Hetton Lyons Relays and Black Park parkrun

Having had two very different running experiences the last two weekends, I thought that I would share them with you.

Firstly, the relays at Hetton Lyons Country Park last Saturday. I used to love relays … the camaraderie of being in a team, the guaranteed atmosphere generated by the other participants not running your leg, the relatively short distance meaning that you can go for it, the kind words at the end from your Claremont collegaues even if you have had a bad run. Then I went to Hetton Lyons on a miserable, cold, wet, windy Saturday in February!

I’d done this race before and enjoyed the course and the amenities. The course is two laps of 1.1 miles each on tarmac paths through woods, around a field and then circling the lake. There are just enough ups and downs to keep it interesting without any killer climbs.

Having arrived early to watch the Ladies race, I think I’d already had enough by the time the mens race started! I thought that the girls teams, which included a number of debutants, acquited themselves well. I also thought that Claremont’s A team would do well in the men’s event but that was before I found myself in it due to a number of late withdrawals. Running the last leg, I caught a couple up but had some fast lads go past me as though I was walking, so I lost a few places and recorded easily the slowest time of the 6 man team (I think about 30 seconds slower than my previous run there). Despite not running a quick time, the cold air still meant that I finished feeling as though somebody had put a brick in my lungs. Still, it’s the taking part that counts!

For the numerous Claremont debutants, don’t let this put you off relay races. There is a lovely one in June when the sun always shines – the Weetslade Relays of course.

Now to this weekend. We were in the deep South staying at our son’s and decided to find a parkrun. We chose Black Park which, though not the nearest, looked easy to find with a good car park. Black Park Country Park is between the M25 and Slough which doesn’t sound much, but it is a lovely park for a weekend walk or, better still, a weekend 5K.

The course is a fairly flat single lap on trails through the woods. The paths were mostly in pretty good condition though there were a few muddy stretches and being in woodland we were sheltered from the cold breeze. It was very well organised and every body we spoke to was friendly (despite being Southerners!). I was reasonably happy with my time of 20:14 and won my age category by over 2 minutes.

Afterwards we bought tea and cake from the kiosk in the park and sat watching the ducks and geese on the lake in the bright southern sunshine. All in all, an excellent way to celebrate my 100th parkrun (very pleased to see that Chris Hogarth finally ran his 100th on the same day). If you find yourself in the area, then I would definitely recommend a visit to Black Park parkrun.

Tom Tinsley -