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

Course

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!

Facilities

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

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

Course

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!

Facilities

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 🙂

Best

Mark

Next event 59 Heartwood Forest 23-09-2017

Event 58 Inverness

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!

 

Course

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

Facilities

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!

Conclusion

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!

Best

Mark

Event 59 Heartwood Forest 23-09-2017

 

Hatfield Forest

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!

 

Course

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 parkruns in a year for charity what next for me:

parkrun challenge

IMG_3149

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 (Capital Adventures will be updated with this information as well)
  • 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!

running blog for everyone