March

Wow what a difference a day makes, yesterday we’re in the middle of a heat wave with temperatures over 30Β° C and this morning it was a much more desirable running conditions that was cooler & drizzling at March, Cambridgeshire.

History

March is a Fenland market town that once was once based on an island surrounded by marshes, but once they were drained it has grown into the lovely town we see today.

Today’s parkrun is based at West Park and allays a pleasure to have a beautiful meandering river to run beside on one side of the park in the form today of the river Nene old course πŸ™‚

Special Mentions

First to a lovely gentlemen called Peter (picture below right) who I chatted with afterwards and he told me back in the day he used to race against my local running club Stopsley Striders founder Tony Simmons, it was all my pleasure to meet you sir!

Also, Lenny who I first met at Whittlesey parkrun last week doing some local touring and I hope to bump into you again in the near future at another parkrun event πŸ™‚

Course

March course map

The course is 4 flat clockwise laps of the parameter West Park and terrain is a mixture grass, wood chip, gravel and tarmac paths with very little elevation to talk about anywhere on this course!

Points to note

  • Could see after a prolonged period of rain some sections of this course getting waterlogged, but I would struggle to make a case for in certain conditions trail shoes would be advisable to run in!
  • As said this course is very flat in nature so you could run if you wish to in a very fast time
  • Loved going up the steps at the end of each lap that is very unusual addition to any parkrun course

First for me today I have never had a run director running beside me for a lap and Andrew, you helped me keep my pace honest πŸ™‚

Facilities

There is free parking at City Road car park sat nav PE15 9LT that is right next to the start of the parkrun!

For toilets I used the George Campbell Leisure Centre and please follow the staff’s instructions that park runners either use the shoe overriders they provide or leave your shoes at reception before to go into use these toilets!

I have also been told you can use the leisure centre changing facilities and as a goodwill gesture please donate to the charity stick shaker they have on the reception desk.

I personally had no cash on me at the time, but when I got home made a small donation online to Macmillan cancer support their current chosen charity!

Finally, I did not stay afterwards but I have been told that a few of the regulars go for their post run coffee to The Griffin Hotel

Conclusion

I would like to thank Andrew and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome today with the likes of marshals Thomas & Gary and their ghetto blaster playing a positive playlist of music to keep us going, well done lads!!!

So, if you want to run a fast lovely flat course then March parkrun has to be high on your tourist list to visit!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Manor Field parkrun, Whittlesey

Great to be back in Cambridgeshire after being over 4 years away with today’s parkrun in the lovely market town of Whittlesey that is located 6 miles from Peterborough and is on the edge of the Fenlands

Natural Solution

Wildflowers

Speaking to one of the volunteers Andy I asked about this stunning section of Manor Field that was planted with beautiful wildflowers?

He said that this specific part of Manor field suffered a lot a great deal with being waterlogged and it was decided to plant these flowers as a natural way to soak up the water!

What a brilliant simple natural solution to solve a problem that helps the wildlife and looked stunning running past in the summer sun today πŸ™‚

Course

Manor Field Course Map

The course at Manor Field is made up of 2 recreational fields with a small stripe of land that adjoins them that is flat, and course is entirely run-on grass.

You start in the small field and complete one clockwise lap, then go on to complete 3 more bigger laps of the entire parameter of both Manor Fields.

The end of the 3rd big lap you peel off onto the field where the finish funnel awaits!

Points to Note

  • Being by the river this course could get very muddy after prolonged periods of rain, but to be fair the council has placed wood chippings on the run section by the river Briggate.
  • So, if you are not sure course conditions, I would take along an addition pair of trail running shoes in the boot of your car!
  • Finally, the course is very well marshalled and marked out, so it is impossible to get lost.

For me it was a struggle running in the summer morning heat, but the flat nature of the course and the lovely scenery kept me going πŸ™‚

Facilities

There is free parking Manor Leisure Centre that is near to the start of this parkrun, but there is limited number of spaces available so I would recommend getting there no later than 8:30am postcode PE7 1UA

There are other free car park alternatives in the town they say is only five-minute walk from the start!

