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

Event 52 Pymmes

One thing I have realise early on this challenge was the outstanding warm inclusive community spirit of the people of our great capital, so it does not matter how much a very small minority of people do in trying to bring fear into our hearts, London and the UK will stand up to you and not be broken!

Today at Pymmes has been very emotional parkrun for me, it has taken 50 weeks but now I can now say I have completed all 47 Greater London parkruns and it has been some of the best times of my life!

Pymmes park sign

So from day one Pymmes was always going to be last London event, I just love the fact of that they may not have large run attendances but wow it is ten fold made up for this with outstanding community spirit that I was very lucky to witness today!

Two of the many shining lights of this parkrun are in Jennifer Sterlini and Duncan Robertson the gentlemen holding the cake!

So I witnessed one of the most selfless acts today in the whole of my adventure from Jennifer, chatting to her before the start of the run see felt upset that I would not have a celebration cake (stable food of us parkrunners) to finish challenge!

So 10 minutes before the start of the run at 9am, she said I have got a cake and run off home to collect in so doing forfeiting any chance of a time for the day! So for the record she ended up last on the run, but Jennifer the cake and the gesture was just beautiful for us all 🙂

Also it was my pleasure to meet a legend of parkrun news reports in Duncan, can I say after reading a few penned events I am now a devoted fan sir with your unique eye of our humble Saturday parkruns!

A special thanks to so many of my friends that joined me today and in no specific order they were David Brown, Penny Kilbey, Terry Willis, Liz Davis, Paul Bliss, Karen & Dave Bull, Carly Eaves, Amanda, Malcolm (thanks for the photos) & Tom Rankin, Martin Ball, Paul Keech, Daniel Pudner 🙂

Also another lovely gesture was from Paul, Tom and Daniel that run around with me on the final lap as a guard of honour, which made me very humble indeed!

Course

The course is a very simple 3 relatively flat fast anticlockwise laps of the parameter of Pymmes park that is run entirely on well-kept tarmac paths!

Personal Stats

This was always about the moment not the time, so as my group of friends tail runner the time was for the day 39:32 

Important Info

There is free parking available on the Victoria Road Sat Nav N18 2UG, a tip with this one get early as their was not many spaces left to park at 8:30am! Also for some reason the public toilets in the park were closed before the start of the run!

For our post run coffee we went to  Cafe Mario, Silver Street for a well-earned full English breakfast, which I can throughly recommend 🙂

Park facilities include

  • Football pitches
  • Nice lake to walk around
  • Basketball area
  • Tennis courts
  • Walled garden

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Sachin and his team of volunteers for making this my final London parkrun a truly positive experience! Please do not change Pymmes you are the essence what makes parkruns very special to me!

Pymmes Group community shot

London what can I say so many happy memories where do I start, going to have to pen another blog entry to answer that question!

So for now it’s me signing off,  I would like wish all 47 London parkrun communities a happy and prosperous parkun future in the certain knowledge you are in great hand!!!!

Finally a special mention is required to my wingman Martin Ball who has kept me company in 12 London events, even on the coldest mornings on this epic adventure you kept me smiling, I am lucky to have you as a friend sir 🙂

Me and Martin Ball

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 03/06/2017

 

Event 51 Canons Park

Just when you think you have seen everything on this challenge you then visit beautiful Canons Park one of the newest Greater London parkuns that is a hidden gem amongst all of these parks to run!

It’s great to find a park with such well-kept different features to explore from the picturesque King George V Memorial Garden that is entirely walled to the lovely Spinney Woodland Walk that is part of the actual parkruns course, wow!

 

There is though one thing I have felt guilty on this challenge is always travelling by car to each event, it is so easy to type into your phone the parkruns postcode into Google Maps, then away you go!

So for this week I decided to become a true tourist and use public transport! Must admit it is very easy to get from Luton to Canons Park just a simple change from national rail to tube at West Hampstead 🙂

For the record though I would hate to think what time in the morning I would have had to leave to get to some of these events especially on the south side of the Thames, but least I have shown it is possible and I made it in good time!

Course

Canons park course map

The course starts near the Good Friends cafe and after a 100 metre on grass you proceed onto tarmac paths to run 3 anticlockwise laps of the park, then at the end of the 3rd lap this time you turn right onto the grass and run up to the finish!

