Event 97 Rushmere

Always I pleasure to be back in my home county of Bedfordshire at another stunning event at Rushmere Country park, once again I have been blessed with another course that will live long in the memory!

So Rushmere is a 400 acres park that has been combined with other existing woodlands including Stockgrove, Oak Wood and the complete site now known as Rushmere Country park was opened in 2011 for the public to enjoy its splendour!!!

Run by the Greenland Trust in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council on a non for profit basis, I love what they have done with the sculpture trail that gives the parks woodland a feeling you have entered a world of enchantment with a Giants Chair, Beetle and Wild Things Gate, the big kid came out in me and I had to explore!!!!!

 

Good Friends

Being so close to the end of my current adventure it was a great pleasure to bump into fellow Stopsley Striders tourist friends again in (from left to right) Liz Davies, Stewart Read, Terry Willis, Chris and Kim Caddy 🙂

With Strider friends at Rushmere

Course

Rushmere course map

A beautiful 2 anticlockwise woodland laps of Rushmere Country park that is undulating and run entirely on earth trail paths!

Points to Note:

  • Love the sculpture trail that is dotted around this course!!!
  • In wet conditions definitely a trial shoes run
  • Steep decent down to Charcoal pond
  • Be aware of exposed tree roots
  • No spike trainers allowed
  • No dogs allowed to run with their owners on this course

This course is a joy to run with a soft cushion of pine needles on a large parts of the route, my time was 38.09 and thank you Liz for keeping me honest by pacing me around the course 🙂

Finally it would have been rude not to I had to ring Rushmere’s famous PB gong and what great fun that was too…..:)

Rushmere PB gong

Facilities

There is paid parking available at Rushmere costing £3.00 on exit from the car park Sat Nav LU7 0EB, if you are planning to have this as your home parkrun cheap discounted season tickets are available from £40

There are toilet facilities on site and available before the start of run! After this enjoyable run we retired for the post run coffee to the parks Tree Top cafe that has stunning views from the balcony of the woodland vista below that was simply breathtaking!!!!!

Other Facilities

  • Networks of trails for walking and riding
  • Children play area
  • The Heronry

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the charming David Ayers and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome at Rushmere, well done guy’s!!!!

Rushmere Volunteer shot

So finally Rushmere with its beautiful woodland course and stunning views from the cafe of Heron Valley this surely must be up there on your tourist parkrun to do list, you have been told!!!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Extra News

Running vests

Over the final four parkrun events I will be wearing different running tops for each week with everyone having a close place in my heart!

Running vests

97 Rushmere – Stopsley Striders training vest
98 Gladebridge – Keech Hospice after my year of charity running for this noble charity!
99 Letchworth – Luton, Wardown home parkrun
100 Houghton Hall – Spurs top worn by my dad who I miss deeply

100th Celebration

Special mention to Val Nix who run her 100th event at Kettering parkrun and is on course at 95 to run all the first 100 events held at her hometown course, she even run a new PB of 23:47, wow outstanding achievement Val 🙂

Val Nix 100th
Val Nix 100th parkrun

Event 96 Panshanger

I am truly blessed at the moment in running courses that have stunning views with Panshanger Park, Hertford as being right up the with the best of them!

The road to my 100th event at Houghton Hall is definitely a very scenic one with locations like Westmill, Tring and now Panshanger at times I don’t think we realise what beautiful countryside we have just outside our front doors to explore 🙂

History

Panshanger was formerly a large country house and estate acquired by the Cowper family from 1700 and parkland was developed from advice given by Humphry Repton to make the most of the surrounding Mimran Valley!

After the death of the final owner Ethel Grenfell in 1952 the estate was sold off with the house sadly being demolished through lack of interest!

Since the 1980’s the company Tarmac has owned this 1000 acre site for gravel extraction on the understanding that they will return this land to its former glory! Working closely with Hertfordshire & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Hertfordshire County Council and pressure from the Friends of Panshanger Park this estate is getting back to its beautiful best for the local community to enjoy!

