Event 80 Henley-on-Thames

On a bitterly cold day I found solace and reflection at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire that was completely unexpected but beautiful!

Henley-on-Thames is one beautiful English town to visit that famous for its annual rowing regatta! What hits you when you cross the grade II listed bridge over the Thames is a wonderfully sense of nostalgia as the town centre looks like a beautiful picture on a chocolate box that’s frozen in time of a England we all love, stunning!

River thames view

Sue Ryder – Henley Woodland

So Henley Woodland that makes up part of this parkrun course, is a joint venture between Sue Ryder hospice, Henley Town council, Timberland and Henley in Transition to create a new 2 acre woodland for the community to love and enjoy!


The noble aim of this project is very close to my heart, as Sue Ryder hospice sees this woodland as a place of reflection for family members lost, where you can sponsor a tree in their honour!

Wow this has a very powerful meaning for me as very recently after losing my dad and but not connected fundraising through running help raise vital funds for my local Keech Hospice Care!

This endeavour gives me some comfort in the most difficult times for me and my family!

A celebration

It is always a pleasure to me to write about a positive story on my travels, so at Henley this week I bumped into hen party held in the honour of Verity Fisher who will tie the knot in a couple of weeks, good luck and enjoy your big day!


Henley course map

This course is 2 anticlockwise laps of the perimeter of 40 Acre Field that comprises of a scenic trail paths that are very undulating in nature following the natural hill line, then a rewarding downhill finish that is always great!


Due to the difficult nature of the course restricts permission to some park runners for the following reasons that Henley states, ” This run does not permit buggies, because of safety on the steep course. Also, dogs are not permitted, because some sections of the path are narrow.

Definitely a trail shoes course, but tough and rewarding! My time at the finish was 40 mins dead and as my watch played up for a time at the start so I used their course map for my blog report!

Points to note

  • Very challenging but rewarding treelined hill climb up Sue Ryder Hill as named on Strava
  • Short out and back section is a little bit tight for runners passing each other in both directions!
  • In very wet conditions be very careful of the dog leg turn on the top of the hill as it is very slippery and remember you are running this in a downhill direction
  • Be wary of exposed tree roots, and there are a few drainage covers on the downhill straight to the finish


There is enough free on road parking near the start of this event at Deanfield Road Sat Nav RG9 1UU, please note there are no toilet facilities available at this event location!

For the post run coffee they retired to Athlete Service’s Café sat nav RG9 2AA

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Kirstin Henderson and her team are volunteers for making me feel warmly welcome on this coolest of March mornings, thanks guys!!!

So if you love a physical challenge than Henley-on-Thames is definitely the parkrun for you with stunning views over the Chiltern Hills and a beautiful town to explore afterwards, a must go venue for any avid parkrun tourist!!!



Event 81 Brentwood 31-03-2018

Extra News

It had to happen but I have lost me Greater Lon-done regionnaire status after 2 new parkruns had their inaugural events this weekend and they were Hazelwood and Victoria Docks respectfully!

Oh well, now looking forward to getting my regionnaire status back and adding more memories 🙂

Event 79 Kettering

The beauty of this challenge is you get to run some cool places and Wicksteed Park, Kettering is definitely in the cool category being my first ever amusement park to run around!

So Wickstead park for the record is the second oldest amusement park in the UK and it’s name comes from its founder Charles Wicksteed who’s father married into the famous Lupton family of Yorkshire!

So the kind Charles in 1913 bought a track of meadow land that would be a safe and beautiful park for the local community to use, now this was the start of the development of the lovely amusement park that we see today!

Community Story

It is always great to meet a fellow likeminded park runner who set a goal for themselves and makes sure they will achieve it, so it was my good fortune to bump into Val Nix at Kettering! She has set herself the goal of running consecutively the first 100 events at her beloved Kettering parkrun that today was on number 74!

Me with Val Nix

A great coincidence on Saturday it was Val’s 79th parkrun (her first 5 runs were run at Corby) the exact same number as the different parkrun events that I have run to date, spooky stuff! Val lets enjoy our various 100th milestones over the next few months with cake and the very happy realisation that we have reached our goals!

Again it is always a pleasure to bump into a really good tourist friend in Matthew Wateridge this week at Kettering, not only did he run an excellent time of 23:28 but has now run 182 different parkrun events, top running mate!

Me with Matthew Wateridge


Kettering course map

This was run on their winter course that is 2 and a bit anticlockwise laps of Wickstead Park that incorporated running beside/over the miniture railway and around the lake!

The surface was made up of mainly gravel and tarmac paths that were very wet in places due to the low level nature of many parts of this course, snow melt and overnight rain!

