Great to be back at Houghton Hall parkrun that holds so many happy memories for me especially having my Cowell club run their back in September 2018.
The reason for updating this blog post is it that after the pandemic their course has changed, and it was worth a mention!
The course now is three laps but run in a clockwise direction that starts and finishes near the park’s visitor centre.
Points to note
- At the start of the second lap only you run into a short but pretty woodlands trail section.
- Great to see a majority of the course is now a gentle slope down to the finish that is always welcome
I have been told the reasons behind the course changes was to remove the pinch point for the runners at the start of the old course when the gravel path went between a bank of trees not allowing overtaking.
The other main reason was simple logistics of being able to manage both the start and finish as they are in very close proximity to each other.
As I was volunteering as a marshal on the day, I decided to run the course afterwards as a freedom run and I must admit I do prefer the changes and it has made the course even faster. Good shout to Houghton Hall core team on this course change!
I would like to congratulate fellow Stopsley Strider club friends firstly in Ellie Davies first runner home in an excellent time of 19:23 and Terry Willis who was our tail walker for this event, top stuff!!!
I would like to thank my very good tourist friend Cheryl today’s run director and your team of volunteers of whom I was one that you all done a sterling job, top stuff guy’s:)
Finally, I maybe biased on this one as Houghton Hall has a very special place in my heart, but with the additional course changes it now has become an event to post a very good time on, you all have been told 🙂
Until next time, happy park running everyone 🙂
Best Mark aka Silent Runner
Original Report 08-09-2022
The final stop on this current parkrun adventure was at the lovely Houghton Hall park in the town of Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire and located only 7.5 miles away from my home in Luton 🙂
So Houghton Regis with a population of 17,280 has seamless borders with both towns of Dunstable and Luton respectfully and combined totals a urban area of 255,000 people!
The known history of Houghton Regis goes back to the Doomsday book of 1086 when it was referred to as the village of Houstone! In 1950-60’s Houghton Regis greatly increased in size to accommodated government housing policy of relocating large number of the Greater London population to the home counties!
So Houghton Hall park is a 42 acres of parkland and woodland that has been transformed with a 2.2 million National Lottery grant with work completed in 2017 with facilities included is a new visitor centre for the local community to enjoy!
I have seen through my own eyes the benefits of how Lottery funding betters the life of local communities by improving the areas green space, this is a top initiative!!!!!
After completing Houghton Hall event I am now a member of the unofficial parkrun tourist club of park runners who have run at 100 different parkrun events called the Cowell club!
This is named after Chris Cowell from Basingstoke who was the first person to reach this feat in August 2012 and his wife Linda soon afterwards was the first female runner to reach the same hallowed total!
Can I say that I had the pleasure of meeting Chris at Heartwood Forest parkrun and for the record what a top gentleman he was to talk too!!!!!
I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart everyone who turned up and shared this milestone moment with me from tourist friends to the local running community!
Also special mention to everyone who has been part of my parkrun adventures of the last few years from Inverness to Ally Pally you all have reinforced my love of running through parkrun!!
I am dedicating my 100th different parkrun event to my dad who very sadly passed away on 18th February this year aged 82 and this was the most devastating moment in mine and my mum’s life!
He was a lifelong Tottenham Hotspur supporter and one of the items I kept of his was a spurs t-shirt. I have already run it at Homewood parkrun and thought it would be appropriate to wear his colours one last time!!!
The course is two and half anticlockwise laps of Houghton Hall park that is very flat in nature and surfaces is a mixture of gravel, woodland trail earth path and a small strip of grass up to the finish funnel!
Points to note
- On the start line there is little bit of congestion as the path cuts runs through an opening between the trees!
- Great little woodland section that is a pleasure to run
- Very good to see potential hazards clearly marked up from low-cut tree stumps to both park gates leaving/entering back they use have a number of Hi-Vis vests placed on them (sorry not shown in picture above as it was taken after the event had finished)
My time this week was 36:24 and this was used in a sweepstake by my club Stopsley Striders to help raise funds for Luton & Dunstable Hospital Charity fund. Glad I could play a very small part in supporting this years noble charity!!!!
There is up to 3 hours free parking available at the park, be careful though as the Sat Nav address is LU5 5UZ by default sends you into a nearby business park, so I recommend one way is typing in a Sat Nav search for Houghton hall park cafe to get the correct location!!!
There are toilets available at the parks Visitor Centre but unfortunately normally it does not open before 9am and for the post run coffee we retired to the parks cafe that is also located inside the same centre. For the record I love their cheese & sausage toastie that is always a welcome on a visit 🙂
Special mention to Sarah the cafe manager who royally looked after me and my friends throughout the time of this event, it was greatly appreciated 🙂
Other facilities included
- Children’s play area
- Visitor Centre
- Large play features dotted around the park
I would like to say it was completely my honour that my good friend Adam Langford for volunteering in being my 100th run director that was a lovely gesture sir!!! As always I would like to also thank all Houghton’s Hi Vis heroes for your support with a special mention to Hannah Bailey the lovely dancing lady on marshal point 2 🙂
A long time ago one of the core team at Wimbledon Common parkrun asked me this amusing question, “Are we much better looking than last weeks mob!” Well all I can say Houghton after 100 events you are a welcoming sight for these sore eyes and the most beautiful bunch of people I have ever had the pleasure to meet and run with 🙂
So to my tourist readers I throughly recommend Houghton Hall to you all with a flat course, modern visitor centre and top parkrun community! I may be biased but I was so delighted in having them as my 100th parkrun location and will definitely be back in the future to visit you all again!!!!!!
So what next for me, I will still be touring new parkrun events to me, writing my blog reports and telling the stories of the amazing unsung heroes that I meet each week!
Finally for now happy park-running everyone!!!!
Mark aka Silent Runner 21-02-2015 to 08-09-2018
I would like to congratulate two very good friends David Brown and Karen Bull both celebrating milestones, David who is RD at Luton, Wardown run his 100th parkrun and Karen fellow member of the core team at Wardown Juniors run her 50th parkrun respectfully!
Finally have a great 50th birthday as well Dave 🙂