Today at Harlow, Essex I reignited my love affair with this part of the world that people warmth of welcome and hospitality is nothing short of the feeling of being at your home parkrun!!!
So Harlow with a population of 86,000 is whats known as a new town that was created after the second world war from Harlow and a number of neighbouring villages, which was back then part of the governments masterplan of building new urban towns to relieve the overcrowding of our capital!
The site of todays parkrun is the beautiful 164 acres Harlow Town park that was originally designed by Dame Sylvia Crowe and opened in 1957. There has been in recent years £2.8m of restoration work to the park funded by both Harlow council and National Lottery Fund with work finished in 2016.
This park has now received the prestigious Green Flag Award status for the last two years showing this is a now a must visit family detination!
The beauty of traveling to all these events is that parkrun encapulates life, the fun, the inspirational stories and a community coming together to support one of their own in desperate need, I found this all out after just 1 hour in Harlow parkrun company!
If you are celebrating your 100th parkrun at home what better way to run it than in fancy sporting fancy dress costumes!
So it pleasure to bump into Darren & Paul natty dressed as a cricketer and wrestler with a few friends to had add to the party atmosphere, even Robin the run director came as a tour cyclist, I salute every one of you!!
Also great to meet fellow tourist from Birmingham Chris Wills, who was down in the area visiting relatives, nice to meet you Chris!
Well done to super Harlow parkrun volunteer John Gillespie who has knocked up 250 parkruns for his community! Outstanding selfless achievement John, you are a credit to us all sir!
One thing that stands out is the generosity of human spirit found at every parkrun that I have visited, the willingness to support charities and families in need. So I was humbled to meet the Team Kaleigh fundraising and raising awareness for a young very brave lady who was suffering from a rare form of brain cancer!
A truly moving story that touched my heart and soul! So if you want to know more about Kaleigh and the tireless work her support team are doing, here is their website link
This course is made up of large two anticlockwise laps of Harlow Town park, then a shorter lap to make up the distance!
The large laps consist of a long out and back section run on cycle/footpaths that is covered by a canopy of beutiful trees! Next you then run around a perimeter of the park down to Edinburgh Road entrance, then run up the infamous grass short sharpe Harlow parkrun hill, across a small bridge to start of your second lap!
On the third and final lap is a short retracing of the route minus the cycle paths and the hill, cross the small bridge one last time just afterwards turn right to run back down to the finish funnel where you started!
The course is very undulating in nature and surface is run on a mix of about 70% tarmac footpaths 30% on grass!
Points to note
- Overall definitely a running shoe course, not enough grass to warrant using trail shoes
- The uphill grass hill section would probably be very challenging in wet conditions
This is definitely not a course for the faint hearted, but I like a challenge and you really get a sense of achievement well done once completed! My time was 36:32 happy with that on this course!!!
There is free 1 hour parking in Harlow Town park Sat Nav CM20 2QD and at the pay & display machine, press the yellow button twice and then the green button.
There are public toilets open before the start of the parkrun near pets corner that is a 3 minutes walk from the car park!
For the post run coffee they retired to Spurriers House Café , sorry I did not have the time to come and join you all.
Other Facilities include
- Pets corner
- Skate Park
- Outdoor gym
- Adventure playground
- Incorporating a variety of beautiful gardens
I would to thank RD Robin Peter Lozeau and his team of volunteers for making me feel like part of your community, thank you guys much appreciated!! I need to say Robin apart from being a true gentleman you are great character and it was all my pleasure to be their at your run briefing sir, long may it continue!!!
So finally, if you like the idea running on a challenging course in a beautiful park then Harlow is definitely the parkrun event for you!!!
Mark aka Silent Runner