Event 82 Cambridge

On a warm spring morning I have finally reached Cambridge the second world renowned UK university city on my parkrun adventures, with a population on 127,000 and the county town! This is a great place to come and visit with loads of events and museums to explore and don’t forget go on a punt on the river Cam!

Milton Country Park

The parkrun today was based at the picturesque location of Milton Country park that is to the north of the city. It always gladdens my heart to hear land transformed from old gravel pit works, then becomes a nature reserve and eventually in 1993 into this lovely Country park based around two main lakes in Dickerson’s & Todd’s pit, just brilliant for the local community to enjoy!

Tourist Friends – New and Old

Again always a pleasure to meet new and old parkrun tourist friends, first up was fellow Cow Cowell tourists Pauline Blake, Jennie Peacock & Linda Crook, look forward to seeing you all at another parkrun I hope very soon!

Cow Cowell tourist friends

Then great to see you again Angelica, it has been to long time since we all three met up at a parkrun together, I think it was Mile End January of last year! I am lucky to have you and Martin as top company on my adventures and long may this continue!

Angelica Martin & Me

Course

Milton course map

The course starts off with a short clockwise lap at the southern section of the park, then after two big anti-clockwise laps of the parameter of the park incorporating both its lakes! At the end of the final lap you veer off onto a straight path of about 200m to the finish funnel!

The courses terrain is very flat in nature as you expect and the surface was a mixture of trail and gravel paths, very boggy in patches at the moment with the large amount of rain we have had recently!

Points to note

  • Trail shoes required at the moment in these conditions
  • Large numbers of runners make overtaking tricky on these narrow paths
  • Fishing bivvy were on the straight path along Todd’s pit so single file around these couple of bottlenecks
  • Runners with dogs not permitted due to again the narrowness of the paths

Today my time was 38:53 much better than last week and for the record when these paths dry out this is a very fast course!

Facilities

There is paid parking at Milton Country Park that is £2.50 payable at the main gate and the Sat Nav address is CB24 6AZ. Toilets are available before the start of the parkrun next to the car park!

For the post run coffee we all retired to Milton Country Park cafe that is very close to the start finish line and its balcony has a great view over Todd’s pit lake!

Milton cafe view

Being such a nice spring morning we had to have the obligatory first parkrun ice cream of the year, it was delicious treat and would have been a rude not too 🙂

Milton ice cream special

Other facilities include

  • Fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Wildlife watch

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Tracy Hutchison and her team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome, For the record are a credit to parkrun dealing with nearly 500 runners on this course in a professional friendly matter, top stuff guys!!!

Cambridge volunteer shot

So finally if you are looking for a fast course around a beautiful country park, then you have got to tour and run at Cambridge parkrun!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Event 82 Victoria Dock 21-04-2018

Extra News

I would like to congratulate my home parkrun of Luton, Wardown reaching it’s 3rd birthday this weekend, you have gone from strength to strength and I am proud of you all and what you have achieved!!!!

Orginals Luton

I will look forward to seeing all those wonderful pictures of this birthday Mad Hatter’s themed event, be creative with those head garments guys 🙂

Event 81 Haverhill

Always great to visit new events that are only a few weeks old and seeing a new parkrun community flourish in front of your eyes! I can definitely say parkrun UK that it was all my pleasure to run event 5 at Haverhill parkrun today located at Puddlebrook Playing Fields!

First for me as a tourist it is always a delight to run in a new county for first time with the market town of Haverhill being in Suffolk with a population of 27,000 that is very close to the border of adjacent counties of Cambridgeshire and Essex respectfully!

Tourist Milestone

I was lucky to bump into Stuart Barton who was celebrating his 50th different parkrun event at Haverhill, well done sir great achievement! You will have to tell me one day the story why you like to wear your cow cowl buff as a mask for photo’s though mate 🙂

Also on my travels it is a real treat to meet up with fellow tourist friends again from Huntington, Phil Pearson, Peter & Pat Jackson who I first met before at Gunpowder parkrun, great to see you again guys!!!

Haverhill Tourist group shot

Also good to meet new people in Jennifer Devaney, Will Burl (in orange) and I think the gentleman on the right is Carl Oldford, plus it is always a pleasure to tour with my top buddy Martin Ball!

with Jennifer Devaney and friends

Course

Haverhill course map

This course is run around Puddlebrook Playing Fields, first up is 2 small clockwise laps around the top playing field then you cross a small wooden bridge to run additional 3 clockwise laps of the larger playing field.

Once you finished the third lap you run back across the bridge and run 3/4 of a clockwise lap on the small field to the finish funnel.

This is a almost flat grass playing field course that was suprisingly only boggy in a few small areas considering the amout of rain we have had, but definitely still a trail running shoes kind of course at the present moment!

The size of the field of runners totalled 57 but this is to be expected with this type of course and the horrendous weather we are having at present, I am positive this parkrun will become more popular the when people know about its presence!

Not happy with my 5k times at present will have to knuckle down and do some serious training, time 40:08

Facilites

There is free road parking on Homefield Road Sat Nav CB9 8QP, I parked in a small car park that is sharp left if you enter from the A1017 roundabout side of this long road! As stated on Haverhill parkrun website there are no toilet facilities on site and I have heard that they are getting a licence for a mobile cafe as I speak!

For the obligatory post run coffee we retired to the Haver Arms for a wonderful full English breakfast that was very welcome addition to refuel me for the long trip home 🙂

Final verdict

I would like to thank RD Shirley Fowler and her team of volunteers that made us feel extremely welcome, for the record showed that your enthusiasm is infectious and long on may it continue, top work guys!!!!

Haverhill volunteer shot

So if you are ever in this part of Suffolk give Haverhill parkrun a visit and in the right conditions this can be a fast flat course!

Best

Mark

Event 82 Cambridge 14-04-2018

A parkrun cancellation!

First for me, nothing worse for a parkrun tourist than a cancelled event while you are in the process of traveling to venue, it was meant to be event 81 Brentwood on my Cowell Club adventure to reach 100 different parkrun events.

The reason for this cancellation was in this case a very unusual one, the Weald Country park main gates were not opened in time by the park wardens to give the local parkrun community enough time to set up the course!

It would have been a beautiful single clockwise lap of this country park to run, but would have been testing due to its undulating nature and the underfoot wet conditions, still I love a challenge though 🙂

Lesson Learned

Must admit even I have learnt a valuable lesson about cancelations today, so I would to like to share a few tips with you so that you all can potential reduce the risk of parkrun tourism heartache!

Apologies in advance if you already know them!

Tips

  1. Check the future roster page on the local parkrun website that post events 5 weeks in advance, reason some cancellations could be down to other types of events in the park on a specific week that take president over parkrun event e.g cultural festival!
  2. Check social media especially the local parkrun events Facebook page
  3. Also take a look at the official parkrun UK website events cancellation page
  4. If the cancellation is on the Saturday morning itself while you are traveling, plan alternative local events that you can get to if possible in time before they start!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the run director John Holland at Brentwood for keeping everyone informed onsite and on social media that the event was cancelled!

Well done John in handling this awkward situation in a very calm professionally and friendly manner!

Brentwood Volunteers shot

I will be back one day to run your beautiful hilly parkrun, but until then the show must go on with the hope of better luck next week at Haverhill, Suffolk.

Best

Mark

Event 81 Haverhill 07-04-2018

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!

Course

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

Facilities

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!!!

Best

Mark

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

Course

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!

Facilities

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!

Best

Mark

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!

Course

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

Facilities

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,

IMG_0272

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!

img_1174.jpg

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 🙂

img_1178

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!

Course

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

Facilities

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

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