Toilet facilities are available at Manor Field pavilion from 8:30am that is always welcome to us parkrun tourists who have travelled a long way.

Currently post covid there is no post run coffee available Manor Field pavilion, but I have been told they are thinking of starting it up again!

There are a great number of current post run coffee alternatives at the moment that are available in the town centre that is only a stone’s throw away from this parkrun including The George Hotel that has Wetherspoons restaurant.

Conclusion

I would like to thank this week’s run director Erica and her excellent supportive team of volunteers that included Marcel is has fetching for the weather Hawaiian shirt πŸ™‚

Erica you are definitely in my top 10 list of favourite run directors, and I now know the secret of fast park running is corn on the cob just a shame I was not there when you sing to your parkrun community πŸ™‚

So, if you want a flat course that includes a river and beautiful wild flowers to run beside then Manor Field parkrun is a must to visit πŸ™‚

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Westminster Mile

When I saw this email inviting me to run the Vitality Westminster mile on the year of the Queen’s 70th Jubilee around Royal St James Park, London finishing outside Buckingham Palace. I just had to sign up there and then!

The event was held on Sunday 1st May as a prelude to the 10KM race that was planned for the following days Bank holiday Monday!

parkrun wave

For the record I was in wave 10 group that was reserved for park runners and it was great to see to people from different parkrun decked out in their apricot event tops πŸ™‚

Also, as always it was a pleasure to bump into fellow tourist friends again and catch up πŸ™‚

Course

The mile course starts on The Mall, and you run in a clockwise direction around the closed roads outside St James park that includes Birdcage Walk. Finally, you sprint or jog up to right outside Buckingham Palace.

Points to note

  • The course is very flat in nature and if you wish you can run a very fast time on the road
  • Love the marker boards displaying how far to go from 800 metres out
  • Marshalls controlling tourists points

For me I got a bit carried away with the occasion and started off way too fast for my current pace, but with the distance markers informing me how far to go I rallied with a OK mile time of 9:56

Facilities

As you would expect from the London Marathon organisers everything was perfect from the village set up in Green Park, to plenty of toilet facilities and a large well organise baggage drop off area!

For me the most convenient way too get to it for me was by Thameslink train, then London underground getting off at the conveniently located Green Park station.

Final Verdict

I would 100% recommend this event to everyone from fun runners to people who want to test how fast they can run a timed event mile in around an iconic venue!

You all have been told πŸ™‚

Best Mark aka Silent Runner

Witney

Today was a first for me at Witney, West Oxfordshire as on all my travels I have never been to a parkrun that I first saw their core team over 4 years at their test takeover event at Oxford parkrun back on the 13th January 2018 with their inaugural event held just a couple of months afterwards on 10th March 2018.

Oxford takeover event with Punam Owens run director

Now it is great visit for their 130th event and seeing the fruits of their labours come to fruition πŸ™‚

Course

This course consists of one small clockwise around the football/cricket field, then followed by two larger out and back laps that incorporates Deer Park Wood

Points to Note

  • To make up the 5km distance near the start we go in the opposite direction for about 40 metres then make a u turn around a tree
  • The course terrain is almost entirely made up of grass or trail paths around the wooded section. The only tarmac is a short cycle path just at the start of each out lap.
  • I have been told after prolonged periods of rain it would be advisable to run in trail shoes on this course
  • I do recommend if you are looking to post good time, place yourself at the point where you think you are going to finish in the event at the start as there are a few pinch points that is hard to overtake on
  • Loved running up the slight uphill woodland path through the woods that has been beautifully kept by Witney Woodland Volunteers

My overall verdict the course with its woodland feature, very well signposted and love the enthusiasm of the marshals with special mention to my Fulham FC friend and the family with pom poms and a cowbells to cheer us along.

With Fulham friend

Facilities

There is free parking right near the parkrun at Windrush Industrial Estate post code OX29 0NB that is excellently sign posted and has it’s our Whitney event car park marshals.

