Review – 2018

This has been one of the best and emotional running years of my life with so much happening in 2018!

Double Header 

I had to start off the new year with for the first time I run a parkrun double header of events that began at  Linford Woods and finished running Milton Keynes with my pal Martin. These are two great single lap courses that I would throughly recommend with the challenge of trying to run up all the way up the wonderful zip-zag path to the back of the peace pagoda at the Milton Keynes event 🙂

Amongst Friends

Sadly in February my dad passed away that was so devastating for me and mum, but my running club Stopsley Striders help supported me through this tough time and parkrun buddies Martin Ball, Kevin Brown and Robert Kidd came out to run with me at Homewood in my dads name, I was deeply honoured you came guys!

Must admit it was great to think positive thoughts for at least a couple of hours and while I was there we even pitched in to help with course repairs!!!

100th parkrun

For my 100th parkrun milestone I had to be at home parkrun of Luton, Wardown to celebrate with my local running community! Special mention my tourist friends who attended and added to this special day was Ken Thomas from Darlington who also lost his dad and we both ran in their honours on the day!

Finally beautiful touch was my work colleagues gave me a present of a Luton Town FC replica shirt with the words LAYZELL 100 printed on the back to run in at Luton, beautiful gesture that brought a tear to my eyes!!!!

Luton Town 100th top back

Local News

Also it was great to be involved with our Stopsley Striders 2018 beginners graduation at Luton, Wardown again with my co-coach for our group Karen Bull!

It was also a pleasure to run in two local events in the club organised Stopsley 5-10 mile race and the Love Luton 10km that finishes by the town hall, always a pleasure to support my home town 🙂

New parkrun

I always wanted to give something more back to parkrun so when I read the Facebook appeal to set up a core team for a new Junior parkrun event at Wardown, Luton I jumped at the chance!

Very interesting being part of a team and seeing how a parkrun event evolves from setting out a course, event takeover day at Houghton Hall juniors to finally going live in July!

Also great to see our juniors doing so well and being part of such a lovely core team of friends that are close to my heart! I am a bit worried though as every event I am as run director it pours down with rain, starting to believe I am jinxed 🙂

99 Celebration

I decided early on to celebrate my 99th different parkrun event by honouring fellow tourist friend Mark Sherwood who sadly passed away and give something positive back to a parkrun community!

So what I did was simply organise an ice cream van to be at Letchworth parkrun and offered free ice cream to all the finishers and volunteers who supported that weeks event. It was great the weather even played ball being warm and sunny in early September, plus seeing so many happy faces made my day!

Cowell Club

So a year after finally deciding to run the additional 43 events on the 8th September I run my 100th different event at Houghton Hall, Houghton Regis and in doing so joined the hallowed tourist Cowell club, named after Chris Cowell who was the first person to reach this milestone!

I would like to thank everyone who turned up on the day, Houghton Hall parkrun community and everyone who was part of my adventures leading up to joining the Cowell club, much appreciated!

Lon-done again

After losing my parkrun regionnaire status of Greater London in March of this year with 4 new events being added, my next challenge in November was to run the remaining events of Clapham Common, Foots Cray Meadows and Catford in that I still had to complete to be Lon-done again!

Must admit it was great to be back in the capital that meant so much to me, which started off as a charity challenge in 2016-17. Look forward to running back in our capital in 2019 when I am sure there will be new events starting 👍🏻

Home for Christmas

Finally in December it was very simple volunteer at my home events and meet up with good friends, so it was my great pleasure to visit both Houghton Hall and Luton, Wardown Senior and Junior events, what I lovely time I had too 🙂

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Final Verdict

So 2018 has been a brilliant year of parkrun milestones achieved in the best of company a man could ever want with stunning locations to run on and with great stories behind every event!

I would like to personally thank every parkrun community that I have visited in 2018, you have been great hosts to the point I thought I was running at home, love you guys!!!!

Very special mention to my lovely mum who is up every Saturday that I am touring to make sure I have got everything and worries until I get home, love you mum 🙂

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So what next in 2019 very simple I will just enjoy my running with no schedule set and who know’s one day I could be at your parkrun, but until then happy park running everyone 🙂

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

 

Hi-Vis Heroes

On bitterly cold December parkrun morning where the temperature was just nudging 0 celsius at Luton, Wardown parkrun 183 runners braved the cold, but I want to talk about the 34 Hi-Vis heroes that made our event 188 happen!

