All posts by mhatter67

Sunny Hill

On a beautiful spring Easter Saturday morning we arrived at Sunny Hill park that aptly matched the weather for this event to run the newest Greater London parkrun event!

So Sunny Hill is a 22 hectares park located in Hendon in the London Borough of Barnet and was formally known as Sunnyhill Fields before Hendon council brought the land off the church farmhouse back in 1921 and opened up as the park in 1922.

At the highest point of the park you have great views of the city below and even see the now famous arch of Wembley stadium, shear heaven to behold!!!

parkrun Tourism

I always find great pleasure in meeting like-minded runners who enjoy parkrun tourism as much as I do and amongst the tourists was good friend Scott Clarke, David Piper (who has run 264 different events) and Rams Nanda. Apologies for all the other tourist I have not mentioned by name, but it was great to meet you all 🙂

Tourist group shot

Friends on Tour

Another joy is running with very good running friends from my local club Stopsley Striders and both senior & Junior Luton, Wardown parkruns! So Jen, Julie, Rickey, James, Stephen, Kathy and my old mucker Martin, it was my sincere hope that you enjoyed yourselves and thanks from the bottom of my heart for joining me on one of my parkrun adventures!

Finally on this subject I would like to congratulate Jen Avis on running her 20th different parkrun event at Sunny Hill and in doing so add her name onto the parkrun UK most events table roll of honor, top stuff Jen 🙂

Running with Jen

Course

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The course comprises of 1 small clockwise lap, then 2 big figure of eight shape laps of the park. The surface in made up entirely of tarmac footpaths and the geography of this park makes for a very tough course to run!

There are two main inclines that have to be navigated twice on each figure of eight lap, the first is at the start of each lap with a hard short incline to the top of the park, then after turning right to drop down to the bottom of the park. Next is a steady prolonged incline around the perimeter of the park towards Church Terrance, then an undulating section along the top of the ridge with stunning views of the park and beyond!

Finally though at the crossover point again at the top of Sunny Hill park you turn right and there is a very welcome decline around the bottom part of the figure of eight to finish the lap, then at the end of the second lap you run into the finish funnel

My time showed how unfit I was running this course 40:02

So in summing up Sunny Hill has to be easily one of the toughest courses in all the 54 Greater London events to run, but please to not let that put you off as it is always great to challenge yourself and improve your times overall by running these kinds of courses!!

Facilities

I decided travel by car for this event with a small free car park available just inside the parks main entrance Sat Nav NW4 4XA

For the post run coffee we retired to the lovely Sunny Hill cafe situated inside the park with its speciality of serving Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Cuisine, also there are toilet facilities at the cafe available before the start of this event!

Sunny Hill Cafe

Other Facilities include

  • Tennis courts
  • Football pitches
  • Children’s Play Area

Final Verdict

I would like to thank on mine and my friends behalf todays run director Simone Smith and her team of volunteers for making us feel extremely welcome and doing an excellent job, who would believe that you are only 4 events old, outstanding stuff guys!!!

Sunny Hill volunteer shot with friends

So finally I recommend Sunny Hill park to you all, a tough but beautiful course that is an excellent addition to the Greater London parkrun community!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Extra News

I would like to wish my home parkrun of Luton, Wardown a very happy 4th birthday and you have gone from strength to strength with now averaging over 300 runners each week, but still keep that very friendly community feel that I always look forward to on my visits home!

4th Birthday Luton, Wardown

Lucky Dip Tourism

Currently a majority of my future parkrun tourism adventures will be via a lucky dip raffle method of my closest not yet completed top 50 events according to the parkrun tourist tool with the first attended event was at Jersey Farm ticket No 2 on the 9th March 2019!

So as of the 8th March 2019 the lucky dip parkrun events list is fixed and I will not be updating it to include any new future starting events!