Course

Panshanger course map

The course is very scenic undulating one anticlockwise lap of Panshanger park that surfaces is a mixture of grass, gravel and dirt paths!

The course starts in the car park, you then run alone a woodland trail path, then turn right on a grass section before running around the parameter of a large field, next you run down through Garden Wood and followed by running down a dirt track!

Next you run over a small wooden bridge over the River Mimran, run around Kings Lake on to a grass track behind the river and Osprey Lake, cross over the river again and follow a trail path to a small field that you then run around to the finish funnel!

Points to Note

  • Just need to be watchful when running for exposed tree roots and the odd uneven surfaces
  • Couple of pinch points on the course, first at the start and near the end along this single track trail path! Overall though to be fair there are a lot of wide places to overtake!
  • After a long period of run definitely a trail shoe style course
  • Finally  a sharp little incline at the end that catches your breath away

So overall this course was a joy to run with a beautiful backdrop that keeps your interest!

My time was 36:38 that was OK in this heat and my current lack of fitness!

Facilities

As Panshanger website states please do not use the Thieves Lane car park as this is being limited to volunteers, park users, blue badge holders and emergency services.

Recommended for this event is limited free road side along Old Hertingfordbury Road Sat Nav SG14 2AR.

There are no toilet facilities available in this park and for the post run coffee there was mobile catering van at the car park that was owned by a lovely woman called Mary!

Cafe2u van Panshanger

Other Facilities

  • Walk the many paths including Butterfield Way and Oak Trail
  • Observation points for bird watching including Osprey, wild fowl
  • Visit the remains of the Orangery and the former site of Panshanger House

Final Verdict

I like to thank Michael Scutt and his time of volunteers for making me feel extremely welcome, also it was great to bump into the legend John Butcher again so soon after Westmill, the pleasure was all mine sir!!!

Panshanger volunteer shot

So finally any self-respecting parkrun tourist should schedule a visit to this single lap scenic course, you have all been told!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Event 95 Tring

So I have finally reached Tring, Hertfordshire on my adventure with wonderment and trepidation, is it true that this is one of the toughest events in the country to run?

Tring is a small market town with a population of 11,730 that lies on the edge of the Chiltern hills and has interesting history that includes a close link to George Washington and how the Rothschild family set out a major transformation of the town over 40 years period stating from 1872 with the purchase of Ting Park!

This event is based at Tring Park is one stunning venue for a parkrun and as the Woodland Trust who manages it states “Tring Park is one of Hertfordshire’s most important ecological areas and one of the Trust’s most exciting and diverse sites. Covering an area of 107 hectares (264 acres), it contains a mosaic of habitats such as chalk grassland, scrub, mixed woodland and parkland landscaped by Charles Bridgeman in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.”

There are simply just some parkruns where you have to say what a privilege it was to run there and Tring ticks all those boxes if you had to design a course, wow!!!!

Local Celebrities

A must for any self-respecting tourist has got to be a photo with the park’s friendly heard of Friesian cows in the background, these ladies help make this course rather special event to run!

Course

Tring course map

This course is a single anticlockwise lap of Tring park that running surface is a mixture of grass and trail paths! The start is near Lime Tree avenue and after an initial drop to the valley floor there is a steady hard incline that first half is exposed grassland, then when you hit the tree-line there is a tough dirt track zig zag path to the top of the ridge at the 1km mark!

For the next 2km you are running along a woodlands covered ridge called King Charles Ride up to the summer-house, then downhill along another woodland path past the obelisk!

The final 2km is mainly made up of undulating grassland path along the valley floor, until you do a right turn up a short steep slope, turn right again onto the beautiful Lime Time avenue, then finally turn right just before the footbridge to run down into the finish funnel!

Points to note

  • Very tough incline for the first 1km
  • This is one of those courses that ideally needs a gentle warm up jog beforehand as you really don’t want to test a hill climb with cold muscles just after the start!
  • Very exposed on the grassland section with the wind today almost stopped you in your tracks!
  • Definitely a trial shoes event after prolonged periods of wet weather

My time was 39:25 that at the moment I am just going through the motions of completing all these events up to my 100th at Houghton Hall.

