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Event 62 Upton Court

There are times when good fortune seems to be on your side at Upton Court Park, Slough with this actual parkrun event was bathed in glorious autumn sunshine!

With reports of high winds and rain coming from storm Brian it was like we were in the eye of it with the weather closing in within half an hour after the last runner had finished, what amazing good fortune we had!


Now for the park that takes it’s name from the Upton suburb of Slough that until 1974 was a standalone village in Buckinghamshire after that date villages like Upton became part of this ever expanding town and now is in the county of Berkshire!

The park itself is a large open space designed for sport and has stunning views of Windsor Castle in the distance. This is one time I could have done with a proper digital camera to capture to splendour of this royal castle in all it’s glory, thanks to Carl for supplying this picture!

Windsor castle in distance

The reason why I chose Upton Court this week and change my schedule was to help celebrate Carl Heaps 100th Cow Cowl parkrun event and his daughter Olivia 200th parkrun! May I say very well done to you both, outstanding achievements!!!

Carl & Olivia single shot

I would also like to thank the Basingstoke crew that accompanied Carl for making me feel part very much part of the group, a real top bunch of tourist friends!!!



Upton course Map

So Upton court is two anticlockwise laps of the boundary of the park that running surface is predominately grass with 2 sections of tarmac/gravel paths!

The is no real elevations on this course only a steady small incline up to Upton Court Road and I love the kilometre marker posts around the course, lovely touch!

Upton Court 5k marker

Points to Note

  • On the first lap only there is a dog leg section around an extra field, I have been told in bad weather this can get very boggy indeed
  • OK this weekend but trail shoes should be packed in the boot of the car, just incase you are not sure of the course underfoot conditions!

My time was 37:02 that was not to bad suffering with man fu!


There are 2 free car parks for this event, the main one for the park is located at Sat Nav SL3 7LU and is a shortish jog away from the start of the event! For the record I parked in the Slough Rugby Club ground car park that has limited parking and soon gets full, also toilet facilities are available are at the clubhouse!

For the traditional post run coffee we retired back to Slough rugby club, where they offer hot food as well as beverages. I must admit they do serve up lovely a bacon roll and after polishing out Carl’s celebration cakes I think I put weight on after this event 🙂

Final Verdict

I would like to thank David Ross and his crew of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome at Upton court and special mention to Iby Hussain their official photographer for sending me a group tourist photo he took, top work guys!

Upton Court volunteers groups shot

Also good luck to Carl & Olivia in your future parkrun endeavours and I look forward to bumping into you both again hopefully not to long in the future!

So Upton Court I salute you, greatly friendly event for a tourist to visit you all have been told!



Event 63 Rickmansworth 28-10-2017


Event 61 Gunpowder

Where do start with Gunpowder park, Waltham Abbey is it’s explosive history or the River Lea that is my home town river that starts in Luton and runs along the west side border of this park!

So Gunpowder its great to see with London 2012 legacy funding help part of the South Site of Royal Gunpowder Mills has been converted from over 300 years military use producing explosives to a new park opened in 2004.

I always love the idea coverting disused as in this case contaminated land, giving it a new lease of life for wildlife to thrive and the local community to enjoy, another brilliant example of how to use in a positive way!!!


One of the joy’s of this challenge is to meet new people and celebrate the success where I can of a member of the local parkrun community. So today it was my pleasure to meet fellow avid parkrun tourists Pat & Peter Jackson and Linsey & Phil Pearson from Huntington, Cambridgeshire!

A very well done to Danelle Edwards who celebrated her 100th parkrun today, may I say your celebration cake was delicious too after the run 🙂



Gunpowder course

The course is 2 and a bit slightly undulating clockwise laps of the park that is run on well maintained gravel paths!


Points to note

  1. The only short notable 58 ft evaluation is the wonderfully named segment, A blast of Gunpowder
  2. On their parkrun website they state, “Some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain”

My time was 36:05 now know where I am in current fitness to improve upon!


There is on site car parking available Sat Nav EN9 3GP and this is right next to the start of the parkrun, but it is important to note that from Monday 23rd October new parking tariffs will come into force with a maximum daily parking charge of £2.50

For the record the car park opens at 8am and toilets are available before the start of the parkrun at the field station next to the car park!