Today up and down the country our parkrun volunteers showed why our parkrun community is thriving, no matter what the weather they come out to set up the course, cheer and scan your barcode that is a brilliant sight to see!

So it was great to be back home with my friends as a tail walker, like so many other events we are lucky to have super volunteers like Geoffrey, Peter, Ivor and Reg who have racked up years of volunteering between them, outstanding effort guys!

Special mention to Tina for keeping my spirits up as my co tail walker to the extent that I forget that I was stupidly undressed as I was in wearing shorts in that weather 😊

With Tina

Loyal Companion

I was at Luton to help celebrated my very good buddy Martin Ball 50th parkrun who for a large majority of these events has accompanied me on my tourist adventures! He has been great fun to be with every week that we have toured together with many highlights including our Facebook live broadcasts from both Northala Fields & Old Deer park, priceless memories mate and well done reaching 50 not out!!!!!

Also a big well done to Stopsley Striders club friend Amrik Singh who also reached 50 parkrun at Luton, well done mate!!!

Final Verdict

So next time at the run briefing you hear the run director asking for volunteers, please help them out and join the ranks of our Hi-Vis heroes!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Next blog – Review 2018

Catford

So today at Catford in the London Borough of Lewisham I have come full circle on my tourism adventures as back in June 2016 I started my capital adventures in running all the parkrun in Greater London region in a year for charity and back then there was a total of 47 events.

Now it is great to be back in my beloved London to run event 53 at Catford that is based at Mountsfield park🙂

Parks History

The origins of this park date back to 1845 when the father of the noted microlepidopterist Henry Tibbats Stainton built Mountsfield house including 6 acres of land and gave it to his son as a wedding present!

In 1903 the widow of Henry in her will gave the land over to become a park for the local community with its official opening in August 1905. Since then the park as expanded to now cover 32 acres and annually holds events such as the free Peoples Day festival that attracts 25,000+ visitors.

Course

Catford course map

The course is three clockwise laps of the parameter of Mountsfield park that surface is a mixture of tarmac and trail paths with a large section also run on grass fields!

You start and finish by the bandstand on top of the hill, but on the final lap you run a shorter distance that is when you run up the slope for the final time you turn right towards the bandstand and finish funnel instead of running behind the allotments for the first 2 laps!

Points to note

  • As at running briefing stated parts of this course can get very slippery especially now with a carpet of leaves laying on the course!
  • Love the Strava name for the loop section, “The daft loop” great to see their sense of self honour on this one 🙂

There is a lot to keep you interested on at Mountsfield Park course from a wooded trail path section to a steady incline at the backend of each lap that is a joy for us tourists!

So another course that will stay long in the memory and I would thoroughly recommend this course to my parkrun friends everywhere!!!!!

Facilities

There is free on street parking at Stainton Road next to the park Sat Nav SE6 1AN the parks toilets where available available before the start that is great news!

For the post run coffee to Mountsfield Park Café was first for me as it was lovingly transformed from a shipping container to a vibrate cafe, run by two of the nicest people that you could ever want to meet!

I would like though like to wish everyone involved including Friends of Mountsfield park in trying to get a new cafe for the park all the best in your campaign!!

Other Facilities includes

  • Children’s play area
  • ball court
  • tennis courts
  • football pitch
  • bandstand
  • meadow
  • ornamental garden

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Ben Payton and his team of volunteers for being great hosts with special mention to your community who made me feel like I was at home straight from the moment I turned up, outstanding!!!! Well done Catford a real credit to parkrun UK!

So what is next for me is some local parkrun volunteering, a reunion with very good friends at their home event at Basingstoke on 26th January, then after that I am having a break from parkrun tourism for a while!

I will be back rest assured just a little bit quieter that’s all, but until then I would like to wish all 105 different parkrun events I have attended the following, you have all inspired me with your selfless dedication to your local communities, hats off to every last one of you 🙂

Love

Mark aka Silent Runner

Foots Cray Meadows

So I arrived at the stunning location of Foots Cray Meadows, Sidcup that is the largest green open space in the London Borough of Bexley at 97 hectares!