Facilities

There is free car park on Haste Lane Sat Nav HP23 6AP, please note the gates for this car park open at 8:30am. Unfortunately there are no toilet facilities at Tring Park itself!

For the post run coffee we retired to The Akeman restaurant for a well-earned breakfast at this lovely venue!

The Akeman restaurant

Natural History Museum – Tring

After our refuelling stop it was great to be able visit The Natural History Museum, Tring and look at all the interesting wildlife exhibits based over a number of floors from insects right up to elephants!

This was a perfect way to end to my Tring adventure 🙂

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the run director Ken Douglas and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome on the morning, top marks guys!!!

Tring volunteer shot

Finally this is undeniably one of the toughest cross-country style courses in the UK, but I can wholeheartedly recommend this event for the stunning views and the sense of real achievement in completing Tring parkrun!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Extra News

So it has finally happened I have completed my first ever stint as run director at event 5 Wardown Juniors!

I would like to thank the fellow members of the core team for just being awesome to work with over the last few months and all the lovely volunteers who helped out brilliantly on a very wet windy morning!

29th July First RD stint

Event 94 Westmill

On a blindingly hot July morning I arrived at Westmill Farm that is just outside the town of Ware, Hertfordshire! The name in this instance seems to have come from the nearby The Mill Westmill that according to the Doomsday book has stood over the river Rib for 1000th years!

The interesting fact about Westmill Farm is that it seems to have evolved from a traditional working farm into an outdoor leisure and camping complex that include fishing, 9 hole golf course, function rooms and restaurant with stunning views over the Rib valley!

Parklife stories

It never ceases to amaze me the brilliant stories I get to write about every parkrun morning! Today I met a super vet parkrun legend, my tourist friend who is a world record holder and a lovely tourist family, wow!

So the picture below from left to right is Diane Constable, Andrew James, Me, John Butcher and finally James Constable.

Westmill with Tourist friends

parkrun legend

The word legend aptly applies to John Butcher who set himself a challenge to break as many different parkrun course records for the 85-90 age category after sadly losing is wife of 60 years at christmas 2016, you are a true inspiration to us all John!

Now aged 86 years young he has currently set 69 parkrun course age group records and run 206 parkruns, wow!!!

World record holder

Always a pleasure to see my good tourist friend Andy James who apart from being a fast runner, uber parkrun tourist, he currently co holds the world record for the faster time to complete all 270 London Underground stations with the record now standing at 15h 45m 38s, excellent achievement mate!!!

Tourist family

Finally always my pleasure to meet new fellow Cow-cowl tourists and at Westmill I chatted to the lovely Constable family visiting from Peterborough.

Diane for the record you are a star pushing your daughter Lucy in her buggy in that heat and on that course, when the rest of us were just struggling to get ourselves around!

I hope to bump into you all again soon 🙂

Course

Westmill course map

This is Westmill’s summer course, which comprises of two anticlockwise laps of the farm complex that starts off at the Three Rivers Campsite and at the end of the second lap finishes outside Three Rivers restaurant!

The surface is entirely run on both grass and trail paths, with the terrain very undulating in it’s design running down, across the hill, around millennium lake then finally back up the hill on this picturesque Rib valley course!!

Points to Note

  • There is quite an awkward camber when you are running across the hill for approx 300 metres
  • A few exposed tree stumps/roots on an opening section between 2 hedges of the course that was pointed out at the run briefings and the obstructions were spray painted white for the runners to avoid!
  • Definitely a trail shoes course after prolonged periods of rain, that is currently not a problem though in these current arid weather conditions!
  • Lovely touch the event supplied water to the finishers that was very welcome in this heat!

My time was 37:58 I was just happy to get round and tick off another event on my challenge!