Unfortunately there is no set location for a post run coffee that is a real shame, possibly just a suggestion creating your own pop up cafe like Beckton parkrun and use the amenities of the field station building has too offer!

Update: I have been informed by Jane Mann of Gunpowder parkrun that they have a community cafe there once a month and it is announced on Facebook!


Gunpowder Park Facilities include

  • Environmentally friendly field station for art & wildlife groups to use
  • Park has nature 4 bioregions Cob Fields, Cob Meadow, Osier Marsh and Cob Fields for you to explore
  • Great paths for dog walkers and runners
  • If you have the time to visit the nearby Royal Gunpowder Mills it will explain the history before this land was used as a park


Final Verdict

I would like to thank Jane Appleton and her team of volunteers for making us feel extremely welcome today, top work guy’s!!!!

Volunteers groups shot Gunpowder

Will be great to come back in the future to see how your park matures and I have know doubt a goto location in all of Lee Valley Regional Parks!

Finally I would like wish all the best next week for your events 6th birthday, have a great time and let there be plenty of cake!!!



Event 62 Upton Court 21-10-2017

Event 60 Daventry

The beauty of this challenge is the diversity of the parkrun venues that you run and Daventry, Northamptonshire is no exception! Located at beautiful Daventry Country Park it offers you the opportunity of running a single trail lap that is not that common in parkrun courses!

This 66 hectare park is centred around Daventry Reservoir that feeds the nearby Grand Union Canal and is a great place to take your family!

Daventry Reservoir cover


Daventry course

As stated this is a single anticlockwise lap of the park that surface is predominately made up of shale or earth paths, the exceptions are short sections of tarmac paths at the start and near the finish, with a very short section of grass to run up to the finishing funnel!

My time was 39:48 just happy to get round with this chest infection!

Points to note

  • At the start place yourself where you think you are going to finish in the event as overtaking is at a premium over the first half mile!
  • With all trail courses after prolonged periods of rain probably advisable to wear trail running shoes
  • The wonderful named Woods of Doom section near the end of the reservoir lap needs to be given respect as there are a few exposed tree roots, short boggy section and a number wooden foot bridges that can get slippery in the wet!
  • Finally the finish is on grass and has a steep little dropdown slope that could catch out the unwary!


Coming up from Luton I did a pit stop at Northampton services station on the M1 that is only 9 miles from Daventry parkrun! At the event itself I chose the free parking at Daventry District Council Offices Sat Nav NN11 4FP that is very close to the start!

The cool thing for us tourists is that the local leisure centre allows free access to their facilities including both changing and toilets on the production of your parkrun barcode!

For the post coffee that I unfortunately missed is at Abbey Retail ParkNN11 4GL that kindly offer a discount again on the production of your barcode, how very civilised 🙂

Daventry Country Park Facilities

  • Nature walks
  • Adventure playground for the kids
  • Bird hides to watch the wildlife
  • Cafe

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Karen and her team of volunteers for making as all feel very much at home and cheering everyone around the course, top work guys!!

Daventry Volunteers

So Daventry is a must for all parkrunners, a single well maintained trail lap around a beautiful reservoir teaming with wildlife, you have been told!!!

Event 61 Gunpowder 14-10-2017

Event 59 Heartwood Forest

This event no longer takes place.

Where do you start with Heartwood Forest, what a brilliant idea of converting old farmland into a brand new forest, for the wildlife to thrive and the public to enjoy, wow!!!

The thought of running through this 347-hectare forest in the making is quite inspirational! Now owned by the Woodland Trust they have already planted 500,000 trees and this all links together with existing pockets of established Bluebell woods and hedgerows!

Also it was my pleasure to attend Scott Clarke and David Llewellyn 100th parkrun different event celebration with them now entering the exclusive Cowell club of park runners on the most events list, brilliant work guys!

May I say David you looked very fetching in cow costume by the way mate 🙂

Me with Scott & David Llewellyn

To celebrate this feat quite rightly there was a large gathering of fellow tourist to honour this milestone! Amongst the fold it was great to be reunited with tourists I have met on my Capital Challenge including Dave Thomas from Oak Hill, Mike Bristow who was the run director at Wanstead Flats, not forgetting Paul Bliss and Daniel Pudner for being at my Lon-done final event!

