You’ve heard of the 12 days of Christmas, this is my brief story of the 8 different parkrun events that I’ve had the pleasure to visit in the last 8 weeks.
Week One – 23/08/2014 – Tonbridge Parkrun #43
I ran at the inaugural event on 9th November 2013 and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I promised that I would go back again to improve on my time. So on this parkrun day I decided it was about time to go back. I picked a great day to go back as a the parkrun was supported by the local running club, Tonbridge AC, who provided all of the volunteers and pacers. To show their appreciation to Tonbridge AC, the regular runners and volunteers decided to dress up in a black and white theme.
Tonbridge AC runners with Pacing times on their backs.
I really enjoyed the course and had a good run, I tried to keep up with the 27 min pacer but eventually finished in 27:18. Despite not managing to get a sub 27 mins I managed to improve on my previous time by 1:29, which was very pleasing.
Week Two – 30/08/2014 – Maidstone Parkrun #73
I’ve only ever ran this course once previously on New Years Day and again I though it was about time to have another crack of the course. The route is an out and back which starts at the Kent Life Museum and the follows the River Medway to the turnaround point in Whatman Park.
The course is quite narrow in places and in the early part of run there were a few bottle necks, so I would suggest any faster runners to start at the front. I was aiming to improve on my time and bring it down similar to my times at other parkrun events, around 27:15. I finished slightly slower than I hoped, however I still managed to achieve a course PB with a time of 27:25.
Week Three – 06/09/2014 – Bognor Parkrun #15
I was spending a weekend in Pagham, West Sussex with my family and was pleased to find that there was a parkrun only 5 miles from where I was staying, which was Bognor Regis Parkrun at Hotham Park. This is a very unique and special Parkrun, there was a real community feel at this event and the course was very quirky.
Me in my ‘Run for fun’ T-shirt not looking like I’m having fun.
The course is fairly flat and I went off way to quick at the start and suffered for it later on in the run, however I managed to get a sub 27 min, which I’ve only ever managed at one other parkrun course, being Bexley Parkrun at Danson Park.
Week Four – 13/09/2014 – Dartford Parkrun #8
Dartford Parkrun is one of my local Parkrun events and I planned to go here because my running club, Dartford Road Runners, decided to have a pre-park run warm-up session. However, I got up too late and missed the session, but I did manage to get to the park in time for the parkrun.
The course is two laps of Dartford Central Park, it is mostly on tarmac paths and fairly flat, with the exception of a small grass section. The 2nd lap is slightly longer than the 1st as it incorporates ‘Jaggers leg’. Jaggers leg is where the route goes round the Mick Jagger statue that is the corner of the park.
Start of Inaugural Dartford Parkrun. (Photo Courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)
I remembered from the previous week that I started too quick, so i decided to start further at the back and start off slower and then work my way through the field slowly picking up my pace. That was the plan anyway, but my mile splits were 8:35, 9:01 & 8:59. Despite my run not going to plan is still managed to get a course PB and just sneaked under 27 mins, with my official time of 26:59.
Week Five – 20/09/2014 – Orpington Parkrun #109
I had decided to visit Orpington on this day as they were celebrating their two years anniversary. To mark the occasion the theme for the morning was ‘fancy hats’ however I couldn’t find my fancy hat so I just wore my running cap instead.
I arrived at Goddington park early to get parked as I thought it may be busy. Whilst doing a warm-up, it was great to see all the runners arrive in their fabulous hats, which ranged from Robin Hood to full Darth Vador face masks.
Start of Orpington Parkrun 2nd Anniversary (Photo Courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)
At the briefing before the start of the run we were informed that was a surprise that we will be running the course in reverse. The route comprises of 2 larger laps and 1 small lap of Goddington Park, it mostly on grass with a small section on a concrete paths. I would recommend to wear trail trainers when the course is wet, because it can get quite muddy and slipper, however due to having the warmest September on record the course was dry and was fine with normal road shoes.
I always find this course tough and found it harder in reverse, however I was pretty pleased with my time of 27:46, it wasn’t a PB but it was my fastest time at Orpington this year.
