All posts by mhatter67

Wimpole Estate

What a treat to be running again at another beautifully maintained National Trust property with today’s parkrun at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire that magnificent hall is surrounded by 3000 acres of park and farmland!!!

History

The Chicheley family owned Wimpole estate for some 250 from 1428 onwards and between 1640-1650 Thomas Chicheley built the beautiful hall that you can see today!

The house after 1686 then went through a number of wealthy families until 1976 when the then Elsie Bambridge left Wimpole Estate in her will to the National Trust that still run it today.

National trust

I would like to heap a great deal of praise on the National Trust who do an outstanding job in persevering these historical estates and allowing parkrun UK to open events to share in the beauty of running around these magnificent parkland estates!

Congratulations

The main purpose of my visit to Wimpole was to help celebrate with my very good tourist friend the lovely Christine Imbert who run her 250 milestone parkrun on Saturday, outstanding effort Christine!

For the record the cake and company made for a very lovely morning. Great to meet Christine’s friends Pippa White & the TV (Tame Volunteer), Alison Symonds-Tayler, Miriam Jorna, Dennis Lancaster, Lindsay Middleton.

parkrun World Tourists

Special mention to another one of Christine’s friends who also attended Cass Castleton (pictured below in blue cap) who is a parkrun tourist legend, founder of the Facebook parkrun Word tourist Group and holder of so many records it makes me giddy just thinking about them all!

Tourist friends group shot

If you fancy qualifying to become a member of the world tourist group you will have to complete a parkrun in least 4 separate parkrun countries 🙂

He also brings cakes for all the Hi-Vis volunteers at each parkrun event to enjoy afterwards, great touch Cass!!!!

Happy Birthday

Finally on the mention of celebrations big well done to local park runner Maggie (lady in red top) who celebrated her 50th birthday parkrun on Saturday!

Happy belated birthday Maggie and I hope you enjoyed your run 🙂

50th birthday parkrun Maggie

Course

Wimpole course Map

Beautiful single clockwise 5k lap around Wimpole Estate that is undulating in design and is almost entirely run on grassland!

Dog Loop

A first for me on my tours, never seen a separate start line for park runners running with their dog’s that is about 200metres ahead of the main field, simultaneously start with the main field, they then run a extra dog loop just after about 1km for them to make up the 5K distance 👍🏻

Dog Loop Sign

Great idea to split the start locations as this event regularly gets over 400 runners every week!

Other points to note

  • The main climb is about the 2km point with a steady rise followed by a right turn with a steep short incline to the top of the hill
  • This event state trail shoes is best to run in at Wimpole but in dry weather normal trainers will be fine
  • The grass paths are a little bit uneven, so just keep an eye on the route ahead
  • After either prolonged wet weather or in the winter months they revert back to their multi lap winter course that is run around the flat part of the estate!
  • Finally there maybe cattle on the course, so just to be weary around them

So, Wimpole Estate course is a beautiful single lap course that challenges your fitness, but is 100% well worth the effort to complete just for the views alone!

My time was 43:13

Facilities

There is paid meter parking at Wimpole Estate with a flat £2 day charge but is free though for all National Trust members Sat Nav SG8 0BW. Toilets are available at the back of the stable block near the car park!

For the post run coffee, you have a choice between a mobile cafe run by the estate next to the finish or if you want to sit down with your hot drink and food the is always the lovely Old Rectory Restaurant that opens its doors from 9am!

There is so much extra things to do at Wimpole after parkrun you could easily spend the rest of the day they’re just exploring!

Final verdict

I would like to thank this week’s run director Christian and his team of volunteers for making us all in our group feel extremely welcome on our visit, top work guys!!

So, if you are looking for a stunning single lap event to attend then Wimpole Estate has to be high on your parkrun tourist list, you have all been told!!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Bethlem Royal Hospital

Always a personal pleasure to be back in the capital running a new parkrun event for me that has a great history attached to it with today’s event being no exception at Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham.

History

The history of Bethlem Royal Hospital dates back to its foundation in 1247 in the reign of Henry VIII and was originally located in the Bishopsgate ward of the City of London that is now is the site of Liverpool Street Station.

In 1930 the hospital moved to Beckenham where it is today based in 270 acres of beautiful green space parkland that’s where today’s parkrun event is held!

For the record the hospital remit is to help as they state “We provide the widest range of services in the United Kingdom (UK) for people with mental health problems or an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Pioneers

It was great to see Bethlem Royal Hospital as a pioneer for being the first parkrun in the UK to be run inside NHS grounds. I cannot hide my admiration of this hospital trust to promote their goal of the benefits of running to one’s mental health and wellbeing, allowing parkrun into your beautiful grounds after I found this out when a spoke to Mary this weeks tail walker who works at the hospital!