I have to give a special mention to Chris Cowell who graced this event as he was the first person to reach the hollowed 100 parkrun events milestone back in August 2012, it was all my pleasure to meet you and have a chat with you sir!

Me with Chris Cowell
With Chris Cowell


Heartwood Forest course

So to the course it comprises of just under 2 undulating anticlockwise laps of Heartwood Forest that surface comprises of both grass and gravel paths!

Points to note

  • The start is halfway up the main slope
  • There is a section that you run on a bridal way, so be weary!
  • Brilliant to run between newly planted woodland section
  • In winter or after prolong rain it may be wise to run in trail shoes
  • Finally great to finish with a long steady downslope

Time 35:43 not to bad on my road back to fitness that seems slowly to be coming back!


There is parking next to the start, but due to the limited number of spaces the preferred free car park is just five minutes walk away at the Sandridge village hall plus there is a public toilet located on that site!

With a stunning view over Sandridge village it is great to take your family for a walk along one of the forest specially designed routes from Wildlife Wander to Heartwood Hike, you have been told!

For the post run coffee they go into the local pub The Queens Head in Sandridge Village.

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Fraser McCullum and his team of volunteers for making us feel all extremely welcome. Top professional job from a parkrun that is only 8 weeks old!

So would I recommend Heartwood Forest most definitely, with stunning views and being privileged to see the work they are doing to create this beautiful forest, this is just another reason why I love parkrun!

Event 60 Daventry 30-09-2017

Extra News

This Sunday 24th September I run the Hitchin 5K Town Centre race with a good few of my club Stopsley Strider friends! A great little 2 lap anticlockwise course that takes in the picturesque parts of the town! I would like to thank Hitchin Hares for putting on a very well organised race!

Hitchin 5K course map

Time for this was 34:34 getting ever better and I would like to my work colleagues Martin Thurlow & Dave Green who came along to cheer me on 🙂

parkrun volunteering

My first love about parkrun was and has always been volunteering in both supporting the event and the runners who partake each it each week!

Today after a long delay completing my year long capital parkrun challenge I finally reach the coveted 25 event club for the purple volunteers shirt! I am proud to say all but two of these have all been at my home parkrun of Luton, Wardown that started back for me at Week one 18-04-2015 as a Finish Token Support 🙂

So why do you ask volunteer, it is great to give something back to a concept that has given me so much pleasure running over the last 2 years, I would reply why not!!!!!

Here are two brilliant examples through the camera lens that capture the fun and the inspiration of the life of parkrun volunteering. The first was of a lovely lady who I had the pleasure to tail walk for that depicts the shear enjoyment parkrun brings to her! The second shows the competitive edge of two good friends battling to the end even through the finishing funnel, brilliant 🙂

So next time you have Saturday morning free or coming back from injury don’t think twice sign up and volunteer to support your local parkrun!

Become a Hi-Vis hero, you wont be sorry 🙂



Next event 59 Heartwood Forest 23-09-2017

Event 58 Inverness

This event no longer takes place.

There are times when I am almost left speechless by a beautiful location and the friendliness of people that I have met and Inverness was one of those places!

My original reasoning for choosing Inverness was very simple, I as a parkrun tourist who wanted to chose one of the northern most parkruns on the UK mainland and it was easy to get to from Luton Airport with Inverness just a 1 hour 15 minute flight time away!

What a treat I was in for Inverness alone is quite simply a breathtaking city on the banks of the river Ness, even the weather played it’s part bathing this exquisite location in beautiful sunlight!

So on the Saturday afternoon after the parkrun I booked myself onto a cruise that incorporated Caledonian Canal, then a trip across Lock Ness to as far as Urquhart castle 🙂

Wow to say I was stunned by the beauty of the Loch and surrounding countryside would be an understatement, I even had record a video of my cruise trip on the Loch to show it in it’s full glory, with link here

Next time though let’s hope Nessie makes an appearance 😉

So what about the parkrun itself I only turned up on the day of their 6th anniversary birthday what a coincidence, they kindly even on request organised a team photo of the whole of the Inverness parkrun community, what a lovely touch we make!


Inverness course map

The course is just over three anticlockwise laps Bught Park pitches that is run entirely on grass and considering how hilly the surrounding area there is probably not a flatter course you will find in the UK, you have been told!

My time was 37:13 just happy to be there on the tough road improve my times to ultimately running times averaging 25 min parkrun times I hope!

Points to note!

  • As with all grass courses after a prolonged period of rain, definitely run in at least trail running shoes!
  • Very slightly changed course as there was an event in the bottom corner of the park, so we had to run in front of the marque tent thats all!
  • Finally importantly all parkruns in Scotland start at 9:30am not 9:00am back in England


This is an unusual one for me as I am normally driving to the venue and this time I was staying in a hotel not more than half mile from Bught park, they quote for car parking it is best use the Canal Park rugby pitches.

For the post run coffee it was a first for me having a lovely coffee at Floral Hall Coffee Shop that is inside Inverness Botantic Gardens a must look-around  for any keen gardener!

I also would also recommend being a sports lover timing your visit to Bught park when the local Inverness Shinty club have a game on!


I would like to thank RD Gary Reid and the whole of Inverness parkrun community for making all of us tourists extremely welcome on your birthday, excellent stuff guys!

Volunteers goup shot

So finally I have had a brilliant mini weekend breaks in this most picturesque of Highland locations, so you have been told visit Inverness you will not be let down!



Event 59 Heartwood Forest 23-09-2017

Hatfield Forest

This event no longer takes place.

A first for me I am writing a review of a stunningly beautiful parkrun based at Hatfield Forest that will be relocating Castle Park, Bishop’s Stortford in just over a months time due to popularity of this event and the pressure the forest winter car park!

So where do you start with Hatfield forest, well for one thing this very well maintained National Trust forest is as the Trust states,

Hatfield Forest is the best surviving example in Britain of an almost complete Royal Hunting Forest. It has seen many owners, from Kings to commoners. No other Forest on earth evokes the atmosphere of a medieval hunting Forest so completely.”

A could not agree anymore, I think it would take a day of exploring to be able fully grasp the beauty of the forest and the animals that inhabit it!

Again today it was great to see so many Cow Cowl tourists in one place, making sure they had a chance to run this parkrun before it goes! Special mention to fellow tourist Trevor Rawson and his lovely dog Teddy, it is great to see that when Teddy gets tired Trevor has a brilliant dog rucksack that he puts him in so they can run the rest of the 5k course together, this is another reason why I love parkrun and the people who run it every week!


Hafield forest winter course

As the last parkrun event at Hatfield is on the 23rd September 2017 it is great to see the core team choosing different used in the past routes each week, today we were given the winter course to run that included the informs Bridge of Doom that has legendary status with the locals 🙂

The course itself is one single clockwise lap that incorporated a number of different surfaces, from grass, trail dirt through the woods and tarmac road section!

Point to note

  • There was one pinch point on this course at the wooden gate next to a cattle grid on the road section as the gate used by runners in both directions of this loopback section! To be fair it was well marshalled there and it wasn’t a real issue if you were careful!

Time for me today was irreverent at 41:10 just happy to be their taking pictures and enjoying this forest parkrun!

Important Info

There is a paid £2 grass summer car park available at Sat Nav CM22 6NE and this is about half of a mile from the start at Shell House and for a post run coffee they use the forest cafe!

Final verdict

I would like to thank Susan Anderson and her time of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome, the course was laid out very clearly and well marshalled, excellent job guys!

So if you get a chance to run this beautiful forest before in relocates after 23rd September event, just do it!!!

Finally I would like to wish all the very best to Chris Holt and the rest of the core parkrun team on your relocation and I promise to visit once you have settle in your new home,

best Mark

Event 58 Inverness 03-09-17

Future Challenges

So after a successful Capital parkrun adventure of running all Greater London region parkruns in a year for charity what next for me:

parkrun challenge


I am aiming complete 100 UK parkrun events in 2 years starting at Hatfield Forest on 26th August, 2017 with the current total standing at 56 on parkrun UK most events list!

Rules include

  • Any new parkrun in London
  • Complete all parkruns inside the M25
  • At least one parkrun in each home country
  • Finally the 100th parkrun will be Letchworth, Hertfordshire

Personal Improvement

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