Points of Interest

  • This is a multi terrain course that is run on grass, gravel and tarmac paths
  • At the backend of the course you run along the entire length of Spinney Woodland walk that surface is gravel based
  • Very hard to overtake fellow parkrunners in the woodland section and there is a slight incline steady incline as well!

So if you like to run on a relatively flat multi terrain beautiful course then Canons Park is the parkrun event for you!!

Personal Stats

I have resigned myself to the fact that it is just a pleasure to run these parks and times will improve after my fitness recovers, time 36:51

Important Info

Traveling by car there is paid parking at Canons Park tube station Sat Nav HA8 6RH and only costs £2 on Saturdays. For toilet facilities there is a disabled one near to the start of the parkrun!

For your post run coffee the outdoor Good Friends cafe is available from April to September and can I recommend their ice creams! I partook in the delights of a tub of Raspberry Ripple that we very refreshing after running a parkrun on this hot summers day 🙂

Other facilities includes

  • Spinney Woodland nature walk
  • Tranquil setting of the walled King George V Memorial Garden
  • Children’s playground

Final Verdict

I would like to personally thank run director Chris Parkinson-Best and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome today!

Canons Park Volunteeer shot

So finally Canons Park for me you are a hidden jewel in the crown of London’s parkrun events that one day I will look forward in coming back to visit you and this park in all it’s splendour!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 27/05/2017

 

Event 50 Beckenham Place

This was one of those big milestone Saturdays’ of my challenge, not only was I running currently London’s newest parkrun in Beckenham Place (26 weeks old) it was also the 50th parkrun event that I have run!

I have converted myself from a happy stay at home parkrun volunteer at Luton Wardown to as the jargon says I am now a uber-tourist climbing up the parkrun UK most events leaderboard! Who would have thought it back this time last year 🙂

Now for Beckenham Place is another great story of a large beautiful park that is in transition, with Lewisham Council having a draft masterplan to regenerate this park, which includes incorporating the now closed golf course into the final vision!

I love to see that even with the pressures on building new homes in the capital that councils like Lewisham see the need to develop its parks for the health and well-being of the local community. Top stuff!!!!

Another great aspect of this challenge is making new friends and bumping into old ones! Good to meet you today Dave Hooker (on the picture left, please can you give me this lovely ladies name in the group shot), Benjamin Sowden and one of my dearest parkrun tourist friends in Robert Kidd (picture right)!

Dave I hope you enjoyed your first parkrun and get smitten enough to become a parkrun regular! For the record Dave is a county football referee, could have done with your knowledge next week mate as I am at Canons Park parkrun near Wembley on FA Cup final day 🙂

Course

Beckenham Place course map

The course is flat 2 clockwise laps of the eastern section of Beckenham Place park with the course being a mixture of grass, tarmac and tarmac surfaces!

Points of Interest

  • The two main parts you run around are Summerhouse Field (start/ finish area) and The Common
  • About 50% of this course is on the grass, so be careful of footing in wet weather!
  • Finally this parkrun course could move to the mansion side of the park when the redevelopments kick in

So if you like to run on a flat multi terrain course then Beckenham Place is the parkrun course for you!!

Personal Stats

Ideally should not have been running today with a bit of a chest infection, so reflected in the time of 34:55

Important Info

There is free parking at this venue and I decided to use the street parking option of Ravensbourne Avenue Sat Nav BR3 5HG that is near to the start of the parkrun!

Need to warn car drivers that about the last 50 metres of this road as it is not in great condition and I would recommend parking just a little further back!

I nice feature I found is they have developed in this park is a natural path set back to walk beside the River Ravensbourne, very nice tranquil touch.

Finally there are no facilities in this park at the moment but to be fair this park is in great transition and still looks beautiful in its current state!

Final Verdict

I would like to personally thank run director Peter Hanslip and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome today! Special mention to Lou Black for kindly sending pictures of me attending this parkrun, much appreciated!

Beckenham Place Volunteers

So Beckenham I will look forward in coming back in a few years in seeing the transformation of this park that is already a lovely park to visit!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 20/05/2017

 

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