Points to note

  • Great to run on the pontoon bridge over the lake
  • Only real incline is the lovingly named Wicksteed slog on Strava that is a steady slope on the backend of the course coming back up to the start of each lap!
  • Small grass section to finish on but still in the wet conditions normal running trainers are fine!
  • You do cross the train tracks a couple of times, but even in the summer when the trains are running they do not normally start until the parkrun event is over!

My time was not great at 37:24 but considering what been happening in my life over the last month I will take that time!


There is free parking at Wicksteed park Upton until 10:30am for park runners Sat Nav NN15 6NJ and the parkrun volunteers will guide you to their preferred parking spots for you to park before the event starts! Another bonus toilets were available before the start of the event!

Had to get home but for the post run coffee they either normally use the Carousel Cafe or Ideas Café depending what is open!

There is so much at this event afterwards especially in the prime summer season that includes  amusement rides, narrow gauge railway trips , boating lake, the list is endless!

A lot of this park was closed down at the moment as it being off season, but there is still a lot to do including guided winter walks, cafes and nature animal area for the kids to visit!

Final verdict

I would like to thank run director John McManus and his team of volunteers for making me feel extremely welcome on my visit to Kettering, thanks guys!!!!

Volunteers shot Kettering

So if you have a family or young at heart like me you will have to partake in all the fun of Wicksteed amusement park after your run, a must visit event on your parkrun tours!



Event 80 Henley-on-Thames 17-03-2018


Event 78 Homewood

On a bitterly cold bright morning was a time of personal reflection for me in running at the beautiful village of Ottershaw, Surrey as my dad who sadly passed away last Sunday aged 82, a rock in my life, best friend and allround good man to know!

So decked out in his beloved Tottenham Hotspur top I run in his honour today, now on  for the rest of this challenge and also in memory of Mark Sherwood a top parkrun tourist friend I will dedicate what I do in their names!

Now for Homewood, I always find fascinating looking a little deeper about the places I have run and Ether Hill Wood where the course is based around has a bit of a gruesome past!

Back in the 14th Century it was used as a site for the gallows and was said because of the vantage point of this hill this would deter members of the local community from ever wanting to break to law, glad the woods are being used for more positive pastimes nowadays!

Community support

I love when a local parkrun community calls for help and everyone pitches in to assist! In this case with shovels, wheelbarrows in hand there were some very muddy path trails on the course that a working party that was set up after the parkrun to repair!

This involved redistributing piles of wood chips left by the council work then relayed over the most effected paths, outstanding work guys!!!

Can I add it was mine and my friends honour to help your working party in bolstering these paths so they would be fit enough to either walk or run on in future weeks!

Tourist friends

It was again to great to be around top parkrun tourist friends that came to support me yesterday in Martin Ball, Kevin Brown and Robert Kidd thanks for coming today guys, very much appreciated!!!!!

Another joy of mine is making new friends, so today I had the chance to chat to Richard Eggleton (gentleman on the left side of the above group shot) who’s a run director from Boston, Lincolnshire who is a member of a family of top parkrun enthusiasts!

This is what Richard kindly messaged me afterwards, “9 of our family regularly run and last week when I crossed the line it was our cumulative 1500 run. We consist of Grandma and Grandpa, their two daughters and husbands and 3 grandchildren. We have also cumulatively exceeded 250 volunteers between us.” Wow!!!

Richard I salute you and your family as being a great credit to the Boston parkrun community, will defiantly have to visit you one day sir!


Homewood course map

This course is 3 anticlockwise laps of Ether Hill that start and finish either side of Ottershaw Memorial Fields!

This is an undulating trail course that you need to take with care as there are a large number of exposed tree roots on a lap of Ether Hill woods! I love the name of the difficult short climb on each lap called Achilles Hill that the locals had a vote on and I can add it did test out my Achilles 🙂

Achilles Hill

Points to note

  • This is definitely a trail shoes course except for the driest of summers
  • Hard to explain but there was a few gravel paths dotted around the course that just started and stopped, strange!
  • Definitely add a few minutes onto your average parkrun times on this course

Must admit I was in awe of some of the runners yesterday with their confidence running at high speed and being sure footed! Sadly that is a skill I was very much lacking with my time being 40:03


There is free parking available at Ottershaw Memorial Fields Sat Nav KT16 0NQ and a added bonus is the toilet facilities are available before the start of the parkrun in this site!