Before the start of the parkrun there are two portaloos available behind West Witney Sports & Social Club that is always welcome for us tourists!!

Now for post run refreshments you have a choice of venues, I went for a mobile cafe behind West Witney Sports & Social Club called the Snack Shack for a lovely bacon roll & coffee before my long journey home!

Another place they recommend for a sit down and chat is Ue Coffee Roasters that is barely half a mile away from their designated car park.

Conclusion

I would like thank todays run director James Field and his excellent team of volunteers for making this a very enjoyable event to visit, you should be all very proud of what you have achieved over the last 4 years at Witney ever since I bumped into you all at Oxford parkrun takeover event!

So, my tourist friends if you are looking for very friendly well organised event with a great woodland trail feature to run then Witney parkrun is a must to visit!

Best Mark aka Silent Runner

Extra News

From now on my parkrun tourist adventures I will donate a tree in my dad’s memory for every parkrun I visit.

Bicester

There are times when you are just privileged to run at such a lovely park in Langford Fields that is located in the beautiful quintessential English town of Bicester, Oxfordshire.

Langford Fields

The best thing about this park is its design that beautifully incorporates streams, ponds and meadow land, but at the same time it a functional park for people just relax and enjoy it was a sheer joy just to be there let alone run their parkrun!

Special Mentions

Always great to bump into fellow tourists with special mention to Dan Warner from Bognor Regis and Dave Warner RD at Oaklands parkrun πŸ™‚

Big well done to Shelly Everett who selflessly volunteered as a tail walker on her 50th parkrun, you are what makes parkrun so special to me. I hope though you celebrated with cake afterwards πŸ™‚

Shelly 50th parkrun

Course

Bicester summer course map

This was the first time this year they started using the summer course that consisted of two clockwise laps of Langford fields. The terrain was a mixture of grass, gravel and tarmac paths.

On the final lap you peel off and run onto the meadow field where the finish funnel awaits.

Points to note

  • After prolonged rain I can see a few grass sections getting very boggy
  • Position yourself where you think where you think you are going to finish in the event as there is little bit of bunching at the start, but to be fair soon dissipates
  • Always great to run a 2 lap course with in my case not having to worry about faster runners overtaking me multiple times.

Facilities

There is free parking facilities available at Langford Village Comunity primary school between 8:15am to 10:15am post code OX26 6SX

There are no toilet facilities availbe at the school or inside the park, the closest one available is at Claremont car park that is paid parking and is located 12 minutes away from the start of the parkrun post code OX26 6PB

I went with Dave and Dan to FLTR Coffee for our post run refreshments that is only stones though away from the school with free onsite parking available and they make a lovely cup of coffee to finish of a perfect morning!

FLTR Coffee

Final Verdict

A big thank you to today’s run director Kathryn Andrews and her team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome, top stuff!

So, if you want to run on a beautiful parkrun course that is flat as it comes then Bicester is definitely the place to add onto your bucket list!

Finally, I have already picked the next event from my luck dip list and who knows it could be your event πŸ˜‰

Best Mark aka Silent Runner

Corby

Well after over two years away it’s great to be finally back parkrun touring again and today, I am at West Glebe Park, Corby, Northamptonshire.

History

West Glebe Park has a very interest past was originally a vast quarry mining for iron stone and had a blast furnace on site to process the iron ore until 1916, then when the quarry flooded the local children used to swim in, finally it was used as a landfill site, grassed over and left to become derelict! Link here

I love to hear though about once disused pieces of land can be resurrected for the benefit of its local community in the shape of a new park with West Glebe Park being a fine example of this kind of transformation!

Kindred Spirits

One of my pleasures is always meeting new people and fellow avid parkrun tourists so today I met we met Alex Brown and as always, it’s great to run with my good buddy Martin Ball on my parkrun adventures πŸ™‚

Course

Corby course map

This multi-terrain course comprises of at the start one tarmac footpath smaller lap and then follows two larger laps of the park that includes running across grass playing fields, woodland and tarmac sections.