This has to be one of the most heartwarming stories that I have ever written about on my parkrun journeys!

Special Mentions

I need to say how proud I was in running at the same event as Kevin Burnett he may have been a first timer at Bethlem, but he still running strong in his eighties with only has 6 parkrun events left to run from reaching the outstanding milestone total of completing 500 parkrun events!

Kevin you are a true legend and ambassador to us all and this is why we all love parkrun so much sir!

Also a pleasure to bump Andy Bond who I first met at Southwark parkrun back in July 2016 near the start of my capital charity parkrun adventure!

He had a brilliant run, then barcode scanned afterwards and I would like to wish you Andy all the best in your future running sir!

Votes Cast

A bit of fun over the past week I decided to let me tourist friends decide for one time only vote on which parkrun to run on Saturday between Bethlem Royal Hospital and East Grinstead.

The result was close as you can see with Bethlem finishing as a narrow winner, but don’t worry East Grinstead I will run your course in the new year to complete the parkrun tourist challenge of joining the Compass Club 🙂

Voting result for 21st September parkrun

Course

Bethlam course map

The course is two anticlockwise laps of the parameter of two fields with a short narrow connecting woodland path between them with a short run down a path to the finish at the end of the second lap. The surface is entirely run on grass which is gently undulating in nature that as they say is also uneven in places!

Points to note

  • No dogs allowed on this course
  • In wet conditions it would be advisable to wear trail running shoes
  • When the ground is firm this can be a fast course to run with wide paths to overtake

Enjoyed my run with a good time achieved by me for where I am at the moment fitness wise 37:43

Facilites

There is limited parking available at the hospital Sat nav BR3 3BX, but I decided to travel by train from Luton with the closest station to the hospital being Eden Park station.

Please be aware though that Eden Park is easily a good 10 min walk away from the start of the parkrun, so allow effort time to get to the start line!

For the post run coffee we retired to the hospital’s Community Centre Cafe and there are toilet facilities there as well, but please be aware they only take cash only payments for refreshments!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank this weeks run director Paul Cregg and his team of volunteers for making us all feel welcome and doing a great job! Good luck to Colette Short who will has her first stint as run director at Bethlem next week 🙂

Bethlem volunteer shot

Finally a very big thank you to everyone concerned at Bethlem Royal Hospital for opening up your lovely grounds to allow parkrun to hold an event here, absolutely brilliant guys!!!

So for me it is Londone again 56 Greater London parkrun events completed and everyone has a special place in my heart!

So London it is goodbye for now,

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

 

 

Yeovil Montacute

With the summer coming to an end I cannot think of a more stunning location to attend as a parkrun tourist than in Yeovil, Montacute, Somerset!

Montacute House

The event is based at the beautiful location of Montacute House in the small village of Montacute and is about 4 miles outside of Yeovil.

The house was completed in 1601 under the visionary ownership of Sir Edward Phelips and now is lovingly maintained by the National Trust that describes the house as, “Montacute is a masterpiece of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture and design. With its towering walls of glass, glow of ham stone and surrounding gardens, it is a place of beauty and wonder.

If you get a chance please do explore the beautiful house and gardens, trust me you will be handsomely rewarded for the effort!

6th Anniversary

One joy of touring is by a complete twist of fate you end up at a events anniversary and in Yeovil’s case their sixth one with a fun nautical pirate theme 🙂

The reasoning behind the theme is run directors Martin play on the words Pirates in Men’s Pants 🙂 Top idea and as you can see a lot of the local patron’s joined in the fun including Emma, dad Chris and Beans the dog, pleasure to meet you all guy’s 🙂

Alphabet Challenge

One extra incentive to run Yeovil, Montacute is the tourist alphabet challenge of running parkrun events that start with the different letters of the alphabet with their only being two parkruns with the letter Y in the UK and they are Yeovil and York.

Great to see so many tourists there on Saturday including Stephan Wells, Rachel Katherine, Sofie Haidon, Juli Wood, Nick Baggott, Donna Maskell and last but definitely not least local tourist friend to me Mark Wilcox 🙂

Course

Yeovil Montacute course map

The course consists of two parts a inner anti-clockwise lap of 2km that starts and finishes outside the house, then a 3km anti-clockwise lap of the perimeter of the estates park. Finally you finish almost where you started and run down treelined avenue for about 100metres facing away from the house!

The course is almost entirely run on grass undulating paths all but a small broken tarmac path section running outwards on the inner lap section!