Meadows History

Foots Cray Meadows was originally part of Foots Cray Place estate with the country house built-in 1757 but sadly demolished after a fire in 1949.

So in 1778 Thomas Coventry inherited the estate and commissioned the world-renowned landscape gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in 1780 to design a beautiful parkland and woodland landscape, making the most of the River Cray by widening it out into a ribbon shaped lake and you cross over it by the now famous five arch bridge!!!

This is why I love parkrun so much with the delight of running in some of the most beautiful parks the UK has to offer, 9am every Saturday morning is an adventure and a delight for this tired sole, I love parkrun!!!!

Always a pleasure to meet up with very good tourist friend in Matthew Wateridge (picture below left) and Matthew I am looking forward to seeing you all again on our 26th January 2018 reunion meet up at your home parkrun of The War Memorial Park, Basingstoke.

Me with Matthew Wateridge

Course

Foots Cray Meadows course map

This is an out and back course that start is near the children’s playground, then you head off to complete dual clockwise loops, the first is the larger one and the second is almost half its size. Once you have finished the second loop it is a run back to the finish funnel that is next to the start!

The running surface this mainly a mixture of grass and trail paths and there is a pronounced steady incline on the larger loop towards Rectory Lane!

Points to note

  • Definitely after prolonged rain a trail shoes course
  • Surprising number of hallows on the course that can collect mud and water

I would say this is a beautiful course that is perfect if you are training for or just love running cross-country!!

Facilities

There is free parking at Kelsey’s Farm Shop Sat Nav DA14 5ET that is a 10 min walk from the start of the parkrun. The toilets at the shop are also open before the start of the event that is always welcome to us tourists and shower facilities at £1 for 10 mins!

For the post run coffee we retired to Kelsey’s Farm Café, which was a treat for a hungry park runner and they had a great menu to select from 🙂 Remember on presentation of your parkrun barcode you get 10% off your bill, nice touch 🙂

Farm shop cafe

While there I had to buy some fresh produce from the farm shop afterwards and all I am going to say is every item that I purchased was delicious 🙂

Farm shop

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Rob O’Halloran and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome and it is hard to believe that you have been only going as an event since July, well done guys!!!!

So if you ever wanted to run around a beautiful landscape originally designed by Capability Brown then Foots Cray Meadows has to be high on your parkrun tourist list, shear heaven!!!!!

What next for me is just a little matter of regaining my Greater London parkrun region status at Catford next week that will be 53 events completed, looking forward to it 🙂

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Clapham Common

So after a long gap away touring the home counties I am back in London to regain my parkrun regionnaire status that starts today at Clapham Common!

This will be my 51 completed different event out of 53 in the Greater London region 🙂

The park

Clapham Common is one of the most iconic and largest parks in Greater London being 87 hectres in size and is situated between Clapham, Battersea and Balham!

The Common’s history goes as far back as 1086 in the Doomsday book as common land owned by the Manor of Clapham!

I love the parks grade II listed bandstand that was built-in 1890 and is the largest surviving example in London today! On a warm summer evening it would be great to sit there and listen to music playing from this beautiful imposing structure, heaven!!!!

Clapham Common banstand

Volunteer Tourism

So I thought that I would try something different on my tourist adventures, with the permission of their core team I was Event 27 Clapham Commons tail walker 🙂

Why tail walking very simple I needed to pick a volunteering role that would not stop me from registering a time for this event!

The idea came from a very good tourist friend Dave Wilkinson (pictured left below) from Leeds who was also at Clapham today volunteering as well as running with his role being as pre event set up!

Me with Dave Williamson

For the record Dave is an avid park-runner who has amassed a total of 484 events that includes 205 different ones and likes to avidly volunteer when touring!

You are a credit to all us parkrun tourists Dave!!!!!!

Course

Clapham Common course map

The course is a simple 2 clockwise laps of the parameter of Clapham Common park that’s running surface is a mixture of tarmac and earth paths, very flat in terms of elevation!!!!