Finally you almost finish the course where you started from just outside of the pavillion!

Points to note

  • The course is undulating in nature, but love the down run towards the finish, even though there is a very small incline at the end up to the finish line.
  • Even though I have been told that this course is quick drying there are a couple of places that they say can be tricky to navigate after a lot of rain!

Facilities

There is free parking at West Glebe park Sat Nav NN17 1SX this is slightly different postcode than the one stated their official parkrun course web page.

There are toilets available before the start at the pavilion and afterwards you can have a post run coffee from there as well πŸ™‚

Pavilion

We asked one of the local patrons if there was a cafe nearby though where we could have a cooked breakfast and we were sent to the one called Boating Lake Cafe that was only half a mile away from the parkrun. A lovely breakfast and a very friendly service finished off a perfect tourist morning in Corby:)

Final Verdict

I would like to thank run director Matt Robey and his team of hi vis hero’s for doing a great job and being very encouraging to us all on the course, top stuff!

Corby Hi Vis Hero’s

So, if you are ever in area I can highly recommend this parkrun and its community to you all to visit, you have been told!

So finally, what is next for me I will carry on completing the 50th closest parkrun events not completed from my lucky dips list and be very happy in doing so πŸ™‚

Best Mark aka Silent Runner

Other News

I would like to congratulate Kettering parkrun local neighbour of Corby on their 200th event run on Saturday and my good friend Vax Nix who has run every one of them, top stuff and happy anniversary!

Review 2021

In the toughest of years for everyone with this pandemic continuing into its second year it was great to rely on both running/walking for maintaining good physical & mental health for me throughout this past year!

Virtual challenges

So, the mainstay for me this year was completing two virtual challenges set by the website End to End.

First up was finishing off the 874 miles Lands End to John O’ Groats that I started on 18th August 2020 and the final 5k was run as a freedom parkrun at my beloved on event of Luton, Wardown on 10th June 2021.

Accompanied by my good friend Martin Ball we even had chance to have a game of crazy golf afterwards to finish off a lovely morning!

Straight away after completing his challenge I went headfirst into signing up for the South West Coast Path one that entailed a 630 mile route with this challenge completed on the 11th December just before Christmas!

Finally on virtual challenges front I have finished the year signed up for the much shorter famous 271 miles Trafalgar Way between Falmouth & London that I hope to finish by the spring of next year!

parkrun

One of the main highlights for me this year was the start-up of parkrun UK again after a long layoff due to the pandemic!

For me it has been a slow return to do the thing I love the most namely parkrun. It was great to cheer people on volunteering as a marshal and at Houghton Hall Juniors always fun being a tail walker, I even managed to run at an event at home!

A real pleasure of mine is meeting up with good parkrun tourist friends again in Christine Imbert and parkrun legend John Butcher (below right picture wearing grey running top) 90 years young on 2 separate occasions at Luton!

Finally on parkrun I would like to congratulate all my friends who have broken milestones and run PB’s throughout this shortened year!!!!

Love Luton 10km

In October on one of the bleakest wettest of autumn mornings with the clocks going back I run in the 10km race (also has a half marathon option) of the annual Love Luton event.

I know it is hard to beleave but it was such great fun running in the rain, people coming out of their houses to cheer us all along and it made me proud to be a Lutonian!

Conclusion

So, for me it’s been a very cautious year continuing running through this pandemic, but I do intend to do parkrun touring again in 2022 and who knows I could be writing a blog report about your home parkrun event.

And until then I wish you all a happy New Year and I look forward to seeing you all in some form in 2022 πŸ™‚

Stay Safe

Mark aka Silent Runner

VIRTUAL Challenge – lejog

So, in the strangest of times we are living through this pandemic like everyone else I was looking for a challenge that would keep me fit and motivated over a long period of time!