Facilities

There is free parking at Westmill Sat Nav SG12 0ES and toilets facilities are available before the start of the run!

For the post run coffee we retired to Three Lakes Restaurant a real treat with excellent food and stunning of the valley below!

Sorry I need to apologise to a group of runners I chatted to after the event at the restaurant who inevitably paid for my breakfast by mistake as I change tables half way through to be with my friends!

The restaurant say’s they will refund you the cost of my breakfast and I will pay the money I owe over the phone, sorry guys!

Three Lakes Restaurant

Other Facilities include

  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Golf (par 3 course)
  • Outdoor activities
  • Art centre
  • Garden centre

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the lovely run director Sue Dougan and her team of volunteers for making me feel extremely welcome on the morning!

You may not be the biggest parkrun in terms of numbers of runners but you much up for this with a big heart and being a top community!

I hope you all have a brilliant official first birthday next week and I know you will celebrate with tons of cake, enjoy 🙂

Westmill volunteer shot

So finally my fellow tourist if you like a tough cross-country style course with stunning views and tick another compass point off this specific parkrun challenge, then Westmill is definitely the place to visit!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Event 55 South Norwood

How time flies by it is 2 months since I finished off my Capital parkrun challenge and now I have 2 new Greater London events to run, first up is South Norwood!

Wow there have been times in running London’s green spaces that have heartened my soul and South Norwood Country Park is one of those success stories!

This park was opened into 1989 and it is amazing to see it’s transformation from once a disused sewage farm into a beautiful nature reserve that the local community can enjoy is a joy to behold for time and memorial!

Not sure the reason why but it was brilliant to see so many fellow parkrun tourists friends at this event, it was great to catch up, chat and reminisce where I met them during my capital challenge!

So many lovely memories of previous events came flooding back that it almost brought a tear to my eyes, tops days with great company 🙂

Tourist Group Shot South Norwood

Course

South Norwood Course map

The course comprises of just over two clockwise laps of the park that is entirely a trial run with no tarmac in sight!

Important points to note

  • The course surface is almost made up of a well maintained gravel path, with just a few small sections made up of either earth or grass based in nature
  • In elevation terms apart from a very short raise to the parks observation mound it is very flat and fast in nature
  • Finally in wet conditions this course could be tricky to run and trail shoes maybe the way to go

Personal Stats

Just great to be there and support my friend Martin around the course time 42:32

Important Info

There is a free car park by the visitor centre that is next to the start, Sat Nav SE25 4QL and always important toilets were available at the centre before the start of the parkrun!

For the post run coffee we decided to use the refreshment building by the pitch and putt course, but you can also use Croydon Arena next door!

Facilities included

  • Wild flower meadows
  • Wet land and lake
  • Viewing mound
  • New children’s playground
  • Pitch and putt
  • Visitors centre

 

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Jasmine and her team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome. The thing that sticks in my mind is this event has only going five weeks, they were only four runners short of their inaugural total of runners and it did not faze them a bit, outstanding work Team Norwood!

Special mention to Andrew Warden in the green top beating his previous PB at South Norwood by nearly 5 minutes, top running sir!

South Norwood Volunteers

So finally if you want a flat lovely course to run around then South Norwood is the place to visit!

For me I have one new parkrun to run in Hoblingwell to regain my Greater London parkrun regionnaire status. So watch this space for my 49th and currently final capital parkrun!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 05/08/2017

Event 54 Ellenbrook Fields

Before reviewing today’s parkrun I must give my personal deepest sympathies to the families of the unbelievably dreadful tragedy that happen in London this past week! I have now run with 47 London parkrun communities, the warmth and friendship they have bestowed on me has been very heartwarming to my soul, I have been enriched by meeting you all!

So Ellenbrook Fields today was my 49th and final homeward bound parkrun as a tourist on this a brilliant capital adventure and they did not let me down!

It’s a real privilege to run on land with such a rich history in aviation that up to 1994 was Hatfield Airfield that opened as a RAF base in the 1930’s and supported the war effort with aircraft production, most notable of planes the Mosquito fighter-bomber. Today they use the old taxiing strip for the start of the parkrun!

