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Event 71 Milton Keynes

So for part two of this New Years double header it was time to run Milton Keynes parkrun based around the massive Willen Lakes park complex!

History

So Milton Keynes with just over 50 years of history but what a brilliant design for a new town to be the model on , with so much going on in the town and so many green spaces to run, it is probably a great place to live!

So with pressure on houses in the South East the government of the day in the 1960’s decided to generate new towns like Milton Keynes. So on 23 January 1967 with the amalgamation of towns Bletchley, Wolverton, and Stony Stratford with a number villages and farmland Milton Keynes was born!

Celebrations

I start with two celebrations, first of all I would like to congratulate Steven Scott on reaching the amazing 200 parkrun milestone at this event, brilliant work sir!

Stephan Scott 200th parkrun

Next up is my very good friend Martin Ball who has now reached 20 different parkrun events and is now on parkrun UK most events leaderboard!

You have been a ray of sunshine on my travels and it is all my pleasure in knowing you mate 🙂

Martins 20th event

Fellow Tourist’s

One brilliant bonus of touring is meeting fellow kindred spirits and it was my pleasure to  meet Annabelle James and Geoff New today at Willen lakes!

Thank you Annabelle for taking the volunteers picture at the end of the event and Geoff great chatting to you in the cafe afterwards talking about everything Luton Town with a fellow fan!

with Geoff New fellow tourist

Course

This is a single clockwise lap that starts on the path towards Campbell park, then follows the Grand Union Canal until you turn right back towards Willen lakes.

Once you have run past the Peace pagoda, you turn right at the bottom and follow the footpath and complete almost a full circumference of South Willen Lake where you finish on a treelined path just past the water sports centre!

I would like to thank Milton Keynes parkrun to give me a image of the route that we run as it is different to the one posted on their website that runs the North Lake instead!

Milton keynes parkrun route + parking

Points to Note

  • The famous zigzag path up the hill to the back of Peace Pagoda is great to behold rather than run up 🙂
  • Number of different hardcore surfaces to run ranging from gravel to block paving
  • After heavy recent rain there was several small waterlogged gravel paths sections around the lake that needed to be navigated by running around on the grass!

Time 44:19 was embarrassing for me and I really need to get back into serious training now we are in a new year!

Facilities

This parkrun is based around Willen Lakes park a very popular attraction that gets over 1 million visitors a year!

There is pay and display parking available Sat Nav MK15 0DS and for the post run coffee we all retired to the lovely cafe One4Six that has toilets available outside!

Other Facilities includes

  • Watersports
  • Fitness & Running
  • Treetop Extreme
  • Fishing
  • Cafe
  • Peace Pagoda

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Fiona Siequien and her team of volunteers for their support and encouragement around the course, top work guys!!

MK Volunteers shot.jpg

So if you want to run a single lap course then Milton Keynes should be high up on your wish list even if it is just for the challenge of taking on the famous zigzag up the hill 🙂

Best

Mark

Event 72 Great Notley 06-01-2018

Event 70 Linford Wood

So on the 1st January 2018 I run my first ever New Years parkrun double header in the beautiful new town of Milton Keynes and first up was Linford Wood

It is great to see how ancient woodland can be incorporated into the design of a new town that allows for the people to be in one with nature but at the same time be convenient to get too, simple but brilliant with Linford Wood fitting that bill perfectly!

New Year’s Fever

There was certainly a buzz in the air about celebrating the start of a new year through our beloved community parkun’s and with numbers doubled to over 400 runners you could definitely feel the sense of excitement just before the start!

Start line Linford Woods

Course

Linford woods course

The course is a single clockwise lap of Linford Woods that surface is entirely run on tarmac footpaths and elevation is slightly undulating!

Finish straight

Points to Note

  • Course is vey well marshalled with other footpaths conned off so you don’t go the wrong way!
  • Interesting feature I think it is always fun running underpasses that connect the Danstead Way section with the wood in both directions!
  • As with all woodland courses even on tarmac footpaths underfoot conditions may change due to do a number of weather related factors
  • This is definitely a running trainers course don’t let it’s name fool you into thinking trail shoes are the way to go!

My time was poor as I was conserving energy for the second MK parkrun event as I have not been running combined distances of 10K recently, time 40:17

Facilites

The main car park is at Breckland that is free to use outside office hours, Sat Nav MK14 6FG, but unfortunately there are no toilet facilities at this event!

Afterwards for the post run coffee they go to  the Ora Café where toilet facilities are available!

Other Facilities Include

  • Guided walking routes
  • Cycle routes
  • Bridal paths
  • Picnic sites

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the run director Steve Dicks and his team of volunteers for doing a excellent job handling their biggest ever attendance of 449 runners, great job done guys!

Linford Woods Volunteers shot

So I would throughly recommend a visit to Linford Wood and I am sure in the spring it is stunning to run around when the bluebells are out in full bloom!

Best

Mark

Event 71 Milton Keynes 01-01-2018

Back Home

It is always great to be back with my good friends at my home parkrun of Luton, Wardown just before Christmas with today being one of my many special memorable parkruns days!!!

So was it the joyous event of two of our run directors pre wedding parkrun, top milestones or some very entertaining fancy dress costumes that would not look out of place at the World Darts at the Ally Pally! To be frank it was a heady mix of the lot wrapped up in 1h 30 mins of fun!

Best Wishes

First I would like to wish all the best as I am writing this to the now married parkrun director couple of Claire & Stuart Lamond, I like so many park runners today felt privileged to be at you pre wedding parkrun and a part of the days celebrations!

Claire & Stuart Lamond

Milestones/ Fancy dress

It was fancy dress parkrun today and I felt under dressed for the occasion as tail walker aka Santa Claus. I seen elf’s galore, one family as the nativity, male lady Santa, a Peter dressed as a tree but sorry guys there is only one winner in my eyes is Lisa Jane Phee!

What a wonderful inflatable turkey costume you sported Lisa celebrating her 50th parkrun today, brilliant stuff, you are a great sport and made my day!!!

Lisa Jane Phee

Quick mention well done Gary Scott Wishart on reaching your 25th volunteering milestone today, top work sir!

Good friends

It was great to catch up with old friends after months on the road touring and today was no exception, the list is endless but it brought a joyous tear to my eyes seeing you again just before Xmas!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Carly Straughan and her team of volunteers for the excellent job they done today in supporting our event and making it run smoothly!

Volunteer shot wardown xmas 2017

So finally as Dorothy once said in The Wizard of OZ, “There is no place like home” and in Wardown we have something special going on every Saturday morning at 9am!!!

Extra News

Last Sunday I had the privilege of participating in the Keech Santa run for a charity that has been close to my heart that has included multiple fundraising events in help raising vital funds for them!

I need to say the work you do at Keech Hospice Care is truly compassionate and inspiring, for the record it was all my honour to be able to run in your vest over the past number of years!!!

Best

Mark

 

Event 68 Banstead Woods

It was great to run in a natural environment like Banstead Woods, Surrey that’s whole parkrun course ceiling is covered in a canopy of trees in one of the oldest parkrun events around, simply brilliant!

So this ancient woods history itself goes back in medieval times to being a royal deer park that both King Edward I and II gave the woods as a gift to their respective queens, with the last Queen that was bestowed this honour was Catherine of Aragon the first wife of Henry VIII and she kept the woods until her death in 1534.

In much more modern times the woods were acquired by first Surrey County Council in 1934 then as it is now ownership was passed onto Reigate and Banstead Borough Council. Also during the second world war the neighbouring Park Farm was used as a base for both Canadian troops and also they held prisoners of war in the grounds!

Now today it is great to see the famous C.S. Lewis book from every child’s youth, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” has been lovingly brought to life in the form of a Narnia trial!

At the moment it contains four iconic wooden sculptors of the book generated from deadwood taken out of Banstead itself with all the work created by the very talented artist Ella Fielding, well worth a view!

Course

Banstead Woods course map

The course is just under 2 anticlockwise undulating laps of Banstead woods that is made up entirely of woodland trail paths!

The start is over halfway up the only notable climb on the course that will only be run up in its entirety on the second lap! Interesting from a running point of view there seemed to be large sections of the course run downhill especially to the finish that is always welcome for tired limbs!

Point to note

  • Be careful of exposed tree roots on this kind of course, especially as yesterday they were covered up by fallen leaves!
  • There were also a few patches on the trail paths that were quite boggy that are well worth running around the edges at all possible!
  • Finally great thing of the length of each lap there is not much of a hazard of faster runners overlapping you!

My time was not great at 37:13 but it was a real pleasure to run this course that must be brilliant to participate on in each all of the 4 seasons of the year!

Facilities

There are two free car parks for this parkrun and I chose the event car park at Park Farm that holds space for 50 cars, Sat Nav SM7 2BY

Unfortunately though there are no toilet facilities at this event and because I already knew this I used the facilities on the nearby service station of Cobham on the M25!

For the post run coffee they retire to The Mint pub, shame I could not join you guys maybe next time though!

Finally on this subject I would definitely recommend if you have time after your parkrun to take in one of the planned trail routes through this beautiful Surrey countryside, you have been told!!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the run director Chris Phelan and his team of volunteers for making me feel extremely welcome, also again special mention like last week to the friendliness of the local parkrun community who made me feel like one of the regulars from minute one of my arrival!!!

Banstead Woods Volunteer shot

So I would throughly recommend attending one the oldest parkrun events running through these lovely woods especially when the bluebells come out in spring, must be a beautiful sight to behold 🙂

Best

Mark

Event 69 Nonsuch park 09-12-2017

Extra News

It was great to hear that two of my close running friends Amanda Rankin & Liz Evans who respectfully completed together their one hundredth parkrun on Saturday at Luton, Wardown 🙂

Top work ladies, I am now only 22 parkruns behind you guys!

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Also a special mention to Lucinda Philpott in completing her English Athletics, Leader in Running Fitness course yesterday and in so doing becomes the latest coach at our running club Stopsley Striders!

We are very lucky to have you onboard Lu and I am sure you will be a great success!

 

 

Event 67 Dartford

On a very cool crisp autumn morning where do you start with Central Park, Dartford Kent with so much happening in the 2 hours I was at this event, maybe meeting up with very good parkrun tourist friends or chatting to an inspirational lady who run her 100th parkrun or a running blogger legend that I can only admire, but as always I will start with the park itself  that has very interesting history!

The parks origins date back to 1903 when a very kind gesture by one Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Newman Kidd offered 5 acres of his land to Dartford council for recreational purposes to the local community! After a lot of toing and froing the council finally excepted the offer in 1905 and this became the start of this lovely park that we see today with the River Darent cutting a path through it!

 

 

I had the great privilege to meet Kayley Loft who was celebrating her 100th parkrun! This is no ordinary lady though as Kayley back in 2015 saw parkun as a safe friendly supporting way of getting fit with friends support!

Wow in just over 2 1/2 years Kayley has lost 8 stones in weight and knocked 22 minutes off her home parkrun time, you are amazing my dear and I take my hat off to you as a role model to us all, with your determination and dedication shows what results can be achieved, truly outstanding achievement!

I also had the privilege of finally meeting Steven Stockwell of whom I am a great admirer of who apart from being an excellent runner writes the most brilliant of running blogs Amazingly he wrote a report of my home parkrun Luton, Wardown just last week and for the record he is a great guy to have a chat with to boot!

With Steven Stockwell

Last but definitely not least it was great to be in the company of so many good tourist friends with a special mention to Kevin Brown, Andrew James, Dave Thomas and last but definitely not least Robert Kidd 🙂

Course

Dartford course map

This course is 2 1/2 anticlockwise laps of Central Park that start and finish by Central Park Athletics track. First small lap is 700m around the playing fields, the 2 large laps includes a trail section and a run around the parks garden area!

Terrain is a mixture of tarmac paths, small section of gravel and a large loop section on grass/trail paths, mainly flat in elevation up to the backend of the trail section that has a short sharp little hill.

Points to note

  • Even though the course looks complication in design it is straightforward to run with it being well well sign posted and marshalled!
  • Difficult to chose which running footwear especially in well conditions because of the multi terrain nature of the course, I went with trail shoes because of the recent wet weather we have had!
  • Be very aware of the exposed tree roots on the short uphill section as they are difficult to pick up visually when running!

So if you like the challenge of running on multi terrain surfaces the Dartford is for you, my time was 35:07

Facilites

There is a free car park at Central Park Athletics Track Sat Nav DA1 1JP but please be aware they like to lock the gate to the car park after 11am. Also that is good to know is a free well maintained public toilet open before the start of the parkrun, all these facilities are very close to the start of the event!

For the post run coffee we all retired back to the Dartford Harriers clubhouse for a well deserved hot drink on such a cold day 🙂

Before I left I had to find the famous son of Dartford lead singer of The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger statue in the park and he was accompanied by two other of the towns sound makers Vox Amplifier invented in 1950’s and the Dartford warbler, well worth having your picture taken by it, lovely touch!

Mick Jagger Statue with Amplifier

Other Facilities Include

  • Visitors Centre
  • Central Park Bandstand
  • Building Bridges
  • Waterplay
  • Fresh Air Fitness Equipment
  • Princes Tunnel
  • Skatepark

Final verdict

I would like to thank the run director Barry Nicholson and his team volunteers for all making us feel extremely welcome! Good luck to Kayley on her future running adventures and Steven look forward with relish to your next blog post mate!

Dartford Volunteers

So Dartford I think you have something special going on there, the community spirt and hospitality rivals some of my most memorable parkrun events I have visited, now feeling homesick now!!!

Best

Mark

Event 68  Banstead Woods 02–12-2017

Event 66 Cassiobury

Where do you start at Cassiobury park, Watford on a day of parkrun milestone celebrations, well you start of with the beautiful park itself of course!

Cassiobury for over 250 years was once the home of the Earls of Essex, then in 1909 part of the estate including Cassiobury House (unfortunately demolished in 1927) was purchased Watford Borough Council to make way for this splendid 190 aces park that we see today!

Included in its boundary is a local nature reserve and on the west side the Grand union canal runs by all to delight park users!

I would like congratulate the lovely Vicky Hamblin on celebrating her 100th Cowell event at Cassiobury today that means completing 100 different parkrun events, brilliant effort!!

Also thanks again for allowing me to be part of the Basingstoke crew that is a top bunch of tourist that I am delighted to call you my friends!

It is always great to meet fellow Stopsley Striders club members who have shared my parkrun adventures over the last 16 months, always good to see Liz Davies and many thanks for coming along today!

Selfie with Liz Davies

Course

Course map Cassiobury park

The course is 2.5 anticlockwise laps that is a very flat & fast tarmac surface that starts at the Rickmansworth road entrance and finish funnel is beside the cafe.

Points to note!

  • This is a very popular parkrun with over 300 runners each week, so I would recommend place yourself at the start where you think you will finish the race otherwise it will mean a lot of overtaking on the grass!
  • large parts of this course is tree lined so in wet conditions in the autumn could get very slippery
  • There is white-painted line down the middle on some sections of the path on the course that indicate cycle lane that is on the inside part of the path, so be care and ideally stay on the walking side of these lines for safety!

So if you want to test yourself and see how faster time you can achieve then Cassiobury is definitely the course to run, it easily matches Dulwich & Hackney Marshes for PB style courses.

My time and not being really fit at the moment was 33.29 that indicates how fast this course is to run!

Facilities

Parking for this event is at Watford tube station Sat Nav WD18 7LE please note that if you are paying by cash it will be £2.20 for all day Saturday! Before the parkrun started the station staff at Watford station kindly let us use the toilets on the station platform!

Watford Tube Station

For the obligatory post run coffee we retired to the lovely The Cha Cafe that is situated inside the park and for the kids has a children’s play area! I would also like to add that they made Vicky day even more special by helping taking photos and promoting her on their Facebook page, great touch guys!!

The Cha Cafe

Final verdict

I would like to thank Alistair Balderson and his team of volunteers for making us feel extremely welcome today! So finally you are looking for a PB style beautiful course then Cassiobury is a must for you!

Cassiobury volunteer & tourists

Extra News

Today was a large number of parkrun milestones that I must mention starting off with my two very good parkrun buddies Kevin Brown & Paul Bliss who have cheered me on and kept me company on my adventures!

100 club

For Kevin it was his 100th Cowell parkrun event at Hackney Marshes, London and Paul run his 100th parkrun at Cannon Hill, Birmingham. Well done to both of your and I look forward to bump into you again in the near future!

99 club

Crazy but we had lot of Vicky’s friends on 99 parkrun milestones yesterday including Karen & John Coles both on 99 different events and Wendy Hewett just needing one more for running 100 parkrun, have a great time on your 100 events guys and eat plenty of cake afterwards!

PS Mark I loved the 99 ice cream touch yesterday mate!

99 ice cream celebration

50 club

It was great to hear very good friends in Beccy Shotbolt and Sharon Roberts both celebrating their respective 50th parkrun at my home event of Luton ,Wardown. Miss you guy’s and love the hair, may need to borrow it one day 🙂

Sharon & Beccy 50th

Event 67 Dartford 25-11-17

Houghton Hall Junior

What a brilliant concept Junior parkruns are and today I just had to support Houghton Hall my local event as a marshal! So for the record in 2014 parkrun UK organised junior parkrun series that now has 190 events held over the UK every Sunday morning!

It’s great to see kids aged between 4-14 enjoy running 2K around their local park and what a lovely park Houghton Hall is to visit, with Lottery Funding of over 2 Million pounds they have turned this into a must go venue for the local community to enjoy!

Course

Course map

The course is two anticlockwise 1k laps of the parameter of the park that is a mixture of gravel and grass surfaces!

Points to note

  • In very wet weather the course could very get muddy in parts of the grass section
  • 11 marshal points evenly spaced out to make sure the competitors are safe

So it is a great course for them to have fun!

Facilities

Free parking and toilets are situated by the new visitor centre, the issue is that this centre car park does not seem to have a post code and the one issued on their website you end up at Houghton Hall business park.

The only Sat Nav directions I can give for people coming by car is coordinates that you can put in your phone or click on this link 51.901548, -0.509044

For the post run coffee we retired back to the visitor centre that was very welcome on a cold day 🙂

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the run director Nicola and the fellow volunteers with a number of them very good friends from either my club or Wardown parkrun for creating a safe brilliant environment for kids to enjoy running, top work guys!!!

Houghton volunteer shot

So mums and dads I can thoroughly recommend from the bottom of my heart that once your kids have tried junior parkrun they will love it!

Best

Mark