Virtual Challenge

I had already completed a virtual challenge of walking 100 km in a few months over the summer of 2020 for a local hospice charity that was great, but I needed something more, so to my joy I saw a Facebook post inviting me to complete a virtual challenge of run/walking between Lands End to John O’ Groats (LEJOG) 874 miles.

This challenge is run by End to End formed by husband & wife team of Tori & Nathan that decide with the UK locking down in March 2020 they wanted to keep people motivated via virtual challenges.

So in May 2020 they came up with their first challenge LEJOG and the rest is history.

You can read their full story here

Virtual challenge rules

  • Have up to one year to complete this challenge from the start date of your LEJOG group (in my case it was group 4 with a start date of 17th August 2020)
  • You can either run or walk or both on this challenge
  • Upload daily combined total miles completed data up to a interactive virtual map page

Benefits

  • See where you are on your virtual LEJOG map
  • Milestone post cards given along the route
  • Medal & T-shirt given out to everyone who completes they challenge ( I decided to donate planting a tree as a different option to the T-shirt)
  • Brilliant supportive Facebook community

Have Fun

It would have been so easy just walk or run repeatably the same routes, but for me I needed to make my journey fun, and this included:

Synchronised Not parkrun

With a friend, I was in Stopsley, Luton and he was in Harlington, Bedfordshire. We both started at 10am, run a 5km local not parkrun course of our choosing and took pictures along the way as proof.

Finally, we had a good chinwag at the end of our adventure and shared our routes together via Strava πŸ™‚

Strava Art

Always a bit of fun trying to draw GPS line drawing of say an animal on your run/walk! Think on this 5km I may have managed to draw a dragon πŸ™‚

Beautiful Countryside

I am so lucky to have some beautiful countryside to walk/run in the form of the Chiltern hills and surrounding public footpaths of South Bedfordshire, I feel truly blessed πŸ™‚

Final day

So where was I going to run the final 5km of my LEJOG challenge? Simple run my local parkrun of Luton, Wardown with my very good friend Martin of course!

It was great to finish at a parkrun event that is very close to my heart and is one of the loveliest communities you could ever wish to meet, I could be biased, but I don’t care πŸ™‚

Be very rude not to after my final 5KM run we had to have a go at our parks new 18 hole mini golf course πŸ™‚

Personal Stats

  • Average daily mileage 2.93
  • Not parkruns 114
  • Longest single distance 10.37 miles
  • Day’s to complete 298 from 17th August 2020 – 10th June 2021

Conclusion

Thank you Tori & Nathan from the bottom of my heart for this much needed challenge that has been a massive boost to my mental & physical wellbeing over the last 10 months πŸ™‚

Good luck to everyone on their current virtual challenges and for me I will be trying to complete 1000 miles in total by the end of my year long LEJOG and in doing so personally donate Β£100 to my favourite local charity!

Finally, I have only gone and done it just sign up to their 630 miles South West Coast Path challenge πŸ™‚

Happy virtual run/walking everyone,

Best Mark aka Silent Runner

Update 16-08-2021

On the final day of this challenge I have completed a grand total of 1,144.71 miles and will be donating a good personal sum of money to a couple of charities that are close to my heart!

Dedication

I am dedicating this challenge in the memory of my Uncle Dermott who sadly passed away on the 1st August this year.

RIP Uncle Dermott

Review 2020

What a year it has been for the world, one to forget with the pandemic effecting how we live & socialise, but there have been a few running positives in this bleakest of years!!!

parkrun

Volunteer Milestone

The year started off so well at Wardown Juniors where I was celebrating my 100th parkrun volunteering day.

So as the run director I decided it would be a purple takeover event, promoting hi-vis volunteering heroes that without them parkrun could never take place each week!

There was cake and sweets afterwards with everyone having a great time on the first junior parkrun of the year πŸ™‚

250th Celebration

Always good to help celebrate Vicky Hamblin a very good parkrun tourist friend on her 250th parkrun event held at Alice Holt a tough, but beautiful course!

