at the start that the course was 2 laps, and flat with ‘a slight incline’ in the middle of each lap. I readied myself for some kind of cliff-face climb, having learned from previous experience that this could be parkrun code for ‘this is going to be difficult’. But having now completed the course, I’m none-the-wiser as to where the slight incline actually was. Which makes Barking a very fast, flat course – on tarmac, so good at all times of year.

A large stretch of the course is alongside a long and narrow lake, and I was overtaken this week by a v-formation of flying geese. Barking is also home to some of those giant East London ducks that I saw at Valentines parkrun the other week. But these, fortunately, were either to slow or too lazy to overtake, leaving my dignity intact.

geese2.jpg

I’m running I’ve run a different parkrun each week of the year to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Please head over to my JustGiving page if you’re able to help out with sponsorship.

Many thanks to the hi-vis heroes at Barking, and across all of the parkruns I’ve done this year, for making the 52 parkrun challenge possible.

 

 

Advertisements

parkrun #54: Winchester

Ho Ho Ho-rray for Christmas Day! And, just as important, time to head down to the parkrun I’ve been saving up all year. Winchester – which was my first ever parkrun, and the one closest to my parents.

The course does three laps round the leisure centre grounds, and is completely flat with the odd hairpin bend taking you on bridges over the river and back on yourself round a line of trees. It’s mostly on grass, which can get very squelchy at this time of year. It’s not too bad at the moment, but last year got so waterlogged that they had to change to a 6-lap tarmac course through the winter months.

I finished in just short of 26 minutes, which is a fair bit faster than in previous weeks. (I think that knowing the course makes a big difference.) Even better, I beat my brother for the first time ever. (He has admittedly been on crutches for the last six weeks, and didn’t expect to be able to run at all.) See results.

winchester.JPG

There was a Secret Santa at the end of the run. After being instructed by my mum to ‘look carefully at the presents you’re putting in and make sure you don’t take the same ones out again’, we left the run one woolly hat, lego elephant and tub of marshmallows richer.

Thanks very much to the volunteers, to run director Tim for your shout out in the run brief, and to all at Winchester parkrun for your generous donations on the JustGiving page.

I’m doing a different parkrun each week of the year to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Please head over to my JustGiving page if you’re able to help out.

secret santa.jpg

parkrun #53: Gladstone

As I was walking to the start, I saw someone arriving with crates of Christmas clementines, and thought something along the lines of ‘pah! who would want an orange when you could have a mince pie!’… By the end of the run, the clementines were absolutely delicious, and I didn’t even touch the mince pies.

Gladstone 2.png

Where’s Wally?

The course is on the hilly side, but not as hilly as I remembered, and nowhere near as hilly as nearby Hampstead Heath. It’s two laps round, mainly on tarmac, with short stretches on grass. From the top of the hill you can see out over to Wembley and across to central London.

I’m doing a different parkrun each week of the year to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Please head over to my JustGiving page if you’re able to help out.

Gladstone.png

parkrun #52: Hampstead Heath

I’d been saving up my local Hampstead Heath parkrun for the whole year in case a hangover some disaster held me back from going further afield one week. As luck would have it, no disasters occurred, and I was able to use it for the grand finale – parkrun 52.

I spent the week preparing, by baking 52 cakes and some spares around various Christmas parties (including one in which I managed to get a coveted selfie with Sadiq Khan).

Hampstead HEath.png

The course is very hilly, and seems to have got more hilly since I ran it last in 2015. (Genuinely more hilly. As in the course has changed. Not just that I’ve got more lazy.)  I particularly like a new section that wiggles round the side of the Highgate ponds, which have been extended to act as a flood defence into Hampstead. The start and finish area is worryingly squelchy, but most of the course is on proper (non-squelchy) paths.

It was fantastic to be joined by so many friends on the day. Thanks to Dashing Dave, the Edwards family, Ben, Paul, Caroline, Patrick and the Lazy Girl Runners for coming along

Although the 52 is up, there are three more parkruns to end the year (thanks to bonus events on Christmas and New Year’s Day, and an extra Saturday because of how the weeks fall this year). I’d initially thought I’d need them as contingency, but will now use them as an extended victory lap!

I’m running a different parkrun each week of the year. Please head over to my JustGiving page if you’re able to help out.

HH2.jpg

 

parkrun #51: Valentines

I made two great discoveries this week:

  1. East London has some very large ducks. Or at least I think they’re ducks. They might be geese. (A subsequent visit to Barking confirmed that this is an East London thing, not just a Valentines Park thing.)
  2. Ilford is home to the best-named running club I’ve come across all year – Sikhs in the City. It was co-founded by Fauja Singh, who took to marathon running at 89 and now holds the age 90+ world record.

Also, I ran a parkrun. Valentines parkrun to be precise, which is based at the 2011 Great British Bake Off filming venue, just north of Ilford. Valentines is a fairly flat, fast course, run entirely on tarmac. There are two laps, starting from a boating lake in the middle of the park.

I made it round in just short of 27 minutes, which is not too shabby at all, and more-or-less in line with previous weeks (see results).

giant-duck

Blurry but giant duck

 

I’m running a different parkrun each week of the year to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Please head over to my JustGiving page if you’re able to help out.

parkrun #50: Salisbury

Salisbury parkrun was a lot of fun. There was a big fitness class style warm-up, loads and loads of encouragement out on the route, and cakes-a-plenty at the end.

The course weaves round the park for four laps, and (in my mind at least) is split into several different zones. There’s Boom Box Corner, Football Rattle Fanzone, and my personal favourite, Inspirational Quote Straight, which had a whole series of placards giving advice like ‘first or last, you’re a winner!’

I ran round with the 27 minute pacer, noticing on my way round that the tail runner was wearing a tail, and that there were a couple of run-walk groups (led by volunteers who alternated between running and walking). It’s worth mentioning that Salisbury is specifically advertising for more people to join them to walk the course. There’d then be the option to join a run-walk group, or stick with walking to build up fitness.

Salisbury.png

A big thanks to the volunteers for laying on such a cheery and upbeat event. And thank you to Vasen for the invite and for bringing so much birthday cake!

I’m doing a different parkrun each week of the year to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Please head over to my JustGiving page if you’re able to help out 🙂

Salisbury4.png

parkrun #49: Hilly Fields

Hilly Fields is the wrong name for this park. It should really be called Hill Field, as there’s only one hill, in one field.

The parkrun course makes the most of the hill though. You go up and down it twice on each lap, 6 times in total. The good news is that there are some really good views across London, and you can gawp around looking out for Crystal Palace and Canary Wharf. (Or if you’re me, wonder how many other parkruns you can see.) The bad news is that it’s quite a challenging course.

I met up with my colleague Will and his partner Tina at the start. We somehow found ourselves in pole position at the ‘go’, which was a surprise to me (I thought we’d be running in the opposite direction) but exactly as Will intended. Will sprinted off into the distance, while Tina and I took a more leisurely jog and chat approach. Which, somewhat distressingly, led to us being lapped by Will later on in the course.

HillyFields.JPG

Best bits: great views out across London, delicious Portuguese custard tarts in the café afterwards

Thanks Will and Tina for joining me on the run, and thanks also to the volunteers 🙂

I’m running a different parkrun each week of the year to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Please head over to my JustGiving page if you’re able to help out.