Points to Note

  • After a period of wet weather I would recommend running in trail shoes
  • There is a short steep rise about a quarter of a mile from the end of the course, what on Strava they lovingly call it Killer Hill
  • Please remember in winter months Yeovil run away from Montacute House on their B course that is based in the town of Yeovil itself

Great time running around the course, chatting to the local park runners and taking in the views especially running towards Montacute House along the treelined avenue 🙂

My time was 42:21

Facilities

There is free parking at the House sat nav TA15 6XP and toilets are available before the event starts at about 8:30am when the National Trust opens the main doors into the park!

For me I turned running this event into a mini holiday as there was no way that I was going to drive a total combined distance of 302 miles and a parkrun in one day!  I stayed at the lovely Yeovil Court Hotel that is just about 4 miles drive from this event.

For the post run refreshments you have got to the houses cafe legendary cream tea, may not be good for the waistline but I truly don’t care 🙂

Cream tea

Final Verdict

I would love to thank from the bottom of my heart today’s run director Martin Chaffey and his team of volunteers for making it a special birthday event for all of us attending, top work guys!!!!!

With Martin run director

So my fellow parkrun tourists Yeovil, Montacute is a stunning location to run and this has to be put high on your events to do list, you have all been told!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Alphabet Challenge

This is my list of parkrun events that each start off with a different letter of the alphabet.

Still to complete letters Q, Z and any parkrun completed that does not have a link means they were run before I started to write blog parkrun reports!

 

Two Years On

It’s now the second anniversary since I started this blog, so what’s is next for me:

parkrun adventures update

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I am now aiming to complete 200 UK different parkrun events at my leisure with the current total standing at 110 on parkrun UK most events list!

Other Aim Include

  • Maintain my Greater London parkrun regionnaire status – current completed 55 of 56 events
  • Finish off my lucky dip tourism event list – still got 49 of 50 events to go 🙂
  • Reach 100 separate days of parkrun volunteering that at the moment it stands at 83 🙂

Future Improvement

Try to be the best running coach I can be and to improve my PB’s up to and including distances of 10 miles. I have a lot of room for improvement on these aims!

My Biggest Loss

Must admit losing my dad on 18th February 2018 was the most devastating moment in my life and running has taken a back seat for a majority of time since!

My dad though would have wanted me to carry on and try to be happy, so going forward running will again be a big part of my life!

Dad profile

So finally, I hope through my blog continue to tell the history of the places I visit and promote their lovely local parkrun communities:)

Who knows one day I might visit you and until then happy running everyone 🙂

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Book Review – Why Running Matters

The book I have been asked to review is ‘Why Running Matters” by Ian Mortimer that depicts a man who was coming towards his 50th birthday decided to set himself a New Years resolution to run 45 parkrun events and 5 half marathons in a calendar year!

The chapters are in chronological date order with subjects covered including age grading to his ultimate running challenge. The book gives a great insight why running is such an  important part of Ian’s life and on his reasoning all of our lives who lace up a pair of trainers to go out for a run to a great extent!

Family Affair

The part of the book I really enjoyed is his running relationship with his sons Alexandra & Oliver and his joy of seeing them reach their own running goals. One specific instant I loved was when he run with Oliver at one parkrun with his son very unhappy with his performance and stormed into town after the event, while Ian had run one of the best times of the year!

Oliver while in town checked the parkrun results just posted on the website and immediately had to ring his dad to tell him he was made up for him achieving such an excellent time, priceless family moment!

Competitive Edge

For the record Ian is a naturally talented runner who regularly gets into the top 10% of every parkrun he attends and his range of distances extends up to the marathon!

A term I heard once was recreationally competitive that aptly applies to Ian and I love his running battles with his son Alexandra and other park runners, his strategies he employs in either how to beat them or shadow to get a better time 🙂

Final Verdict

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, finding out another runners perspective why running is so important in their life and inspired me to revaluate why running it is so important to me!