Stats

Fastest time Jersey Farm 38.14

Still to complete 49

Key info

On the Lucky Dip Events list below the first number depicts the closeness of the event to me, then event name and finally distance from my house in miles, measured as a straight line!

2. Jersey Farm 9.3m 09/03/2019

Finally all events that are coloured green with dates attached have been completed 🙂

Lucky Dip Events

  1. Dunstable Downs 7.0m
  2. Jersey Farm 9.3m 09/03/2019
  3. Wendover Woods 16.8m
  4. Wimpole Estate 21.9m
  5. Pocket 22.2m
  6. Maidenhead 30.3m
  7. Watermeadows 30.4m
  8. Coldham’s Common 31.3m
  9. Great Dunmow 31.9m
  10. Northampton 32.1m
  11. Bicester 32.5m
  12. Sixfields Upton 32.8m
  13. Dinton Pastures 38.2m
  14. Brooklands 38.4m
  15. Bracknell 39m
  16. Dartford Heath 40.4m
  17. Harcourt Hill 40.4m
  18. Prospect 41.1m
  19. Woking 41.3m
  20. Abingdon 41.4m
  21. California Country 41.5m
  22. Dicot 41.6m
  23. Banbury 42.0m
  24. Thurrock 42.7m
  25. Clare Castle 42.9m
  26. Corby 43.1m
  27. Basildon 43.9m
  28. Firmly Lodge 44.0m
  29. Lullingstone 45.0m
  30. Mole Valley 45.1m
  31. Guildford  45.7m
  32. Market Harborough 45.8m
  33. Peterborough 46.1m
  34. Manor Field, Whittlesey 46.4m
  35. South Woodham Ferrers 46.5m
  36. Reigate Priory 46.6m
  37. Rushmoor 46.6m
  38. Maldon Prom 47.4m
  39. Haleigh 48.4m
  40. Littleport 48.5m
  41. Shorne Woods 48.6m
  42. Witney 48.8m
  43. Rugby  48.8m
  44. Hockley Woods 48.9m
  45. Great Cornard 49.1m
  46. March 49.1m
  47. Rutland Water 52.4m
  48. Bury St Edmunds 52.4m
  49. Cranleigh 52.8m
  50. Newbury 53.0m

 

Jersey Farm

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!

Jersey Farm Woodland Park

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!

parkrun challenges

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!!!

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Course

Jersey Farm course map

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

  • Trail shoes are recommended in wet conditions with mud forming on sections of this course!
  • No issues with exposed tree roots on this course.
  • Be wary of flint stones in a couple of parts of the course as they are always a potential trip hazard
  • Couple of single track parts hard to overtake for the faster runners

Love running this trial course around the farms woodland paths, a shear joy to run, my time 38.14

Facilities

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!!

Final Verdict

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!!!

Finish funnel crew

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!

best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Extra News

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!!!!

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Hillingdon 10km

Date Run – 24/02/2019

Location – Brunel University, Kingston Lane, Uxbridge UB8 3PH

Course

Hillingdon 10KM course map

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:

  • Not a closed road event
  • Unusual short trail path section about 1/4 mile long
  • Staggered start times with the Half Marathon first at 9am and 10km start at approx 9:35pm
  • Well marshalled on course
  • Two water stations on course per lap

Race Information

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!

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Prizes

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!

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Final Verdict

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!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

 

Volunteering Event Set-Up

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.

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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!!!!

With Geoffrey at finish funnel

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 😊

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Basingstoke

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!

Modern History

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!

War Memorial park

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)

Tourist Reunion

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.

Tourist reunion group shot

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!!!!!

Outstanding Achievement

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!!!!

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Course

basingstoke course map

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

  • After prolonged rain I can see parts of the course getting very slippery
  • Tough to say what footwear to wear, normally running trainers should be OK and yesterday was firm enough underfoot to not require trail shoes
  • Love the little test named Tennis Court Hill named on Strava 🙂

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

Facilities

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!

Final Verdict

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!

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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 🙂

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner