So my tourist journey has taken me this week to Jersey Farm in the Parish of Sandridge, Hertfordshire.
For the record this is the new home of Heartwood Forest parkrun that run its last event no 47 on 6th October 2018 with the core team making the very difficult decision to relocate from Heartwood for the guaranteed longevity of an event to be held in the Sandridge area!
So this park covers 55 acres of beautiful woodland (about 10,000 trees planted by volunteers for the millennium) and meadowland with the name Jersey Farm coming from a Jersey dairy herd owned by Doctor Corner who’s cows provided milk for the local community back in the mid 20th century!
One thing I love about parkrun tourism is the challenges that other tourists create and at Jersey Farm I ticked the letter J off the Alphbeteer that is someone who has done one parkrun for each letter of the alphabet!
Great for me because in the past the letter J would have meant a long trip to Jersey in the Channel Islands, but thankfully today it is a short journey of 8 miles trip from my home in Luton 🙂
Also for the next few years I will be mainly touring via a lucky dip raffle method of the 50 closest events I have not yet run. This is now fixed to the current listed 50 events of 9th March with the first one picked out of the hat this week was number 2 Jersey Farm 🙂
Finally always great for me to be around kindred tourist friends Martin, Dave Thomas (right of picture) and Dave it was lovely meet your better half Sue mate!!!
This winter course is just over 2 clockwise laps of the parameter of Jersey Farm that is steadily undulating in nature with the surface predominantly made up of trail paths!
The start is uphill just before the brow of the hill and then you run down the other side to the back of the course! Next you run a short section around the parameter to start the first lap and at the end of the second one you turn right with the finish funnel just a short distance ahead of you!
Points to note
Love running this trial course around the farms woodland paths, a shear joy to run, my time 38.14
There is no parking or toilet facilities at Jersey Farm, but there is though small free car park at Sandridge village Sat Nav AL4 9DD that is about half a mile from the start and the public toilets are situated next to the car park and are open before 8am that is always a blessing for us tourists!
For the post run coffee we retired to the lovely Heartwood Tea Rooms for a delicious full English breakfast 🙂 Love the touch of the sand timer placed on your table to let you know when your pot of tea has brewed enough!!
I would like to thank this weeks run director Howard Bull and all the volunteers for a great job on a bitterly cold Saturday morning! Special mention to the finish funnel cheer squad to give that level of positive support to all the park runners at the end of the 5k is always very welcome, thanks guys!!!
So Jersey Farm has a very enjoyable trail course to run, top community, lovely cafe to frequent, what’s not to like you have been told!
Mark aka Silent Runner
Very well done to my home parkrun of Luton, Wardown who celebrated their 200th event this weekend, you are all very close to my heart and a brilliant community to behold!!!!
Date Run – 24/02/2019
Location – Brunel University, Kingston Lane, Uxbridge UB8 3PH
Mildly undulating course around the streets of Hillingdon, on the 10km event you run one lap of the main course and finish by completing an inner lap around Brunel University Campus!
Points to Note:
There is free on site parking at Brunel University Sat Nav UB8 3PH and with porter cabin toilets provided!
This is a timed chipped event with Race HQ situated at the University Indoor athletics centre Please note there are no changing facilities for runners at this event, so be dressed to run, but there is a supervised bag drop area though!
Cash prizes for the overall first three finishers for both events, trophies for age category winners. Everyone received a technical t-shirt and a finishers media!
I would like to thank everyone involved with both Hillingdon events, it was well organised and I throughly recommend this race to all my running friends!
Mark aka Silent Runner
This week I had a bit of dilemma how can I some spend time with a very good tourist coming to my home parkrun of Luton, Wardown and still volunteer, the answer was very simple event set-up 🙂
So on a bitterly cold January morning I was at our boathouse 7:45am sharp to assist Geoffrey one of our true parkrun legends at Luton! For the record our course is 3 and a bit laps mainly around the park’s boating lake.
The journey like our runners proceeds in a clockwise direction, cart in hand we traveled at a leisurely walking pace, directional/warning signs placed, finish funnel set up and don’t forget to put out Pete’s corner sign for our super volunteer marshal👍🏻
The striking thing for me was the level of course preparation and runners safety Geoffrey went into was quite exemplary! He spray painted the exposed tree roots, removed debris from the tarmac paths and even swept the low laying puddles off the course, outstanding effort sir!