So, Ian I wish you all the best in your running and if you have not already broken the magical barrier of a under 20 minutes for 5K, I have faith that you will achieve your goal one day sir 🙂

Finally as Ian quoted parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt “All we are doing here is building a playground, and if you want to come and take part, you can.” who know’s one day Ian we might bump into each other at a parkrun playground, share a few stories over a post run coffee, but until then let’s just rejoice in being happy in our own respective running lives!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

 

Friary Park Juniors

So on a Sunday when my  local Wardown Junior parkrun was cancelled due to a weekend festival in our park there was only one place I was going too visit and do some parkrun volunteering tourism at with this being Friary Park, Friern Barnet, London 🙂

Childhood past

Why you may ask this specific junior parkrun and the answer is very simple, this was the  park my mum played in as a child in the 1940-50’s and in the 1970’s she took me back to it when visiting my great aunt in North Finchley on my summer school holidays, great memories 🙂

The familiar sight of the imposing but beautiful statue of the ‘Bringer of Peace‘ welcomes you on your arrival, then it was lovely to walk around the park we saw Blacketts brook again that I once paddled in and explored as an inquisitive child back in the day. I have to ask the question why do we ever have to grow up 🙂

Friary Park

So Friary park is nine hectare Edwardian park that started life when the Friary Estate was purchased in 1909 by the wealthy benefactor  Sydney Simmons for Friern Barnet Urban District Council to be used as a park for the local community to enjoy and it officially opened to the general public in May 1910.

Course

Friary park course map

The course is three and a bit clockwise laps on the top part on the park that is relatively flat in design and run entirely of well maintained tarmac paths!

Facilities

There is adequate free street parking around the park on the side roads and the toilets were available before the start of the parkrun that is always welcome!

For the post run coffee we retired to the parks Bowling club pavilion for a well earned refreshments on this warm day.

A really lovely touch after the parkrun was that the bowls club members had an introductory session for the juniors and their parents into how to learn to bowl, what a top community idea!

Other Facilities

  • Outdoor Gym
  • Children’s play area
  • Skateboard park
  • Tennis Courts
  • Bowls

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Eileen and her team of volunteers for the warmest of welcomes, was great to talk to her afterwards about everything junior parkrun and thanks for the tips Eileen, greatly appreciated 🙂

Friary park volunteers

So if you are looking for a bit of local junior parkrun tourism then Friary Park has to be high on your list, a fast course to run and beautiful well maintained park to explore, shear heaven!!!!!

For me personally this park will always have a special place in my heart 🙂

Best Mark aka Silent Runner

Hanworth

So after the record breaking hot temperatures that hit the UK this week it was great to be back running in the capital in refreshing summer rain at Hanworth, West London, shear heaven!

Aviation Past

This weeks parkrun was based at Hanworth park has a very interesting history including the park was also know as London Air park being once a grass airfield that was operational from 1917-19 and 1929-47

Would have been great to be there when the land was used as an airfield and seeing the mighty Graf Zeppelin airship land on this site!

Saving History

Soon as I arrived it became clear the rightful passion Hanworth parkrun community had for saving the parks historic Hanworth Park House from collapse!

The current house was built after the original Henry VII Hanworth palace hunting lodge burnt down in 1787 and with the work finishing on the new house in 1802.

I hope their mission is 100% successful to bring Hanworth Park house back to it’s former glory for the local community to enjoy and the dream of starting their parkrun event each week in front of this iconic building is achieved, all the best guys!!!!!

50 Not Out

I would just like to wish a big well done the my top buddy Martin Ball who run his 50th different parkrun event at Hanworth and the funny thing was we only found out on the drive back home 🙂

Martin it has been my pleasure to have you as a running buddy on my tourist adventures, you bring sunshine to every event you attend and being there for me in the darkest of day’s with the loss of my dad last year, thanks mate!

As always it was great to meet fellow parkrun tourist for the first time in Nigel Rose far right of picture and Tony Streams standing next to him, pleasure to meet you guy’s 🙂

Tourist group shot Hanworth

Course

Hanworth course map

The course is a simple 2 and a bit clockwise laps of the perimeter of Hanworth Park that is run on multiple surfaces including grass, gravel, tarmac and is flat in nature!

Points to note

  • Potentially a fast course in dry conditions
  • Can see the grass section being very boggy after a long period of prolonged rain.
  • Great for the confidence not to be lap multiple times by the leaders as you would find on a 3 plus lap course.
  • Beware of a few potholes on the grass paths, but to be fair this was mentioned in the run briefing!

Overall I really enjoyed this multi terrain course and the rain added to the fun running with my mate Martin 🙂 My time was 42:45

Facilities

There is free car park at Hanworth Air Park leisure centre quite close to the start Sat Nav TW13 5EG and toilets are available from the same place before the start of the parkrun with doors opening at 8am on Saturday’s.

Hanworth Air Park

Finally for the post run coffee you we popped back into the leisure centre for a well earned hot drink and to dry off. So as a tourist to Hanworth this event ticked all the most important facilities boxes for me, excellent stuff!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart this weeks run director Leanne Murray and her top team of volunteers us the warmest of welcomes and it’s hard to believe your parkrun is only 13 events old, excellent work everyone!