Well done Vicky! I look forward to meeting you and the rest of the Basingstoke crew again in the future!

Lockdown

So on the 23rd March we all entered a national lockdown in the UK, even though I was lucky in a lot of respects, the loss of parkrun, club coaching especially on our annual club beginners course, did help to have an negative effect on my mental wellbeing for a while during this time 😦

But on the 12th May I took my first steps outside since March with a 1.6 mile walk and it felt brilliant!

Couch to 5K

So how was I going to get fit again after such a long period of running inactivity, take the NHS Couch to 5K programme of course that has inspired so many people into taking up running!

This was one of the best things that I could do for my sole, a structured programme that supports you through 9 weeks with a coached audio files for each session supplied by an accompanying phone app!

I feel this course is brilliant way of introducing non runners into our world and I loved it so much some I wrote a post about my experiences on my journey back to fitness! link here

Virtual Challenges

I still needed something extra to keep me motivated during lockdown with no club meets, parkrun or races almost non existent, I stumbled upon virtual run/walk challenges to sign up for that were a life saver!

Keech Hospice – Summer Challenge (completed)

First up was a summer challenge for my favourite local charity Keech Hospice Care where I set a target of 100 km walking that I started on the 3rd July and finished on the 20th August. I completed this in between each session of my Couch to 5K.

Land End to John O’ Groats 17th August – current

Love this challenge it entails that you have a year to complete a virtual mapped route from Lands End to John O’ Groats from End to End run website that total distance is 874 miles.

You can either run/walk or do both on this challenge and all you have to do is upload your daily total to their interactive website with accompanying photo image of your recorded distance!

As of this moment I am just reached over the halfway point and love the community support from their associated Facebook group πŸ™‚

Conclusion

So in summing up I never really knew how important running was in my life as it took a global pandemic for me to see with the freedom running gives you that I had sadly taken for granted over the years!!

Finally lets hope 2021 is a year that will allow us all to run together again and make new memories πŸ™‚

Stay safe everyone,

Mark aka Silent Runner

Couch to 5K+

After recently graduating from the excellent NHS Couch to 5K programme c25k, I decided to give their own graduates Couch to 5k+ podcasts a go.

They are designed to improve your technique, speed and stamina over 3 distinct podcasts!

Structure

The 3 distinct areas in this series are stepping stones, speed and stamina that includes the usual 5 mins of warm up and cool down walks!

Each podcast has Laura as your coach there to support you and each set has specially designed music for you to be able to run to different speeds associated to the beats of music per minute that in turn replicates your running strides!

As the say “The music has a beat to match and drive your stride when you run to increase your performance and make your running easier.”

Stepping Stones

The aim of stepping stones is to run continuously for 30 minutes and you are instructed to run at ever higher beats per minute (bpm) over 3 time sections!

Set

  • Warm up walk 5 mins
  • Continuous running for 30 mins starting off with 150 through to 160 bmp for the last 5 mins
  • Cool down walk 5 mins

Duration 40 mins

Speed

The purpose of this set is to enable you to improve your overall speed by running at alternative slower and faster interval paces over 16 mins!

Set

  • Walk 5 mins warm up
  • Run 5 mins at 155 bpm
  • Interval running of 1 minutes at fast 165 and slow 150 bpm x 6 sets
  • Walk 5 mins cool down

Duration 24 mins

Stamina

This is a simple continuous 35 minute run to music to allow you to be able to run at a faster pace for longer!

Set

  • Warm up walk 5 mins
  • Run 3 x 10 min sections starting with first at 158 bpm and then 2 x 160 bpm
  • Final 5 minutes of running is at 165 bpm
  • Cool down walk 5 mins

Duration 45 mins

Conclusion

These Couch to 5K+ podcasts successfully help bridge the gap for graduates of the C25K programme wishing to improve their running technique/pace in a very supportive way to specially designed music!

Finally on a personal level, I would like to thank everyone involved in this c25k programme in helping me get my running fitness back through this period of lockdown, top work guy’s!!

Best

Mark

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