For the post run coffee we retired to the lovely Old School Cafe Sat Nav KT16 0DP for a well deserved breakfast after all that course maintenance work, I decided to go for the Olympic sized breakfast that was very delicious indeed 🙂

Other facilities at the adjacent Ottershaw Memorial Fields include:

  • Children’s play area
  • Picnic benches
  • Tennis courts
  • Multi-use games court
  • Bowling Green

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the run director Steve Dye, Dee Harper and everyone associated with Homewood parkrun that made us all feel extremely welcome and part of your community, well done guy’s!

Homewood volunteer group shot

So if you like a challenging trail course through lovely woodland then Homewood is definitely a must location to visit!

Finally dad you may have passed away, but you will always be in our hearts & minds,


Love Mark xxx

Event 79 Kettering 10-03-2018

Event 77 Reading

On a beautiful bright crisp winter morning at the picturesque Dinton Pastures, Reading it was great to have a few hours of happiness in what has been a very tough sad personal week for me and my mum!

Parkrun community

One thing I love about parkrun is so many positive things can happen at 9am every Saturday morning and Reading kept giving and giving with celebrating parkrun milestones, meeting tourist friends, an inspirational volunteer and a exceptional running fundraiser, wow!

Reading’s Finest

First of all two inspirational members of Reading parkrun community, first up is Ray Jones who has reached the hallowed milestone of completing 250 events, who was very welcoming to us all and my I say that your celebration cakes were delicious, a running achievement to be proud of sir!

Next up is Chris Smith with over 250 volunteers to his name is a hi vis hero for Reading parkrun who Marshall’s the vital position on this winter course, directing runners in which route to take around the lake depending on what lap they are on!

Chris the outstanding commitment you have shown to your community should be applauded by everyone who loves parkrun!

Tourist community

One thing is always a delight is meeting old and making new parkrun friends at different locations, so today I welcomed back Martin Ball, Kevin Brown, Terry Garner and met for the first time the lovely Luscombe family that consists of Adrian, Sarah and Daisy, great to meet you guy’s!


Inspirational runner

for the record I have met some great characters on my amazing tours, so to my delight and amazement at run briefing who would turn up none other than Matthew Melling aka The Wigan Runner orchestrating a selfie with the whole of Reading parkrun community, I cannot keep writing this material as no one will believe me 🙂


For the record this selfless runner is fundraising for different very worthy causes for his local community by continually running daily 5k with today at Reading he was on day 413 of his adventure!

I feel that I have met a kindred spirit in Matthew as in 2016-17 I completed a year of fundraising for my local hospice through my capital parkrun adventures!

Matthew I salute you for all the hard work you put in for your worthy causes, outstanding body of work mate!


Reading winter course map

This was their winter course that takes place at Dinton Pastures that consists of 3 anti-clockwise laps that incorporates both Black and White Swan lakes.

The first two shorter laps are run around the strip of land that buffers both lakes, but the final longer lap is run around the entire parameter of White Swan lake!

This is a very flat course as you would expect running around lakes and the surface is a mixture of compact earth/gravel paths!

Points to Note

  • There was a few pools of mud and water on the path but overall was in good order
  • The surface overall still only warranted normal trainers as trail shoes would have been overkill!
  • As with most parkruns you run onto grass to the finish funnel that was short but quite tricky on this course
  • Please remember that when course conditions are favourable Reading preferred course is Thames Valley Park

My time today was 35:48 that under the circumstances of not running this week I was happy with this level of fitness!

Finally loved the little touches that make each parkrun unique in the case it was the fun rubber chicken squeaky toy that you squeeze when your run a PB as modelled by my good friend Martin 🙂

Reading PB chicken martin


There is paid parking available at Dinton Pastures Sat Nav location RG10 0TH, toilets are available from 8.30am at the Dragonfly cafe and you can buy your parking from the cafe as well!

For that post run coffee we could have not asked for a more lovely cafe than The Dragonfly

Dragonfly café

Final Verdict

I would like to thank today’s run director Peter Reilly and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome and part of your community!

Reading volunteer group shot

So finally with a great flat 3 lap winter course around the lakes of Dinton Pastures is a must destination for any parkrun tourist, you have been told!

Best Mark aka The Silent Runner

Event 78 Homewood 24-02-2018

Extra News

Just like to say I am very proud to receive a Special Award from Stopsley Striders my hometown club for my parkrun adventures where I am honoured to be a coach of you all 🙂

Special Award 2017

Event 76 Billericay

In the depths of winter my love affair with Essex and East London parkruns grows even stronger as on this bitterly cold day the depth of welcome I received from Billericay community was heartwarmingly welcoming!