Hanworth volunteer shot

So finally I throughly recommend Hanworth as an event to add to your tourist list of places to visit. So Hanworth I think you have a special community going on there and long may it continue 🙂

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Felixstowe

So on the hottest day of the year I came to Felixstowe, Suffolk on a summers mini break to visit a close relative and the sun painted a beautiful picture postcard view on this lovely traditional English seaside resort town!

Apart from tourism shipping is also a large part of the Felixstowe economy with the port being the biggest and busiest container port in the UK and is located at the mouth of both the River Stout and Orwell.

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Great to see the huge container ships leaving the port on the horizon and wondering what distant countries they are bound for with their expensive cargo 🙂

Volunteer Superstar

On my tourist travels I have been lucky to meet so many parkrun event volunteer superstars that every week they give up there time just to volunteer at their event, but I think at Felixstowe our tail walker Rory Marriott has to go down as a ultra volunteer superstar with 589 roles completed from run director to barcode scanning, 106 of them as a tourist and over a 8 years period that started at Valentines parkrun, London back in 2011, simply wow!!!

Rory you are a dream for a event team trying to fill their weekly roster, a credit to the whole of our parkrun community and jolly decent chap to have a talk to as well, we all salute you sir!!!

Small World

I had a lovely chat to a number parkrun patrons on the day including Gary Parr from Peterborough another fellow member of the unofficial UK parkrun tourist group, but Emma Hoddy who I run with at the end like me was born in Luton and noticed I was from the town as I was wearing my apricot Luton, Wardown parkrun vest, a very small world 🙂

For the record it was Emma’s first parkrun and I hope one day if she reads this article will join us back at my beloved home event of Wardown park 🙂

Course

Felixstowe course map

The course is a single lap of the promenade that starts and finishes by the distance marker next to the leisure centre and surface is entirely made up of tarmac! The run starts off in a South West direction for 1.2km and your turning point is in front of the Martello tower, once you have got back to the start/line your run 1.3KM in North East direction until you reach the final turning point and then run back to the finish funnel.

In the right weather conditions this has the potential of being your of being one of your fastest ever parkrun time!

My time was 40:54 OK for the hot weather and where I am fitness wise at present!

Points to note

  • Position yourself at the start where you think time wise you with finish the event as it is a bit congested to overtake for the first couple of minutes
  • Definitely trainers running shoes kind of course
  • Very slight incline towards both turning points of the course!

Facilities

There is pay and display parking at Undercliff Road West that is right next to the start, post code IP11 2AE or about half a mile away there is free parking at Garrison Lane Car Park post code IP11 7SH.

There are toilet facilities at Broadwalk cafe on the pier and is a great location for the post run coffee afterwards!

Boardwalk cafe

There is so much to do in the town after this parkrun, I would recommend taking a look at their visit Felixstowe tour guide and explore!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank this weeks run director Caroline Stafford and her team of volunteers for the warmest of seaside welcomes and done a great job managing the 274 strong field of running, outstanding effort guys!!!!

Felixstowe volunteers

So finally if you are looking for a flat fast course in a lovely traditional seaside town setting then Felixstowe parkrun has to be high on your to do list of touring!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

London Luton Airport Charity Runway Race

On the longest day of the year and being a Lutonian born & bred there was only place I wanted to be at 4:30am was running on London Luton airport runway with the sun coming up over the horizon!

Course

Airport runway course map

Very simply it is out and back course along the length of London Luton airport runway with a total distance of about 2.6 miles covered! The bizarre thing is that is not flat with a gradual raised high point on the runway!

Also, there was a sticky tar section on the runway that I can only put down to where the planes first hit the tarmac when landing!

Points to note

  • This is not a timed race
  • Maximum time of 1 hour to complete the course
  • Required to either produce a passport or photo ID driving licence to get through the security check
  • As they say travel light through the security gate

This race was a great social event to attend and make sure you do the obligatory plane wings when you come into the finish with a cool waiting for you 🙂

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Facilities

There was free parking available before the start of the race and was about 10-15 minutes walk away from the meeting point at gate 6. Please note there are no toilet facilities available at this event!

Final verdict

I would like to thank everyone involved in organising this event both before and on the day for a very professional job well done! The most important thing is all the proceeds went to one of the noblest of charities in Macmillan Cancer Support with the current total standing at an excellent £4,390.00, brilliant!!!!

Group final photo

For me it was great to be around so many local running friends on a perfect summer morning with the sun rising as we run along the runway it was sheer heaven!

So finally as the famous 1970’s Lorraine Chase advert line said, “Were you truly wafted from paradise? No Luton airport!” Well for me it was paradise and will last long in the memory!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner