Category Archives: Running parkrun

Event 73 Oxford

This week at Oxford there were a couple of parkrun firsts for me from running in a new county of Oxfordshire and seeing first hand a small piece of the hard work that goes into the development of a new parkrun event!

New County

So Oxford the county town of Oxfordshire with a population of 170,350 and home for the world renowned oldest university in the english speaking world. The city name originally came from Saxon times calling the original settlement Oxenaforda meaning, “Ford of the Ox”, with the resulting name derived from a river crossing used by the settlements oxen back in AD900

Today’s event was Oxford parkrun one of two parkrun in the city and with this one based in the northern part at Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Parkwhich is the largest park in Oxford at 42 hectares

Parkrun Evolution

It was great to see that event no 320 that Oxford invited members of Witney core team to run this event for the day giving them vital training before the launch of their new event in the near future!

I can only imagine the hard work that goes in from a local running community starting from the initial idea to the birth of a new parkrun event!

Under the excellent supervision of local parkrun ambassador Dominic Guinness, the Vi-Vis hero’s from Witney done a brilliant job expertly lead by their very own run director Punam Owens, you were all naturals and run the event seamlessly!

Oxford volunteers group shot

Course

Oxford Winter course map

Run on the winter course that comprises of 3 anticlockwise laps of Cutteslowe and Sunnymead park that running surface is a mixture of tarmac, gravel and grass!

Not much elevation on this course apart from a minor incline starting at the backend section near the lower pavilion to the finish!

Points to note

  • Near the start there is a small bottleneck at the southern corner where the grass meets a track alongside the A40 that soon clears though!
  • As with most courses this time of year there was lying water in a couple of small sections particularly muddy was a short grass stretch just before the lower pavilion

Time today was 36:02 now I know where my current fitness level is on this flat 5k course!

Facilities

There is paid parking at this event, but interesting fact is that charges do not come into effect until after 10am, so for most park runners that makes it free to park, even if you stay for an extra hour it is only 60p. So very friendly for tourists having to come by car to this event!

For easy access for the start of the parkrun the northern car park is best, but I suggest using the post code OX2 8LH for Harbord Road that leads straight onto the car park. The other post code OX2 8NP sends you into Park Close that unless you know their is a small private road off this close that double backs into the park, quite confusing for none locals!

Odd thing there are large amount of toilets available at this park but for some reason were closed before the start of the parkrun, a kind member of staff did though let me use the inside toilet at Cutteslowe pavilion though!

For the post run coffee we retired to the lovely The San Remo café that is very close to the parkrun finish line and a miniature railway is available between April to October on Sunday’s, bank holiday and Wednesday throughout August 🙂

Other facilities Include

  • Football/cricket pitches
  • Children’s play area
  • Tennis/Basketball courts
  • Mini golf course
  • Sri Chimnoy Peace Mile

Final verdict

I would like to thank Oxford parkrun community for making us all feel extremely welcome on the day, top stuff guy’s!

Also good luck to the volunteers from Witney, I am positive when your event goes live it will be a great addition to parkrun UK community and I promise to visit you one day!

So finally if you are looking for a fast flat multi-terrain course then Oxford is definitely the parkrun for you!!

Extra news

Special mention to Evelyn Lutterodt who celebrated her 100th parkrun at Luton, Wardown, but this is no ordinary lady as she has run every distance from 5K to Marathon and as I am writing this is on day 410 of her running streak, wow!!!

Evelyn 100th parkrun

She also writes a successful blog called This Runner Loves Purple and we are very lucky to have this lady at our running club and is an inspiration to everyone who knows her, outstanding achievements Evelyn!!!!

Event 72 Great Notley

On a bitterly cold January morning the warmth of the Great Notley parkrun community was outstanding that I have only witnessed a few times on my tourist travels! It is great to run in an environment where you feel you instantly belong even though I was 70 miles away from my beloved home parkrun of Luton, Wardown, wow!

History

With a population of 5,500 Great Notley was developed as a self-sustaining garden village back in 1993 by Countryside Developments and part of this village was the building of a new Country Park the home of today’s parkrun!

Hill View Great Notleyimg_0779

Lovely touch

One tradition for tourists to Great Notley is to sign their guest book that is a great way of you showing your appreciation of the event and it’s volunteers, so if you have the time add a message of thanks!

Guest book

Course

Great Notley course

Today we run the winter course that is two anticlockwise laps of Great Notley Country Park, which is run mainly on gravel paths but has a few grass sections and very unusually a children’s sand play area to run through, I kid you not!!!

 

Great feature on this course is at the end of lap 1 only you run up the park’s man-made hill to the bird of freedom sculpture and probably for good luck the locals invite you to touch the birds plinth when you get to the top!

 

Points to Note

  • Apart from the hill this course is quite flat in nature
  • Wide mass start line of runners jockeying for position for the first 50 metres
  • Like a lot of courses this time of year you had to be weary of the mud and ice especially running down their grass hill section!

My time was 39:13 not great but under the circumstances not feeling well the previous evening I cannot complain!

Facilities

There is a pay and display car park at this event Sat Nav CM77 7FS with up on 2 hours costing £3. There are also available both toilet and changing facilities before and after the parkrun at the parks Discovery Centre building, always welcome for us tourists traveling a distance to a parkrun!

For the post run coffee we retired to the warmth of Lily’s Cafe that is located inside the centre, nice gesture they open up at 8am every Saturday (especially for this event patrons) and give a 10% discount for park runners on production of your barcode:)

Other facilities include

  • Children’s play areas including sky ropes
  • Horse riding
  • Free fishing
  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Football pitches and games area

Final verdict

I would like to thank the run director John Stoneman and his team of volunteers for making everybody feel extremely welcome and for the record John you would make a great after dinner speaker!

My favour line of information to the masses at the run briefing was after already telling everyone that the Essex Cross country championships were using the park later on was, “if  you are following someone with a race number then you not doing the parkrun“, classic and he got us all to repeat the message back to him 🙂

So would I recommend Great Notley to you all, most definitely with a top parkrun course with a hill test and a real lovely parkrun community, they are a credit to parkrun UK!

Finally don’t forget to touch that bird, you have been told!!!!!!!

Best

Mark

Event 73 Oxford 13-01-2018

Event 69 Nonsuch

Where to start on this blog post, the beautiful Nonsuch park and mansion steeped in history, my milestone of completing all 58 parkruns inside the M25 area, no quite simple on this occasion the lost of a friend and a parkrun tourist brethern!

Mark Sherwood – A tourist friend

Mark Sherwood RIP

I have been so lucky to meet so many lovely people on my parkrun adventures and Mark was up their with the best of them, what I knew of him was a kind unassuming man that let his running do the talking!!!

My happiest memory of Mark was at Vicky’s 100th event celebration at Cassiobury parkrun, where Mark was running his 99th parkrun and with great fun he went and gave us all a Cadburys 99 ice cream to celebrate his feat, top gesture from a top man!

99 ice cream celebration

He has only just completed his 100th different UK parkrun event that is my current goal and I will be now dedicating this challenge under Mark’s name!

RIP Mark

Nonsuch history

It is great to come to Nonsuch park with such a rich history that started in 1538 when then King Henry VIII built the splendid Nonsuch palace with the name came from the boast this palace was, “none such place like it” in Europe!

It survived until 1682 where it was demolished by Charles II then mistress Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine who decided to raise the palace to the ground and use the building material to pay off gambling debts!

Today their are markers in the park to show where the palace once stood and the Friends of Nonsuch have commissioned a beautiful recreated model of what the palace once looked like in all it’s splendour and is available to view by the general public at the Nonsuch mansion house!

Initiative

First for me on my parkrun travels Nonsuch parkrun have introduced at their event the Nonsuch 5K+ that is all about how to improve as a runner, it starts at 8:30am before the parkrun. This week we had a lecture expertly delivered by Tim Jones on nutrition. I love these initiatives especially as in being a running coach!!!

nonsuch 5k+

Course

Nonsuch course map

The course is just under 2 clockwise flat laps of Nonsuch park that is made up of a mixture of surfaces from tarmac to grass surfaces!

Course Grass Nonsuch

Points to note

  • The grass surface in wet or icy conditions should be run with a degree of care
  • There is little or no elevation making it again in the right conditions when the ground is firm for a very fast course!

I decided to run the course steady and gather my thoughts, I would like to thank Angela Sandy Ambrose for allowing me to join her excellent one minute walk/run group! I had to finish my final parkrun inside the M25 by crossing the finish line with my very good parkrun friend Robert Kidd, time 47:40

Robert have a great christmas and enjoy your 250 parkrun celebrations in the new year mate!!!

Me and Robert Nonsuch

Facilities

There is free car parking area’s dotted around the park and toilet facilities are available at Nonsuch mansion before the start of the parkrun that is always great news!

For the obligatory post run coffee we retired to the Nonsuch Pantry café that was very welcome sight on the coldest of morning runs!

Also I would throughly recommend walking around the gardens at Nonsuch mansion especially in summer and take a look around Service Wing Museum and Nonsuch Palace Gallery if you have time!

Final verdict

I would like to thank the run director Jane Bransgrove and her team for making everyone feel at home, I love the way the event was organised given the size of the field with over 400 runners, top marks guys!!!

Nonsuch volunteers

So if you want to run a fast parkrun time in a beautiful park steeped in history then Nonsuch park is the event for you and in my case a great location to finish running all the parkruns inside the M25!

Thank you Nonsuch

Best

Mark

Extra News

Back at my home parkrun of Luton, Wardown it is my great pleasure to announce two very good friends reached their respective 100 parkrun club this weekend, Geoffrey White and Philip Davies!

Geoffery & Philip Davies

For the record Geoffrey in orange is one of the parkrun legends at Luton and has the honour of being fastest man with a walking stick reaching speeds/times some runners would envy!

Now in Philip case is a fellow Stopsley Strider club member with a bright future, just last month he broke the magical parkrun barrier of sub 20 mins, brilliant effort sir!!!!
See you all over the festive holiday Luton!

Event 70-71 MK double new year header

Cowell Run Reports

Completed Events

Other parkrun Events

Luton Wardown 100th parkrun 02-06-2018 review

Luton Wardown Stopsley Striders Beginners Course Graduation 14-07-2018