Points to Note

  • Due to the narrow run paths they state this course is not suitable for buggies
  • After prolonged rain I could see trail shoes being advisable on this course
  • There are a few places where exposed tree roots could catch out the unwary
  • At the start they organised volunteers to display finish time positions along the start line queue

Facilities

So if the parkrun I can get to is easily reached by public transport then I will take it, trust me Luton to Clapham Common is as simple as you can get to reach with 2 London underground tubes stations alone bordering this park with Clapham South being the closest to the start 🙂

Toilets are available before the start of the event and are 550 metres away from where the run briefing starts!

For the post run coffee we retired to the lovely La Baita cafe situated inside the park close to the finish line!!!

La Baita cafe

I love this urban park as there is so much going on from jogging, football matches, Skate park, fishing…….

Great to see how every inch of this park is lovingly used by the local community it serves!!!!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank todays Run Director Frank Elston and all the volunteers for making me and Dave feel welcome and part of your team!

Special mention Clapham Common has not been going long as an event and they had their largest run attendance to today with 620 park-runners and they done a brilliant job in its event smoothly, top work guy’s!!!!!!

Clapham Common Volunteers

Also great to bump into so many tourist friends including Carl and Olivia Heaps, Mark Shotton, Dave Williamson and my top buddy Martin Ball who bought his work colleague and friend Rob along (far right of photo below).

Welcome to our crazy lovely tourist family mate!!!

Clapham Common Tourist friends

So finally very simple if you are looking for a fast time in an iconic London park, then Clapham Common is a must visit for any self-respecting tourist, you have been told!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Higginson, Marlow

On a morning when the heavens opened up and sensible people were indoors, I realised that they were the ones missing out. I was running at a stunning location with very good tourist friends at Higginson park, Marlow, Buckinghamshire  🙂

So Higginson park is 32 acres in size and has been a public park since 1926, but its history goes far back as garden since 1758. In 2016 Higginson collected it’s 13th straight prestigious Green Flag award and it borders one side onto the famous river Thames!

Must admit one of favourite parkrun tourist pleasures is running on courses beside a river and the last time I ran this close to this great river was at Kingston parkrun that was part of my capital parkrun adventure. I felt privileged to make her acquaintance again!

Tourist Celebrations

The reason why I was here this week for their event 8 was to help celebrate two parkrun tourist stalwarts Andrew Chilcraft (left of picture) and Kevin Brown who were both running their respective 250th parkrun on Saturday, wow outstanding effort guys!!!

Andrew & Kevin

For the record Andrew is a event director at Linford Woods, Milton Keynes and Kevin Brown from Bedfont Lakes parkrun has been a very good friend of mine friend throughout my adventures!!!

On this celebration it was great to see so members of our tourist community again, share experiences and just be happy in each others company!!!!

Tourist group shot

Finally I need to say Kevin has been there for a number of my important parkrun milestones, but the one occasion that I will cherish forever is when he and a couple of close parkrun friends run with me at Homewood parkrun to support me after the loss of my beloved dad, you are a top man and I am lucky to know you mate!!!!

Me with Kevin

Course

Marlow course map

The course is very simple in design, you run two anticlockwise laps of Higginson park, then run a very scenic 2 km out and back route alone the tow path beside the river Thames, finally finish where you started by the skate park!

The course as you would expect is very flat and for a majority of the route surface is made up of gravel paths.

Points to note

  • No dogs permitted on this course
  • Not suitable for buggies runners
  • The temporary pontoon bridge needs to be crossed with caution in wet weather
  • Be very wary of runners trying to overtake in both directions on this narrow footpath out and back section!
  • Finally if you position yourself right at the start this differently is a PB still course!

My time 37:25

Facilities

There is pay & display parking at Higgington park with charges of just £1.20 up to 2 hours Sat Nav SL7 2AE and toilets where available inside the park before the start of the parkrun that is always a bonus!

For the post run coffee we retired to The Resolute cafe that is situated inside the park for a well-earned bacon roll 🙂

The Resolute cafe

Other facilities included

  • Skate park
  • Leisure centre
  • Children’s playground
  • Museum
  • Status of 5 x Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave

Final Verdict

I would like to thank all the Hi Vis heroes at Higginson who supported all the runners in the most horrendous of weather conditions, it is hard to believe you have only completed eight events, excellent stuff guy’s!!!!

So would I recommend Higginson, Marlow to you all and the answer would be a resounding yes, beautiful town and a fast scenic course along the river Thames. Heaven of a parkrun event!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

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