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.

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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.

 

 

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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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.

 

parkrun #48: Black Park

I did a call-out on Facebook for parkrun suggestions, and Black Park got a lot of recommendations. So Saturday comes and off I trot to see what all the fuss is about.

Black Wood is right next to Pinewood Studios, which means it’s a favourite forest filming location, starring in James Bond, Harry Potter, Robin Hood and Dracula. I was hoping to bump into some stormtroopers or the like (which apparently happened on a previous parkrun) but sadly it wasn’t to be.

The route is a single lap through the woods, with very very big trees on either side. I’d lost my sense of direction within about 500m, and was just following the crowd, gawping around to take in the scenery as we went.

I finished in 26.37, which was not too shabby at all compared to previous weeks (see results). And celebrated with some tea with the Datchet Dashers afterwards 🙂

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I’m doing  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 #46: Canons Park

I was very excited at the announcement of a new parkrun opening up close to home in Canons Park. A few weeks in, and seeing on Facebook that lots of other ‘UK parkrun tourists’ would be there, I decided to pay it a visit.

My first discovery of the day was that Canons Park is not quite as close to home as I thought it was. And my miscalculation meant I had to do a rare warm-up jog from the car to get to the start on time.

The run was quickly underway, with 3 laps down through the park, past a playground and some tennis courts, then up(hill) through trees. Most was on tarmac paths, with a very short section on grass at the finish.

I was pretty pleased to finish in a time of 25.55. The faster-than-usual time thanks, no doubt, to the warm-up jog and a relatively speedy course. (See  results)

It was good to meet some fellow parkrun tourists, brand new run director Andrew and some parkrun newbies drawn in by the team’s local advertising efforts.

Biggest plus points: super friendly, lots of walkers and run-walkers, easy-ish course, ‘close to home’.

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UK parkrun tourists

 

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.

parkrun #45: Newport

Lovely Sexy Dashing Dave* and I spent the weekend away in Cardiff, and headed over to Newport parkrun on Saturday.

The parkrun is at Tredegar House, which is a National Trust property on the Cardiff side of Newport. It starts from Tredegar House itself, heads down along an avenue of trees, loops round the perimeter of the park for two laps and then returns through the avenue.

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It’s relatively flat, and run on a mixture of different surfaces. There are around 500 people each week, but the course is wide enough to take it, and I didn’t feel held up at any point.

I chit-chatted my way round the first lap, and sped up in the second, finishing in 25.38. Dave forgot his barcode, but promises he dashed round in about 23 minutes. (See results)

Dave said it was his favourite parkrun so far. And I’ve got to agree that it had everything going for it. Great location, fast course, and very friendly. I was particularly impressed with the beginners meeting point, where you can join in a beginner running programme, with a coached jog/walk round the course. They also offer free training sessions in the week.

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Thanks very much to the volunteers this week. We really enjoyed the course and the feel of the event. (I’m hoping it will help me persuade Dave to come along to a few more parkruns!)

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 🙂

*Name corrected in response to complaints on previous blogs.