Week Six – 27/09/204 – Great Lines Parkrun #53
Myself and Ian Pullen planned in advance to return to Great Lines for their 1st Anniversary, this was my 2nd run at Great Lines with my 1st being their inaugural event. The Run Director, Tony Giles and his hardcore team decided that to celebrate the event they encouraged everyone to wear fancy dress.
Ian had asked if I was going to wear fancy dress, I said to him that I only had a batman costume, then lo and behold Ian tells me that he has got a robin outfit, so that was that!!!
I picked Ian up in my bat mobile (aka black peugeot 206) and we made our way to Gillingham. We arrived early and then made our final touches to our costumes before making our way to the park. It was great to see so many people who also made the effort to dress up too. Even Tom Collins dressed up, however his costume was an elite athlete and to mark the occasion he broke the course record with an amazing time of 15:55. As soon we started we could see Tom pulling away from the rest of the field with every stride and made it look so easy.
Ian (aka Robin) decided to run with me at my pace. I found it quite difficult to run in the costume, it was very hot and I found it hard to breathe, in fact I remember crossing the line and then throwing up in the bushes. I don’t know how people run a marathon in fancy dress, we found a new level of respect for those guys. We finished with a time of 27:32, which was only 20 seconds slower than my previous time, which I was pretty happy with.
Afterwards we had grabbed a cup of tea from the local cafe and sampled some of the cakes that were baked by the runners and volunteers. What a great way to start the weekend.
Week 7 – 04/10/2014 – Bushy Park Parkrun #539
Today was the 10 year anniversary of Parkrun and myself and Ian had planned to go where it all started. I picked Ian in the Bat Mobile about 6.30am to ensure we got to bushy park in plenty of time and get parked. We knew that a record number of runners were expected to attend, Ian had done Bushy Park about 4 weeks previously and on that day there were 900+ runners, so we knew there would be in excess of 1,000 runners.
When we arrived at the park about 7.30am it was a beautiful autumn morning and the mist was clearing and it was great to see the deer in the park too. The car park was fairly empty, however it soon filled up pretty quick and then the car park was gridlocked.
As the start time got closer we had a little warm-up and then could see the crowds of people making their way to the start. It was incredible to see the amount of runners there, before the race started their were a few presentations and golden bar codes were given to the original 13 runners who ran the very 1st Parkrun at Bushy Park 10 years previous.
The course is one lap of Bushy park and is fairly flat, as I had never ran this event before I thought I would take it easy. However at the start I think I got caught up with the moment and flew off with the other 1,704 runners. I started to pay for it later and struggled on the last mile, but I still managed a time which is quicker than most of my other Parkrun PB’s. My official results was finishing position of 913 with a time of 27:02. Ian had a great run and achieved his all time 5k PB with a great time of 21:24.
1,705 runners at the start of the 10 year anniversary (Photo courtesy of Parkrun Flickr page)
Not only was it impressive seeing 1,705 runners at the start, it was even more impressive how the volunteers managed the finishing funnel, it was like military precision. There was a great atmosphere and it was so good to be part of the celebrations and the park is stunning, I will definitely go back in the future.
Week 8 – Shorne Woods Parkrun #82
Shorne Woods is my home parkrun, so after all the touring in the last 7 weeks I decided it was about time I went back home. I really like shorne woods and it’s only about 5 miles from home so I try to cycle there when I can, which is also a great warm-up.
When I woke up it was wet outside, but the forecast predicted that the rain would stop in time for the parkrun and would hold off for a few hours, so I decided to cycle there as planned. The course is mainly on gravel paths around shorne woods country park, with a few twists and turns, mud and puddles.
Despite the rain, 79 hardcore runners lined up at the start of which 9 of them were parkrun virgins, which is great to see more and more people joining Parkrun. I had a 10k race booked up for the Sunday so I wanted to take it fairly easy and decided to start of slower I managed to keep to even pace of approx 9 mins per mile and finished in a time of 27:43, which is my fastest time this year at Shorne Woods.
Taking in part in the wet t-shirt competition (Photo courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)
The end of my touring streak
I am unable to make it 9 out of 9 as I will be away this coming saturday with my Wife and Family. Now my little touring streak has come to an end it will be nice to continue to do some more local parkruns and catch up with some more familiar faces.