Must admit it was all pleasure being in his company for that 45 min set up, so Geoffrey who has volunteered over 100 times alone for event setup and all the other regular volunteers at Luton and around the country, we salute you all guys!!!!
PS Sorry Geoffrey for breaking your broom, don’t know my own strength, but rest assured I will replace it and a new one will be in your cart for next weeks set up mate 😊
Mark aka Silent Runner
After a break of over 2 months I am back on the tourist road again at one of the oldest parkrun events in the UK namely Basingstoke. It’s first event was back in July 5th 2008 and it was the 10th established parkrun event with now 587 in total in the UK alone!
Basingstoke is the largest town in Hampshire (Portsmouth & Southampton are both cities) with a population of 113,776 and is located almost equal distance apart between Southampton and London on the M3 corridor!
So before the second world war Basingstoke was a small market town of about 13,000 people, but like a lot of towns in the South East I have visited due to expansion plans developed after the war to accommodate the London overspill towns like Basingstoke grow and developed out of all recognition to now the bustling town you see today!
The main location for Basingstoke parkrun is based at War Memorial park (when other park events take precedence the alternate venue is at Crabtree Plantation) that history dates back to 1765 when a then William Russell purchased Goldings House with its 6 acres of gardens!
Now in modern times, “In 1921 Basingstoke Corporation purchased the estate from Thomas Burberry to provide a fitting memorial to those who had perished in the Great War. The War Memorial Park was designed by J A Smith FRIBA and the War Memorial (Winged Victory) by Louis Frederick Roslyn was erected at the entrance. In 2001 funding from the HLF allowed the 18th-century landscape parkland to be restored.” (extract taken from Parks & Gardens website)
Months ago I arranged a reunion event with some of the best parkrun tourist friends a man could wish for at their home parkrun of Basingstoke! The first time I met them all was at one of the last events to be ever held at Hatfield Forest, Hertfordshire back in August 2017.
A special mention to Matthew on running your 100th Basingstoke parkrun on Saturday (picture below left wearing white running cap) and Carl (picture right with woolly yellow tourist hat) all the best in a few months time when you reach the outstanding milestone of 500 parkrun events completed!!!
Finally on the subject of tourism next time you are on the website for parkrun UK most events page a good number of park runners on that list come from Basingstoke with apart from my friends there is Paul Fielding leading this list with a mind-blowing 426 different UK parkrun events completed, simply wow!!!!!
It was all my pleasure to meet Lynn Brastock who last week reached the amazing milestone of completing 500 events with 487 run at Basingstoke, you are indeed an inspiration to us all Lynn!!!!
This course comprises of just over 2 clockwise laps of the perimeter of War Memorial park that is lightly undulating in nature. The course used this week was their summer course that consist of about 70% tarmac 30% grass running surface!
Points to note
Overall a good course to get a quick time, with enough going on to keep most runners interested between changes of running surfaces, treelined paths and a bit of a hill test!
My time summed up where my fitness is at present, with this being my first outdoor 5k since Catford parkrun back in November of last year, time 37:42
There is a small free car park Crossborough Hill post code RG21 4AG that is close to the start of this event, but as they state if you can use other modes of transport to get to this event! There are toilets are available at the park that is situated adjoining the tennis club building.
A top tourist tip when traveling any distance by car it always good to factor in a comfort break, in Basingstoke case there is Fleet Service station that is just a few miles before the M3 Basingstoke exit if you are coming from London direction!
For the post run coffee they retired to The Tea Bar, 9 London road, RG21 7NT, in my case I followed my friends half mile or so into town to The Maidenhead Inn, Wetherspoons for a lovely cooked breakfast and a chat!
I would like to thank this weeks run director Helen Cameron and her team of volunteers for doing an outstanding job supporting 602 runners on the day!
My tourist friends I would like to say a big thank you for giving me the warmest of welcomes and I very much look forward to the next encounter together on our tourist journeys!
So if you want to visit a top founding UK parkrun, meet a lovely community then Basingstoke has got to be high on your list to tour, you have been told!
What next for me, I will be taking a more relaxed approach to touring with no schedules set, but rest assured one day I may well be running at your event, but until then happy park running everyone 🙂
Mark aka Silent Runner
This has been one of the best and emotional running years of my life with so much happening in 2018!
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 🙂
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!!!
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!!!!
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 🙂
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 🙂
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!
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!
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 👍🏻
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 🙂
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 🙂
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 🙂
Mark aka Silent Runner
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 😊
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!!!
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!
Mark aka Silent Runner
Next blog – Review 2018