Billericay, Essex is a town with a population 28,000 and in the Borough ofBasildon with this event taking place at the lovely named park in Lake Meadows

This park covers 40 acres and was originally owned by the Spitty family, who had the lake dug out by unemployed labourers, but the local council had the foresight in 1935 to buy this land and transform it into the lovely park you see today, well done!

Community Spirit

This parkrun journey of discovery never ceases to amaze me with Billericay parkrun just 7 months old but has the core nucleus of a great community feel is there for any tourist to see soon as you walk through the park gates!

So how do measure this could it be the friendly chat with the local patrons before the start of the run, young Sofie’s corner where she welcomely cheers you up the hill or chatting away with Judith Campbell as we come towards the finish, even the very friendly post run coffee chat (thank you to the kind couple was bought me a unexpected coffee) was a lovely finishing touch to this morning event!

Me with Judith Campbell

So in summary Billericay has all of these qualities in spades and it is great to see the local town wholeheartedly get behind their event!

Wizard & the Dragon

It’s great to see how the Friend of Lake Meadows come up with this excellent project to turn the sad loss of one of the parks oak trees, then get the necessary funding and with the aid of a talented sculptor in Neil Bruce come up with this excellent depiction of The Wizard and the Dragon that is a striking visual talking point when you enter the park, brilliant stuff!


Billericay course map

This winter course was a modified 3.8 anticlockwise laps of Lake Meadows that was a mixture of tarmac paths and grass, undulating in nature that tested your stamina, but the inclines were far from being to excessive! On the final lap you turn off towards the finish just after the edge of the lake!

As with most courses this time of year ice is a continual worry for event organisers with this event not being immune with two short tarmac sections being iced over with standing water so effecting this weeks route that took couple of diversions onto the grass!

icy tarmac path

My time was 34.21 that is a little bit misleading as with the changes to the route I just run  just under 5k distance but is very understandable under the circumstances and 1000% more preferable than cancelling this event!


There is free weekend parking available at Radford Crescent council car park Sat Nav CM12 0DR, For some reason the parks toilets were closed before the event but I have been told by the core team that is is not a usual occurrence!

For the obligatory post run coffee we retired to Cafe in the Park that was very welcoming in that very inclement weather!

Cafe in the Park Billericay

Other facilities included

  • Playing fields,
  • Fishing
  • Bowling green
  • tennis courts and
  • Children’s play area
  • Swimming pool,
  • Cricket pitch and skate park.

Final Verdict

I would like to give a resounding thank you to the run director Samuel Hill and his team of volunteers that done a excellent job in dealing with very tricky course conditions in a very happy positive way!

Billericay volunteer shot

Finally so Billericay you may be new in parkrun events terms, but have a brilliant exuberance and kind supportive manor about your event that if I did not know any better I had always been a member of your community, top marks Billericay!


Mark aka Silent Runner

Event 77 Reading 17-02-2018

Event 75 Woodley

On a very cold wet winters day it was all about a significant personal milestone and a fond farewell for one local park runner at Woodley, Berkshire!

So Woodley is the largest suburb of Reading and it’s name is derived from old English term meaning “a clearing in the woods” with today’s parkrun situated at Woodford park that is the largest park in Woodley!


It is great to see how many different elements of Woodford park just worked from a beautifully kept War Memorial for the brave soldiers who lost their lives to a lake to walk around and leisure centre including playing fields at the other side of the park. A true great use of available space for the local community, top stuff!!!

parkrun Milestone

I have now completed 75 different parkrun events over a period just over year and a half in taking parkrun tourism seriously, so now well on my way of reaching my 100th target at Houghton Hall parkrun on the 8th September!

Woodley 75 parkrun celebration

For the record I am aiming to join the unofficial parkrun group of Cowell club members that is named after Chris Cowell who was the first person to complete this impressive 100 parkrun total.

I was lucky to meet the great man himself at Heartwood Forest parkrun and what gentlemen he was to talk with about his adventures!!!!

Me with Chris Cowell
With Chris Cowell


For Simon Goodall who run with is guide Andy Loring his last parkrun at Woodley this weekend as he is moving home to Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Must feel strange as parkrun is more than a 5k run every Saturday morning it’s where you meet your friends, share stories and feel part of a wonderful community of likeminded people!

Simon Goodall last woodley parkrun

Each week on my travels I get that little bit more homesick for Luton, Wardown with Pete’s corner, chatting with friends and having coffee at our lovely cricket club!

Rest assured though Simon Ellenbrook Fields parkrun community are a great bunch people as I can testify from a recent visit 🙂


Woodley course map

Woodley consists of 3 clockwise laps of the perimeter of Woodford park that is mainly run on tarmac paths, but there are grass sections around the playing fields and the short turn onto the grass to run into the finish!