It is always good to make new friends and say hello to old ones, today it was my pleasure amongst the locals of Ellenbrook parkrun were John & Lynne Norman the lovely parents of the parkrun tourist legend in Danny Norman who has run over 500 parkruns and completed 201 different events, outstanding body of work sir!

Also it is great to bump into an old friend in Wai Meng Au-Yeong who I last met a Beckton parkrun on my adventure, you are a top lady and good luck with run directing on your first junior parkrun!

Course

Ellenbrook course map

The course starts on the old airfield taxi way then you proceed to do two anticlockwise loops, the first is one small loop just after the start then followed by one large loop of Ellenbrook Fields with the finish funnel just beyond the starting point!

The running surface is predominantly made up of a grass trail that is relatively flat in nature, there are a couple of tarmac and concrete paths though!

Important points to note

  • In the winter it would be interesting how difficult like many grass courses Ellenbrook would be like to run
  • There are a few tractor tracks on the far end of the course you have to be wary of when running

Always a pleasure to run on grass courses and this is a good one to test yourself on, you have been told!

Personal Stats

The time in that heat was irrelevant just took it easy with a jog/walk combination, time 37:10

Important Info

There is free weekend parking at the University of Hertfordshire Sat Nav AL10 9EU and please unlike me follow their parkrun website directions to the start of the event, I didn’t and started walking in the wrong direction 😦

They state you can use the toilet is the University swim centre but don’t walk in there with muddy trainers! For the post run coffee they used a mobile catering van that parked up near the finishing line!

Final Verdict

Ellenbrook volunteers shot

So all I can say is run Ellenbrook and meet the lovely community they have there and run on land with a rich aviation history behind it!

So next week I’am back for the first time in over a year at my beloved home parkrun of Luton, Wardown. I have missed you all so much on this capital challenge and I cannot wait to run at home with my friends again!

See you next week Luton!!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 17/06/2017

Event 53 Aldenham

Bathed in sunshine what a lovely parkrun Aldenham was to start my homeward bound tour back to Luton, Wardown on the 24th June after last week completing my capital parkrun adventure!

Hosted at Aldenham Country Park it is great to see their message is to connect people in the ways of the land and food through educational and recreational activities, a noble goal!

Personal favourite for me was the 100 Aker Wood and the way they lovingly recreated the home of Winnie the Pooh, must admit the child came out in me and I did have to play Pooh sticks on Pooh bridge 🙂

Nice to have company today again in the shape of David Brown my club running buddy and well done sir on your new course PB of 27:45!

Me & David Brown

Course

Aldenham course map

The course is made up of 2 flat clockwise laps of the parameter of Aldenham reservoir and the running surface is mainly consisting of an earth trail path that threads its way through the treelined banks of the reservoir, there is a long straight tarmac path section though alongside the reservoir wall that leads to Aldenham Sailing club!

Important points to note

  • Need to keep an eye on the surface for a few exposed tree roots and uneven surfaces!
  • Be interesting to see how the course handles in the winter or after a prolonged periods of rain!
  • Final lap near the end you turn left at the marshalling position and bypass the dog leg section of the reservoir.

Personal Stats

Just happy help out and encourage fellow park runner Catherine around the course, time 39:07

Important Info

There is paid barrier parking available at Aldenham Country Park Sat Nav WD6 3BA there are a couple of things you need to be aware of though

  • The main gate to the park does not open until 8am
  • On the production of your parkrun barcode at their farm shop, you will be charged the discounted price of £2 for parking (normally £4.50) and given a coin token for the exit barrier!

There are toilets available before start of the run that is always a good thing and for the post run coffee enjoy the lovely Clock House cafe to pass the time away!

Clock house cafe

So finally Aldenham is the event to take your family with you and explore the recreational facilities this park has to offer, plus run the unique trail parkrun course around its reservoir!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 10/06/2017

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