Points to note

  • There is no real elevation to this course, just minor undulations up to the war memorial and the playing fields sections respectfully!
  • With over 400 runners at this event it did become quite congested at the start, so I would recommend place yourself in the queue where you think you are going to finish the run in relation to time!
  • As shown the grass sections were very muddy but if you run at the sides of the path you could still find firm footing though!

Not sure what happened with this weeks time 37:02 two minutes slower than last event, can only think that taking it steadily on the grass sections in the rain!


There is paid parking at Headley road opposite the park with charges upto £2 for 4 hours Sat Nav RG5 4JA

I have been told that toilets are available inside the Oakwood centre from 8:30am that is always good to hear!

For the post run coffee we retired to the lovely Brown Bag cafe that is situated inside the Oakwood centre for a well deserve hot beverage on this coldest of days!

Oakwood centre

Facilities included

Final Verdict

I would like to thank run director Samantha Whalley and her team of volunteers for making us feel welcome on a bitterly cold day! Special mention to fellow uber parkrun tourist Jenny Mulhearn, it was great meeting you and sharing our tourist stories together!

Woodley volunteer group shot

So if you are looking for a interesting multi terrain 3 lapper and want to meet a friendly parkrun community then Woodley is a must on your travels!


Mark aka Silent Runner

Event 76 Billericay 10-02-2018

Event 74 Chelmsford Central

So this week I came to Chelmsford the county town of Essex to witness the phenomenon  of one of the most well attended parkrun events in the UK and try to find out the secret behind it’s success!

So Chelmsford with a population of 168,000 and is the only city in the county of Essex, with the honour being bestowed on the town as it was then in 2012 as part of the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebration.

Apart from being England’s newest city there is so much to see and do on your visit from it’s heritage to sports venues, plus Chelmsford being so close to London is a great destination for a day trip!

Secret to Success

So location is always key for a successful attended parkrun with this one in the centre of the city, but there is so much more to this single lap event that normally boasts attendances of over 600 park runners every week with 697 for event 270 this week alone, wow!!!

Chelmsford Attendance

One reason reason could be the enjoyable essence of any parkrun is the adventure of exploring different unique aspects of a park with Chelmsford having this in great abundance that includes

  • 18th century railway viaduct towering over the park to run underneath
  • Beautiful River Can meandering alongside with bridges to run across
  • Multi terrain surfaces to run on
  • Even the urban art in the underpass connecting the parks together is a great touch to give you the feel you are running in a city!


So location and a very enjoyable course has a lot going for Chelmsford and I would like to congratulate Sarah Hawkes one of this parkrun regulars on reaching the 100 parkrun this weekend, excellent work and it was all pleasure to meet you may I add!

Sarah Hawkes 100th



Chelmsford course map

Single lap course incorporating both Chelmsford central and Admirals Parks, mainly run on tarmac footpaths but there are a few grass sections especially around Admirals park area!


Not much elevation on this course except for a short sharp slope running up to Rainsford Road from the playground section!

slope section

Points to note

  • The start is on grass and you run a short loopback before you head towards Admirals park, this is a bit of a bottleneck for runners for a short period of time
  • As with most grass sections or courses can get a bit boggy in places during winter with this happening mainly along the straight grass section of Admirals park
  • Final 30 metres are again run on grass and the advice you are given is take it steady when you come over the finish line!

My time 35:51 is now the time to beat in my fight to regain my fitness and pace!


There are two car parks serving this event with Waterhouse Lane on Meteor Way free at weekends, Sat Nav CM1 2RL that is slightly different postcode listed on Chelmsford parkrun website course page.

For our post run coffee we retired to the lovely establishment of Cake at the Lake cafe located very close to the finish in Central park. Another welcome feature the toilets behind the cafe were available before the start of this event!

Also if you like your cricket next to Central Park is Essex County ground where you can enjoy a first class cricket match in the summer, heaven even though I am a Middlesex supporter 🙂

Other facilities included

  • multi use sports area
  • riverside walks
  • children’s play areas
  • plentiful picnic areas throughout the parks

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the Run Director Paul Brookes and his team of volunteers for making us all feel welcome, a special mention goes to how very well organised this parkrun was from the start to the finish processing of the results especially in having to  deal with such a large field of runners, top work guys!!!









So did I find the answer to my question why Chelmsford is so well attended possibly not but with a central location, people and a top single lap course you can see some of the ingredients at work!

So my parkrun tourist friends if you have not run Chelmsford Central I ask you the question, why not you have been told!!!



Event 75 Woodley 03-02-2018

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